(First published October 29 2014 on HuffPo, then erased)
I’m afraid you’ll have to forgive a bulky word count in this post as I introduce a subject I’ll be writing a lot about in the future. I promise future instalments will be shorter, but I’m afraid a considerable amount of ‘scene setting’ and defensive waffle seemed necessary, lest I be lynched or chased out of the village by feminists, armed with pitchforks and torches burning with Hell’s fire. You’ll have to think of this post as a double episode whammy that you get with great new TV series. It’s not that long, really, for intelligent folk like yourselves, so grab a cuppa and a couple of biscuits and get yourselves comfy.
Tackling feminism in today’s world is -I’m told- rather a stupid idea. It’s not that I’d be labelled a chauvinist pig and accused of wanting to keep women chained to chores and childcare, which I don’t. It’s not even that tackling a global movement as one person (which is how it feels, despite a mass of men and women attempting the same) is like standing against a tsunami wearing speedos and a snorkel; I’m aware that every word will be pulled apart, angered messages will fill my inbox and I’ll be accused of ignorance and sexism. I’ve already, during initial research, acquired my first troll on my new Twitter account; I’m a “simple manbaby” apparently. The reason it’s stupid for me to speak against feminism is simply because I have a penis…and the feminist does not accept a boy negatively commenting on the relevance or alleged prejudice of the feminist movement.
I know this. Had I, as a male, pitched articles in support of feminism, perhaps I’d have been commissioned alongside the published pro-feminism male writers. But time and again, as I approached relevant sections of publications that boast a feminist voice, I was informed by the female, feminist editors that my views were ‘not suitable’. I know that’s like a satanist asking to put an advert for a willing, virginal sacrifice on the local church’s noticeboard, but that’s exactly the problem. If the media belongs to feminism like the noticeboard belongs to the church, where can you make another argument? I won’t say who the guardian of feminism is, because I’d very much like to write articles for them and don’t want to be blacklisted for publicly calling them sexist. But I feel I’m correct in seeing that bias.
Also, polite conversation about feminism, with feminists, has invariably turned into my being ranted at. Apparently, the very fact I’m questioning feminism is because I’m a typical white male with all the privilege, no understanding of what it’s like to be the victim in a sexist society and, therefore, have no right to question or challenge it. Even Emma Watson’s speech at the UN saw feminists react in comment threads, saying that men should not have a say, despite her invitation.
Yet, here I am; I have my speedos and my snorkel. First, I’m sorry feminism had to exist in the first place. I’m sorry about the past where women, as capable and wonderful as my own mother, my sister and as capable and strong as I know my daughters will be, were made to feel inferior, robbed of choices and treated as objects to be used and abused. I applaud the achievements of those who fought to bring about change and know there are still issues to resolve.
But…yes, ‘but’…this has gone far enough. The reason I stand here in my speedos is because there is a need. Women have faced and still face prejudice and inequality. Here’s a fact, though: men do too. That men are not allowed to speak about the prejudice and inequality they face simply because they are men (and men, in generalised and historic terms, are not the victims of sexism) is just one ludicrous contradiction from feminists. That feminism apparently stands for ‘equality’ in order to be recognised as legitimate and politically correct, but does nothing to fight for the rights of separated fathers as equal parents, while advocating the social assumption that women are more emotionally bonded with their children based on gender stereotype, is just one transparent flaw, in the light of its own mission statement of equal rights.
In one post, I cannot scratch the surface of all the issues: the false propaganda, the resulting angered cry of women, the politically correct expectation upon men to pay their penance for misogyny with unchallenged acceptance of feminist values in their homes, ironically leaving them silenced and without a vote. But follow me, converse with me and read my future posts.
But here and now I’m not going to speak only on behalf of the men that I know are negatively affected by feminism. Indeed, the whole reason for my writing on the subject is because I actually care about gender equality, which is something I do not credit to feminism, or at least, what feminism has become. Women are feeling the sting too; women I care about.
A recent study by Netmums found the majority of women felt feminism was too aggressive, de-valued the stay at home mum and applied too much pressure on women to do and be everything. 17% even stated it is oppressive to men.
Women, actually, get a rough ride from feminism’s soapbox rantings. There are standards to live up to, much like a Christian having to obey the 10 commandments or feel like a sinner. I have spoken to feminists and witnessed their despair as they defend their own life choices against what their feminist values dictate they should be or do. One, who prioritised her children over work, felt she let down her values as a feminist and felt pressured to work full-time. She spent ten minutes justifying her reasons for not doing so…not that I had challenged her.
Another became exacerbated when stating she didn’t “believe in high heels” because they symbolised the oppression of male objectification and her feminist values dictated she shouldn’t wear them simply because a ‘man’ would like her to or because she should rely on a pair of high heels to make her attractive. She continued, taking both sides of conversation, making it clear she likes to wear them occasionally because it makes her feel good, for her, not for anyone else, it’s not for a ‘man’, she has a right to wear them and shouldn’t have to dress down simply to avoid being objectified…it went on. Bizarrely, all she was trying to do was feel justified in wearing something she liked and escape the judgement from feminists who would say she gave in by wearing them and the other feminists who would say she gave in by wearing flats. The ‘man’ was actually absent in this argument, apart from serving as the silent ‘accused’ and ‘guilty’.
Women: go out and work, put up your own shelves, make him look after the children, you don’t have to cook. Be strong, be capable, make your own decisions and be autonomous. Feminism is dogmatic. It sets rules. Like a religion it praises particular behaviour, but there are too many denominations, with no central scripture. Under the umbrella label of feminism the message is mixed, destructive and confusing. The result is that wearing one flat shoe and one heel, feminism simply walks in circles.
Feminism casts out the old gender roles of both men and women as outdated and primitive, promoting the working, confident, strong woman as ‘progressive’ and the stay at home mother and wife as a woman who is ‘socialised’ into an inferior lifestyle of old. Women are free, only, to choose feminism’s idea of the ‘equal woman’ in this new world; it has sculpted its own idea of the perfect gender roles and is socialising both sexes into playing these ‘acceptable’ roles in society. The odd result is that women have more choice, but only feel allowed to choose that which is deemed acceptable, according to the stereotype of the all new and improved modern woman.
Going back to the current plight of the male, it’s easy to see that feminism pushes women toward choosing and living a particular role in society, whether they like it or not. Women are to choose to work, choose a reversed gender role in parenting. Choose, choose, choose. After all those years of oppression, women have the right to choose and should do so!
If the woman in a relationship has the power of choice awarded to her by feminism, what power does the man, her partner, have?
Is this equality?
Simply acknowledging that if women have the authority to choose, then men don’t, is a step forward because it becomes glaringly obvious that the feminist agenda will not bring about equality. Men are now having to fight for their own power, even to speak. There are issues of inequality on either side and they will not be resolved if men are fighting for men and women are fighting for women. A tug of war is not over until one team has fallen into the muddy ditch in the middle. That’s not equality. HeForShe? That’s about men fighting for women on the assumption -and outdated notion- that women are the only ones suffering gender inequality, which isn’t even a stab in the right direction.
Perhaps we all need to grow up and realise that within our society, we can collectively, as united men and women, set a standard that is fair for all. I know feminism doesn’t speak for all women. I know feminism actually makes it difficult for many women. I know feminism does not allow men to voice their opinions.
So, to the women and men in our society who actually want equality, I would like to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality, prejudice and crime against anyone of any gender, is your issue too.
We need to end the tug of war, put down the rope and come to the table as equals and tackle prejudice and crime together. That is the campaign where men and women stand side by side and decide what type of society we can make, acknowledging each other’s flaws, faults, strengths and where we each feel we suffer prejudice from the other. Such a campaign does not begin with one side ‘allowing’ the other to join. Neither does its name imply one side should fight only for the rights of the other. “HeForShe”? I’d call it “AllForEquality”.