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Battle Of The Sexes

November 24, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Over the years, feminist movements have brought great strides in the treatment of women, and bringing forward greater equality for both sexes is always a great thing. The right to vote, the right for women to work, the sexual liberation movement that tried to give women control over their own sexuality, these were all great things that should be applauded.

But feminism still has work to do. Street harassment is rife, with women unable to walk down an average street without someone shouting obscene comments at them. Rape cases don’t seem to be provided the level of respect they should be, and many victims are blamed. There are still issues when it comes to equal pay, and recent figures suggest that a woman with a degree still isn’t as likely to earn as much as a man who never even completed high school.

These are all bad things, and they absolutely should be addressed, and modern feminism should work as hard as possible to achieve change in these areas.

But modern feminism has an image problem, and one that’s absolutely not going to help anything unless it’s addressed. I have seen far too many feminists actively demonstrate their own sexism in their messages, which results in little more than a shouting match rather than anything productive.

Before I explain my view, let me say that I understand that some women are angry at the sexism that still leaks through our society, and by no means is this piece meant to belittle any of that. Be angry, stand up for yourself, fight for what’s right. But be productive about it.

For the record, I’m not a Men’s Rights Activist who believes that feminists should shut up about their issues and let the few issues that affect men take centre stage instead, since I know that many of those issues would also be solved through the methods already employed by many feminists.

However, I do feel that certain feminists (but, I must stress, not all) need to tone it down a bit, at least in the way they present things.

There have been far too many instances lately where I have seen feminists yell at men. And I mean any man who dares express an opinion near them, whether it’s in agreement with them or not. I have genuinely heard, on far too many occasions, that no straight white man is eligible to have an opinion on feminist issues because their “privilege” blinds them to the real issues.

The problem is, this attitude seems to extend to men such as myself. As already stated, I support what modern feminism is trying to achieve, in terms of reducing street harassment and improving pay scales for all, but what I resent is that I am apparently not even allowed to express support for this movement because I happen to be male. By criticising arguments made by feminists, I am a privileged idiot who doesn’t understand, but by showing support, I’m being patronising and insulting, and acting as if women can’t look after themselves.

This attitude needs to change. Because, honestly, while I fully support what feminists are trying to achieve, I cannot support feminism itself, because I’m being excluded from showing that support. Feminism is supposed to be aiming for equality, but excluding all men simply for being men isn’t treating everyone equally and fairly.

I certainly do not support the argument that because women aren’t being taken seriously in certain circles, that they should just turn the tables. That achieves nothing, and makes the women who do it no better than the men who criticise them simply for being female. It just stalls the debate.

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to every feminist. There are feminists who really do strive for equality, who are willing to listen to both sides and work towards breaking down gender stereotypes and barriers that affect all people, male and female. There may be some who are focused entirely on fixing the issues affecting women, but still welcome aboard the men who support their cause. But for the ones who aren’t this rational, it’s hurting the entire movement.

Now, there are absolutely sexist men out there who couldn’t possibly be reasoned with or turned around and made to see the issues, and considering them a lost cause and tossing them aside is absolutely fine. There will always be people like that, no matter what the debate. But just because those guys exist, it doesn’t automatically paint all men as being hateful sexists who are looking to rape you and strip away your rights.

There are men who may express sexist attitudes initially, but some polite debating and reasoning may reveal them to be misguided and unaware of the larger issues, and as they learn, those sexist attitudes can begin to drop away and join the other category of men who do support the goals of feminism. But if you’re simply going to yell at them and say they’re wrong and will never understand because they’re men, that’s just going to amplify their sexist attitudes and exacerbate the problem.

What’s more, pushing out those of us who do support the goals, and even find ourselves asking “how can I help?” is just reducing your support base and leaves you preaching to the choir. Many of us who support the goals have female friends, colleagues, family members or other associates who we think highly of, and want them to be more respected, and we can chip in and help in some way, then let us help.

Some of us do recognise the privilege that comes with being male, and want to help address that balance, but if we’re shut out of the debate, how do you think that comes across? To me, it comes across as a bunch of people angry about something but who just want to shout loudly about it rather than actually try and achieve something.

I’m not saying that women can’t achieve anything without a man’s help, I’m saying that for any major social cause, you need support, and the bigger the support, the more likely you are to succeed. The more people, regardless of gender, you can recruit to your cause, the better. It’s as simple as that.

After all, men are the people you want to convince, and excluding them from the debate or painting every man with the same brush is merely going to push them away and make things much worse. It also gives rise to the Men’s Right movement, and no one needs that crap.

So basically, feminists. Be nicer to the decent guys. We are out there, and we want to help, so let us join in. Strength in numbers and all that.

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  1. November 24, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    There is only one point that I really disagree with. For most things it is true that women can achieve with out a man’s help. Build a house, paint a picture, earn a million dollars, eat a entire large pizza solo. Anything that can be done solo can be done by a woman solo. The issues that feminists are addressing are not solo issues. It’s not the legal right to go sky diving or mountain climbing. The issues are relations between men and women. It is just impossible for women to address these issues without the help of men. It would be just as impossible for men to address these issues without the help of women. To address issues of gender equality we need the participation of both men and women. One gender can not change on it’s own.

    • November 24, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      This is a very good point that fits very nicely with the point I’m arguing. When these feminists claiming they fight for equality are closing men off from the debate, they’re changing nothing, and being slightly hypocritical. As you stated, it’s an issue of the relationship between men and women, which simply cannot be solved by closing off either gender from the debate. The only solution is sensible adult discussion between the two.

  1. November 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm

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