(Not) conforming to our roles

As a man who supports feminism, I can by and large shrug off some of the commentary and statements that I sometimes see where men are criticised and critiqued. I know the remarks in question are not aimed at me (though in fairness, I might well be guilty of some of the attitudes referred to). What we (by we I mean men) need to remember is that not every article or post written by feminists that speaks of male behaviour is aimed at all of us. Contrary to the opinion of MRAs, feminism is not out to destroy men, or make us second class citizens.

There are times though, when it’s harder to brush off some of the stuff that gets said. Sometimes things get couched in aggressive, generalising terms, even going as far as to use words like ‘war’. It is typically not the average feminist that has this attitude, but rather, certain elements of radical feminism (a topic I’ve discussed before). To these feminists, men are savage creatures, incapable or unwilling to operate using rational thought, instead thinking only with our penises. Not unsurprisingly, when I read such posts (they invariably pop up when you follow tags like feminism on WordPress), I feel a little surge of irritation. These posts are aimed at me, and every man, and they are ultimately harmful to the feminist movement as a whole.

Allow me to give an example. The following is from a site called Story Ending Never.

And that brings us to the one added component that we often see in male ‘teachers’. There is frequent abuse and sexual abuse of female students. It happens in all countries at all levels of education. All men benefit from rape. Some men rape. All rapists are men. Some teachers are men. Therefore, some male teachers will be rapists, and all males – teachers, students and the general public – will benefit from female terror in the classroom. And the data show this. Many men see rape as a ‘training tool’ or a job perk, and indeed even in these modern times, women have been trained by rape and the fear of rape to fall in line and allow men to continue to wreak havoc on the world and gain unfair advantages in the classroom and workplace. I am against having men in the helping professions, because a) the helping professions (teaching, medicine, law enforcement, etc) are based on power imbalances by definition, and b) men seek out and abuse power relationships by definition. The only way you can minimize abuse in relationships where power abuse is possible is to disallow those who are most likely to abuse that power to have access to it. To do otherwise is to invite heaps of trouble, and we see that this is true every day, everywhere.

I disapprove of the generalisations here. ‘all men benefit from rape’. I most certainly don’t. Rapists disgust me and give other men a bad name. The existence of rape has never helped me in any way shape or form.

What is this about ‘frequent abuse’? I’m sure abuse happens, but to what degree? There’s nothing to back up blanket statements like that. Likewise with men seeking out and abusing positions of power by definition .

Radical feminists (in fact all feminists, and indeed all people) would reject being labelled and defined by any one characteristic. Defining men in such a fashion is no different to defining women in sweeping, generalising terms. The assertions and assumptions from articles such as this do not to help to foster understanding and if anything, I believe they weaken feminism. It’s this sort of essay that MRAs will point to as evidence that feminism is not about equality. MRAs are extremely myopic, so it should come as no surprise that they’ll ignore everything positive about feminism in order to focus on a minority, but that minority screams loudest, drowning out moderate voices.

The simultaneous criticism of gender stereotypes, combined with the broad application of stereotypes, can be in seen in how certain elements of radical feminism treat transgender individuals. At once, transgender women are both indulging in stereotypical female behaviour, and yet are also assumed to exhibit certain characteristics because they’re originally male.

What’s even sadder about all of this is the exclusionary approach radical feminists take, even to the exclusion of women who are either not radical feminists, or women who do not meet their criteria for being radical feminists.

It’s highly unlikely that the authors of the sites I’ve linked to will respond to this post (radical feminists tend to be quite insular, which is fine in some ways – they feel the way they feel for a reason, and seek protection within their community), but I want them to know they will have a voice here. I make absolutely no promises that I’ll agree with you, but I’ll defend your right to say what you think. I would also urge you to consider the harm such posts actually do to your movement.


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4 comments

    1. I have no idea. I’d comment directly, but the first doesn’t allow any comments, and I tried to comment on the second, but my comment was never posted.

      1. Warning to both of you… stay well away from the TERFs. They’re extremists and can be really vicious. They twitter bombed me for days calling me a rapist and rape supporter after I came out in support of transgender people using the bathrooms of their choosing.

        1. Thanks for the warning! Then again, if they’re prepared to behave like that, I’m very happy to name and shame them. They make of that what they will.

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