Growth is a beautiful concept. Feminism is an ever-shifting belief system (if I may call it that.) And because I’ve grown, below are some of the concepts I have changed my mind about.
For context, you can read my post on feminism here.
A hatred of men.
I think it goes without saying that I do not advocate for any kind of hate, regardless of gender. That being said, I’m not particularly concerned about misandry especially when it comes from women. Why? Because it isn’t systematic. Women hating men isn’t systematic. If anything, women that apparently hate men rarely go past being rude to men on Twitter.
Of course, there are women that have stalked, raped, maimed and killed men. This is in no way saying that those injustices don’t matter. This is no way excusing those women. I wouldn’t believe in the equality of the genders if I did.
What I do not like is how men are quick to shout misandry at angry women. How men tell women to package our anger and present it in ways not deemed abrasive to male egos and feelings. How self-proclaimed male allies threaten to withdraw their support because a woman wouldn’t engage with them politely on Twitter.
Newsflash: women are entitled to our anger. We have been oppressed since the beginning of time. So if you as a man need a woman to be nice while expressing this anger, if you need women to cater to your feelings when she’s angry after she’s been catcalled on the street, then maybe you are not really an ally. What you are essentially saying is, “I believed in women’s’ rights but now that you’ve refused to play nice, I don’t think you deserve the right to feel safe.” See how ridiculous that is?
People will say that we need men at the table if gender equality is to be achieved. I’m wary of this sentiment because I don’t think men know how to be allies without making themselves the face of the movement. Privilege does that to you. I think men have had a seat at the table for centuries. Now that women have fought our way onto a few seats at the table, instead of creating space for other women who’ll eventually smash the damn table(yeah guys, this is the goal), we’re supposed to worry about the men? Why do they need to have a seat? Why can’t they stand, lean in and listen? Why do they need to be comfortable at a table that exists to make women uncomfortable?
Women’s rights are absolute. I resent the implication that women have to be docile and polite while bargaining (it is already insulting that we even have to ask) for those rights before men see the point and maybe even get behind us. We deserve equal treatment despite our supposed character flaws. As Chimamanda put it, saintliness is not a prerequisite for justice. Women are already held to higher moral standards than men, an ideal that panders to the patriarchy. So for you to require women to be calm and collected about our pain is to perpetrate our oppression. As the Slumflower put it, you’re standing on my neck and complaining that my screams are too loud.
And really, so what if some women hate men? Statistically speaking, a woman that was rude to you on the street is not likely to follow you and kill you. You know what misogyny does to women? It gets us sexually assaulted and murdered. It predisposes that we aren’t qualified for leadership. It erases our existence, it makes us argue and debate and have to prove our humanity every single day.
But what really pisses me off however is how men only ever bring up misandry when it is women’s issues being discussed. So it’s not that they are petrified about the consequences of female hate, they just want to derail the conversation. As usual, they are looking to center themselves. Because really, the average man will always protect his fragile ego and tiny feelings than care about the safety and lives of women. Not when it requires him to acknowledge his privilege and confront the fact that he (in)directly benefits from the oppression of women.
So while I do understand we all need people to consider our feelings, I don’t think men should expect women to censor their pain for them. If you are an ally that likes nice people, find the calm feminists and engage them. Leave the “rude” ones alone. There’s no one guide to activism.
This includes shit like reverse racism or reverse sexism. For the purpose of this post, I will expound on the latter.
First of all, I don’t think women can be sexist. As it is, we don’t have the social, political or economic power to oppress men. Because again, sexism is structural. Yes, women can be prejudiced and hateful, just not sexist. Say, we can’t deny/control male reproductive rights. There just isn’t enough women in parliament or industry heads to do that.
I’ve noticed false equivalences mostly when it comes to objectification, generalizations and misandry but I already talked about that.
Again, this isn’t to say that male objectification is okay or that generalizations aren’t counterproductive. What I am saying is that it would be wrong and derailing to equate them to the female versions and pretend like they have the same effect.
Every once in a while, you will find women drooling over a guy’s six-pack. And then there’s always a man that says that if things were the other way round, people wouldn’t be treating it as lightly. And while that is true, it is dangerous to take that statement as an absolute. A woman drooling over a man’s abs will not likely go further. Men being objectified is usually just eye-candy for women. Female objectification on the other hand has heavy implications. Women have been reduced to their sexual organs for centuries. This has meant that we are less deserving of respect, unintelligent, bad mothers, useless employees. It has been assumed that we are inviting of rape and deserving of revenge porn; that our morality is in question. It has continued the policing of our bodies, justified male entitlement, stripping away our reproductive rights and erasure of our autonomy.
So by all means, start a conversation about male objectification. But don’t you dare compare or equate it to female objectification. Not when you still remain responsible fathers and amazing bosses even after your shirtless selfies have done rounds on social media; not when you still control your bodies and get to choose what is done and isn’t done to them.
On generalizations, I particularly want to talk about the #menaretrash. As expected, men were up in arms mansplaining to us how this is counterproductive. Again, there is an element of men needing to center their feelings but I already talked about that. It didn’t matter that most of them don’t even know that this movement was about women talking about sexual violence and how it is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men. It didn’t matter that men passively or actively take part in the dehumanization of women in this way. So yes you may not rape women, but you do know someone that has harassed or gotten a girl drunk so that he could get to go home with her and you said nothing because, bros before hoes. So yes, you being complicit in violation and oppression of women does make you trash. You standing there yelling #notallmen isn’t really solving the problem. Because you aren’t unlearning your sexist conditioning; you are protecting your rape-y friends; you are gas lighting survivors of sexual assault.
Men hate being generalized as trash and will try to prove a clumsy point by pointing out how women don’t like it when they are generalized as hoes or gold-diggers or whatever. But here’s the thing, we’ve established that men are trash, but when you do say women are hoes, you are perpetuating a culture that; sexualizes underage girls; slut shames women; proposes that they can’t achieve financial independence without being in proximity to a man; deems women deserving of disrespect and not worthy of justice because of our sexual history.
Listen, women know not all men are trash. We don’t need you derailing conversations about our safety to mansplain this to us. Instead, check your privilege, hold your friends accountable for their sexism.
6 thoughts on “Men: but my feelings… ”
I’ve always told this to my male colleagues who only bring up male rights to counter a conversation on feminism. If they really cared, they would BE ABOUT IT 24/7! not just when it is convenient.
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I love this, whenever I am catcalled, I have to fight the urge to turn around and ask the person about their relationship with their parents.
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This is beautifully written. 🙂
Hebu “Womansplain” one more time hehe.
Here is to dismantling the damned table!
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Thank you Vushya for being with me in this journey of feminist growth:)
The Chimamanda in -the -making of Kenya…You are making so much sense to me right now
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You are far too kind Marren. Thank you.