when feminists attack II
January 14, 2004 04:10 PM

This is in a way a reply to Karl's post on the "angry grrrl club" by way of my own blog. I can't comment on his blog, and anyway, I suspect I have more than a comment box in me today, and things to say that aren't just about Karl's post or even just about the others who commented on the source of his frustration, this week's question about men turning misogynist in the presence of feminists.

It's interesting to me how much responses to the question brought up this undercurrent of "men don't like us". Part of it was, I think, simply semantics. When you respond to a question about how some men act, you end up using words like "men" to refer to the subset of men you were asked about, not all of them - but it sure sounds like all of them to a listener.

If I were an outside observer on the site for this one question, I might think that feminists believed men to be to a one ready and willing to attack others to prove, preserve, protect and uphold their sacred masculinity. Because a lot of the responses came from the assumption that men (or at least many of them) believe that feminism is an attack on men, an attempt to steal their marbles. When we assume people are threatened by our views or just us in general, though, I think we create that threat for ourselves. If the first time someone made a stupid, sexist remark that bothered you, you then decided they were a schmuck, they'd continue to act like a schmuck out of hurt that you thought they were one to begin with. So, when feminist women deal with not feminist men, we may well approach each other with a certain quantity of preconceptions that make us act like asses, especially if we're family or friends.

In other words, I see where Karl was coming from in taking people to task for busting on the men/boys in their lives while simultaneously wondering why we face hostility from these guys. Maybe we face hostility because, when we wonder where they're coming from, we're already belittling them in our heads. Of course, if they started out belittling us, it's hard not to respond defensively, but defensiveness breeds. Mitosis.

Maybe some men really do hate feminists. Maybe some women do, too (and many of those women also call themselves "feminists", but that's a whole other story). And maybe some people who express chauvinism and anti-feminism at times are acting stupid because they're confused or embarassed and don't want to admit it, or just because they know it will piss me off.

What I'm trying to get at is that sometimes we all argue really stupidly, and it would be real swell if we'd stop.

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I'd also like to point out that a lot of men, especially those who hang out in close proximity to feminists, are exposed to similar little "innocent barbs". Just we're often expected to sit there and take it. Musn't argue with a woman's expression of anger about her oppression by society. Musn't use logic to try to counter an outpouring of emotion. We get told to "shut up and listen", as if a woman and self-described feminist making a stereotypical joke about how worthless men are is somehow suddenly elevated to worthy political discourse simply by virtue of her genetalia and professed affiliation (and because of the group she's chosen to attack).

I say self-described feminists because it is hard to pin down who is and who isn't a feminist. But my own feeling is that those who freely allow themselves to make denigratory remarks about what gender are not.

Right now, there aren't many forums for men to speak amongst themselves (or at all) about this kind of issue, and the few that are are pushed very far to the fringes (and so tend to get extreme fast, and to be made up of only the most extreme people to start with). And there is a lot of anger and frustration amongst a lot of men. I suspect that some of this frustration boils out when with people like family/friends because of the lack of other available forums. People are pissed off, and have no appropriate way to express this. So they express it to you, as a friend and as someone who is at least tangentially associated with Those People Who Are The Problem (IE: those self-described feminists who don't really qualify).

This is some more recent thinking than my WHB post, but I think the same advice still stands. Listen and engage in dialogue. Explain yourself, but let them explain themselves too. Right now, men are badly in need of a voice, and need to be heard.

these are the thoughts of Apathetic Crusader on January 22, 2004 02:57 PM

Apologies about the long-winded response. Can you tell my blogspace is currently down? :)

these are the thoughts of Apathetic Crusader on January 22, 2004 02:58 PM

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