April 19, 2012 2 Comments
Too often it feels like I am engaged in some kind of gender battle whereby I’m fighting for the wimminz and having normal relations with men feels like sleeping with the enemy. Literally. It feels like I’m constantly fighting to try and stay true to my what I genuinely believe (you know, the whole Patriarchy thing and actually taking a hard line on The Issues), but also not be a raving sexist. Is this even possible?!
I had been thinking that perhaps post-feminism or a post-feminist view of the world might help allay this battleground feeling, and I wondered the benefits of straight egalitarianism as opposed to feminism. I’m not convinced that egalitarianism, or indeed a ‘post-feminist’ outlook, helps at all.
The risk with anything ‘post’ is that it seems to suggest that we are somehow ‘over it’ – ‘post-racism’ means we’re beyond racism being an issue and implies institutionalised or systemic racism is no longer a thing. We’re beyond it and everything is cool. Except, we’re not. We aren’t beyond needing feminism – if anything, we need it now more than ever: People working at UK Feminista counted and “found the number of grassroots feminist groups has doubled in the past two years… It shows what a resurgence there’s been in feminism and how people across the UK are fighting back against the attacks on women’s equality.”
While on the one hand it would be great for me to not frame the issues into very specific and narrow contexts, it’s extremely difficult to talk about them without any context at all, without acknowledging gender as an issue, or without attempting to separate the two genders. Because gender is inherently an issue – without referring to official statistics, I know off the top of my head that men are broadly more violent and aggressive than women, for example. Is this biological, a result of hormone differences? Perhaps. (Cis)women (and transmen) are the only ones who can physically give birth. Should I ignore this very simple and straightforward, undeniable biological fact? Or should I try to pick apart the which traits/behaviours are biological and factually unchangeable, how much is socialised and internalised, and how much cannot in fact be accurately applied to half the world’s population and is simply a different personality/view?
All this talk of egalitarianism and being fair to all genders brings me to a really important point that I think has needed saying for some time: We need to make a space to discuss men’s issues – exclusively. Feminists talk of derailing tactics when they discuss issues – “What about the menz?” – and this is a valid and frustrating thing that comes about time and time again. But at the same time, when is it appropriate to talk about how the Patriarchy shafts men too? Where are the spaces for all genders to discuss scenarios where men really are worse off?
Some will think in response to that, that I am calling for masculism or that MRAs perfectly plug this gap. They don’t. Most MRA boards, blogposts or websites that I have come across are nothing more than a thinly veiled, highly misogynistic and vicious attack against women. Many men in those spaces call for the rape and aggressive oppression and domination of women and this is clearly not on. There is rarely any critique of the Patriarchy as it screws men, and far more bitching and whining about how the be-breasted of society don’t have sex with them enough. Or something. I’m not really sure.
I have yet to see a discussion about men’s issues that I am concerned about in those spaces – the issue of genuine reproductive/parental rights and protection, for example. Do men have real control over reproduction? They can father children and not know for years, if ever. Is it fair that, should they genuinely not wish to have children, they can be ‘forced’ to – and then end up paying for the child they didn’t want? Of course it isn’t. How the state could possibly protect against unwillingly becoming a father, I don’t know, but this is just one of the things I think needs to be looked at and seriously considered.
Masculism for me isn’t an ideal response because it seems to ignore what I feel is the real issue. The Patriarchy. Too often I hear “men go to war to fight for women” but I find this to be a disingenuous connection – rarely in history do we find that women have been the leaders in war scenarios. Men kill men. What we are skirting around is the fact that this is symptomatic of a Patriarchal society, not one in which women lead or have any means of systematic control. Ultimately, egalitarianism is the goal here, and I’d like to think that can be achieved through feminism – I seriously doubt much can be achieved through masculism as is – and I think that while a post-feminist outlook is great on an individual basis (so you don’t judge people on gender! Wonderful!) it’s not at all useful for critiquing the society we currently live in. And this is necessary for progress.