Friday, October 30, 2015

#ILoveMenButHatePatriarchy Is Counterproductive, And Here's Why

Actors Emma Watson and Laverne Cox came up with a new hashtag to try and spread awareness about feminism among the twitter community. Although the idea of #ILoveMenButHate Patriarchy appears to be an attempt to counter the idea that feminists hate men, it takes the same approach as Watson's other forays into feminist discourse in that it continues to buy in to the rhetoric that feminists need to convince men that we don't hate them in order to be relevant  or accepted as a movement. This is simply the wrong approach and there needs to be a shift in attitudes towards one that prioritizes the needs of women, rather than being afraid to tell the truth for fear of male backlash or being seen as a "bitch".

This new kind of feminism has been shaped by decades of the movement being undermined and attacked on all sides in the media and elsewhere. Suddenly it has become taboo to be up front and say "I stand up for women" without having to cushion it somehow in order to protect the feelings of men. Not unlike how women are constantly having to watch what they say in the workplace or daily life so as not to be labelled "bitchy" or "uncooperative" or "hysterical". It's the same mindset that tells girls that they have to think about boys first, and themselves second. It's been going on forever, and it needs to stop.

The reality is that we shouldn't have to cater our message to men in order to be taken seriously. We shouldn't have to make appeals like "What if this was your daughter" to get men listening. Men should just be listening. If they want in, they should buy into the movement as it is, instead of expecting us to cater to their needs, like women are always expected to do.

The critical reason that we cannot give into this mindset is that men get away with saying and doing absolutely heinous things to women and never face pressure to explain why they do not, in fact, hate women. I should not have to coddle a man by reassuring him that I do not hate him  just because I believe that women should be equal, and should not have to put up with all of the pervasive violence and brick walls of oppression that keep women from having safe, happy, and fulfilled lives.

Women should not have to alter the truth of their lives and experiences in order for men to feel better about themselves. When we talk about violence and harassment and racism, we should not have to perform back flips so as to make sure that some guy isn't going to be threatened by what we say and send us death threats and rape threats over the internet. Male anger and male violence should not be what decides if our voices are heard or not.

If men can only handle feminist ideas if they are watered down and served in a golden chalice to them, then we don't want these men in the movement. We don't need them. If they cannot understand or appreciate what we have to say unfiltered and not catered to them, then no matter what is done they will never understand. Why should we be wasting our energy and resources trying to get people like this on board instead of trying to tell the real stories of women everywhere, and being unapologetic about it?

Men are not my concern as a feminist. Men should enter feminist spaces if they are willing to listen and willing to do something tangible to help women, like backing up their female coworkers who are fighting to get paid fairly or claim maternity benefits, or telling off their friends who are harassing women in public. They should come to the fold if they actually are interested in our ideas and our experiences. Otherwise, I do not see a need to silence myself as a shield against violence and threats.

#ILoveMenButHatePatriarchy is not part of my vocabulary.

*  twitter: @poliitcal_toast   Tumblr: political toaster 

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