This week, my good friend David Ellis Dickerson commented on a feminist blog entry against Boobquake. He was castrated (figuratively of course). I came to his defense, and was attacked with perhaps as much ferocity for defending a man. It was like I was evil to point of Nazi sympathizer, suggesting that a man had a valid point about a feminist issue. I mean, yeah, Dave should have known you can’t tell a radical feminist to “lighten the fuck up.” But in his defense, he didn’t lay that on her until the fifth paragraph, and had made lots of good points in defense of Boobquake first. You can read the whole shebang here. (My favorite was the woman who called him a “mainplaining dood.”) At this moment, the writer of the original post, “marybullstonecraft” has made nice with Dave, but some of the other participants in the discussion are still very angry that he (a man) voiced his opinion (an opinion that didn’t match theirs) on this feminist blog. The thing is, his opinion, although for Boobquake instead of against it, was a feminist response that would not have ignited such anger if the name associated with his comments had been Diana Ellis Dickerson instead.
I hate that some of these feminist women have this knee-jerk reaction to men. One even told me that men can’t be victims of sexism. Really? How can that be?
Most men have women in their lives. Many men were raised by women, maybe grew up with sisters, have women and girls as friends and relatives, have chosen to create lives with women. Lives are interconnected, plain and simple. Whenever a woman is ill-treated, everyone around her suffers on her behalf, unless she bravely keeps it under wraps (and even if she keeps it inside, it will take its toll). When a woman is denied a raise, her family’s quality of life suffers. When a woman is denied a job, her family’s quality of life suffers even more. When a woman is denied medical care or coverage . . . well, you get the idea.
A woman saying that a man can’t or shouldn’t speak up about feminism is counter-productive and just plain inaccurate. It’s like saying Sarah McLachlan has no right to speak on behalf of the animals because she’s not a dog. Or that I can’t be angry about racism because I’m white. Sarah can be an animal activist and I can refuse to shop at stores run by racist shopowners because this is my world too. This is the world that I live in, and I don’t want it to be a racist, sexist, or abusive place. So my friend Dave, and all men who so desire, should be welcomed with the warmest of hugs into feminism. The current cold, hateful attitudes held by some feminists towards men is not only counter-productive, it’s confusing to me. It’s doctrinaire and strict, and makes feminism seem like it’s only for radical man-haters, which makes men and women, especially young women, hesitant to identify with feminism. Anti-male attitudes are no different than the Augusta Golf Club’s policies. And if it’s true that men’s attitudes are still held in higher regard than women’s, in general, then why in the world would any movement want to silence the members with the most clout? (I’m only half-joking with that question).
So what to do? There’s no easy answer. For tops, feminist women, I implore you to rethink your anti-male attitudes if you’ve got them. Argue with them when the situation warrants it, call them on their sexism if they’re showing some, but be willing to listen to them, too. Learn to detect when the good ones are around. Don’t just assume every man is a “dood” who is “mansplaining” something to you. These dismissive comments are no more constructive than when a man calls a woman a “bitch.”
Men, women, and girls who believe in equality, please recognize that you are a feminist. Believing in equality– Yes!– that’s all it takes to be a feminist. Don’t be afraid to tell people. Consider this: you know how the Republican Party has been hijacked by the Christian Right, Fox viewers, birthers, and now Tea Partiers? We perceive them as complete whackadoodles, right? The moderates are being silenced for not being conservative enough; they’re dismissed as RINOs. How many of those moderate Republicans can you name? (I can name Meghan McCain, who is not a politician, and Christine Todd Whitman, who’s been out of politics for years). So just like how the Republican Party wouldn’t seem so loco if the moderates reclaimed their party, if more of us sane, reasonable feminists called ourselves feminists, loudly and proudly, the movement overall wouldn’t seem so extreme.
Remember, it’s the Sarah Palins and the Michele Bachmanns that get the attention, but we need to remind people that the radicals are the exception, not the norm. Only a handful of feminists are man-haters. Only a handful of feminists are bullldykes. Only a handful of feminists aim to silence every other voice but their own. Only a handful of feminists are militant. Being a feminist is not an ugly thing. COMON GIRLS! Let’s be positive, proud, and inviting.