Friday, August 17, 2012

When overt misogyny doesn't happen to the average woman....

A discussion on SRSDiscussion (SRSD from now on) on the topic why some women chose to be "FeMRAs".

What would cause a woman to

1) say feminism is completely unnecessary

2) Say that women as a whole have already achieved enough and are viewed as equals to men.

3) Say that Mens Rights is both pressing and necessary?

Interestingly as someone who is quite "Men's right-y" I would wonder about 1. and 2. as well. Feminism is always a useful tool to view society in and see how it impacts women. Also complete 100% equality will never be achieved as there will always be issues we need to work on. I am certain women are not viewed as equals in some regards in the same way that men are not viewed as equals in some regards. This is the point where my egalitarianism comes in, figuring the stuff out for men and women. Point 3. is the view of a certain kind of feminists, which I would term gynocentric feminists, who could not comprehend how there is a merit to the concept of men's right at all.

So this is mostly about that topic. One comment I found telling really showed me with what I griped with. As usual in SRSD there is the notion that "misandry don't real" as misandry as compared to misogyny is not institutionalized (perhaps the underlying reason for point 3.), yet one reads such a comment:

People tend take their own, personal experience and apply it to everyone around them. If you're average enough and live in a safe place/bubble, you could have never experienced the kind of overt misogyny that many women face. You might adhere to traditional gender roles and ideals of femininity just because that's who you are. You might not be the type of person who seeks out information on the rest of the world and it might be difficult for you to empathize with people who are very different from you.

So, essentially, if you're a white, middle class woman in an average town who isn't ugly or insanely beautiful and who fits in well to your traditional place in society, you're going to think this is the case for everyone else. You're going to see feminist claims as overblown. And it's going to be easy for you to unknowingly buy in to patriarchal propaganda (after all, most societies are designed to spread such propaganda… I mean, the male gaze is everywhere in America).

So the average woman does not face misogyny, yet many women do face overt misogyny. How can it be overt if the average woman does not face it? This points me to another gynocentric talking point, "men can not be oppressed as men". The idea behind that is that when men are oppressed, it is because that the man in question is from a minority or poor or from the GSM spectrum, that he just couldn't be oppressed because he is male because patriarchy or misandry don't real. However looking at the above one could argue that women are not oppressed because they are women. "if you're a white, middle class woman in an average town who isn't ugly or insanely beautiful and who fits in well to your traditional place in society [... y]ou're going to see feminist claims as overblown", If you are average (not poor not from a racial minority etc) you do not face oppression.

Personally, would I say that men/women are oppressed, in the western world? Well you could probably draw a line somewhere and argue that neither or both are. I am sure though that there are gendered expectations that do hurt women as well as men and we should work to eliminate both. Do women have it worse than men? Well, maybe. Or maybe not. How do you quantify having it worse? From my point of view arguing this is a pointless exercise that leads nowhere. The issues also influence each other. If you get more father's involved with their kids you also influence the wage gap issue. It is not a zero sum game. Which leads us to this question someone asked in regards to Point 3:

Do you think men face no gender issues whatsoever in society, or do you feel that the social issues faced by women should be solved first before addressing men's issues.

Good question, and a typical answer follows:

Many of the gender issues faced by men stem from patriarchy, in that its restrictive gender roles harm both men and women by forcing them to conform to a set of very narrow rules. However, the important thing about patriarchy is that it is set up to benefit men (who follow it unquestioningly), but even then, only some men.

Because the voices and the views of women have been suppressed, currently it is important to focus on women's rights because they are the oppressed group. But feminism is not the elevation of women's rights over and above those of men's; it is the eradication of sexism. Seen in this light, it should go without saying that feminism will improve the lives of both men and women by dismantling gender roles. Even things that MRAs complain about - child custody, the overlooking of male rape - can be traced back to patriarchal origins (the belief that women must care for children, the false assumption that men are sexually aggressive and thus cannot be raped), so feminism is a way of fixing these things. [I omitted the critics of MRAs here because it is not relevant to that topic and I really do not care]

The social issues faced by men and women, though different, do not exist independently of each other. However, in our present society, women suffer more than men. The eradication of the power structure that enables this inequality is ultimately a benefit to all genders, not just women.

Again this is a very word-y cop out. Interestingly there is a rebuttal to this on a very gynocentric feminist blog (FF101):

Why are you concentrating on X when Y is so much more important?

A common argument that is used on people who are talking about special interests — such as feminism — is to say that, instead of talking about Special Interest X the person should instead talk about Important Issue™ Y. This proposed correlation between X and Y is problematic on a few levels:

- It assumes that X and Y are mutually exclusive
- It assumes that there is an objective determinant for what is “important” and what is not
- It creates a hierarchy of issues, which in turn creates a supposed “correct” order/path that must be followed

And all these points really apply. Asking "shouldn't you feminists focus on women's rights in Africa first?" or even "shouldn't we work on world peace first and solve the hunger problem?" is the same kind of derailing as saying that women have it worse and we should focus on them first and that feminism really also helps men. It is a stupid topic really. Feminism has mostly treated men's right as collateral benefits. And who can blame them as it was focus to emancipate women. I agree that it was the more pressing issue at the time. But really, it is about time now that men get some help, too. And really it is not mutually exclusive, quite the contrary.

Bonus points for my resource section, Dworkin's book "Right Wing Women" and the Dworkin Online Library. (The more you know)

4 comments:

  1. can't seem to comment over there:

    "Even things that MRAs complain about - child custody, the overlooking of male rape - can be traced back to patriarchal origins (the belief that women must care for children, the false assumption that men are sexually aggressive and thus cannot be raped), so feminism is a way of fixing these things."

    LOL that must totally explain why men used to get child custody by default before feminists changed that.

    http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2012-06-where-are-all-the-men-in-the-have-it-all-debate#comment-575318911

    "The divorce craze actually began back in the 1860’s and 1870’s when the Suffragettes undermined father-custody with the Tender Year’s Doctrine and mother-custody became the norm, "

    http://no-maam.blogspot.in/2012/07/the-marxist-dialectic-of-family-part-ii.html

    also take a look at part one.

    "And who can blame them as it was focus to emancipate women."

    IF feminism is merely about focus on women, they should shut up about men and the concept of equality, but it's not merely that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for a great blog!

    I have found feminist power theory untestable. Long reading about this can be found here:

    http://rutrutan.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/testability-of-social-power-structure-theory/

    Please comment if you find it interesting! English is my second language so I hope spelling and grammar errors aren't too abundant.

    ReplyDelete
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