One of the silliest arguments I read on the internet is that all feminists hate men. Really, they, or rather, we, do.
This is on a par with all feminists are hairy ugly lesbians, it is so ridiculous.
The view that feminists hate men and want to damage them emotionally, socially, and financially is downright crass.
There are some people I dislike. Some are men. Some are women. Likewise, there are people I like, again some are men, some are women.
None of this has anything to do with feminism. Feminists dislike a system. Feminists want to see the elimination of a patriarchal system that discriminates against anyone who isn’t an alpha male. Preferably a white one.
There is more to feminism than achieving the right to vote. Interestingly, New Zealand was first with the extension of the vote to all women over 21 in 1893. Canada followed (except for Quebec) in 1919, and America timed it in 1920 for a presidential election.
The UK managed to give women over 30 the vote in 1918, based upon property qualifications (historically the UK right to vote was based on property), and universal female suffrage for women over 21 had to wait another ten years.
So? Then what?
Women had the right to vote in the UK. A big step forward. But just one.
Around the same time, Oxford University finally allowed women to receive a degree (1920). Women had been attending Oxford since the 1870s and passing examinations with honours. But, because they weren’t men, they couldn’t graduate.
The first woman to gain honours in a University examination which was intended to be equivalent to that taken by men for a degree was Annie Mary Anne Henley Rogers. In 1877 she gained first class honours in Latin and Greek in the Second Examination for Honours in the recently instituted ‘Examination of Women’. In 1879 she followed this with first class honours in Ancient History.
Annie Rogers returned to Oxford to matriculate and graduate on 26 October 1920.
So two battles won?
Well not really. I’ve written before about how my mother was narrowly allowed to go to grammar school because her mother saw no need for it, and despite attending for a few years, she was finally pulled out of school to do the cleaning, ironing, cooking etc for the men in the family, approximately 20 years after the first women graduated from Oxford. My grandmother got her own way in the end. Life was different for the working class woman in the late 1930s.
Education is one of the cornerstones of feminism. Along with health care, bodily autonomy and economic independence.
Pregnancy, from the World Health Organisation
Maternal deaths have dropped from 427 000 in the year 2000 to 289 000 in 2013, but are still unacceptably high: nearly 800 women die due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth every day.
We’re mostly looking at low income countries, but look at this comment from a blog two years ago about childbirth in America:
Bearing a child is still one of the most dangerous things a woman can do. It’s the sixth most common cause of death among women age 20 to 34 in the United States. If you look at the black-box warning on a packet of birth control pills, you’ll notice that at most ages the risk of death from taking the pills is less than if you don’t take them—that’s because they’re so good at preventing pregnancy, and pregnancy kills. The risk flips only after age 35 because birth control pills increase the risk of stroke. (Psst, guys, you know what makes an excellent 35th birthday present for your partner? Getting a vasectomy.)
So. Contraception has made one big difference to women. It’s reduced our chances of dying young from
repetitive strain injury childbirth.
And, the other major factor that has moved forward women’s rights, was being able to go to work and earn money.
Now, women are no longer dependent on being passed as a dependent chattel from one man (father) to another (husband) to serve as a brood mare, and risk their health in endless pregnancies. We can go to university, vote and get jobs. We can provide for ourselves. We can have sex without the risk (or a very low risk) of getting pregnant.
There are equal opportunity laws. Life has moved on. We are now all equal. Sure. Women and other minority groups really want to add the stress of taking a case as well as being discriminated against because we now have legal recourse to do so. In theory, everything is there for us. No more worries, discrimination in the workplace doesn’t happen? How many stories do you want from my office? Sexual harassment? Discrimination while pregnant? Laws don’t end discrimination, and they put the onus on the discriminated.
At the same time, while legislation, education and health care may have changed in the western world, attitudes haven’t. Women continue to be brought up to attract a mate, a secure meal ticket so they can have a couple of kids, sit back, put their feet up, and be a good housewife. Pretty much what my mother aimed for.
Except. Life doesn’t work out like that.
Because, we know plenty of men who haven’t just got divorced, they have literally walked from a toxic relationship and left their ex-wife and kids with everything. These men are now in their 50s and living in rented accommodation while their ex-wives sit prettily in the (bought) houses funded by their working husbands. And if these men don’t get work? How do they eat and pay their bills and rent?
And the classic. It used to be the gossip in the UK that young women would get pregnant to get council housing. Well, that still happens today. Some women in Gibraltar meet someone, (preferably British and innocent), get pregnant, and … chuck out the bloke shortly afterwards. The woman either gets government housing or sits prettily in bought or rented accommodation while the man pays. The same applies in Spain, women with kids have all the rights.
This is not to say all women do it. And maybe they aren’t playing someone. But some do.
One woman, divorced, said the other night that divorce was one of the biggest reasons people faced financial problems. The split, and the ensuing payments, whether they happened or not, can wreck someone’s life. Not just women’s lives, but men’s lives too.
So, why am I, as a red-card-carrying feminist standing up for the men? Because, men and women, all suffer from a rigid society that imposes artificial constructs upon us.
Men are not the problem. They suffer under patriarchy, as do women, differently, but they still suffer.
They suffer because they are cast in the role of financial provider, as protector of that cute little woman whose sole role is to pop out a couple of kids. Or more, depending on your religion. Just why, should men have to buy a woman? And spend their whole life paying?
Men suffer because women are taught silly rules about sexuality, and think they should use their sexuality to trap men. There is no honesty within these games.
I’m not talking about powerful people here, because little affects them. Just the ordinary person on the street. Who can’t even see what’s hitting them.
Feminism helps men and women. Here’s a short quote from Huff.
In fact, a new piece in the New York Times’ data blog Upshot suggests that the divorce rate has actually been dropping for some time now.
The feminist movement of the 1970s played a considerable role in where the divorce rate is now, according to economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfer. As women entered the work force and gained reproductive rights, marriage began to evolve into its “modern-day form, based on love and shared passions, and often two incomes and shared housekeeping duties.”
I think that says it all. No set role. We each do what we can to make sure our relationship works. In our case, my career, his business, whoever cooks and cleans as and when does that. No expectation based on gender. I didn’t expect anyone to provide for me in return for domestic slavery or sex.
No one has the right to a free meal ticket, not men, not women. And men, if you think that it’s your role in life to provide and protect, you have bought right into patriarchal bullshit.
And to finish and re-emphasise:
Feminists do not hate men. Feminists want to end patriarchy. Feminists merely want a level playing field for everyone. Feminism isn’t a gender war. It’s trying to destroy an age-old artificial construct.
Nor do feminists alienate men. It’s hardly as though my blogs are short of comments from men.
But please don’t believe equality yet exists. It doesn’t. Women are still a minority social group.
For those of you who like the academic side of things, here is an excerpt from a thought-provoking piece:
in her landmark feminist analysis of oppression, Marilyn Frye writes that it encompasses “a system of interrelated barriers and forces which reduce, immobilize and mold people who belong to a certain group, and effect their subordination to another group.”6 Others add that oppression presents multiple faces, including marginalization, exploitation, and powerlessness, and extends beyond economic and political forces to include psychological barriers that reduce, limit, or mold people as members of certain groups.7 Ann Cudd also clarifies that, by means of physical violence, economic domination, and psychologically coercive forces, oppression is essentially “an institutionally structured harm perpetrated on groups by other groups,” in which a privileged social group benefits from the harm endured by the oppressed.8
And for the men who read my blogs, I love you all, lots. 🙂