Edit: forgot that the feminism tag has trigger warnings. Well, this post might piss you off unless you can endure it to the end. You’ve been warned.
I don’t like writing angrily. At least I don’t think I do. It always feels a bit like throwing up, the bile waiting in your belly, then slowly rising up your throat until suddenly you can’t stop it and a mess appears on the carpet. It’s not good. But then, throwing up is ‘good’ in a sense, because it’s getting rid of a lot of shit your body definitely doesn’t want to hold. So shocked that such horrid things should exist, never mind have found their way past the perimeter defences, the body quite rightly raises its nose in indignation and chucks.
A similar thing is about to happen here.
Feminism. Ah yes. We meet again. How long has it been? A day? I hoped it was more than that. It wasn’t? Darn. Thought so. I would’ve remembered.
For me, feminism is like that love affair you have on the side that you’re not really comfortable with but you generally accept because, although it’s reprehensible, maybe even morally reprehensible, it has some delightfully sweet moments. Anyone reading this already thinking I’m a misogynist pig can go wave a placard. I just gave you an underhand compliment there. You should be awkwardly pleased.
The first problem is the attitude. A lot of feminists fucking hate men. With a passion. A passion like in the affair metaphor I just mentioned. And a lot of the culture that I’m surrounded with has decided “well, this is basically okay. We men have been cunts to them far longer than they’ve been cunts to us.” Thing is, men haven’t collectively done anything. Neither have women. Just like white people can’t collectively hate or oppress black people. Men in fact cannot, as a whole, do shit to women. Folks can create or participate in a culture in which their features are prised above those of certain others. They can pretend that because they’re male or female that makes them better. They can pretend that all men or women are better than men or women. Whichever applies. That doesn’t mean everyone with similar features agrees with them or shares their opinions. If I grew a toothbrush moustache and combed my hair, I wouldn’t suddenly agree with Hitler. I might just be a big Charlie Chaplin fan.
But wait, I hear you cry, the negative attitudes that some people create can spread like wildfire to become cultural norms. The Nazis’ general cuntishness actually being quite a good example.
Yes, I say.
But, you retort, that’s what we’re talking about and fighting against. That’s what we mean when we say “what men have done”.
Again, attitude problem. Feminists like to say things they don’t really want to explain (such as calling themselves feminists in the first place) and when they are called on to explain them, they have to admit that they’ve given a totally new meaning to the words they’ve just employed. Let me give you two quick examples.
Number one: feminism. Ask them what this means and they, usually, say “the pursuit of gender equality”. Tell them that that’s egalitarianism, which it is, and they just stare at you. Maybe call you a misogynist for thinking that FEMinists are obsessed with women. Yeah, no idea why I’d think that. Sorry.
Number two: patriarchy. Ask them what this means and it usually comes down to the good ol’ “what men have done to society”. Make the above point about it not being possible to blame all men for the actions and consent of what admittedly may well be a majority, and they say you’re quibbling. Maybe call you a misogynist, or just an idiot for not understanding. That’s another thing I get a lot. Condescending replies to important questions. Swing back round on patriarchy saying “well, actually, patriarchy is more about power-play and mass application of traditional family structures than what men or women have done. It could just as well be matriarchy and we’d have essentially the same issues to deal with, just women being in the ‘head of the family’ roles rather than men. It’s people making the mistake of thinking that they should control other peoples’ lives, supposedly for those others’ own good. That’s the big problem.” Again, apparently I’ve missed the point…
Women have a right to be angry, but only if they accept and understand that men have the same right. In other words, if you want to get offended at me for what you’re saying my ancestors and a bunch of drunks and dope-heads on a building site have done to you, I’m well within my rights to tell you to go fuck yourself. And then, because I like to think I’m a decent human being, I’ll genuinely try to help. Having made the point that you’re acting like a cunt.
On the point of cunts just quickly, I like using it as a swearword not because I hate vaginas or want to belittle them. I like it because it’s a pithy anglo-saxon phrase and because it has a power that dick and cock lost long ago. And a power that no word should have. The power of words should be dependent on the context of their use, not pre-defined attitudes to them. So you’ll be hearing cunt from me until you stop being bothered by it, then it’ll be as visible as “the”.
The second big problem with feminism, after attitude, is organisational. Feminism is more of an ideology or an intellectual approach than a movement, and yet many of its proponents want to hold it up like Labour used to do with socialism, pretending that there’s a unity of purpose. There isn’t. Well, nothing beyond “improving the situation of women”. Okay, feminists are probably going to feel like they have more common ground with other feminists than, I don’t know, people like me. Doesn’t mean they necessarily share the same purpose or the same understanding of feminism though. You’ve already had multiple different historical waves of feminism, with different aims and limits. People who prefer or sympathise with the past waves may still call themselves feminists now. Related to this you have the fine line as to how important the improvement of womens’ lives should be in feminist thinking. And I mean women as opposed to everyone. Because that’s the unifying factor in all feminism – that it’s a movement primarily focussed on women. Yet feminists still disagree as to exactly how much focus should be placed on women and what should be done to help them. Disagree in important ways.
This latest wave of female fervour sounds as though it’s shifting more towards egalitarianism in its actual intellectual justifications for its actions. But a number of its advocates are more militant than ever. Which makes sense because feminism has gone global. Like socialism. Funny thing. You know, Communism was actually seen as a broadly benevolent force way back when. Before it was tarnished with Stalin, Mao, Castro, etc etc. It had a place like democracy used to have – as the dangerous pipe dream of social idealists. Pipe dream because, said most people in leading positions, it could never work. Or would only work in heaven. Dangerous because of the way it could inspire masses of people to do great evil at the behest of the promise of a better society and a better lot for them personally. But communism, and similar thought-strains like utopian socialism, had its advocates across the globe. And so ordinary people from all over joined the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. Social theorists like Robert Owen, back in the 1800s, had tried setting up perfect communes on the strength of early socialist/communist ideals. The parts of socialism inclined towards communism had a long pedigree, one that was shattered when the term “communism” and key bits of the theory were let loose on demagogues and the dregs of polite society.
I’m not saying feminism is going down the road of communism. Though admittedly I haven’t met an economically liberal feminist (well, it feels like the sort of thing I would’ve remembered, and I don’t). The point is still organisational: feminism is having trouble being a single, unified movement even in Britain. England in fact. The divide between living standards in North and South already being enough to throw perspectives into relief before smashing them against eachother like so many splintering schoolground conkers. So when you start claiming “solidarity, sister” between atheist feminists in London and Muslim women in the villages around Abuja…apart from having a more general reality check, you should really take a glance at the history books to see how these movements go. From Christianity being taken up by the Romans, to Protestantism tearing apart Europe, to democracy around the time of the French and American revolutions, to Socialism and Communism more recently, and now feminism, radical Islam. These international populist movements have an extensive past of disorder, distrust and destruction. Because they claim to be the same when they are not. Not to say none of them have had positive as well as negative effects, but if you’re going to participate in and approve something like that, you should really know what you’re approving of. When men and women alike just give a nod to feminism because, “hey, why would you not?” that’s an equivalent to the rise of extremism out in the Middle East that we’re so terrified of, and no, no I’m not saying feminism is damaging in the same way as radical Islam. I’m saying its spreading with a similar poorly-considered blanket approval.
If you’ve a feminist, just think to yourself for a moment: think of all those other feminists (because I bet there are a ton of them) who you’ve met and who you think either go too far or don’t go far enough. That is a danger to the movement known as feminism. The lack of clearly accepted subdivisions means that you probably feel you should partially agree or at least support and sympathise with these other feminists. People who you think believe the wrong thing and who, just by being like that, are actively passing on the message that feminism isn’t what you think it is.
But hey, “solidarity, sister. It’s all part of the struggle against…”
The only message given by the current organisation or lack thereof in feminism seems (to my poor, foolish, manly eyes) to be that women should stick together. And no I’m not claiming that feminists the world over go round saying that. I’m suggesting that this is the result of their other actions. That it might even be unconscious sometimes, but they are just drawing a thicker and thicker line between themselves and men. For an egalitarian like me, this presents quite a problem. I want there to be no line, and here we have a movement that claims the same goal as me yet appears, at least in part, to be thickening the line.
Numbers dwindling, our lands being taken from us, our very identity being subsumed by the womanists, I ask: Que font les egaliterians? Make a stand I suppose. That’s what I’ll do anyway.
Anger fading, I want to show you why I’m not a misogynist. Far as I know, a misogynist is a habitual woman-hater. Seriously devoted to putting women in a lesser place and generally making them uncomfortable. That sounds like it takes some commitment. Like being a through-and-through feminist. Or religious. If you feed yourself your own rhetoric day-in-day out, sooner or later you accept it as gospel. I’m trying to pull myself out of the trap of doing this by accident. I want to control the shit I feed back into my ears, so that maybe I could keep telling myself to be happy and then eventually I’d just go around with a sunnier disposition. Heck, it’s worked in the past.
So I’m an anarchist. Yup. Not a destroy everything anarchist. Just an anarchist. Think of me as being like an ultimate liberal who can accept that dismantling a government with minimal damage might take upwards of 500 years. I habitually criticise everything. No topic that arises in my life goes free from analysis for more than a year. So yes I do have times when I accept something for just a little while. This, for me anyway, seems like a very healthy way to go about life. I’m much less at risk of falling prey to an ideology that might garner negative attitudes in me. Instead, I just have huge saddlebags of emotional crapulence attached to each part of my body. But at least I know this crap, at least its my crap, not the crap some ideological attitude has piled up on my head.
I’m not a misogynist: I don’t have the retention for it.
I make comments sometimes – not on here, I think, but generally – that are apparently sexist. Yes, in my admiration of the female body, I’m being unfair to men. Sorry. I enjoy the male body so much in my private time it seems only right to focus on women when I’m out in public. Seriously, there is a noticeable line between saying/doing something to a man/woman that would make them feel uncomfortable (on the one hand) and then joking about the male/female form, or specific people if they’re comfortable with it (on the other). Yes it’s difficult to see where this line is sometimes. Yes it can be dangerous. There are risks to joking in this way at all. Yet there are also risks to supporting a world in which we have to talk to eachother in specific, officially-approved ways because the risk that we might offend someone and not be able to apologise is just too great. Hey, who knows, maybe we shouldn’t be trusted with free speech. Maybe we should have robots programmed with pre-set communications that should do the job for us. We lose our tongues and we just select legitimate phrases to be spoken in the inoffensive monotone. Might not be so bad. But then we might not be able to use sarcasm. And that would be bad.
If, for example, after watching an Emma Watson video about gender equality and feminism on Facebook, I say (in a remarkably witty fashion) that I want to lick her out, it’s only a compliment to her and a chance for me to be funny. If this video was being shown to a bunch of blokes on the verge of understanding female plight, and Emma’s words were just sinking in and beginning to take effect, I’d keep my dirty mouth shut. I don’t say stupid and arguably sexist things just because. No, I say them because I’ve thought it through. Some times better than others sure, but in any case, there’s not a blatant disregard for male or female feeling based on the cultural norms I was brought up with. There is in fact a conscious disregard for the norms I was brought up with because it’s obvious that they’re shit.
Now I wanted to try and emphasise that I’m not a misogynist, conscious or not, because I’m going to have a go at saying a couple of things that could be taken to be even more offensive than all that I’ve said so far. That is, if I don’t express myself accurately enough. Which could easily happen.
Men and women are oppressed in equal degree. They’re mirrors of one another. If one is unequally treated, then so is the other and in equal measure. That is, if we take oppression to be inherent in inequality.
Power is not a privilege. It is a burden. Excessive power corrupts with its crushing weight, with what people must do to bear it, and then, if the corruption’s untreated, people die of it. Either through the enemies they make or in being strangled by conscience. In politics – which seems like a good case study – compromise usually means surrendering personal belief and giving up on promises made to the electorate. It’s not like normal compromise, because so much is at stake, and there are only so many ways of negotiating it. There’s almost never the time to resolve differences between two massive power-holders, there’s normally only time for them to force eachother to surrender parts of themselves. Compromise is painful in politics. Complete destruction of an enemy – increasing one’s own burden of power and presumably one’s guilt – is also painful. Resignation can be made painful. Power is painful. On a smaller scale there can be enough counter-weights to deal with that, but on a larger scale there cannot be. All the money in the world can buy friends, forgiveness and fashion, but it can’t earn them. If they’re bought, they can go the second someone makes them a better offer.
There’s no big power mass-management role that isn’t as just described. Stepping up to that sort of job is crazy but most people are too idealistic and indoctrinated to believe it. Instead they envy it and imagine how brilliantly they’d do the job if given the chance. Sorry to break it to you, but you wouldn’t do it better. Or wouldn’t do it much better. These jobs are designed to break people. These jobs are galvanising broader organisational inefficiencies with well-trained human bodies. They, and the -atriarchal mindsets that spawn them, are one of the bigger problems that we should all be working together to solve. But I don’t expect us to suddenly realise and get on with that. Heck, I don’t expect you to credit more than 50% of what I’m saying, or remember 15% of the content of these words by the end of the next hour. I believe the shit I’m spewing though, so I want to say it anyway. Who knows? You might remember the best bits. The corn, as it were.
So men having a majority share in the seats of power isn’t an advantage. It just makes it easier for them to fuck things up and then take all of the blame. To be away getting shit wrong instead of spending time with the partner and kids, learning, living a happy life.
This is where if it were up to me, and feminists said “we want an equal share of the power (big power)” I might well say “you can have the whole fucking lot of it. I’m off to get drunk, read Voltaire and raise the children.”
There are times when feminists are bleating on about how bad women have had it, how great men have had it, and I just want to look them right in the eye and say “fuck off. There are other people on this planet too who aren’t cunts and also need air.” Not the best reaction, but like I said, I won’t pretend I’m not emotional. And such careless injustice really does make me emotional.
All that having been said, I’ll generally give that awful nod of consent to the broader movement of feminism because, firstly it’s not like I can stop it and secondly because yes, it might well get people thinking in a better way than they do now. Still plenty of plenty of room for improvement though. Room in which I’ll be flying around, high as a kite (on love and understanding) mocking myself and anything that’s nailed down.