We often here that at bottom feminism is about equality of the genders. The wiki on feminism and equality repeats this, saying “In general, feminism is a belief in equality between the two genders.”
It follows from this that all real feminists should be MRAs. And we do see more and more feminists coming out and posting articles on how they are becoming MRAs or have developed an interest in men’s issue, now that they have sons or whatever and view with horror the prospects of these males face, whom they love.
In a thread over at Good Man Project discussing a comment made on anther thread about the movie “Mad Mike” several examples of misandry on the part of well-meaning feminists surfaced. (The orginal article this comment appeared under is a good example of someone spectacularly missing the point of a movie. It is worth a read too; it’s hilarious in its own right.)
Commenter HeatherN says:
“Right let me try to explain with an analogy. I’m from the U.S. and I live in the U.K. People use the word “fag” as slang for cigarette. Do I freak out? Do I even care? No, because they are not using that word offensively or at all related to the way it can be used offensively.
The word patriarchy was not created as and is not commonly used as a way to demean and/or oppress individuals or a group. Objectively speaking it is not an offensive word. If you (anyone) has had personal experiences with that word being used as a way to attack you, that sucks. If you want to talk about that personal experience, I totally get it.
However, that still doesn’t change the fact that the word is not objectively offensive. Which means that when people are using that word in a way that isn’t an attack (which is frankly, most of the time), it’s important for you (anyone) to recognize that.”
I answered (and so far my comments are not appearing):
“Fail. The standard for offensiveness is not the intent of the speaker but the way the listener takes it. do you somehow think there is any non-offensive way to use “nigger” depending on what the speaker says she means? And it certainly not a woman’s call whether or not “patriarchy” is “commonly understood to be offensive”. I as a man often wonder why women get so het up about the word “bitch”, when it so objectively describes a range of related behaviors.
Second, it signifies nothing if some straight woman does not “freak out” at the use of the word fag. In fact it is quite to be expected, given how often straight women use gay-bashing to control men and indulge in other forms of homophobia.
Here’s a test for you, since you live in the UK. Are you similarly indifferent when someone calls somoene, you for instance, a “cunt” to mean a stupid person? – because that is British usage. Do you also find that “cunt” is not “objectively offensive”?
HeatherN goes on in her comment to say:
“The word patriarchy was not created as and is not commonly used as a way to demean and/or oppress individuals or a group. Objectively speaking it is not an offensive word.”
I call her out:
“If you don’t see how a word denoting fatherhood but used to name a system of oppression is offensive, there is not much pint in explaining it to you. The word is objectively misandrist. It’s telling that you do not find that offensive.
HeatherN doubles down and insists her feelings about the word “patriarchy” trump those of the men on the board. – gynocentrism in action. Commenter David Byron calls her on it:
“So you are denying my experience and the experience of other men here. I’ve told you that you are being offensive and you respond by demanding that the word isn’t offensive. Insisting on continuing to offend me.
This is part of what I mean when I ask if you believe men have the right to hold a different view of the world than yours.
You are on a men’s board, about getting men to tell their experience of the world, and men are telling you about their experience, and this word is offensive and you are denying their experience. You are telling men they have no right to have an independent view of the world.
Do you think we’re all LYING when we say that that word is used to attack men? I’m saying the word offends me and you’re telling me I’m wrong? How can I be wrong? I’m telling you what the word means to ME and you’re saying I don’t know my own mind?
I am man. I am not you. I have my own view of the world. It’s not your view. I have a right to have my own view and it isn’t yours. Do you accept this? Do you really understand and accept it?”
HeatherN thinks she is responding by leaving this:
“Okay, let’s see if I can explain this. I am NOT denying your personal feelings or experience. I am saying that your personal experience doesn’t create a mainstream interpretation of words like privilege and patriarchy. I tried to explain with the analogy to the British use of “fag,” that the CONTEXT of a word is important.
You feel the word patriarchy is offensive…personally. That’s valid. I acknowledge that is valid. But that is a PERSONAL feeling that is not based on the common understanding of what the word patriarchy means. “
Not only is this a double standard – no feminist I can think of would tolerate this dismissal of a woman’s objection to this kind of thing from a man, but this is also just linguistically naïve – linguists and lexicographers have developed pretty sophisticated tests over the centuries for determining the semantic and psychosocial impact of lexical items. It is linguistically naïve, but in a very telling direction. HeatherN is still insisting that her take on the offensiveness of “patriarchy” is as valid as an man’s, who is perhaps also a father. And she just cannot see any error in that.
Here we see in very plain view the central problem with the current efforts on the part of feminists to engage with men’s issues – at No Seriously What About the Menz and the Good Man Project and other places – the unexamined and instinctive gynocentrism that deforms most discussions of gender and which also informs most expressions of empathy and social justice in general. This is not some problem unique to feminists; it is systemic in the culture.
- The Woman Card - May 2, 2016
- Frat boy bachelorettes and the invasion of gay bars - April 15, 2016
- “Not my kid….” - February 22, 2016