In an open thread over at Feminist Critics*, Commenter AndreaK quotes with disapproval a question she saw somewhere
“The #YesAllWomen thread raises an important question: Why do so many men behave so poorly?”
That question is itself a sly inversion. Quite a lot of the “poor behavior” is exactly the kind of sexual aggression young men report at the hands of women. They report women running their hands along their shoulders – absolute strangers – they report women grabbing their crotches, making lewd comments, report that they are expected t be grateful for all this, that they get all kinds of gay-shaming and accusations of misogyny if they demur – and absolutely none of this is called harassment. They report that they get no hearing at all, they get laughed at and told they should feel lucky.
So the question is, what does #Yesallwomen tell us about [white] female privilege.
Sexist Double Standards: What does it tell us about sexist double standards as to what constitutes harassment, what does it tell us about women’s sense of sexual entitlement to men’s bodies, what does it tell us about women’s claim on sympathy and protection that men do not have?
Empathy Apartheid: What does it tells us about the superior position of women in this society that women feel safe talking publicly about their victimization, where men will be shouted down, gay-shamed, privilege-silenced and have their gender identity called into question if they even try to speak up?
When you are in actual fear of someone, do you go around broadcasting that fear? No, because you know the person you fear will use that information against you, that information will tell that enemy how effective her efforts are so far, and she can ramp them up. So you hide that fear, if it is real, unless you expect help and protection from some other quarter. And if you can expect no help and protection, you hide that fear.
I wonder how much a black woman can expect in the way of sympathy when she gets harassed on the street, how likely she is to go public with that information. I wonder how recently the police and prosecutors in this country started investigating rapes of black women and actually prosecuting them, and how these women’s experiences with that differ from those of white women.
You don’t breathe a word to anybody, and everybody goes around saying that if there really is a problem, why are they not hearing anything about it? And at that point you are in the world of sexual violence statistics and research and cultural conventional wisdom about who the victims of sexual harassment and violence are and are not.
Misandry and objectification of men: The standard deflection is that this is just the workings of the Patriarchy, so it’s self-inflicted pain. So there’s the objectification of men right there, the borgification of men into a single entity inflicting patriarchal oppression on itself. The patriarchy hurts men too. And when a feminist deploys this line of rebuttal, she shows she is complicit in the patriarchy. I have yet to see it used as a rallying call for women to start defending men against women’s sexual violence.
White Lady Tears: There is another question that hashtag brings up. It would be interesting to look at the demographics of the women posting there. Are they really “all women” or are they the usual over-privileged young white women who see oppression everywhere and bewail their victimization to support their privilege? Is this just yet another effusion of “white lady tears”? It this yet another instance of white feminism’s recurring problem of racist erasure of non-white women, or of young white women presuming to speak for all women? I wonder how this trust that an appeal to the pity of society would look to anyone who is not a white women of a certain income level, or someone whose whole gender identity revolves around cherishing and defending white women’s well-being?
The privilege discourse: Does anyone really think any of these so-called privileges these women enjoy are really privileges? Aren’t they really rights? Isn’t this how members of a community are supposed to be treated when they are harmed or even just feel harmed, that they can get a sympathetic hearing and some help? What these are is male “disprivileges” if you insist on the p-word, rights that are denied males.
This is the problem with the whole SJ version of “privilege”. It conflates simple advantages, inherited advantages (Yes, I am going to care about my kids more than you and pass what I have to them, not yours – get over it. No, I am not going to treat all children equally.), basic civil rights, such as the right to what you earn, that all citizens should have but some are denied, and finally what can fairly be called privileges. i.e advantages granted by some external power. “Privilege” conflates all of these and is so sloppy a concept that the sloppiness look almost intentional.
- The Woman Card - May 2, 2016
- Frat boy bachelorettes and the invasion of gay bars - April 15, 2016
- “Not my kid….” - February 22, 2016