Gender politics and unfair characterisations…

Two blog posts (see here and here), where men express a clear outrage towards the feminist movement, have been brought to my attention this last week. Amongst the claims and complaints, is that men have no equivalent to feminism, that they are underrepresented as a result and it is unfair to have feminist/women bodies and organisations representing feminist values whilst men go ‘underrepresented’. Alongside this is an outright denial of the fact that women experience disproportionately more hardship – consider the comment:

Only a lifeboat-feminism could spout the gibberish “Women and children are at greatest risk from poverty . . . Women are already facing serious consequences from the recession”, the very day after the unemployment figures were released. These showed that of the 19,600 jobs lost in March, 13,600 were those of men, and 6,000 were those of women.

This equates poverty and inequality to losing a job – it ignores the fact that many women are in fact unemployed to start with and rely on benefits (etc) from the state to help them with children etc. Women are more likely to be in part-time work too, which is most likely to be low paid, poor conditioned and insecure. Then there is the effect this has on women’s pensions, as women on average live longer than men and are therefore more likely to have to survive on a poor pension. Furthermore, the author even recognised that the public sector is where women are more likely to work, and thus, given that this is the most targeted sector of the UK economic project, then women are set to suffer more anyway, when it comes to job loses.

If some men really feel so hard done by, then maybe they should start-up their own unified ‘manist’ movement or something. But I know of many men who actually have joined the feminist movement, as they see that women are overwhelming disadvantaged in so many areas – and that there is a lot to do to create equality between men and women.

I am by no means rejecting the fact that in some areas men are at a disadvantage – such as the often forced ‘masculinisation’ (aka. hegemonic masculinity). However, it isn’t the women’s fault there is no unified male movement against this, and actually, many feminists also campaign against this type of inequality anyway – not all feminists hate men as these articles seem to assume. I am one of those feminists, who would happily campaign against injustices men face. For example, equal paternity rights is an injustice against men as well as women – there are many men who would love to spend more time with their children but are prevented from doing so due to outdated ideologies. Then there is also the sexuality activism linked in with feminism, as many feminists campaign for gay men as well as lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.

That is not to say that there are some feminists, such as the radicals, who seem to hate men (refer to the comment section below, as some disagree with my characterisation). That is a given. But this opposition to feminists on the grounds of unfair generalisations, which seem pretty prevalent at the moment, are just an unfair characterisation of the whole feminist movement. It is just a further attempt to devalue successful campaigns against the many injustices that women face.

Most of these arguments against feminism also imply a strong biological reductionist tone too, consider:

i.e. men are seeking a mate to make them feel comforted, respected and loved, and have a SEX partner… Women on the other hand also have A BIOLOGICAL MISSION, which once again is basically to find a mate, but this time with the aim of reproducing.

This is obviously stone age language. Most people have moved on from the biological essentialism of social biology and Social Darwinism, to recognise that it is a social construction, which reflects a clear power relationship. Again, this is further evidence that arguments such as these are based on very outdated two sex views of sex, gender and sexuality.

I am not quite sure why I even entertained the two articles in the depth I have, but I guess it was because this type of nonsensical writing infuriates me. It is oblivious to the harsh reality of life, that it is women who are more likely to be disadvantaged – and that these current economic policies are more likely to affect women, and that they are more likely to make women’s already disadvantaged position worse. That is just a fact, some men may not like women and men alike getting together to campaign and highlight this injustice, but then why would they when it threatens the very power structure they wish to uphold?


7 thoughts on “Gender politics and unfair characterisations…

  1. I resent the part of this entry that claims that radicals hate men. It comes off as all radical feminists hate men. I would hope that in the effort to educate men and women regarding feminism that this kind of broad generalization wouldn’t be used.

    It’s my understanding that young women and men shy away from feminism because they don’t understand the many feminisms. Part of understanding the feminisms is understanding that within each feminism are very unique people, all striving for common goals through differing means and theory.

    I would appreciate it, if this was corrected.

  2. How can you claim otherwise though?

    Radical feminists say that women’s oppression is due to biological reasons. That men have a penis and can force it upon women. And that this penis, and biological dominance is the reason for why women are more likely to experience rape and domestic violence.

    It is biological essentialism itself, and undermines the attempts of feminists to overcome this very deterministic way of seeing things.

    I don’t think that radical feminists are a productive way of doing feminism. It isolates men. I have read cases where radical feminists don’t want men to be able to become feminists as they feel that they cannot be so because they have a penis.

    It’s just wrong.

    There is also the argument that to be a feminist you have to be a lesbian too. I mean, how unhelpful is that.

    I just disagree with the radical viewpoint of seeing things. The basis of radical feminism, for me, undermines women’s campaigns to change society.

  3. Oh, and I will add a bit in the blog to divert attention to this discussion, but I will not repeal what I said.

    1. I like this post! I personally agree with you re: radical/militant feminism in its current form – it’s a step backwards as far as I’m concerned due to the combination of the extreme isolation, the fetishism towards lesbianism and the huge amounts of transphobia. But that’s another derail. Found this post via the Speak You’re Brains post’s trackback. Has it never occurred to the writer of the first quotation that maybe, just maybe, the larger number of jobs lost for men is because more men previously had opportunities? Maybe I’m wrong but he doesn’t have any more statistics to back himself up either.

  4. Zee,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Glad you like the post! And yes, I am glad you agree in regards to radicals, I agree with you’re points – it is a massive step backwards. I mean, it just creates divisions amongst men and women, and amongst people who have different sexualities – it goes against most of what the feminist movement as a whole has worked so hard to improve and achieve over so many years.

    And yeah, that is another reason for the job statistics he highlights. I mean, you can cite statistics to the cows come home, but the thing is – he doesn’t really back up what he is saying with any real evidence, he just asserts the statistics as hard boil facts. However, as we have just shown, there are many reasons for why this may be the case. It just fits his whole illogical argument, and is something us feminists have to keep on campaigning against!

  5. I realize this is an older post, but thought I’d respond anyways.

    I need to ask, and this is an honest question… When discussing poverty, is the homeless figures taken into account, or are they seen as being bellow poverty? because men comprise the vast majority there, and that factor can not be ignored when discussing poverty. it’s one thing to live in a too small home with little food and amenities, it’s something else entirely to live in a box eating out of dumpsters.

    “However, it isn’t the women’s fault there is no unified male movement against this, and actually, many feminists also campaign against this type of inequality anyway”

    Going to work this quote backwords… can you site an example of feminist campaigning against negative male gender roles (that don’t specifically benefit women)? If you can’t, then can I note that all those many men who thought they were joining feminism for equality were duped, and that can then be an example of a reason feminism can be blamed for men not forming a movement… IE, they thought they were joining one and had they known the truth, they would have started one themselves.

    “as many feminists campaign for gay men as well as lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights”

    But the major feminist organizations that claim such don’t actually follow through. NOW (national Organization for Women US) didn’t speak a word when the U.N. voted to remove sexual orientation from a resolution condemning summary and arbitrary executions (The resolution admonishes member nations to protect the right to life of all people, and calls on states to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. except homosexuals), despite regularly fighting for women’s issues with the UN.

    “That is just a fact, some men may not like women and men alike getting together to campaign and highlight this injustice, but then why would they when it threatens the very power structure they wish to uphold?”

    The problem isn’t women gaining equality, it is the tearing down and abusing of men to accomplish that. The attack ads calling male children potential abusers and rapist being posted in gradeschool libraries (this has happened in the US). Sporting events frequented by hundreds of thousands of men being accused of encouraging child sex trafficking, and the patrons of these events making use of those children with drunken abandon. Laws that specifically call men the abusers in relationships, and encourage police to arrest men whenever possible. In addition, tearing down of some antiquated laws while supporting others that were once balanced by the now missing ones and the old social dynamic ( Example: removing no-fault divorce, but keeping alimony, seems it should have been the other way round if equality were the true goal… women don’t need men to support them, and should be held accountable for their own actions when breaking a marriage contract (Contract!!! for emphasis))

    Feminists… those actually influencing the political and industrial world, have largely earned much of their criticism.

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