I live in the Bible Belt. I was raised in a Patriarchal environment that dictated the man was the head of the household, and a wife’s place was to submit herself to her husband, preferably while barefoot, pregnant, and making him a sammich. Although this is not the belief system in my home, since my husband is not the least bit intimidated by an educated woman who can barely reheat leftovers, I still encounter this gender bias pretty much every time I leave my house.
It’s 2016. They let us women-folk out of the kitchen and on college campuses quite a while back. We got educations and learned to think for ourselves. Not all of our men are so threatened to feel we need to keep quiet and submissive. If my intelligence scares you, go hug a teddy bear darlin’. I’m not going to dumb it down to keep you from peeing yourself, bless your heart.
So my question now is: what in the living fuck has happened to feminism? Seriously, I don’t recognize it anymore. I’m not even sure I want to use the word. It has gone off the proverbial rails! Feminism was originally intended to be a fight for equality – for women to be treated equally. Period. And I think now is an excellent time to refer to something I wrote the other day:
At the end of the day, I think it is actually pretty simple. The desire and fight to be heard and respected should never be at the expense of another individual or group. We can be tolerant without being intolerant. Don’t you think? With that in mind, we just might thoughtfully communicate and manage to accomplish something together.
And we can steadfastly remain intolerant of unproductive and disrespectful discourse. (Source)
When we denigrate men, we are alienating our best allies. Our men should never be made to feel they need to apologize for being men, any more than we should apologize for being women. In this process, we should not want to lose what makes us unique.
I asked several men, including my husband, what most bothers them about the current feminist movement. I know all of these guys, and each of them views women as equals. I have no doubt whatsoever that every one of them have and would stand up for my rights any day of the week. Here are some of the things they said:
Me: May I ask an honest question about the term “mansplaining” without unintentionally starting something? Is there ever a situation in which that term is acceptable? For example, a man is a total patriarch-type, views women as dumb, talks down to them, etc. If a woman accuses him of “mansplaining” to her, is that still derogatory to all of you? Is it preferable we just call him an asshole and move on?
The Men: Mansplaining is a hypocritical and sexist term. A “misogynistic asshole” is the proper term.
Me: I can work with that. So “mansplaining” is a term that should be eliminated. Period. Because it does seem insulting to all men, whereas “misogynistic” calls out the specific behavior.
The Men: It’s misandry. What if I told you that “mansplaining” is more often used as code for “your penis makes your opinion invalid” than for the purpose you cite? So if it’s perfectly okay to insult and denigrate all men by accusing anyone with something to say that you don’t like of ‘mansplaining,’ why isn’t it okay to insult and denigrate all women with PMS jokes? And when you answer, do I get to accuse you of ‘womansplaining?’ Didn’t think so.
What did I learn from this? In five minutes, I learned that the use of one word would turn off my allies. They find it insulting, and I understand that. The solution offered is an easy one.
Does this mean the world is perfect? Absolutely not. We certainly still have work to do. However, before we can continue, we need to check ourselves. Let’s make sure we understand our goals, that we have an open and honest dialogue, and that we are working together for the greater good. Most importantly, our end goal should be equality for all, at the expense of none.
I challenge you to join me in this conversation. How can we, progressive men and women, work together to fight for women’s equality while giving one another the same respect we are asking for?