But Not All Feminists, Apparently
October 11, 2016
When you enter a space – any space – as a man, you carry with yourself the threat of harm.
Melissa Fabello, the queen bee of Everyday Feminism, teams up with Aaminah Khan to once again remind any male readers that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them, and all men currently striding about the planet:
The socialisation of men is such that even a good man – a supportive man, a respectful man, a trusted man – has within him the potential for violence and harm because these behaviours are normalised through patriarchy.
For those who find the above less than compelling, Ms Fabello and Ms Khan obligingly link to an earlier Everyday Feminism article, in which a male contributor, Jamie Utt, a “diversity and inclusion consultant,” recounts slamming a table in exasperation and consequently being chastised by his female partner, before rending his garments and rushing to the conclusion that,
My actions exist in the context of patriarchy. And patriarchy is violent. Full stop.
This is followed by a series of equally adamant reiterations – “Cis-masculinity is fundamentally oppressive and violent” says he. Apparently, a single incident of exasperated table-slamming is damning evidence of patriarchal brainwashing, proof that the author has been “socialised to be abusive,” along with all other men. However, the gender-damning meaning of female table-slamming, or door-slamming, or general fits of irritation, or any number of aggressive and passive-aggressive displays indulged in by women, remains oddly unexplored. Instead, Mr Utt equates this apparently all-pervasive patriarchy with “related systems of oppression like white supremacy.” Adding, “It’s important that I situate myself within my positionality.”
This being Everyday Feminism, Ms Fabello and Ms Khan are no less bold in their statements:
We know that even the men that we love, never mind random men who we don’t know, have the potential to be dangerous.
Though Ms Fabello and Ms Khan don’t acknowledge it, it seems that ladies have made great strides on that front too, with some taking advantage of the customary reluctance among men to repay female aggression in kind.
But in a world divided into the oppressed and the oppressors, the former learn to fear the latter as a defence mechanism.
Ah, the subtleties of “social justice.”
What makes (yes) all men potentially unsafe – what makes (yes) all men suspect in the eyes of feminism – is the normalised violating behaviours that they’ve learned, which they then perform uncritically.
“All men,” then, are not only “suspect” and prone to “violating behaviours” - and by dint of existing, oppressors - we’re also nowhere near as insightful and self-aware as members of our more elevated feminist caste, whose self-knowledge and mental nimbleness are famed far and wide.
Make no mistake: When you use the phrase “not all men” – or otherwise buy into the myth of it – you’re giving yourself and others a pass to continue performing the socially sanctioned violence of “masculinity” without consequence, whether or not that’s your intention.
Well, I’m fairly confident that my interactions with women aren’t by default abusive or controlling, or steeped in “socially sanctioned violence,” and my confidence on this point certainly doesn’t imply any tacit affirmation of men who do behave abusively. To insist, as Ms Fabello and Ms Khan do, that, “all men are at least passively complicit in this patriarchal system that rewards male entitlement,” that their “maleness distorts the fabric of society,” and that “every time [men] ask for something, they’re going to get it,” is to air a conspiracy theory. And the insinuation that those of us who find feminism not entirely convincing are mere notches away from a man who “learns that if he commits rape, his friends will laugh it off,” might be insulting if it weren’t so bizarre.
And I can’t help wondering how Ms Fabello and Ms Khan might react if their assertions were reversed and they were told, quite emphatically, by a man, speaking as The Voice of All Men, that all women, being women, can have negligible insight into their own behaviour, their own minds, without repeated intervention by members of the other, more enlightened sex, “who can see things they can’t,” and to whom they should defer.
To a gender minority, there’s very little difference between the impact of inadvertent and intentional harm. A man who makes you feel unsafe by accident is as harmful to you as one who does it on purpose.
Women are apparently “a gender minority.” Please update your files accordingly.
Here’s the truth… attempting to fight that [male] entitlement is… a choice – one that has to be both conscious and ongoing. You’ve got to choose it every day, in every instance.
The struggle session never ends.
But how many well-meaning men are truly choosing that path, instead of just insisting that it’s “not all men” and that they’re “not like that?” Hint: You are “like that” – especially if you’re not actively fighting patriarchy.
In short, if you don’t wholeheartedly agree and hang your head accordingly, then you are, it seems, the enemy. Your only salvation as an accursed male person is vicarious shame, continual deference and round-the-clock anxiety about your own maleness.
Don’t all rush at once.
In the comments, Karen notes drily, “She’s not selling it very well, is she?” Well, no. Whether the “it” in question is the rickety argument poked at above, or feminism more generally, or the apparent belief that the world is “divided into the oppressed and the oppressors.”
But then, I don’t think Ms Fabello writes these things in order to persuade anyone who isn’t already very much onside. If she were interested in actual, open-ended debate, in finding out something new or testing her conceits, she wouldn’t insist on preconditions to discussion that are comically self-flattering and which entail a position of deference to her and indifference to reality. And if she were interested in such things, I doubt that our everyday feminist would retweet quite so many demands that men “stop talking,” under a banner boasting that she “never wants to hear a word any heterosexual white man has to say.”
To quote another commenter, Anna, “‘Social justice’ means feeling good about not listening to people based on their sex and race.”