DALLAS, October 11th, 2013 – A recent Huffington Post OpEd written by “sometimes-activist” and writer Aaminah Khan perfectly captures why many associate “modern feminism” with female chauvinism, not gender equality.
“10 Ways to Be a Better Male Feminist” condescendingly details a long list of rules for male behavior within “the movement”. If you have a remote interest in the future of gender issues, reading is encouraged. Khan is a talented writer with a talent for passionately preaching a peculiar brand of elitist sexism worth exploring.
Khan makes no apologies for her anger, nor should she. Passionate activists entrenched in social justice causes often earn their rage. We all wield anger to drive our message, inspire our mission and impact others. But in order for this tactic to be effective, rational consistency is key.
From one side of Khan’s mouth she denounces misogyny while shelling half the human species with hot rhetoric designed to belittle and ridicule. As one commenter noted, when the author says, “If you want to be a feminist, you have to be prepared to give that [special treatment] up. It’s hard. I know how hard it is.” Yes, the way we explain to men the necessity for gender equality is treating them the way their ancestors treated ours, by patting them on the head with a sugary, “There, there, now…”
Not all feminists are like this, but many of the most vocal advocates are self-entitled rage-queens that embrace attitudes repellent to free-thinkers, humanists and individualists (such as myself). Their unattractive methodology, reliance on hate and rage, and the arrogant dependency on academic phraseology does not win converts to the gender equality fight.
So let me set the record straight:
Group-thinkers like Khan are not designated to speak for me, for all feminists, or the cause as a whole. Feminists like Khan do not determine how political, economic and social equality for all women is achieved, nor how we should endeavor to reach these goals.
Pursuing gender equality isn’t only for a special group, with terms and conditions singularly defined by hostile feminist circle jerks. The fight for equality isn’t relegated to a collective of rage-fueled bigots. Individuals don’t need special permissions to communicate on matters of equality. [contextly_sidebar id=”d779b4eccce623a20633824ee54e1d90″]
If you value and promote equal rights and opportunities for both genders equally, you are a feminist. If you believe in equality for all races, genders, orientations, religions, and political views, you can be an agent of true equality. If you understand why gender equality is important for the advancement of human civilization, you don’t have to “sit down, shut up, and listen”.
You also don’t have to agree with every opinion or be equally incensed by every instance of selective outrage. Your opinions are not worthless until your behavior has been conditioned and your lexicon polished by “true feminists”. All you need to do is be a just, moral person willing to challenge your own premises. What does that mean?
As my friend and male feminist Chet Lake rightly noted: for equality to advance, men and women must ask themselves:
“Why do I believe what I believe? Why do I believe X? What possible biases or influences might be causing me to favor X? Why does my opposition believe Y? What possible biases or influences might be causing my opposition to favor Y? Is there something he or she knows that I do not? If so, what is it?”
This is how progress begins, with men and women equally approaching gender issues with openness and compassion. Individuals exchanging ideas freely, each with license to politely highlight when the other is crass or obtuse. An echo chamber of grievances does not advance dialogue. Individuals with thoughtful, uncensored opinions, questions and values combined with willingness to effect change spark growth.
And just as there are straight allies to the LGBT rights movement, and just as there were white allies for the American civil rights movement, women interested in equality need male allies to further this discussion. We don’t want to censor you; we want you to participate fully and effectively.
So don’t waste your time pandering to groups with god-complexes intent on disparaging instead of educating. Get involved with true activists and organizations furthering the fight for equality by pushing for sex work legalization, advocating for victims of sexual assault and challenging gender role determinism. 20th century feminists changed the world, but most of the planet’s women remain locked in hell. Volunteer, donate, organize and educate yourself and others.
The future needs you, not an eggshell-creeping, sycophant-parroting, Third Wave talking points for pats on the head.
To feminists like Khan: I applaud your passion, but your actions say to other human beings: ‘you traditionally have the power and privilege in society, but now I have the power to silence you and make you a non-entity. Your opinion has no value.” What if you were treated with blatant disregard because of situations out of your control? What if you were belittled because of history, not your history mind you, but history itself? Are you interested in being powerful or making a difference?
Times are changing and Millennials are rising. If remaining relevant tomorrow matters, feminists like Khan should take their own advice: challenge thy own premises and be honest about the true mission and message. If gender supremacy, not equality, is the ideal, say that. Actively and openly evolve as a women’s advocacy movement and fearlessly posit your pro-femme agenda. Because right now you certainly don’t speak for me.
Author Bio: Tiffany Madison is a writer, libertarian pundit and social media strategist from Dallas, Texas. Her column for Washington Times Communities covers current events, civil liberties, veteran’s issues and foreign policy. Her work has been featured or referenced by Policy Mic, The Rutherford Institute, Freedom Outpost, Military.com, and AmberLyon.com.