Why Modern Feminism Does Nothing To Benefit Men

A few weeks ago, a video surfaced that made a few ripples around the internet, especially the various groups and pages I’m associated with that focus on gender issues. Not that that’s anything new, but sometimes videos are released that ride a wave of popularity and are used by both sides of the ‘gender war’ to highlight their points of view. This one was no different, enticing cheers of ‘totally’ and jeers of ‘absolutely not’ in equal measure. It was titled 48 things women hear in a lifetime (that men just don’t) and it was a video of various women saying 48 various sentences that, supposedly, men just aren’t subjected to. A few weeks later, an equivalent video was released that followed the same format but was called 48 things men hear in a lifetime (that are bad for everyone). The intention was to promote how much we still ‘need’ feminism, even in 2015 (or 2016 now). Of course, as educational and insightful as both videos intended to be, it also gave us a couple of ‘dafuq’ moments, particularly as some of the things that men ‘just don’t hear’ spouted in the women’s video were, confusingly, repeated in the men’s video. I’ll get into the details a bit later but I want to look at the idea of ‘things that (insert demographic here) hear that (insert equivalent demographic here) simply don’t’.

It’s quite a simple concept: a group of women get together and inform us of sentences, statements, questions and judgments that are directed at women that men seem to escape. Its intention is to tell us how much ‘everyday sexism’ women have to deal with as they navigate their way through life. The problem, as always, is the lens through which we are told this information. Whether you’re talking about the female or male version of these statements, it’s still presented entirely through a feminist perspective. That will become clear later when we look at some of the statements in question.

The problem I have with that is the problem I have with a lot of stuff that comes from an ideological point of view – its focus is incredibly narrow and cannot begin to claim it comes from anything different. A feminist perspective on life is a feminist perspective on life; it comes from a place that is already influenced by a set of beliefs. It’s something that everyone and everything is chained to. You can’t label yourself and then claim your beliefs or statements are anything other than linked back to that ideology or belief system.

I’m staunchly anti-feminist as an ideology, or at the very least I believe in the philosophy of ‘don’t be a dick’, so I’m well aware that everything I say is up for debate, up for criticism. I don’t mind that. Not at all. In fact, it’s something I welcome, and it’s something that I know I need to be open to lest I want to develop a severe case of tunnel vision. My problem with these videos, and indeed a lot of things feminism throws at us, is the absolutist nature of the stuff they share. These videos show us things that men ‘simply don’t hear’, presenting it like the gospel truth. Well, what if I disagree with them?

What if I, as a man, have heard some of these things directed at me? The sense of absolute truth that feminism works with is also one of its weakest facets. If one man hears one of the sentences put forward in the female version of this video then the whole argument that is being presented crumbles.

Pen Jillette, the magician, said about magic that ‘once one thing is seen to be phony the whole thing crumbles, and it crumbles completely.’ This is what these videos do. By presenting them as absolute truth not up for debate, it actually serves as its own downfall.

The problem of course is that it doesn’t matter if the argument is negated in any way because no-one actually listens. Any and all criticism of feminism equals misogyny or some other buzzword. It’s impossible to criticise anything feminist, especially as a man, without being told it’s because you’re scared of your privilege being taken away, or you’re scared of not being able to dominate women, or you’re just a misogynist neckbeard virgin scumbag loser anyway. Therein lies the beauty of their tactics – they can say whatever they want and claim it as absolute because anything else is simply a display of misogyny. Say what you want; that’s genius.

I don’t want to go through all 48 of the statements because that would take forever, but Bustle’s craving to paint women as victims of their own existence is cringe worthy and, to those who truly believe feminism is an all-positive drive for change, unnecessarily divisive.

First of all, I would like to posit the idea that not all of these statements are inherently sexist. It would appear that, sometimes, genuine questions are indicative of the ‘endemic’ nature of misogyny that still permeates the post-millennial age. Things like ‘are you planning on working after the baby’s born?’ or ‘stop being such an attention whore’ are not, in my eyes, a question of sexism at all. Why is it an example of misogyny to ask a woman if she’s going back to work after she has a baby? I mean, sure, para-linguistics are pretty important here and I can see the tone of voice used in this video is one of disapproval, but the question itself seems pretty genuine. Of course, tone of voice is important and I’m not doubting some women have faced disapproval for wanting to return to work but the question itself is as valid as any other work-related one. I mean, the fact that stay at home mums exist suggest that it’s a question worth asking. I know a fair few women who have had children and returned to work part time. Simply asking the question isn’t automatically a negative. Of course, that’s not the case if you automatically treat women as victims.

As for the tagline ‘that men just don’t’, it’s pretty obvious in some cases why men don’t get asked the same questions. That doesn’t mean there aren’t sexist attitudes towards men that permeate society, it just means they aren’t always 100% equivalent. Sometimes, an apples to apples comparison just doesn’t work. For example, no-one asks a man if he’s planning on working after the birth of his child because it’s simply assumed that he will do. Men in the UK only get 2 weeks paternity leave; women can have up to a year off. The lack of consideration for a differing, yet equally presumptive and discriminatory, point of view when it comes to child birth and child rearing is part of the reason paternity leave is such a waste in the UK. If it’s sexist to simply ask if women are planning on working then it’s just as sexist to simply assume men will return to work. As before, it all depends on how the question is asked, but with paternity leave being as risible as it is in the UK, it actively forces men to return to work, lest they quit their jobs and take the financial hit. That point of view makes it into the video about men but, as predictably as ever, it focuses on the negative attitude towards stay-at-home dads for doing the ‘feminine role’ rather than taking on the more appropriate ‘man as provider’ cliché.

There are also questions that serve no purpose other than to drown women in victimhood. This is one of the facets about feminism I despise the most. Not only does the tagline turn out to be blatantly untrue, it broadly brushes every single woman on the planet under its bristles and completely ignores not only the fact men actually do suffer the same indignities but also that they cannot speak for every woman on the planet. Take, for example, the phrase ‘You don’t want to go out with me? You’re ugly anyway!’ The article posts this as the reasoning for including that statement:

There are some men who seem to think that women never get rejected. It might just be because society tells women that rejection is something we have to accept and deal with, while it tells men that they are entitled to women’s time and attention. Men never have to deal with a woman lashing out because a guy wasn’t interested, but women deal with that from men all the time.

I’m not going to get on my soapbox about who gets rejected more (hint: it’s probably men), but this insidious idea that women are ‘taught’ that rejection is something they have to deal with while men are ‘taught’ they are owed women’s attention is blatantly untrue. First of all, to slightly paraphrase a feminist buzzword, telling a man (me, for example) what it’s like to be a man is womansplaining. I’m not doubting women get rejected; I’ve done it myself. The idea that a) society tells us we are ‘owed’ women’s time and b) that we never have to deal with women lashing out is such a dismissive statement to make that it serves no purpose other than to tell men that their experiences are nothing to worry about and to tell women that they are nothing, have been nothing and will be nothing but victims for their entire existence.

Not only that, but, to borrow an Americanism, if I had a dime for every time I’d been on the receiving end of abuse after showing even the slightest interest in a woman then I’d be a fairly wealthy man. ‘Eurgh, why would I want to go out with him?!’ OK, so it’s not the exact same wording as the video uses, but the concept is exactly the same. The perception that women don’t react badly to being rejected appears to be nothing more than an attempt to whitewash any unsavoury behaviour women do display. It’s hard to claim victimhood if you have to admit the victims can also be the perpetrators.

The point of all this isn’t to say women don’t face sexism or that they don’t experience any uncomfortable or awkward situations due to their gender. I’m absolutely positive they do and me claiming otherwise does nothing than make my own journalistic integrity appear fragile. It’s simply to say that, for me, the whole ‘feminism is for everyone’ mantra is an absolute lie. Feminism only cares about me when it can view my victim status through its own distorted lens. It only cares about me when it can also include women in male victimhood. It only seems to care about me when it can spin my problems to be a result of being ‘too feminine’ or ‘embodying feminine traits’ that we deem as weak or undesirable. It dismisses my experiences to elevate those of women. It’s unwilling, or unable, to see a differing perspective that doesn’t fit into their agenda.

Ultimately, I see nothing in modern feminism that is of benefit to me, and even if there was, it’s so lost in a mire of misguided attempts to cure my inherent ‘toxicity’ that I see no reason to believe the intention behind it is anything other than questionable. I have my own experiences, the sooner feminists actually start listening instead of assuming they already know is the day I’ll start to believe there’s something for me in their movement.

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호두코믹스 July 24, 2023 at 5:11 am

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