Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Denying it means nothing. That's just what all sexists would say."

Some men I know seem to feel like nothing they do is right, because they will always be resented no matter what they say or do, even if the same actions or words or positions would be lauded from a woman. I'd hate to think so. I'd hate to think that it's okay for women to make certain comments, but a man is regressive and oppressive and just another leering pane in the glass ceiling. I'd hate to think it's okay to view men as the enemies of women by default, part of the monolithic patriarchy grinding womankind under its heel.

I don't think the answer is to essentialize either men or women. Just as men shouldn't treat women as some monolithic and easily-defined group, women shouldn't do the same to men. Even if the temptation is to divide history and society and politics into factions--women versus men and therefore equality versus patriarchy and therefore liberty versus oppression--that isn't fair to individual people. It isn't fair to individual men who are not the enemy.

But what the hell am I saying. This is the internet. This is the land of ginmar's sexist ravings, where any reason to be pissed is a good reason, and any target for righteous anger is a good one. After all, to miss a single chance to strike out at the patriarchy is to just give them more room to walk all over women, right? To treat a single man's statement fairly because women are disadvantaged is to make a tactical error and give aid to the enemy. Men who speak must be made an example of, and punished for the offenses others have committed so that those who come after will know we don't take shit. Not from enemies.

Enemies. Always we're enemies. The only one who understands feminism must be a woman. The only one who understands racism must be dark-skinned. The only one who understands religious persecution must be persecuted. The only one who understands the enormity of poverty must be poor. Everyone else "doesn't get it" and never will. Everyone else is blinded by their own privilege, addicted to their own supremacy, and willing to protect it at all costs. Everyone else is a potential enemy.

I guess that's an okay way to look at it, but if we choose that way we need to stop pretending that dialogue was ever a hope for anyone. Dialogue is an exchange between equals. Dialogue implies that both sides have something worthwhile to say. Dialogue implies that both sides deserve some modicum of respect and consideration, and dialogue implies that both sides have something to contribute, or something to learn. If that's not what we want, then we need to stop asking for it, and start asking the men and the whites and the Christians and the wealthy and whoever else we're blaming to shut up. About everything. Nothing that comes from those treacherous exploitative tongues can be trusted, anyway.

Yeah, I know, I know. The sarcasm, it burns. But I wonder just what a man has to do to stop being counted as a potential hazard to "the movement." Does he need to help elect progressives to public office? Donate to BLGT causes? Lobby for gay marriage? Have a sex change? When will people stop assuming the worst, just because the one speaking has a Y chromosome? When will the end of equality be reflected in the means? Or will the end of equality always justify the means of painting "the other" as morally-bankrupt villains?

It matters less to me what people want and more that they be consistent. People should not claim one goal and work toward another. People should not claim that men and women are equal humans and then claim that only women have problems worth addressing, burdens worth lifting, pressures worth relieving. This is why for years I wouldn't call myself a feminist. I called myself an equalist and sometimes had to explain to irate activists just what the hell I thought I was doing, being so disloyal to "the cause," who the hell I thought I was that women were not the center of my universe, that sometimes I was concerned about men. What a traitor I was. Just another enemy.

Well shit, I thought. With enemies like me who the fuck needs friends anyway.

1 comment:

Dana Hunter said...

Here, here.

It's enough to make me a misogynist, despite having a uterus.

Fuck it. I never wanted the damned thing anyway.