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September 25, 2006 | by  | in Opinion |
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Why Dudes Should Support Feminists

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” PAT ROBERTSON – 1992 Republican National Convention.

This is an article for all the guys who don’t want to be as stupid as Pat Robertson and want to have a look at what Feminism really is. Feminism is a liberation movement. Much like how the people of Vietnam struggle against US imperialism to free their country and have control over there own lives, that’s just what feminists are doing against sexism. So just like the ordinary Americans that had no say on their Government’s foreign policy, but felt they would be complicit if they didn’t stand up and fight, its time (in fact long overdue) for guys to take a look at the sexist world we live in and do something.

There are a lot of guys out there who seem to be afraid of women’s liberation, and make fun of feminism. There’s something they need to understand… Despite the common myth that feminist battles have all been won, women are not equal in society. Just look at the gender pay gap, which has been increasing, not decreasing. In 2004 the average woman earned 86% of what the average man earned, last year that had gone down 4% to 82%. This shows us two things:

1) That the Labour party’s right wing economic policies hurt working women.

2) Women are not equal.

Rape is still happening, and women are still the overwhelming majority of the victims. This alone is a big stumbling block when it comes to claiming gender equity. In New Zealand, like most countries, it is very hard to know how many women are raped, and the department of justice’s estimate that only 12% of rapes are reported. Our sexist society blames women for getting raped. Judge Stephen Erber recently had this to say about a 12 year old girl who was raped by a 35-year-old man: “This girl was partly the author of her own misfortune. She managed to get herself drunk.” Why would any woman go to the police to report a rape when there are so many police officers who have used their power to rape women? (I believe Louise Nicholas).

Lets not forget gender roles (although I wish we could). Society constructs and pushes certain roles for each gender, and it’s a powerful way to maintain domination and increase exploitation. Women are supposed to be dainty, motherly caretakers who should act passively and submissively. You don’t need to look too deeply into the media and adverting to see the traditional gender roles being pushed.

Most of the people who criticise feminism don’t have the faintest clue what it says. Even if you’re not convinced by my arguments, that’s no excuse for spouting ignorant nonsense like Pat Robertson did. Go read a book and find out what feminism actually is, there is no shortage of feminists expressing the wide array of different opinions available within feminism. I would suggest starting with something like, Introducing Feminism or Bell Hook’s Feminism Is For Everybody. My personal favourite book on this topic is Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis. But please guys, go read at least one book by someone who is pro-women’s liberation, before you start acting like you know what you are talking about.

To return to the Vietnam War metaphor, one of the ways organisers of the USA anti-war movement were able to mobilise so many people, was by making the point that the system that drove the war overseas also oppressed the majority of people at home.

What I’m saying is that men should support feminism, not just to bring about equity for women (although that is reason enough), but also because our sexist system restricts men’s lives too.

The pay gap means bosses can use women, who they pay less, to keep wages down for everyone. So men and women need to unite in the workplace and fight for equity and better wages. That is a power that bosses are scared of.

We live in a culture that condones rape, and that means that men and women cannot interact freely and equally. Every woman you know is supposed to treat you like a potential rapist. Your female friends, relatives, acquaintances, even a woman you were in a relationship are all supposed to be afraid of you. That fear may give you a false sort of power, but I know I’d prefer to live in a world where women are free. Gender roles can restrict men’s lives as well as women’s. Men are supposed to be aggressive, dominant, take charge, act tough and never show emotion. While I think: fuck that, I will be whatever I want to be, it’s not always easy. It can be very alienating for men and women if they don’t fit into their allotted roles.

While men may get some small benefit from the sexist society we live in, it is only a fraction of what the people at the top of the system get out of it and an even smaller fraction of what we all could have, if we get rid of that system.

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  1. Jenn says:

    is the title supposed to be “why dudes SHOULD support feminists”?

  2. JACK says:

    If equality works both way then maybe we should also look at “fixing” the university system, as on average 60-70% of all university students are female(this is true in AUS,UK,USA as well) this is a “sexist imbalance”.

    And blaming rapists on society is just a lame attempt to try and draw support.

    On a more positive note “A Clockwork Orange” is also a book that I would recommend those interested in this type of stuff read.

  3. maxwell says:

    You seem to be making the mistake of equating “gender imbalance” with “sexism”. Don’t.

    The gender gap in NZ schools does not necessarily mean that the education system is sexist, it’s a sign that the system is inflexible and doesn’t cater well to different learning styles or recognize the differences between the needs of men and women.

    The sexism is related to the traditional power base in society… Issues like pay parity stem from the unavoidable fact that the western world seems to be controlled by flabby white middle aged men.

  4. Nicholas O'Kane says:

    “We live in a culture that condones rape” yeah right.

  5. CC says:

    How did you get conceived then, Nick? Because I find it hard to believe anybody actually could seriously have wanted you.

  6. Nick says:

    you’re not meant to capitilse bell hooks. You eurocentric patriarchal oppressor with your eurocentric patriarchal grammar.

  7. Leah says:

    Some of you commentors immediately dismiss the fact that our society condones rape. If you actually take the time to think about it, you realize that men are taught to aggressively pursue sex while objectifying and dehumanizing women. Women are taught to be submissive and attractive to men, but not to actually want sex. This sets up a dangerous situation where women are raped, often by people they know, who believe they are entitled to sex and will not be manly if they don’t take it.

    It does nobody any good when you automatically dismiss a fact because you refuse to think critically about it. Many books have been written about this. It is no secret that our society condones rape.

  8. Nick says:

    But Leah, we are also taught that rape is wrong. While this may seem too simplistic for your ideological analysis, it is a fact that cannot be discounted, rape is constructed as a vicious crime that must be punished. “Society”, which is a dangerous term to be throwing around as if it were homogenous, sends mixed messages on the subject, some more explicit than others and we need to take all into account when formulating arguments on complex and often emotional subjects.

  9. Fiona says:

    Nick,

    Rape is only treated as a vicious crime if the victim was

    a. male
    b. female but acted in a way deemed appropriate. i.e. in her jimjams tucked up at home with a hottie. Otherwise, you get jerks like Judge Erber basically saying a 14 year old ‘asked for it’ by getting drunk.

    If a woman is in any way friendly towards the accused rapist/out alone at night/drunk/interested in kissing but not sex etc etc then she inevitably gets accused of lodging false claims, secretly liking it but feeling shame later, asking for it …

    Yeah, we get the message in society that rape is wrong but only rape that meets certain circumstances. It’s not that radical to think that the act of rape is the criminal issue – not the circumstances surrounding the act that don’t change the fact that the victim said no and the perpetrator ignored the denial. The fact that people do concentrate on what the victim was wearing/where she was/her sexual history etc etc suggests rape culture to me because people are more interested in defending the perpetrator’s right to sex over the woman’s right to say no.

  10. Nick says:

    “she inevitably gets accused of lodging false claims.”

    By whom?
    By a small segment of the society? By a newspaper article or two which is one of many on the topic and only a small part of a wider discussion on the topic?

    Under what circumstances does interest hinge upon what the victim was wearing?
    You’re seem to be constructing a hyper-conservative caricature of society. Yes, some people probably do defend the rapist’s right to sex over the woman’s right to say no, but all of society?

  11. Leah says:

    Blaming the victim has often happened in court. The argument “she was wearing a short skirt” has been used in court. Judges have said “well, she shouldn’t have been drinking.” There are different kinds of rape. Power rape, where a stranger grabs a random girl he’s never met and basically tortures her, is usually viewed as wrong. Acquaintance rape happens often on college campuses, and college men often answer on surveys that they would rape if they got the chance.

  12. Fiona says:

    Leah’s right when she comments about what happens in courtrooms – both from defence lawyers (where its obviously in their clients interests) and judges (who don’t necessarily have a reason to blame the victim other than cultural beliefs).

    Also, I think society in general does hold these views. My university experiences have generally been more liberal than those in offices/sales etc. I have heard workmates/family/family friends etc make casual remarks about rape victims but rarely people convicted of rape unless it was ‘stranger rape’ (which is comparatively rare). When it’s acquaintance rape suddenly it’s all about ‘how was she acting?’, ‘was she drunk?’, ‘she’s probably lying..” and so on. And I don’t think my family/family friends are even super conservative (tho I can’t speak for workmates obviously). I geninely think society tends to at least partly blame women who are raped rather than the men who raped them.

  13. Nick says:

    Given that society, which is still a blanket term, may partially blame women, does this then amount to condoning rape?

  14. L says:

    Nick, I think if you’re interested then you should do some further reading in the area. What Fiona and Leah are saying is correct – society (as a whole and especially the legal system) condones rape by not holding offenders accountable, by perpetuating rape myths, by blaming women for the situation, and by generally denying women the discursive resources to say “no” to unwanted sex. I could go extra radical here and claim that all sex is coerced to a certain degree (because of the inherent powerlessness of women they are never capable of giving informed consent), but I won’t; I’ll suggest you go and look in the “HV6560″ section of 3-day loan for more accurate information.

  15. Nick says:

    L, you shouldn’t have to refer people to reading to support your case. I could in turn recomend you read some Foucault to better understand the way in which our society constructs criminal behaviour and deviance, some Nietzsche to understand how all conflicts are based around a fundamental will to power, some Herrnstein-Smith to better understand how all moral values are contingent upon historical contingencies or ,better yet, some Gramsci, to better understand how society is not simply a matter of one dominant group imposing its worldview upon another but is instead constantly negotiated between social groups in a dynamic process of struggle and conflict.

    That said, just because something is printed in a book doesn’t make it correct. While I agree that society is not as opposed to rape as it may seem on the surface I would also argue that sociey is not homogeneous and that in many ways it is opposed to rape, for example you yourselves exist within society.

    If all sex is coerced as a result of inherent gender inequalities (and this is to discount homosexual sex) what about other inequalities such as race or class? Is a middle-class white women still coerced by a working-class black male, or is this more complicated than a simple gender binary? Power is manifest through many forms of social relation and to privledge gender as a leading site of inequality is to marginalise any number of other disempowered groups.

  16. L says:

    Nick,

    I was not intending to patronise you with my reading suggestion, just that you seemed quite vocal on the issue and I thought you may be interested in other perspectives. Your recommendations are most apt, and I agree that Foucault has many interesting comments on the matter (if somewhat dense and obfuscatingly written). As for the constant negotiation of power through dynamic social processes – I wholeheartedly agree! This doesn’t mean my argument has no validity though. You are right, society is definitely heterogenous and not everyone condones rape. However, as long as the social institutions upon which our society are based (ie. legal, education, political, etc) condone rape, then I am but a small sardine in the sea. It is still my position that the reality of rape is concealed/silenced and thus condoned by political and legal powers that be.

    And, I’m not really a fan of the whole “all sex is coerced” argument because I think it denies women the autonomy to make their own choices independent of social frameworks. I was merely throwing it in the woodwork as one perspective on the matter. And you are right as well, the dynamics of race and class mess things up a bit.

    PS_ Don’t get me wrong; I definitely don’t think all books are correct. I used to work in a publishing company so know first-hand the crap that can get published under the guise of legitimate authority!

  17. Leah says:

    I’m getting my information from a textbook for a human sexuality course at my university. (In Canada). I realize that not all sources of information are reliable. I trust this one. And Nick, I completely back you up if you want to reccomend us books to read, of course we should all read about each perspective.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    I foolishly married a left-wing supposedly feminist dude and afterspinning me a good equality line it turns out that he thinks money is pretty dirty, he hates capitalists and the whole machine of society.
    He does like money in some ways though because when his partner makes it, it buys him a nice warm place to lie around in and buys him weed to smoke and food to gorge on when he gets the munchies.
    Money and labor are nasty nasty things.
    Dudes don’t like them.

  19. Ian says:

    Leah and L,

    Judge Stephen Erber is not a jerk at all. In fact, he is one of the toughest judges on the Christchurch Bench and well known for a very rigourous and fair approach to the criminal justice process. He is also an extremely intelligent man who will accept no nonsense from anyone. His legal decisions are some of the best you will find and he treats all people equally, there is no doubt about that.

    While we see all sorts of statistics about the levels of convictions for rape and hear all sorts of theories about why it happens. Most of them are wrong and are based on some one’s fairly narrow ideological view of why rape occurs. As a criminal defence lawyer, I can say that rape is the most difficult charge to defend a person on because the entire criminal justice system is set up to believe the accuser and make (generally, but not always) her passage through the system as easy as possible. While rape complainants will say that it was the most awful experience they have been through, the general public are not told that giving evidence and being cross-examined is distressing. Experienced criminal lawyers who have spent many hours in courtrooms will tell you that nothing prepares you for the experience of being in a witness box.

    However, it is my view that it is not the criminal justice system itself that is the problem here, it is the under-reporting of rape claims by victims. As i said, this is the most difficult area of criminal justice for defence of any sort to succeed.

    The Police take rape claims very seriously, especially in light of the Louise Nicholas cases, and often lay charges simply on the complainant’s statement of complaint. I myself have seen a man I am convinced is innocent go to prison for 6 years for a rape (acquaintance, not quite a date) that only the complainant gave evidence on and that happened 20 years ago. I have seen another man spend time in custody on rape charges when it eventually turned out that the complainant simply did not want her mother to know she had been out drinking and had been sexually active. I have seen other men falsely accused of rape and seen the effect it has on them and their families. Rape is treated very seriously by the Courts and sentences are getting much tougher as the years go on, and rightly so.

    However, to say that rape occurs simply for power is wrong. Having dealt with many (now) convicted rapists, I can say that the reasons rape occurs are numerous and cannot be pigeon-holed into one ‘catchphrase’.

    Anyway, to say that rape is condoned by society in anyway is just dumb,. It is abhorred by society. What society also understands, however, is that sometimes people do stupid things that put themselves, their property or others in danger. Like leaving the front door of the house open, for example. It invites criticism of the householder if the place gets burgled, but it does not excuse the burglar. Similarly, if a person puts themself into a situation of personal danger, for whatever reason, then some criticism will attach to them if something unpleasant happens, without condoning in any way the offence. It is a fact that rapes, dishonesty, violence and other criminal conduct happen. To act as if they don’t is foolish. We will always have people who, for whatever reason, commit crime. In my experience, the major motivating factor in crime is total self-centredness and nothing more. I have never seen a person steal because they were starving, although that must happen somewhere in this country. I have seen people who steal to pay for their drug habits, or to fund their lifestyle because their income isn’t high enough, or simply because they don’t want to work. I have seen violent offenders who have lashed out just because they were angry or annoyed. The common thread running through most of my client’s lives is a total concentration on themselves, regardless of what others, even their closest family, need.

    Just remember that the laws of our land are put in place by Parliament, not the Courts, so if you have any problems with them, stand for Parliament and change them. Just don’t blame one of New Zealand’s best ever judges, Judge Erber. The man is a legend.

    Regards

    Ian

  20. TRUTH says:

    I’M SO TIRED OF WOMEN BLAMING MEN FOR THEIR BAD DECISION: WOMEN SEEM TO WANT ALL THE RIGHTS & NONE OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES: WOMEN ALSO IT SEEMS WANT RIGHT TO BE & DO STUPID & EVIL THINGS, & NOT HAVE TO EVER WORRY ABOUT ANY CONSQUENCE[S] TO THEIR ACTION[S]: IT SEEMS THAT ONLY THE MAN HAS TO WORRY ABOUT DOING SOMETHING THT WOULD UPSET A LADY. WOMEN OFTEN LIE & DECIEVE & ACT INNOCENT, BUT RARELY R THEY INNOCENT NOR TRUTHFUL NOR HONEST: IT SEEMS LIKE PROPAGANDA BY FEMINISTS: I ME TIRED OF FALSE PROPAGANDA BY FEMINISTS R LIERS & DECEPTIVE PEOPLE: &, YES THERE R SOME MEN THAT R TRUELY BAD OR/& EVIL, BUT SOME WOMEN DO SEEM TO BE UNCONSCIOUSLY ATTRACTED TO THEM: THE STUPID & EVIL PARTS OF THE WOMEN’S MIND THAT IS: MOST WOMEN HAVE MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES: MORE THAN 1 PERSONALITY: THE GOOD, STUPID, EVIL & POSSIBLE OTHER TYPE[S]: THE STUPID & EVIL PARTS OF HER MIND, PARTLY PART OF HER CONSCIOUS OR/& OF HER SUBCONSCIOUS, LIKE TO DO STUPID & EVIL THINGS TO ATTRACT RAPIST[S] & IT IS BECAUSE WOMEN HATE TO BE CRITICIZED, IS WHY WOMEN MAKE SO MANY LAWS AGAINST ME, BECAUSE WOMEN HATE TO BE CRITICIZED, THAT IS TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT THEY REALLY R & WHAT THEY REALLY BE DOING, THAT IS ACTING IN IMMORAL WAY[S]: MEN CAN ALSO ACT IMMORAL: BY THAT I DO NOT MEAN IN BIBLICAL TERM[S], SINCE IT IS OFTEN TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT: IS WHY ME PREFER NATURAL LAW OR LAW OF COMMON SENSE: OK ? BUT, FEMINISTS & POLITICIANS HATE NATURAL LAW[S] OF COMMON SENSE: FOR THE REASON THAT BOTH GENDERS BE GREEDY, BUT WOMAN ACT INDIRECTLY & IN DECEPTIVE WAY[S] THAT MEN R NOT AWARE OF IS WHY IT IS WOMEN THAT HAVE EXTRA & LOT MORE RIGHTS THAN MEN HAVE ONLY FEW RIGHTS; BUT, THE WOMEN WILL SAY THEY HAVE LITTLE # OF RIGHTS, WHEN IT IS MEN THAT LITTLE # OF RIGHTS: TODAY MEN ARE ALMOST SLAVES TO WOMEN PRETEND TO BE THE SLAVES: WOMEN R NOT TO BE TRUSTED, NOR FEMINITS TO BE TRUSTED, & MOST ESPECIALLY RADICAL FEMINISTS: FEMINISTS WAS BORN & CREATED, BECAUSE THE MEN R ALWAYS LOOKING FOR ANY EXCUSE TO COMMIT VIOLENCE, IN THE PROCESS MEN BECAME COWARD TO FIGHT FOR THEIR RIGHTS & LOST MOST OF THEIR RIGHTS WERE & IS NOW GIVEN TO WOMEN HAVE RIGHTS TAKEN FROM MEN OUGHT TO TAKE BACK WHAT WAS STOLEN FROM THEM BY FEMINISTS R THIEVES.

  21. TRUTH says:

    http://savethemales.ca/000202.html

    IT TALKS OF A FEMINIST CONSPIRACY AGAINST [NORMAL] MEN [GLOBALLY] !!!!

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