Sunday, 20 January 2013

Men who hate women and women who hate men

The anti-feminists 

There is a movement (I hope it's not a growing movement) of Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs), men who campaign for the rights of men, who feel that feminism has gone too far and men are now being attacked from all sides. One particular man has started a pro-men party to try and redress the balance: The Pro-Men Party (this is a really entertaining article about it).

I’m not sure why these guys are so scared of women, after all, we're not trying to deny them the vote, take away their reproductive rights and sentence them to a live of domestic slavery.

These men aren’t so much anti-feminists as misogynists. The sub-text (sometimes just the text) of their argument is that women should relinquish the vote, get back in the kitchen and stop whinging. I don’t want to do that. I'd be terrible at it. I can promise you that I'm a far more useful member of society going out to work than I would be mooning over the kitchen sink or whatever. Those web pages aren't going to write themselves you know.

Radical feminists v fun feminists

And then there are the radical feminists, worrying that feminism is becoming a bit too fluffy. They cite a brand of 'fun feminism' advocated by people like Caitlin Moran, who invite men to join them in striving for and celebrating equality between the sexes.

Anti 'fun feminist' Julie Bindel writes in the New Statesman: "If men like a particular brand of feminism, it means it is not working." She argues that "fun feminists", like Moran, ignore hardcore feminist issues such as rape and female genital mutilation (FGM), in favour of a more socially acceptable brand of feminism.

I don't think we should ignore these issues - I think feminism needs to tackle them head on. But I also think it's time for feminists to realise that women no longer have the monopoly on feminism. I know that sounds a bit insane, but I think if men like feminism, it's probably because it's working. It means we're winning the argument and convincing men that equality between the sexes is the way to go. High five sisters.

Radical feminists who try and alienate men are doing far more damage to the cause than the fun feminists like Moran. Feminists such as Bindel give rise to the kind of man-hating stereotype beloved of the Men’s Rights Activists that I talked about at the beginning. To my mind, the radical feminists, who hate men, and the MRAs, who hate women, are two sides of the same coin. It's like the point where communism and fascism come full circle and end up being the same, so beautifully demonstrated in George Orwell's Animal Farm.

Men aren't the enemy (and neither are women)

So there are men who hate women, and women who hate men, and then there are the rest of us.

Men have done some terrible things to women in the past, but women have also done some terrible things to women. Why should right-thinking men today pay for things that men have done in the past to restrict the freedoms of women? It wasn't their fault.

Without ignoring this issues at the centre of radical feminism, such as oppression, subjection and violence against women, I think feminism should be able to include men. If men like it, that doesn't mean feminism has sold out. It can mean it's won them over, and that's pretty amazing.

Instead of trying to exclude them, the next step on the feminist agenda should be to encourage men to join the fight for sexual equality, so there are even more people fighting to stop the suppression and mistreatment of women all over the world.

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