Thursday, 18 June 2015

Some Feminists Hate Men. Deal With It.

By Violet Paradox

Recently I read yet another article published by a very well known Feminist group about how and why feminists don't hate men.   Articles and blog posts are frequently published by feminist writers explaining how feminism isn't man hating and how it also applies to men, but this particular article had a different vibe about it which I feel is reflective of what is being seen a lot in supposedly feminist spaces lately.

I didn't much like the article, as it seemed to be overly pandering to the male ego,  but it was the comment section that really got me angry. (Yes I know, never read the comments!!  I am not going to link to the article or face book thread as I believe firstly, it's a common enough theme among comment threads around the inter-webs so that it will be familiar to most, and also to protect the women who were  commenting there.)  It wasn't really the comments from men that got me angry, (although  the waa, waa, waa, feminists are so mean element was definitely there.)  Instead  there was one woman who was investing a lot of time  commenting all through thread, insisting with great conviction that feminism, does indeed, have a man hating problem.  She was speaking over other women, disregarding their lived experiences, advocating tone policing women who were justifiably angry, siding with the men in the thread, and posted this blog post by a Scott Alexander. to back up her claims.  Alexander quotes self professed male nerd Scot Aaronson,

 " Alas, as much as I try to understand other people’s perspectives, the first reference to my “male privilege”—my privilege!—is approximately where I get off the train, because it’s so alien to my actual lived experience."

 When a white cis man who claims to be trying to understand feminism does not understand male privilege to the extent that they reference someone who puts the term in scare quotes like it is an imaginary concept,  I find it hard to give anything that comes after much serious thought myself.

Feminism does have problems, no doubt.  It has a problem with some white cis women practising White feminism  which often ignores and erases the issues of WOC.  It has a problem with TERF's (Trans-exclusionary radical feminism), a subgroup of radical feminism characterised by their transphobia, transmisogony, and hostility towards third wave feminism.  But the small group of women who are pissed off, angry, and sometimes mean to men who do not understand or accept the privileges they have in comparison to those who they insist on raising their voices over, are not something we should be focusing on.  I'm sick of feminist discourse always being fucking sidetracked with first having to make sure it's OK with these men before we even open our mouths.

  It's a given that not all men hate women.  We all know and accept that but heaven forbid we don't put a disclaimer up every single time we write or talk about sexism, misogyny, rape culture, and VAW.  But with or without that disclaimer, there will still be those that will shoot up their hand at the mention of misogyny and wildly wave it around while screaming as loud as they can #NOTALLMEN!!!   You can absolutely count on it.

 But to many, feminists who continuously question and challenge the privileges of men under the patriarchy, who go out of their way to counteract those privileges in the spaces they create by elevating the voices of women and other marginalised groups over those of white cis men, are deemed man-eating misandrists.  (Funny though, when a man does the same thing, he is usually applauded with loud accolades.)  The majority of women have grown up with our voices being silenced using this tactic and so once again, but this time more insidiously from within the movement itself, it's being put on us to be nice and sweet, and sugar coat every word we say.  I'm over it.

So I googled 'Feminists don't hate men' and got this.

As you can see, there is a list that just goes on and on with articles about how feminists don't hate men.  Precious time that feminists have taken out of their lives, time out from their activism and discussions of issues that affect women, to reassure men that we are not out for their blood. (But I guess in asking them to acknowledge their privilege and suggesting that they need to perhaps relinquish them somewhat, we may as well be baring our feminist, man hating teeth and sucking the life blood out of them.) We are constantly soothing the ego's of men with  non-offending tones and gentle words, over, and over, and over again and it is never enough to satiate that great pit of entitlement.

And then I googled Meninists , then 'MRA's don't hate women', and even male feminist allies on why men don't hate women,

There is not one article that I can find from male allies on how men don't hate women.   Simply because, as true allies, they  know that it would be complete bullshit.  And yes we are aware that #notallmen hate women, but all men do benefit under patriarchy which without doubt does marginalise and oppress women, fosters rape culture and misogyny and is dangerous and even life threatening to women.  Not surprisingly there is not one single article from 'Meninists' or 'MRA's' who claim that they don't hate women.  They openly state they hate feminists (a group that consist largely of women) and pretty much only tolerate those women who have internalised misogyny to the extent that they subscribe to the same hateful beliefs. But largely the result under the search for men's assurance of not hating women were simply more articles on how feminists don't hate men, or articles that confirm with no apologies that men in fact, do hate  women.

 So despite all of this, the real problem to many it would seem, is still that a small percentage of feminists are often times mean to men.  That some even claim outright that they have an incalculable disdain for them, and dare I say it,  at times even hate them.  However,  in almost every single instance that this happens, it is not actual, individual men that are hated.  It is those who perpetuate the systems of a society that fosters and encourages a culture of hyper-masculinity. A society that ridicules and labels femininity as weak and inferior, and defend it with threats of violence and social recriminations toward those who stand up to it that is really the true object of their ire.  Even the most ardent feminist has men in their lives that they love.  Men who are also products of this society and who are problematic and imperfect.

I have sons.  Three of them.   I am determined to bring them up to be aware of their privilege and the plight of those who are not so lucky.  It is understandably hard, because I have the world to compete with and sometimes I feel like I am never going to win.  But I keep going, because I love them.  And although I desperately want them to have full and happy lives, I want them to be able to obtain that without it being at the expense  of someone else having the same.  And  I do not want them to ever feel like they have to buy into the toxic culture of hyper-masculinity that our society seems determined to thrust upon them.  I've seen the damage that has done to so many men, and it is horrible.  If that makes me a man-hater, then so be it.  I do hate that version of masculinity.  A lot.

 Although there are some feminists who despise or even hate men (or rather the systems that uphold their privileged stance in society) the real problem as I see it, is that if we continue to place our  focus on this to the point where some women who identify as feminists are actually calling other women 'misandrists' for their refusal to pander to the male ego, then the problem with feminism won't be simply the small element that are deemed man-haters  but that it will become just another space that is more concerned with the feelings and voices of privileged men over  that of the women whose issues of oppression and marginalisation the movement is supposed to espouse.

Feminist Armchair Regime

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How to maintain white supremacy on social media in 3 simple steps

The following is cross-posted from the Damsel in de Tech blog. Click here to see the original.

Step 1:

Do you know anything about privilege, power structures, or institutional oppression? Yes? Good, now pretend that you don't and act hurt and aggrieved any time a group tries to organize to address specific issues. Take for example, oh say... "Black Lives Matter - TORONTO PEACEFUL PROTEST ACTION". Take everything you know about oppression and anti-black racism, and use that as a reason white people are being oppressed by this group. How dare they ask white allies to respectfully concede the space to black protestors? How dare they specifically discuss police violence and murder against black folks? This is segregation, and reverse-racism, and every other "social-justicy"-kinda sounding words you can string together. Folks who are legitimately concerned about addressing oppression may just wind up getting sucked into conversing with you for a day and a half, and those who don't know enough about trolls or white supremacy might just be fooled into taking your side.

Step 2:

Take up space. If it's an online group or comments section of a newspaper, keep posting. It doesn't matter if it's one word or a copy pasta of "How to Make Friends and Influence People". Make sure that no conversations are allowed to go on without your interference. It's much harder for folks to maintain momentum and enthusiasm when they have to spend all their time on you. Suck the air out of the room and if you have to leave, ensure you've brought in more folks to replace you. Pretend you don't know them and are just impressed by how thoughtful and right about the world they are when they, funny enough, parrot your exact talking points.

Step 3:

People are seeing through you and calling you a racist? That's racist! Report their comments that are rightfully telling you off, because there's a far greater chance Facebook will give them a suspension for defending themselves and their rights to focus on black issues than of you receiving any repercussions.

I'm posting this not to encourage trolls, but to point out that this is what they are already doing. These are a few of their tactics. You can see this happening on pages that are supposed to be dedicated to supporting the family of Mike Brown and other victims of police-sanctioned murder. It's transparent as fuck if you know what you're looking for and acknowledge that, for the most part, these people aren't ignorant or misguided. This is a concerted, organized effort of anti-black, white supremecists to take over what should be safer spaces and interfere with planning and solidarity efforts.

They will concern troll:
"But if you exclude white people, then how will we change things? We all need to work together, and I am just honestly concerned that your divisive tactics will hamper that progress."
They will gas light:
"Police brutality is not a black issue. It's a human rights issue. I've been the victim of police brutality, and I'm white, therefore you're assigning race to an issue that it doesn't belong to."
They will call you racist:
"You're lumping all white people together by saying that we take up too much space. That's racist! Anybody else catch how racist that is?!"
They will not "see the light" if you keep talking to them. You can be calm, collected, and articulate as possible. They are not there in good faith. They are literally trying to wear people down to get them to abandon the page/ group/ organizing committee. These are their tools. Don't let them get away with it. If you are moderating a page/ site and you see this happening, I strongly recommend just to ban/ delete them. Yes, they'll like start in with "freedom of speech" arguments, but what they're doing is interfering with your freedoms to assemble.

Let's get things back on track and reclaim the spaces eked out to create change.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

From One White Ally to Others

by: Liberate Zealot

Let me take a moment to explain that I'm on my tablet as my computer's mouse is haunted and so there might well be more spelling mistakes than normal and I won't be able to include links to sources as I would like.  Now on to actual content.

I'm sure everyone reading this is in some way aware of the police violence and protests in Ferguson, perhaps you're even aware of certain feminist and LGBT groups speaking up in defense of the protesters and stating the concerns of police violence and racism in America  need to be concerns of mainstream feminism and LGBT groups.   These are connections I've seen white people speaking out against, sometimes even while claiming to support and stand in solidarity for the people in Ferguson.

So this is my message to white people, specifically those who want to support Ferguson protesters and what they stand for.

Firstly, shut up for a while and listen.  I know this is hard, I like sharing my opinions too.  But honestly, unless we're addressing other white people, and unless we're basing on our opinions on the testimonies of people of color it isn't out place to speak.  So again, spend a long time listening silently, and trust the black people who do speak out and share their experiences.

Next, remember our privilege.  As white people we are given the benefit of innocence by the police and media in a way black people aren't and this has shaped every single one of our lives and opinions.  By growing up to see police as protectors and only having that view point challenged (and at a remove at that) as adults means we might not understand the impact police violence and racism has on reproductive justice.  This is not something that effects out lives.  But if we can remember the first point and listen and trust we will learn from black women how fears of police violence against their children impacts their reproductive choices and parenting.  Things do not need to be self evident to us for them to be obviously and automatically true to the people who are actually affected.

Third, we need to remember that people of color are necessary parts of our feminist/LGBT/differently abled/etc communities.  Their concerns (that our white privilege removed us from) are not ancillary but need to be reconized as fundamental parts of our movements.  To do otherwise is to say people of color are ancillary and not fundamental parts of our communities.  And I hope that I don't need to explain that this makes us at least passively racist.

Lastly, we need to take direct action in support of the people of color in our communities.  However, while doing so we need to remember our privilege and our proper place.  We, and our families, are not Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Michael Brown, or Cece Mcdonald.  We cannot fully know their experiences, and the experiences, fears, and concerns of their families and neighbors, and so we cannot speak for them.  Our jobs are to be microphones, to amplify their voices so more people can hear them, not to speak over them or steal their words.  When we do speak with our own voices and words on these issues we need to do so at the right time and place and towards the right people.  At candle light vigils we stand in silent support.  We raise our voices to the predominantly white police, politicians, and media to call on them to act with justice and hold them accountable and culpable for their actions and words.  We challenge white people who tone police, and play respectability politics, or what want to turn the Ferguson protests and the extrajudicial slaying of Michael Brown away from the endemic racism of police violence.

And again we listen, we respect, we trust, and we support.  The concerns and oppressions of people of color need to be fundamental parts of feminist/LGBT/other movements, but in doing so we white people need to remember our support cannot include speaking for people of color.  

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Rape, Rape Culture, and Recovery - 3 Years Out

By Liberate Zealot
*Content Warning - Discussions of rape, rape culture, and PTSD*

Let me begin by saying these are my own personal experiences and in no way meant to reflect the experiences of all victims/survivors.  Even victims/survivors with similar experiences of sexual violence might experience very different effects and have very different roads of recovery.

The one thing I think the vast majority of us share is that recovery is not an absolute, it is a constant journey of progress and triggers and backsliding and unlikely to fully ever end.

I know sometimes I have thought I've reached, or nearly reached, the end of my recovery.  Months have passed since I've thought of him, or that night.  Since I've felt that knot of anxiety in my stomach, or that strange mental disconnect where my brain seems to float partially separated from my body.  Since that dizzy, rushing feeling overtakes my ears, eyes, brain, and body.
Sometimes months pass, but then something happens.  His name shows up on my Facebook feed, I see someone who looks like him when I'm out and about, I hear about another woman's rape which is similar enough to mine that I cannot disconnect my own experiences from hers.  Perhaps I hear a rape joke, am watching some movie or TV show that features a rape (these are worst when I cannot prepare for them).  Perhaps I just surprisingly dream in some way of that night and awaken, shaking.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Statistics vs Lived Experiences for Women at College

By Liberate Zealot
*Content Warning for discussion of sexual assault, rape, stalking, domestic violence, and rape culture*

Recently in the feminist/social justice sphere of social media that I inhabit a variety of people have been naming Cards Against Humanity and one of its originators, Max Tempkin, as good examples of those with privilege listening/learning/and properly apologizing for when they harm others.  And this regard for the game, and its creators, especially of Max, is something I take great issue with.

Not only because it is a game created by a bunch of (to my knowledge) heterocis white dudes who are upper middle class and therefore its hard to take any of its racist/sexism/homophobic/transphobic/ableist jokes as "ironic".  After all Max Tempkin wrote a lovely apology about that using all the appropriate language of "privilege" and how irony doesn't "punch down."

The issue with this apology and Cards Against Humanity is that I know Max.  We attended the same small liberal arts college, we have many mutual acquaintances, and Max Tempkin is a rapist.

Monday, 30 June 2014

To Those Being Dismissive of the Seriousness of the SCOTUS Ruling About Hobby Lobby

By: Liberate Zealot

For everyone claiming that women just have to pick better employers or it is no big deal to pay out of pocket for hormonal birth control, I urge you to deeply consider the realities of employment and health care in this state and country. More than 10% of women are unemployed, countless more are employed in minimum wage jobs from corporations that already seek to avoid covering health insurance. For many people they need to take whatever job they can. Spending extra time to seek carefully for the one (increasingly rare) job that has the best health insurance for them isn’t an option for the majority of Americans. And considering that 90% of corporations now have the right to refuse to include hormonal contraceptives makes this a bigger issue than one employer (even if they are a large corporation). 
Likewise, let us remember that employees pay into their health insurance policy, these women have already paid for their contraceptives, and now, because of the “strongly held” but factually inaccurate religious beliefs of their employers they must pay again, out of pocket. And some of the contraceptives that have been ruled against (like the IUD) can cost up to a month’s wages when not covered with insurance.
This is not a small issue. This ruling negatively impacts the lives of millions of women and their families.  This is a ruling that dehumanizes women, while granting even more powers to the already legally bloated corporate “person hoods”. 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Babe, Is This Sexist? Goldstar Beer

Babe, Is This Sexist? is back with a very important message about Ladies and Drinking.

Hey Ladies,
Isn't it hard being a woman with a delicate pink girly brain that can't even handle a night out drinking.  I mean even that runs the risk of heartbreak needing to be assuaged with ice cream.  And every drunk hook up only has a 1 in 3 change of ending in heterosexual bliss with our knight in shining armor.  It just doesn't seem worth the appletinis.
After all it's not like you're lucky enough to be a man.  Only men can drink without unfortunate consequences, or any consequences at all.  It's because their macho blue boy brains aren't caught up in the over-emotional vulnerability that us little ladies suffer from.
So really, think before you drink.

Or else tell the champions at Goldstar Beer, or their advertising agency McCann Erikson that you're #NotBuying this sexist product.

View other installments of Babe, Is This Sexist? At the Master List. 

Please leave suggestions for the next installment of Babe, is this Sexist? in the comments of this post, or the most recent Babe, is this Sexist?  Alternatively, you can message us on Tumblr or leave a comment on our Facebook page. Also check out the F.A.R. Facebook page for polls about future installments.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Yes, I Hate Men

By: Liberate Zealot

I’m sick and tired of having to moderate myself.
Yes, I hate men as a class, and I hate the majority of individual men I meet, Including my one brother. 
No, this isn’t just intellectual.  It’s a visceral hate, knowing they see me as less than, and that the majority don’t even care enough to hide their disdain. 
So really. I Hate the majority of men.  And if you’re one of the few I don’t hate (like my father) you know enough about feminism to get why you don’t deserve an exception. 
Men’s hatred diminishes my economic worth, it attacks my freedom, my sexual health, my ability to live free of PTSD.  Random men murder and assault women (in every imaginable way) but I’m supposed to forgive.  Never mind I’m more likely to be attacked by a man than a shark or dog, and that’s not even getting into the moral, emotional, and mental attacks waged by my brother and his ilk. 
But, love one’s neighbor they say.  Never mind that one’s neighbor, and  his brother, and his club, are holding the knife.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

By Liberate Zealot

Because watching my drink
And white knuckling keys between my fingers
And wearing jeans and sensible shoes
Was supposed to be my contract with the world
Providing safe passage
Protection against rape from the shadowy stranger
Haunting the corners of the club or streets. 
Because in the years of safety advice
From teachers, friends, chain letters, and police
Never once did they admit I would know him
That he would look me in the eyes and smile
He would wait days or weeks or months
And say all the right words before ignoring my own. 
Because even after that night
They still won’t admit its not the stranger in the street
I should fear
Or that the predator in the clubs is the ex-boyfriend
Or that it wasn’t caused by the length of a skirt
Or having long hair and a glass of wine.
Because they won’t admit
That following the rules isn’t protection
I know other women will have
The same realization that the one that will hurt you
Isn’t the shadowy figure in the night
(Though we’ll still fear him too).

They're Not "Bad Apples" They're the Whole Barrel

By: Liberate Zealot

Women are expected to see the actions of Elliot Rodger as a “lone gunman” someone suffering from mental illness.  Just as we’re supposed to view the other men who commit violence against women through domestic abuse, rape, or sexual harassment as “bad apples.”  Not all men are like that.  Maybe they too are crazy. 
However, if there is any illness its one shared by society. These actions are not those of insane individuals.  Rather they are the natural results of a society that finds sexualized violence against women as more acceptable than female sexual agency. 
And this is acceptable to these men and much of society.  Because they do not see women as fully human, (Rodger’s screed, praised in the MRA/PAU movement, proves he saw women as objects or animals, but not people) it is easy for them to prioritize their ideal sex lives over are actual lives. 
So many men see women as nothing more than some type of toy or sex doll, to be used, destroyed, and disposed of based on their whims. And it isn’t that surprising considering this is how so much media portrays us.  We’re trophies, tragic backstories, and catalysts of revenge, not independent characters with out own motivations.  Not people.