Why I am a feminist #4/5

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This is my fourth day—of five—posting my reflections on being a feminist.

AWMs, MRAs and GamerGate

If all men and all women were onside for equal rights for women, and an end to stereotyping that forces men and women into—literally—semi-functional moulds, then things would change very quickly.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There are people who are against equality for women, who also think that men should be stereotypical men, and women should be stereotypical women.

AWMs

Imagine a country in which for centuries, the best jobs are reserved for men. As women start to take some of those positions, some men are going to feel dispossessed of what they’ve been conditioned to consider their birthright: a good, well-paid job with status and respect. Those men are going to start to feel aggrieved.

Hence, we have today the phenomenon the AWM—the Angry White Male—a phenomenon so common it has its own Three Letter Acronym. Why “white” you may ask? Because in general, non-white men don’t have expectations of good jobs, high pay, or respect.

Unfortunately, AWM anger is often directed at women in general, and feminists in particular.

One justification I’ve heard for this anger is that men have to support their families—which can be true, but clearly men are not the only ones with people to feed. There are single women, and families with a female head of household, and two-income families.

Another justification I’ve heard is that feminism was okay as long it dealt with equality, but now feminists had gone too far. (I’m not clear on what this means.) I point out that a brief look at the Bureau of Statistics site will show that women still don’t get equal pay for equal work (about 10% less, here in Australia) so equality is not yet a done deal. And cabinets and boards are still dominated by toothy male grins.

Finally, there’s the scapegoat mechanism. For many men, things are Not Going As Planned. Someone is to blame. And… it must be feminists.

MRAs

Sometimes angry men get organised, and identify as MRAs or, “Men’s Rights Activists”. On the one hand, it’s good to see men follow the lead of those feminists who have been so effective in working for women’s rights. Unfortunately, many MRAs do not spend much time on ensuring, for instance, good working conditions or appropriate health care for men. Instead, they spend large amounts of energy belittling feminists.

Belittling other people is not what “rights activists” do.

If you want to meet some MRAs, go to any women’s rights organisation with a blog, and look at the comments. They’ll be there, complaining—for instance—that men too are subject to domestic violence. Which is true. About 30% of the victims of DV are male. But in half of those cases, 50% of the perps are still men, which still pretty leaves men as the problem.

This is a men’s right that MRAs could do something about: every man’s right not to be an asshole; every man’s right not to have his gender’s reputation tarnished by men behaving badly.

GamerGate

Apparently, some men also like to play video games: especially games that are violent and portray women as mindless sex objects.

Shockingly, a feminist researcher named Anita Sarkeesian thought (I don’t know why) that she might be entitled to study this behaviour, and even poke a stick at it. At the same, a couple of women game designers—Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu—made the mistake of thinking that there might be room for games themed on more inclusive around topics such as disability, instead of killing and rape.

This turned out to be too much for the denizens of Gamerland, who felt their man cave was being invaded. The Gamers responded by wandering the Internet in large gangs, issuing kill threats, rape threats, and doxxing the women—releasing their home addresses so that others could make good on those threats in person. As I write, the image I have as mashup of Frankenstein and The Crucible.

It’s embarrassing when men behave like this. It’s embarrassing to the men, their children, their friends and partner, and to all other men who have to stand around with jaws on the ground wincing at the spectacle.

Men do have problems that women don’t have. Men should organise to address those problems. Men should also be smart enough to know that attacking women is not the solution. They might instead militate for a world in which: “making money” is not the stereotypical fate of all men, until death ensues by heart-attack; women do get good positions and equal pay, so more men can kick back and enjoy raising the kids; no-one is thrown on an employment scrapheap, and everyone has secure access to food, housing and medical care.

And if we men spent more time doing that, we would be find ourselves on the same path as feminism.

And therefore, for these reasons, yet again, I am a feminist.

 

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