Okay, this seems to be necessary, because the defensive claim that women are ignoring their responsibility for their own problems is driving me crazy. It is false. Apparently nobody else around here can understand the concept that a structure and pattern can exist without any fault being placed on the people involved. Apparently we all would rather fight than accept the proposal that this is really quite, quite possible to do peacefully. But then, we’re human, so what else is new? When life is consistently getting more comfortable and convenient, we need bigger and bigger arguments to keep our minds occupied. Phooey. Here is this thing I just read from thegreatantagonizer (good name, buddy):
When a feminist writer blames male dominance in society on patriarchy, they are not considering what women are doing wrong to deny themselves access to the dominant positions in society. Thus, the need to be introspective and work harder to attain betterment of oneself is negated.
I guess I have to drive this home one more time:
Patriarchy is not the fault of men.
Male dominance is not the fault of men.
They are structures in which men and women both play a role in helping them continue, which means WE ARE ALL F%$$*&ING RESPONSIBLE SO PLEASE GET OVER THE WHOLE BLAME GAME AND LET US DO OUR JOBS TO FIX IT. When a feminist writer blames male dominance in society on patriarchy, she is probably thinking and considering a whole ton of shit you don’t know about. Clearly, this guy knows nothing about the rich history of feminist writings. There couldn’t be a genre of writing more introspective and focused on the betterment of oneself!! The feminist movement has been almost completely focused on bettering women, up until the backlash which forced them to stop and defend themselves to men who felt threatened by the lack of attention!!
Here are some examples of how men and women both continue patriarchy and male dominance, written by an introspective feminist writer:
A man opens the door for a woman. The woman smiles and thanks him.
Male and female news anchors respond to a case of rape with pity for the young rapist, instead of for the girl who was raped.
A female author writes a book series about an abusive relationship in which the man completely absorbs the life and agency of the woman. She writes this book as a romantic fantasy and girls everywhere swoon with yearning.
A man and a woman go home together after a date and the woman says nothing of what she wants, while the man makes his intentions clear. When they start to have sex and she feels confused and hesitant, she still says nothing, letting him proceed in ignorance.
A man and a woman are both worthy of getting a promotion at work. The man talks to his boss and tells him he thinks he deserves the promotion and why. The woman works harder at her job hoping to get noticed and the man gets the promotion.
A teenage girl goes to her first job interview and sits hesitantly and quietly, looking around nervously instead of straight ahead, at the employer. When asked about her skills and qualifications, she doesn’t know what to say. She doesn’t think she has any skills. She doesn’t get the job.
When shopping for Halloween costumes with her two children, a woman tells her son he can’t wear the princess costume because it’s for girls, and she tells her daughter not to try on the superhero costume because she’s not a boy. The girl believes she’s not good or strong enough to be a superhero, but at least she gets to be pretty and carefree.
A woman gets dressed up to go to a party and decides to wear a low-cut shirt and high heels to impress guys she might see. She loves feeling beautiful and admired and told she’s sexy, regardless of what she wants to do that night. At the party, men whistle at her and flirt and she feels fulfilled and happy, like she is the luckiest girl in the world. Until one of the men rapes her. Immediately she feels guilty and ashamed and dirty, like the whole thing was her fault. The rest of the world agrees with her assessment. She shouldn’t have asked for it.
A man makes a comment about how some girls down the hall are sluts and his female friends agree zealously, scorning the girls down the hall as lowlife whores. When the man tries to feel up his female friend a few minutes later, she is struck by her own words and wonders whether to sleep with him or not. She doesn’t want him to think she’s a slut.
When writing a movie script, it never occurs to the male writer to make the main character a woman, because there’s no “need.” When the movie premieres, it has only one named female character, who exists to give love and support to the male character. The movie gets rave reviews and millions of women find it so inspiring. They love the positive and respectful portrayal of the female character, and it doesn’t occur to them that the female character has no life or purpose outside of the man. They give the movie five stars and suggest it to all their friends. It wins an Academy Award.
A woman gets pregnant and decides to leave her career permanently in order to raise her children. Her husband takes another job to make up for the lost money.
The list could go on and on.
Saying that women are responsible for their own problems, in addition to patriarchy and male dominance being responsible is a JOKE. Any responsibility that women have is a PART of patriarchy and male dominance. Patriarchy and male dominance are structures that women and men play into. They are not things that men do. The whole point of having a word like patriarchy to pin the blame on, is to get OUT of the female patriarchal pattern of accepting blame and responsibility for everything men do. Get it yet??
The blogger who inspired this defensive post responded to my response with the suggestion that feminism has become a cult, because so many react emotionally to disagreement as opposed to calmly and logically conversing. I commented on his post with the following:
I apologize for making you specifically a target in my response to your piece. That was not fair to you, as I am not familiar with your writing or your life. Reading your piece was really “the last straw” as they say, since I had read many other infuriating posts that day. It seems as if your style of playing the devil’s advocate (i.e. antagonizing) is filled with good intentions, and in general, I like it.
I do want to address more calmly some of the ideas you seem to have garnered from my emotional reaction. I very much appreciate glitterandgirlpower’s comment, as I think she hit the nail on the head in many ways. As an academic feminist, I blog to communicate my ideas to a larger audience and to hopefully spread critical thinking about some of the gender dynamics we take for granted. Recently I’ve become sidetracked defending feminism against attackers, which tends to be very emotional, because as a social and political movement, feminism’s progress is hindered whenever somebody pushes against it. Islam, on the other hand, as a religion, does not require movement, so resistance does no harm. It is a personal matter of faith, as opposed to a societal issue which depends entirely on how many people support it.
I am not personally offended when people disagree with feminism or feminist goals, but my life’s work and passion does feel threatened. It is especially discouraging to continue to read antagonistic points which I believe have been appropriately clarified by feminists, including myself recently. The effort to move forward, as the term “movement” implies, becomes increasingly difficult the more we have to drive the same points home to people over and over again. And since feminism is logical and not faith-based, the ability for people to continually “disagree” is astounding and frustrating. As a feminist, I’m not asking anyone to have blind faith in something invisible; I’m simply asking them to look, think, and notice unfortunate patterns that have developed. While the words used to describe these patterns may be controversial, the patterns themselves are hard to dispute. Yet people keep trying. And it is endlessly frustrating for those of us who seek progress.
Obviously, I disagree with the idea of feminism as a cult, but that doesn’t mean I don’t concede the fact that some feminists do not fully understand what they believe in, have knee-jerk reactions, and do not question things sufficiently. Feminism, as you said, has a history of “questioning everything,” but the questions flow much easier in a safe environment of non-threatening discussion. Most feminists want to talk analytically about the ins and outs of patriarchy and question everything, but not if somebody is sitting nearby ready to use the questions as an attack to discredit the whole conversation. Then questioning becomes dangerous. Since the post-second wave backlash against feminism and the ever-growing disapproval of it, many feminists have become sidetracked (as I did) from their original goals in order to ensure that their conversations would be allowed to continue productively. That is part of why this third wave era is so nebulous. Feminists growing up in this atmosphere of fresh tension and harsh disapproval have very few opportunities to actually relax and ask questions and seek solutions because there are very few outlets for such discussion without an attacker (or dozens) prowling near. Conversations become shorter and less in depth, leaving us with only straws and key concepts to grasp at under pressure. This can make it seem like we are swallowing tenets as opposed to thinking critically, but if people, both well-meaning and hateful, would leave feminism off their list of things to antagonize, maybe feminists would be able to go back to the rich and wonderful culture of questions and peaceful conversations.
Cheers! And sorry again for my reactionary post. I forgive your harsh judgment of my writing. Hope you will try reading my blog again some time!
- Patriarchy is not your fault, but it is your responsibility. (queerguesscode.wordpress.com)
- From Prison to Playground: Healing the Gender Wound (menseaglecouncil.wordpress.com)
- Why are there so few female CEOs? (thegreatantagonizer.wordpress.com)
- Who is really placing the blame, and where does it fall? (queerguesscode.wordpress.com)
- Rape and Gender in Fantasy Literature (benpeek.livejournal.com)