Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alleged feminist "male-bashing" is not the same as the actual bashing of women by men

In this post, I will try to make one thing clear: if we add up all the verbal "male-bashing" things feminists are alleged to have said, it would amount to less than the vapor of one drop of water if compared to the deep oceans of contempt and physical bashing men have demonstrated on the minds and flesh of women over the ages.

I have been witnessing, for years, men making the most absurd claims about what one feminist or Womanist said, that is apparently equal to what men do to women. Lately, I've noticed that such absurdities are proclaimed by reactive, histerical antimisandrists, who, if they actually do read what feminists write, they then overreact to and grossly misinterpret certain styles and phrases found in a few comments by those women, usually written to other women, by the way, not "hurled" directly at men. To the extent that such men make truth claims about "women bashing men", these ridiculous men must be called out.

Over the years, Women's Liberationists, of various ethnicities, sometimes dare to speak in angry tones and in cynical styles about the men who hurt women and, more especially, against the male supremacist systems men control. The harmful effect on men as an oppressor class is not even measurable, in part because the harm is not real. Women such as Andrea Dworkin have spoken about male supremacists without first asking His Honor for permission to speak, without toning down her rage, without soft-selling the atrocities men do. Far more than men realise, she has done this with superb sarcastic humor. Given that antifeminists have no sense of humor, these men have chronically and woefully misunderstood this and many other forms of pro-woman speech by women. Some men actually think that the women who speak in such "rude" ways about men actually do harm men, as a group, and that these women also do further harm--beyond speaking, that is, to men individually and as a gendered group. This line of reasoning is absurd.

To whatever extent any feminist, Womanist, or any other woman has spoken out angrily or sarcastically to one man or many, that activity doesn't in any way compare, in degree, quality, or consequence, to what men say and do to women.

In reality, men speak hateful things about women, and mean them, and do them, to actual women. In reality, for example, men bash women with words and fists.

I have seen men, online, collecting statements written by women which appear to be "proof" that women are just as (or more!) hateful of men as men are of women. This is just a part of what constitutes the giant pile of liberal and conservative white men's bullshit.

I recommend reading this commentary very carefully. It is but one example such men wave around excitedly exclaiming "here's proof that feminists hate men" and then open a desk drawer, take out an inked stamp, and slap the moniker "male-bashing" on the document before it is filed away along with all the other seemingly poisonous speech acts.

For "speech-as-bashing" to be a form of significant harm, for it to manifest as one form of gendered or raced oppression, it has to do both of the following:

1. Hurt someone or a group, demonstrably.
2. It must be one action that is part of larger systems of actions and customs, institutionalised, enacted systematically, over time, by one group identifiably socially dominant over another group such that the latter group is socially and politically subordinated by the former.

Hurtful or mean-spirited verbal and physical aggression among peers, such as among white men, among women of color, among men of color, or among white women, is, as feminist Flo Kennedy coined, a form of "horizontal hostility".

This, this, and this is debasing, politically degrading harm to women (and, in some cases, also to men of color) by white men in words that dovetail with the realities of woman-bashing (beating), the rape of women by men, the economic exploitation of women by men, the sexual enslaving of women and girls by men, as well as the genocidal destruction of women whose cultures are under attack by Western white civilisation.

This is not significant harm.

Many men confuse virulent systemic debasement of women--using physical force and hateful speech--with this sort of post by one woman about one man. Note what she didn't say to him. Note the self-restraint in her behavior. She did not harm this man in any way. She does address, to the reader, not to that male caller, that what he was doing was making her feel very irritated, in part because of how many times men have approached her in such an arrogant, self-important, bossy, and obnoxious manner. (This is important: her anger is built on social experiences with men. Men's anger at women is taught to them by white male supremacist advertising, pornography, cultural practices, and social value systems.)

Here's a refresher for what points have been made so far. Misogynists consider these two vastly dissimilar experiences somehow equal to one another:

--a member of an oppressed class stating negative opinions, feelings, or critical analysis about someone from her oppressor class, because that person has behaved oppressively and in full accordance with the privileges and entitlements afforded members of the oppressor group.

--a member of an oppressor class stating negative opinions, feelings, or critical analysis about a whole group of people based on a few pieces of writing, never acted out beyond being spoken aloud or distributed, against social custom and religious code, such as at a rally or in a photocopied document.

Anyone who confuses those two phenomena is deeply out of touch with reality, and what constitutes oppressive harm.

For a list of the kinds of harm women systematically endure from men, see here. (Note there is no comparable list of what women unrelentingly and endemically do to men, privately and publicly, as a matter of custom or as a form of social control which, as a consequence, results in women achieving social dominance over the men of their own ethnicity or economic class.)

I hope that the point has been made: feminists' or Womanists' angry or disdainful verbal expressions, not to men, but among one another, such as on blogs or in books, is not the social equivalent to men calling women all manner of misogynist-racist terms, often while also violating and assaulting them physically.

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