It grieves me to say this, but I’m starting to miss the days when feminists were simply told to “get back in the kitchen, fatty.”
I mean, that still happens of course, don’t get me wrong. But the anti-feminist crowd has been evolving beyond that ham-fisted approach as it proves ineffectual against our ever-advancing movement, and they’ve lately been opting for a much more pernicious and insidious tactic when attacking the voice of the feminine. They’ve been playing the victim.
Yes, the victim. In response to the way women are becoming less and less ashamed of publicly voicing their grievances against the oppressive aspects of rape culture and male supremacy, anti-feminists (or men’s rights activists, as they prefer to call themselves, or misogynists, as they rarely call themselves) have been flipping the script by writing article after article, blog after blog, social media post after social media post stating “Forget women’s rights! You know who the real victims are in this society? Men.”
By using that tactic, three things are accomplished to further the agendas of anti-feminists, MRAs, and misogynists.
• Firstly, the significance of the undeniable reality of misogyny’s pervasive ubiquity in our society is downplayed and undermined by citing the relatively few-and-far-between incidences of men coming up on the short end of the stick against women.
• Secondly, feminism is slyly placed in opposition to issues such as male prison rape and female-on-male domestic abuse, implicitly sliding in the absurd notion that these are somehow things that feminism supports or condones, and the equally absurd notion that advancing the causes of women is in some way in conflict with advancing the causes of humanity.
• Third, the sympathy that feminists feel for victims of violence and exploitation is used against them by dragging the conversation away from the urgent plight of women within our misogynistic culture and into an “Aww, but what about the men?” conversation.
I can’t tell you how often this pathetic monkey wrench has been tossed into the gears of discourse I’ve tried to engage in lately. I’ll make a perfectly valid observation on social media somewhere and some MRA will fall to the ground whimpering “Ohh! But what about my suffering? I’m a victim too!” Just the other day I tweeted an article about rape culture and found myself under fire by a man whose whole argument was that feminism should instead be focusing on the higher suicide rates among men.
And for the record, I would love it if men would stop inflicting violence upon themselves. I think I can speak for feminism in general when I say that it would be great if men stopped committing suicide and left the entire culture of violence in general far behind themselves. But that doesn’t change the fact that misogyny still pervades all aspects of our society in many, many ways, and we need to talk about it and fix it.
Men, we get that you have problems. Believe me, we know. But scrambling to beat us in some manufactured, red herring race toward victimhood isn’t the way to fix those problems. We fix those problems by bringing them into the spotlight of social discourse and resolving them step-by-step, not by pretending the fact that men sometimes get raped by women somehow nullifies the all-encompassing impact that rape culture has on the lives of all women everywhere.
I think it’s a shame that victimhood is becoming the new heroism. I think it’s a shame that police now shoot first and ask questions later, killing defenseless children and mentally handicapped people at the first sign of trouble because they “feared for their lives.” I think it’s a shame that “preemptive strikes” are now routinely used by the world’s most powerful military force against non-threatening nations because America was victimized by 9/11. I think it’s a shame that men ditched their roles as protectors and providers at the first sniff of feminism because “Well, you wanted to be equal, you can do that for yourself now, too,” and instead set their sights on a race to the bottom about who can claim to be the biggest victim.
The world doesn’t need your victimhood, my brothers. It needs your strength. It certainly needs you to be strong enough to support your brothers and come into a healthy relationship with your masculinity, with your emotions, and with one another. Absolutely the world needs those things. And, it needs you to be strong enough to listen to women, to hear our grievances, and facilitate our solutions without trying to dismiss them or making it all about you.
Be heroes. Be strong enough to hold the space for our collective grief and protective enough to fight for the changes we know we need.
[AP Photo/Max Becherer]