Currently on youtube, one of the major topics of discussion is of feminism and men’s rights. The ironic part is that in discussing the irrationality of some feminists a lot of the speakers are making the need for feminism rational. They talk about how culture has moved on and this then means women face less persecution than they once did. This is true. But by saying that feminism is completely irrelevant they make it relevant. To tell women that issues they face because they are women are unimportant, is to misunderstand that to say so is to be guilty of the prejudice feminism is against.
As an example, one of the major issues in the feminist movement was payment inequality- women would be paid less for the same work than if a man were in employ- and certainly now the implementation of standards-of-pay based on job description have certainly alleviated this in Britain. The argument of anti-feminists I have listened to on youtube is that figures show that women in certain positions now earn more than men in similar positions. There is truth in this but there is also an important rationale that has been left out. The positions we are talking about tend to be CEO level or equivalent. When in these kind of positions there is a certain amount of bartering for yearly wage, and these positions tend to be highly rewarded when the company achieves more than the expected net profit. Are these positions rewarded based on who made the calls that lead to the increase? Are the rewards based on who works harder? Are the rewards based on biases and favouritism? I’m sure that it varies company to company. To make any generalisations beyond proof, is bold… and kind of self-righteous. If anything, there may be rewards for women in these positions in an effort by fellow male CEO’s to seem like they are not degrading the women in some way… or even because of inappropriate relations in the workplace, both possibilities being just as much a prejudice by gender as paying women a lesser wage. Who knows where the corruptions are hiding; such matters should be taken as innocence until guilt is proven and should be on a case by case basis. Why? Because to act otherwise is to act as if there is a conspiracy throughout all corporations. It is likely there will be pervasive behaviours due to the nature that these companies tend to copy each others systems of operation, and some of these systems will lead to situational corruptions. Adding this rationale means this point of debate should be dropped in concern with anti-feminism. If some pattern of gender prejudice were proven it would delegitimize being anti-feminist. Men’s rights on the other hand would be more of an issue in this case.
There are many different kinds of feminists. Most folk know this but don’t know how the feminists define themselves. In the same way that Creationists do not actually represent the position of the majority of everyday Christians throughout the world, the loudest feminists don’t usually hold positions that represent the issues most women feel they have to face. A lot of feminist bloggers complain about the representation of women in the media as too sexualized (particularly in video games) and the unrealistic nature of most porn. They feel like these truths result in unrealistic expectations for women, and an unrealistic perception of the average woman. I tend to find that the people who judge the way women look- whether it be they’re having a good hair day or a bad one, whether the clothes they are wearing suit them or not- are other women. The thing to discuss here is whether women have these judgmental tendencies because of nature or nurture. Considering it is a widely held belief of most psychologists that we learn and grow by way of each, the same can probably be said of such behaviours. To what extent my partner judges how sex is “supposed” to go based on porn he has watched, watches and will watch I do not know- all I know is that is doesn’t affect the sex we do have in any perceivable way. Neither have any female friends ever said they were having problems in the bedroom because they’re partner had wanted to do something they saw in a porn. I understand that media can affect us greatly and with some very undesirable results. I also understand that just because you do not allow people to express something in their media doesn’t mean the thoughts and ideas are not present in the culture and populous. Banning sexualized media and porn solves nothing, instead it creates a closet. (Western culture is only now getting gays out of the closet- there is no need to force the tendencies and desires of every-person into it).
Anyway! Back to categorization. As I have talked about there are the loud, easily offended and over-reactive feminists- I tend to call these banshees. Then there are feminists who want women to have a sexual revolution so that it will be understood that women have sexual needs and desires with the same gradient of drive that can be seen in all men- these women I tend to call mermaids and just as mermaid lore varies so does this group. There are stories of mermaids that prey upon seamen and those that are supposed to be keepers of the nature balance in the oceans. What we see in this group is that nearly all of them want to legalize prostitution but there is a difference in opinion as to whether such a job should be taxable or not and whether there should be health and safety regulations or not (one would think it wiser to regulate, with the logic that taxes would pay for the protection of prostitutes by law enforcement and, in places like Britain, health care to prevent the spread of STI’s.) There is another group of feminists that I should really call conservative but instead I call them mutton. These women tend to be conservative in all of their politics so it follows that they believe in harsher punishment for prostitution as it stands, they tend to be anti-abortion and can even be anti-birth control. To me, these women put me in mind of a phrase my mother used to make about “high class” older women. She would say “they’re just mutton dressed as lamb,”and at first I thought this was reference to the way they dressed very particularly and the way they tended to have bouffant hairstyle, but no… My Mum ment the way they dressed up their attitudes so as to be acceptable by conservative standards. They would resist normal womanly desires and understandings to appear instead like good well-behaved little girls (as all little girls will tell you, kissing is ‘icky’ and ‘wrong’). If I were blind to or didn’t care for the issues men face because they are men I would probably be a mermaid of the regulating kind. It is a position that speaks of freedom for men and women. Of a sexual empowerment which I think can only be a good thing. If less people were sexually frustrated then it might be that less rape would happen. For the issue of power rape, more victims would come forward and get justice for the crime because they would be less sexually closeted and embarrassed.
Throughout feminism I have to admit there is a lot of flaw. One feminist supporter once said to me that feminism was a fight for equality of the sexes. I can only but shake my head, sigh and say, “it was a fight for equality.” The problem with feminism being present in my privileged nation today is that there are women in other nations that are still facing the inequality we once had, and that men in my nation face issues of a similar level of importance as our current feminist issues. I understand that we cannot always help what other nations do and that the issues that concern us, the ones we put importance on, should be relative to our privilege. I also understand that what we face now is not that the genders are unequal, but that our humanism is still facing problems. Prostitution is an issue for both genders- there are male prostitutes! Rape is an issue for both genders- both can be victimised, both can be perpetrators, we all know people that we care for that have been victimised, and although less of us are aware of it and even less of the aware admit to it we all know people we care for that have been perpetrators of sexual misconduct.
Men’s rights? Young men make up a greater percentage of the unemployed than women do, which is to say there is a prejudice by employers not to employ young men. The pressure to be manly and not to be emotional is just as present in media as the sexulaisation of women is. Men are not only accused of crime more often but are punished more severely when convicted, with longer sentences and harsher fines. Women’s “first-world” problems? I have to have a chaperone to get home after social outings at night and can’t walk down city streets alone after 9 o’clock in 2013! When I am in a formal work setting I have to appear and work extra hard to be taken seriously because I am still less likely to be trusted without question than a man in the same position. When I go out with my friends I do not feel like there are higher expectations that I look beautiful, but I do have to be careful what will be thought of my intentions sexually if I do happen to wear something that looks particularly effeminate (as a Scottish anti-rape advertising campaign put so well, I did not buy and wear my clothes thinking “I want to get raped tonight” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGnGPAZcsqE). As these examples show there are still problems for the feminist and men’s rights activists to deal with separately although in reality it could be argued that picking a side to be more important is biased and prejudice in itself.
Personally I don’t want to call myself a feminist because as this kerfuffle on youtube has demonstrated, using labels results in others misjudging or misrepresenting your opinions. And it’s strange because a similar issue came up in the atheist movement. Neil Degrasse Tyson famously had an issue with labelling himself an atheist in case people assigned positions to him that he did not have- he noted in his BigThink interview that he kept having to correct the wikipedia article written about him to say that he was agnostic, not atheist. While I say I am an atheist I cannot say I am feminist. Call me an equali-tist . Call me a humanitarian. That probably gets my concerns across more effectively. Might it be more effective for these youtubers to argue the individual issues, than be taking sides to shoot down? Of course, clever folks will realise this is another Boogie monster issue because we humans just love creating an “other”.