To the men I know: Emsy’s Feminism Posts 1Posted: May 29, 2014
Alright. This is a blog post I’ve got to write but I think it’s going to take me a while. Because this is a subject that should take a while.
I am not going to try and reassure men that I’m “not talking about people like them” when I’m talking about women being killed. I’m talking about fellow members of my gender being murdered, my priority is not your feelings. People are going to get pissed off reading this, and that’s 100% intentional. If this pisses you off, I want you to think hard about why it does.
I’m also not talking about the perceived “nerd culture” or “PUA” theories around what happened with the recent shootings. You can read a fantastic piece about that here (and I think you should because it’s very well written) that basically boils down to “Sex is not a zero-sum game. You don’t put enough “nice” in until “sex” comes out”*
*I heard this line somewhere online and thought it was brilliant, I forget where I saw it.
I am, however, going to talk about the #YesAllWomen on Twitter, some of the reactions to it and why, if you’re feeling anger towards the things being said there it might be time to stop justifying yourself, and listen.
Don’t talk about how’s it’s not you, you don’t do this, it’s not all men, not me. Not me.
And listen. Listen to the women who are harassed, assaulted, harmed and killed. And think. Think about how, if you’re male, this is your gender doing this. It’s part of a group you belong to. And I know, I really do, that it feels so, so awful. Stop saying “it’s not me”, and start saying “it’s my people.”
But why? Why should you, a law-abiding human being who would never dare to rape, to hurt, to kill, why should you take responsibility for these monsters? That’s not fair, surely? Well, no. I suppose it’s not. But speaking as a member of a group who are battered and murdered on a daily basis, I say you should realise that they are part of your group. That’s just the way it is.
The patriarchy is a real thing. And part of it says “Men have voices! They have things to say! They must stand up for themselves if their gender is being hated! Otherwise we’re going to be oppressed!” That same system says to women “you have no voice. You must be quiet. You are not to be heard. You should be talked over.” Trying to get past that is what causes the “not all men” problem. Firstly, men will not be oppressed for being men. Oppression happens over centuries, through cultural norms, through generations of being taught that you should be a certain way or that you have power over someone else. It doesn’t happen through a hashtag.
The other element of it is that men are not taught to listen. They are taught that their voice is the most important, that their feelings are the ones that matter. If a woman says “I’m scared of going out at night because men are rapists” men instantly hear “You are a rapist”. It’s made about them, about the individual man. That sentence is not about the man hearing it spoken. It is about the woman who is afraid of being raped. Hearing that sentence should NOT make you think “well that’s not fair, I’m not a rapist!” it should make you think “what must men have done to cause that woman to feel so scared? There is a reason behind it and that’s awful”.
Stop again. Take a moment. Are you angry? Cross? Frustrated?
Ok, think about why. Are you frustrated for the woman who is scared of being raped? Or are you angry that I’m making a sweeping statement about men? Which one do you think should have the biggest priority?
Women are scared. And they’re scared of men. If you are a man, that means they are scared of you. No matter how nice and kind and wonderful you are, someone will be scared of you because in the past, she was raped, hit, assaulted, harassed by a man. If that makes you feel bad, then good.
So what, I want all men to feel guilty? No. I want men to stop. I want them to stop talking and listen to the women. To the voices that usually don’t get a chance. Go and read the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter. Listen to the stories these women are saying. Think “am I angry that I’m being put into a category or am I angry that this woman was attacked?”
The #YesAllWomen hashtag is a space for women. It’s a space where men need to stop talking, start listening and decide what they can do to stop their sisters, mothers, daughters being attacked on a basis that makes this an ongoing endemic of violence.
I am very interested in discussing this in comments. All I would ask is that, if you’re feeling angry because you feel I’m treating you unfairly is that you wait for a moment, go and read the hashtag and come back later. Discussing through anger is never fruitful.
I’ve another post on feminism coming later. Please leave your thoughts. Please listen to your sisters.
The victims of the shooting of May 23, 2014 Isla Vista, CA were:George Chen, 19 Weihang “David” Wang, 20 Chen Wang “James” Hong, 20 Katherine Cooper, 22 Veronika Weiss, 19 Christopher Martinez, 20
These young people’s names deserve to be remembered, not the man who killed them.