Dear Jeebus, what about the men?
So it was about damn time I did this post, seeing that how I’m getting some sort of audience now. In most of my recent posts, I’ve seen whole conversations derailed by the interjection of a man exclaiming “what about me? What about my oppression? What about my right to read only about the things that matter to me and not be offended or asked to introspect?”
For a while, I humored these questions. I discussed the issue of what it means to be a man for pages full of theoretical rejoinders. Sometimes, I even assuaged massive egos and avoided calling a spade a spade. Of course, nothing was accomplished for several reasons: (a) I’m working off a perception of masculinity gained by social interaction, media images, and my personal experiences with gender roles while most men are operating off a perception of masculinity that mirrors themselves, and is thus largely positive to assuage the ego, (b) I speak primarily of oppression through the patriarchy, and there is simply no contest between the suffering of women verses the general unearned privilege of men gained through this system, (c) I actually really don’t give much of a shit about exceptions to the rule of “men oppress women” because in light of the continued fear and oppression I face every day as a woman, the one or two times in a man’s year that he finds himself at the mercy of women is inconsequential.
Let’s just be totally honest here: men own and run the world. They possess 95% of the world’s wealth and 99% of the world’s land. There has always been a male head of state in 77% of the world’s 195 countries. There is currently a male head of state in 96% of the world’s nations (exceptions are Switzerland, Ireland, Liberia, The Philippines, Argentina, Chile, Finland, and India). Women have almost never been able to historically vote until they were granted suffrage for the first time in 1893 in New Zealand.
It is an undeniable fact that women, for most of human history, were brutally oppressed and abused politically, socially, medically, economically, and sexually. The very proposition that that legacy is inconsequential today, or that the wounds of millennia are healed, is patently absurd. I refuse to even debate any statements to the contrary.
Yes, already, I know: social gender roles suck for both sexes. Why must this continually be a point here? I have never denied this fact, and I have never mocked the real instances in which men are oppressed by other social factors. However, those social factors that most oppress men, not women, are usually those of their own making or completely invented for the sake of self-pitying argumentation. Furthermore, this is a space for women by a woman, and discussion of “men’s issues” marginalizes the extreme, pervasive, violent, and disgusting oppression of women spoken about here and in other feminist spaces.
If, by chance, you are a man, this space should be taken as an opportunity for introspection on what it means to be human. Here you will not find the glorification of your penis and masculinity and perceived sexual prowess. This protective space, which I have woefully neglected to properly police lately, should be a breath of fresh air, free from the usual focus on men, their sensitivities, their privileges, and their world-views. Instead, I have let it, to an extent, become hijacked with rallying cries of dearest (male) God, what about the men?
I’ll tell you about men. The male sex, for the totality of human history (even today) control every single aspect of socialization from media to churches to families and schools. For all of history and the present day they have waged wars, leveled our forests, raped women, children, and weaker men, and indiscriminately slaughtered and oppressed and abused on the basis of things as inconsequential as race, class, sex, orientation, or ability.
Are there exceptions to this rule? Yes, but that doesn’t invalidate my point that the majority of power and abuses of power have historically been had and committed by men with more men for most men.
Today, 100% of men count on the privilege of their sex to get them things that a woman in an identical situation would probably have a lesser chance procuring. To most men, this is either invisible or business as usual. This is an effect of all kinds of privilege, not just that along gender. Americans, for instance, buy cheap televisions without much of a care of all the environmental damage the production, and then disposal, of that television wrecked, nor will they spend the time to contemplate the fates of the industrial slaves who die young and hopelessly for their cheap material goods. Like Americans, all men have systematically benefited from a chance of birth for every day of their lives.
Equality is not a tag-line, it’s not just a word that is uttered to garner support of more bullshit pork barrel spending. To me, and to most feminists, it means the complete and total destruction of all unearned privilege decided upon by nothing more than gender identity and sex chromosomes. It means that men will do 50% of the housework, and earn 50% of the household income. It means that around 50% of the world’s nations will be governed by women at any given point. It means that female-specific slurs with no male equivalent (bitch, whore, slut, cunt, cougar, skank, trollop, doll-face, sweetie, hag) will disappear from the cultural vernacular. It means that gender-specific crimes such as rape and domestic abuse and sexual harassment will nearly disappear or affect both sexes equally. It means that every single person who decides to be a misogynist piece of shit is vilified, mocked, fired, jailed, fined, or arrested when appropriate.
When men come here, and any other space for women, by women and refuse to learn, to improve themselves, to ask questions and admit when they know less or are wrong and, most of all, ask dear Jeebus, what about teh menz? They are doing exactly what they do every single day for the entirety of their lives: they are exercising their perceived patriarchal rights to silence women, to assert that the conversation should be about them, and to insist that every single corner of the universe should only be about them, for them, by them, and in praise of them.
The question will be asked, “why should I, a woman, expect men to listen to me if I assert that their problems don’t matter?”
And my response is thus: Not everything is about you. If the shoe doesn’t fit, if you don’t beat, rape, torture, and kill, why are you threatened by the fact that your gender has been responsible for the systematic slavery, abuse, and fear of women for all of human history? Maybe it’s because you, smart dude that you are, have figured out that the above statement means that you are, in fact, currently benefiting from unearned privilege, and you have done so for the entirety of your past, and you probably will for the entirety of your future. By submitting this incontrovertible fact, I am making the statement that the things that you have, the person that you are, and the things you think you are entitled to are based on a hell of a lot of thoughts that presuppose you are better than others because of your penis, because of your skin color, because of your nationality, and because of a dozen other reasons. All of these reasons have nothing to do with the good things that you have done or the good person you think you are, but the fact that your ancestors of your class, race, sex, or religion have abused, slaughtered, raped, oppressed, and enslaved millions upon millions of people so that you could have the unearned privilege of being born into a position of power that was historically earned by the fear, pain, and blood of those your privileged class committed the most heinous acts upon for thousands of years.
Does this mean that you are responsible? Yes. Every second of every day that you witness blatant acts of discrimination and say nothing and do nothing and silently thank a higher power that your ancestors set up this vast mechanism of hatred and oppression to privilege your righteous ass means that you are a collaborator in injustice, in death, in destruction, in violence, in oppression.
But dear fucking God, what do you expect me to do?
For one, stop laughing at sexist jokes. Stop treating women like pieces of meat. Stop calling women bitches and whores. Stop whining about reverse racism/sexism/classism and start earning what you have instead of insisting that it’s given to you and not them. Stop thinking that just because you don’t see how the world works, how others suffer for your gain, and how others bleed and die and fear for you, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Stop telling me that I’m wrong if I point out one of the eight thousand instances of misogyny I encounter every day. Stop insisting that there are hoards of poor wittle oppressed white American men that are relevant to every fucking post.
Most of all, stop asking everyone to talk about you.