I was recently informed by a friend, via a note passed to me at a party after I had reacted negatively (or, as he explained, like a chihuahua) to some sexist comment he made, that feminists are “bored and abused” chauvinists who have nothing better to do than to attack men and that I should not let anti-woman words have any kind of power over me. To be offended by misogyny is my choice and to do so makes me weak, apparently. (Now there’s a topic for another day).
And because I did not want to hear the same defensive, woman-hating bullshit that I’ve heard a thousand times by yet another man who claims absolute wisdom and righteousness in all matters human, I stopped reading about halfway through and gave the note back to him. I was then told that, by not being open to his opinions about feminism, I am essentially unwilling to grow and evolve and that I will tragically fail to achieve in my life the full and rich human experience because I refused to give credence to and appreciate his anti-feminist viewpoint.
Super! Not only does being a woman make me less-than, but being unwilling to listen to the defensive voice of male privilege tell me how wrong my beliefs are makes me even more less-than.
The thing is: From the minute I leave my house in the morning I am inundated by misogynistic messages, from the things I hear people say to the images I see all around me. For every one time that I make any sort of comment on these messages there are approximately 1,172 times that I’ve recognized something as sexist and not said anything. There are about 5,249 messages that I didn’t even pick up on.
Once I first really understood what the patriarchy was, it became the Framework. The Context. Everything fell into place and finally began to make sense. Once I was at that place, there was no going back to when I didn’t see and hear and feel a seething hatred of femaleness all around me. Feminism became the lens through which I viewed the world. And that’s that.
I am happy, or at the very least willing, to debate whether or not a certain act, behavior, word, or belief is inherently sexist or misogynistic. I am not, however, willing to debate the importance or necessity of feminism. Honestly, if you really truly think feminism is wrong, or that women just have it made these days and that we should suck it up and be grateful for the rights men have already granted us, then you’re a complete fucking tool. Period. No discussion necessary. I won’t ever entertain the notion, no matter how passionately you argue or how solid you think your points are. To try and argue with me about this would be like trying convince Neo that there is no Matrix.
I know it must be hard to fathom that a girl doesn’t care what a smart man thinks about the thing that she cares most about in the world, or that there’s a movement that exists that doesn’t much take into consideration what men have to say on the topic. I know I’m supposed to 1) nod thoughtfully as I process your wisdom, asking clarifying questions about your points just in case I don’t immediately understand something you say, and then 2) offer up some powerful and intelligent argument on why feminism is important, and then 3) try to prove my point with examples from women in politics and a few stories about my grandmother, but of course, in the end, 4) concede that yes, you have some very good points that I will certainly think about, and thank you for educating me about feminism and correcting me on those things I didn’t fully understand about women and the world.
Well, that conversation has been had before and is a bullshit boring ass waste of time that does absolutely nothing for anyone. Pretending to be open to the possibility that I’m a fool for believing what I do is wrong, dishonest, and disrespectful to everyone involved. Being polite and feigning interest, when I’m really thinking “Holy crap, what an indoctrinated, privileged prick he is. Where’s my beer?” is simply no good. Watching an ESPN poker game that I’ve already seen 3 times would be a far more productive, enjoyable, and and honest thing to do.
Patriarchy, among other things, needs to encourage the abuse and mistreatment of women on a heartbreakingly tragic scale and then make them entirely responsible for it in order to maintain the male-dominated status quo. The words, ideas, behaviors, and images that support the misogynistic gender roles that keep the patriarchy thriving must be acknowledged as such and then eliminated if we ever want to live in a world where women’s bodies and souls aren’t abused to such a horrifying extent.
That’s my entire motivation and the broad context to every feminist argument I make. I really don’t see a whole lot to argue about there.