Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guest | Why my friend no longer calls himself a feminist

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The following is a guest post by a friend who asked to remain anonymous. He wished to explain why he no longer wants to be known as a feminist despite his continued support for women’s rights as a result of the small but disproportionately vocal misandrist fringe. I’ve touched on the matter of these rabid kooks previously, and while they in no way represent the feminist movement as a whole, they generate enough noise and division to successfully chase away any number of potential allies who wish to avoid getting tarred with the same brush. I find this unspeakably disheartening and infuriating, which is why I’m publishing the following testimonial.

Edit: 11/30/12 5:55 PM ET – To be clear (and to elucidate some apparent confusion in the comments), I – your humble blogmeister, Joé – do not endorse the idea of abandoning the mantle of feminism over the actions of fringers. I’ve repeatedly written to the contrary in the past: that if you truly believe in something, then you should stick with it and change it for the better. I published my friend’s testimonial because I thought it was an interesting viewpoint, even if I don’t agree with his decision to drop support for the feminist movement, and because it’s always important to take note of the damages caused by the rabid ones in our midst in order to assess the health and direction of the overall movement. That is all.

Edit #2: 11/30/12 8:55 PM ET – To clarify another misunderstanding (especially at the Atheism Plus Forum): As clearly (and repeatedly) stated, my anonymous friend – I’ll call him AF from now on – remains committed to supporting equality and justice for women, whatever those keen on interpreting his account in the least charitable light may think. He’s just no longer adopting the “feminist” label. This is irrelevant to his beliefs and actions concerning women’s rights, just as one can reject the “Atheism Plus” label (say, in favor of “secular humanism”) while remaining a staunch ally on matters of social justice. Any accusations of AF merely being in it for the kudos aren’t only baseless, they’re outright ridiculous and serve only to embarrass the accuser. Now, I tire of defending AF from such silly diversions in his absence, so enough of that.

“Men of quality respect women’s equality”

I have always considered myself to hold progressive values, and as such, I have always supported Women's Rights, in-so-much as I have always seen these views as more “common sense” than anything else.

As such, I have always considered myself to be a Feminist. Yet, over the few years that I have decided to share these views, I have been told, in essence, the same thing again and again.

That I am not welcome here.

I have been assured, by many people, that these events are part of a fringe group, and that this is not an everyday occurrence within the Feminist movement, yet it does not explain why I run into these people everywhere I go.

I have always held to the belief that educating myself on any subject was important. As such, when I chose classes for my second semester at college, in order to fill the “Tolerance and Intolerance” requirement, I chose a course from the Women's Studies major.

This was, apparently, a mistake.

It probably wouldn't surprise anyone to know that I was the only male in the room. I was also not welcome. On the first day, I had two students complain to the teacher that they felt uncomfortable taking the class with me. After class, a group of them told me to stay out of the elevator, since they didn't want to be alone with me in an enclosed space. Within our first class discussion, I was informed by a student, in front of everyone, that I was just a “rapist waiting to happen.” The professor, by the way, did nothing to alleviate the problem.

I dropped after the third class and signed up for “Race and Minorities” instead.

I never found myself in such a hostile atmosphere since, but that didn't stop me from getting remarks whenever I was involved in any discussion, and not necessarily about feminism.

I was told that I was not allowed to be a feminist, but I could be pro-feminism instead, when I was in a discussion of feminist poetry in a literature theory class.

In a separate discussion in the student lounge, while I was discussing my personal writing with another student, I was told by a random woman that I have never met before that the only reason I would ever get published was because I am male, and that the publishing industry is “hostile towards women.”

These are aside from the countless incidents since where I was told that my personal opinion was meaningless because I am a man.

Finally, the event that occurred recently, when my FtM Transgender friend was blasted by someone because he was “giving up your femininity to be part of the patriarchy.” and that he was “turning your back on your gender.”

When my friend got rather angry, this woman yelled at him; “If you want to be a man, your opinion will be just as worthless as one.” Naturally, anything that I had to say on how rude it was wound up being disregarded immediately.

So fine. I guess I'm done. I will support Women’s Rights until the day I die, but I will no longer support Feminism, because apparently, they don't want me to.

Not that this will matter to anyone who reads it. After all, it was written by a man, and my opinion doesn't matter. Which is exactly why I'm posting it on someone else's blog. I honestly don't want to deal with this anymore. I'm tired of it.

Also, food for thought: if this is what it takes to piss me off, what do you think it does to a man who has never given Feminism any thought?