Don’t be a “NotAllMen” Man

dawsoncrying

First, to clarify, let me define the “NotAllMen” or “NAM.”

A “NotAllMen” is typically a heterosexual white male, who, when encountered with feminist anger, the patriarchy, or women’s issues in general, respond with “but I’M not like that. It’s not ALL men! this is an isolated incident. It cannot possibly be as bad as you think!” A NAM shares similarities with those who call themselves Men’s Right’s Activists, but may be less extreme or active or even know about the MRA because they really don’t know a lot about the whole women’s rights thing to begin with.

The NAM suffers from something known as “Male Privilege.” They show a natural tendency to resist any acknowledgment of such privilege, and make a concerted effort to remain ignorant of what the term means.

Male Privilege is often invisible to the typical NAM, but symptoms include a warped world view due to the fact that they have never encountered many of the systematic forms of societal oppression women face every day, and therefor seem unable to understand how the life of an average woman can be so different from their own. Since they do not grasp the fact that they are afforded more opportunities and freedoms (I.E. Feeling safe walking alone) they view feminists are trying to take away something from them, rather than giving women more equality. To them, equality is a finite resource. In order to give it to women, it must be taken away from men. Most people know this not to be true.

The NAM may also show signs of entitlement to their (often uninformed) opinion. These opinions typically include (but are not limited to)

  • It’s not ALL men
  • Feminism is just a platform to hate men!
  • It hurts my feelings to be told men do bad things
  • We already HAVE equality
  • Some form of blaming the victim
  • But men have issues, too!
  • We NEED inequality to function as a society!

The NAM also may exhibit signs of “Mansplaining,” in which he will attempt to explain things to you, on topics which you are well-informed and well versed, and he knows little. However well informed you may be, the NAM will always feel that he has to explain it to you, using knowledge often gained from other uninformed NAM’s, internet comments, and Fox News. The NAM believes he knows what feminism ACTUALLY is, and how the world ACTUALLY works, according to him. The NAM’s invisible Male Privilege causes him to believe, while oblivious to the sheer level of narcissism involved to create such a delusion, that if he as an individual has never encountered a problem, the problem does not exist. The problems inherent in this logic are obvious.

The NAM attempts to sound reasonable and respectful, as a contrast to the typical woman’s hysteria. However, what the NAM understands to be reason and respect is actually intense condescension and patronizing. It is typical of a NAM to have a misunderstanding of the definitions of many words.

While all of these symptoms may indicate NAM tendencies, men who exhibit them may recover if they manage to possess an open mind, a willingness to learn, and enough maturity to admit they were misinformed.

A true NAM will reveal himself when actually challenged on any of the above. If at first patronizing doesn’t succeed, try, try again. If you politely and respectfully attempt to explain to a NAM why his opinion is problematic, his initial response will be “oh dear, her small lady brain was unable to understand what I so clearly explained to her. Let me try again.” This time he will reach a level of simplicity so obtuse, most observing will be slightly shocked. After, once again, attempting a respectful, if more forceful reply to the NAM, who is now exposing himself to be severely uneducated on the topic he is attempting to discuss, he will now start to get pissy. This is because being challenged on something he has told a woman is such a blow to the NAM’s fragile ego, he must now resort to grand generalizations, name calling, and general sexist stupidity.

Let me explain to you how your comments look to a well-informed feminist, woman, or female friend who posted an article on an issue related to women’s rights or feminism.

When you try to explain to a feminist what feminism is, to be base, you look like an idiot. It would be like me trying to explain to OJ Simpson how best to write a book about getting away with murder. I’ve never gotten away with murder! I haven’t even researched it! Or read his book! Who am I to try to explain to OJ Simpson how it’s done? This is just general common sense when it comes to literally any discussion in life. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, or if your opinion is based on other people’s opinions and you haven’t actually done any unbiased research you can’t expect other people to take your opinion seriously. When I talk about feminism, I’m talking from personal experience, academic research, personal research, and a whole lot of statistics. When you try to talk to me about feminism, and want to disagree, you better be able to back yourself up, because otherwise your opinion is not valid. Not to me.

When men do this, especially men I know and am acquainted with, this is what it says to me: You don’t respect me and you don’t respect women. If you really, really respected me as your equal, you wouldn’t feel the need to talk down to me. You don’t actually respect my opinion, because although it is generally back up with facts, figures, and hundreds of years of systemized oppression, you STILL feel the need to chime in with your uninformed, simplistic, privileged understanding of what women go through every day. If you actually respected me and women as a whole, you’d be an ally. You wouldn’t be telling me to shut up and stop posting articles on Facebook.

I just want to clarify, once again, how narcissistic this is. When I post an article calling out sexist behavior, violence against women, or Men’s Rights Activists, it is not me yelling at you. I am not saying “LOOK AT THIS SHITTY STUFF MEN DID AND HEY PAUL YOU ARE A MAN THEREFORE YOU ARE A PIECE OF SHIT!” That is you personalizing the issue to you as an individual, and  is probably missing whatever point I was trying to make entirely.

I’m not suggesting that men can’t have opinions about feminism, and they can’t be different than mine. But you must keep in mind the platform you’re speaking from. If you are a heterosexual white male, you are speaking from the most privileged platform in our current North American society. You’re life experience is going to be vastly different than say, a queer African American Woman. Vastly. Everyone as an individual can only speak with a combination of their personal experience, perspective, and education. Before speaking on any issue of inequality, it is your responsibility to acknowledge that you are speaking from a privileged platform, and that you do not have the firsthand experience of being part of an oppressed or minority group. Until you accept and acknowledge your privilege, you really can’t expect to be taken seriously in matters like feminism or any kind of inequality. 

I used to have a policy of education over confrontation, but the more NAM’s I encounter the more I realize they just don’t want to hear it. Trying to be civil with a NAM or an MRA is like trying to convince a brick wall that it’s anything other than a brick wall, because a brick wall is a brick wall and it ain’t gonna change.

But, if you’re mature enough and want to actually learn, that’s when I’ll be willing to talk to you like an adult. But remember: the oppressed are allowed to be angry at their oppressor. Women are allowed to be angry at men. Again, this does not mean that I am angry with you, Dustin, Sean, Kurt, or any of my male acquaintances individually.

So instead of getting up in arms and trying to defend yourself against the evil feminists, how about you defend women? Be an ally. Learn. Educate yourself. Don’t be a NAM.

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“But Men Have Issues, Too!” Or, “Spot the Derailment Tactic!” with Mary B (Guest Feminist Kraken)

This week I am posting a blog by friend and fellow Feminist Kraken, Mary B. Mary actually wrote this hilarious, sarcastic, cutting, educated, and smart piece as a response to day long facebook argument I managed to get myself into over THIS article from Jezebel titled “What No One Else Will Tell You About Feminism.”

The thesis statement of this Jezebel tongue-in-cheek article is that “you’re either a Feminist, or you’re a bad person.” Maybe this declaration seems harsh, but since at its most basic level Feminism can be defined as “the radical belief that women are people,” it’s a statement I tend to agree with.

Now, I really didn’t intended to start anything by posting this – I just thought it was funny and smart. But then a facebook acquaintance, who shall henceforth be referred to as Burt, posted me a link to a video called “The Failure of Feminism” by youtube personality and insane person, The Amazing Atheist. Burt refused to call himself a feminist based on the arguments made in the video, which include statements such as “Feminism isn’t the same as Women’s Rights,” “Feminism is sexist,” “Patriarchy isn’t real,” “Male privilege isn’t real,” and “men have a lot of issues, too.”

So, I spent most of my day refusing to really discuss the matter with him, since after googleing the Amazing Atheist to really see if he had any kind of credentials to back up any of his statements, I found THIS RationalWIki on the guy. MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING!

The guy who made that video attempts to come off as some kind of sensible voice of reason, yet calls rape victims “vindictive bitches” for having the audacity to call themselves “victims” after experiencing something has horrific as rape. I sent this quote to Burt, and explained that I really didn’t want to discuss the opinions of a known woman hating crazy person, but was then accused of trying to derail the conversation by attacking the source and not the argument.

Rage Blackout. I couldn’t deal. It was too much for me. I had to walk away from my keyboard. Enter Mary to save the day with the fantastic reply I’ve posted below.

(Though I don’t recommend it, Mary pretty much takes out “The Failure of Feminism” point by point, so if you want to take a second to watch it for some extra context, it’s on the youtube.)

An Eloquent Response By Mary B

This is quite the collection of attacks on feminism right here in one place, isn’t it? Patriarchy isn’t real! Feminists are too fixated on women! And aren’t those whiny rape victims so annoying? Frame the whole thing in a stunning example of one of the most effective derailment tactics (which ironically – or hypocritically – Tessa is then accused of using when she tries to bring the discussion back to the point) and, oooh, it’s like Christmas to me! A really super rage inducing Christmas where the presents suck out my soul and pee on it!

‎*deep breath* Ah, where to begin? Not with the dismissal of rape victims, since you seem to understand that that is some monstrous ignorant bullshit right there, which is good since I don’t know how to argue with someone so out of touch with reality. But, Burt, surely you can understand why someone who genuinely believes that rape victims are “vindictive bitches” because they had the AUDACITY to call making it through each painful second of their lives with the horror of what happened to them “surviving” has given up every right to be a legitimate voice on women’s rights. This is a case where Tessa is completely valid in her dismissal of the source. That quote has EVERYTHING to do with the point being made. The point, by the way, is that feminism is an important thing we should all be invested in. Store that away. It’s going to get relevant later.

“Sexism is a big problem, but it’s far from a patriarchy.” I thought I should deal with this quickly before getting into the meat of my response, because, since you contradicted yourself in the remarkably small space of just one sentence, I don’t think you actually know what patriarchy is. Or possibly you also don’t know what sexism is. Sexism is the systemic oppression of a sex viewed as inferior (aka women), so if sexism is a big problem, then so is patriarchy. You can’t have one without the other.

Now let’s look at the examples of violations of men’s rights you brought up and ask some questions about them. Like, what is the core issue of each violation? Why are women more often awarded custody? Because women are natural caregivers,of course! Why is it easier for women to get away with crime? Because women are helpless and weak and can’t think for themselves and therefore could not have hurt anyone and/or were manipulated by a man into doing it and are practically victims themselves! Why is spousal abuse not taken seriously when a woman is abusing a man? Because a real manly man would be able to protect himself! (This is also a huge factor in why male rape victims are often dismissed and also plays a role in why many don’t report the assault in the first place.) These are all, of course, bullshit reasons. This is the negative effect of patriarchal binary standards of masculinity and femininity in full force. This is not me saying that these aren’t men’s issues; they are, and the party that is being hugely, grossly affected negatively here is the men. It’s a horrifying injustice, and it comes from an overarching gender inequality that affects EVERYONE. This is why the patriarchal belief of a superior gendered behavior (masculine > feminine) needs to be stopped, for everyone’s sake. This is why feminism and women’s rights are everyone’s fight.

You object to the word “feminism” and use instead “humanism,” so I’d like to take a second to deal with that. Humanism as a movement is a nice ideal, but it can’t exist while a hugely unequal gender binary permeates every corner of our current society. It can’t exist when the right to consciously and subconsciously be even considered human is still an issue for many, many people not just on the gender spectrum, but also the ethnic, differently abled, age, class, etc, spectrums. To insist on humanism is to lump all human rights issues together as one and dismiss the vastly different problems that each of these groups face. When we have achieved a society in which humanism can be a thing, we will no longer need it.

I know all men are not out to make things easier for men. However, there is an unfortunately vocal group that support what they misname “men’s rights” that is really the desire to maintain the current systemic and social privilege men have over women. With feminism, we want to be systemically and socially considered equal. With misandry, that equality (which would eliminate men’s privilege) is perceived as an imbalance in favour of women.

Now, I’ve made the supporters of misandry sound a bit like evil bigots out to get women, but in general it isn’t that simple. These people often do not believe they are sexist and therefore do not always act in an overtly sexist manner, and certainly do not do so on purpose. This belief that equality is actually favouring women is the result of warped worldview caused by privilege. See, the tricky thing about privilege is that it is completely invisible to those who have it unless someone or something draws their attention to it (and sometimes, even then, it remains invisible, though often willfully so). So when something threatens that privilege, it is not seen as equality but rather as a loss of rights.

But the important thing about all of this is that it is irrelevant to the discussion. That’s right, nearly everything I just said has nothing to do with what Tessa was arguing. Remember the point – the one I told you to store away – about how feminism should be something we’re all invested in? Yeah, we got a bit off topic, didn’t we? I mean, I made a valiant effort to tie what I was saying to that point when I talked about why the injustices men face are part of what feminism is trying to fix, but that was it. And that’s the real point of my response.

See, the important thing is that your first reaction to a post about the relevance of women’s rights / feminism to everyone was “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MENNNNNN?!” I think it’s important to ask why that is. See, fact of the matter is, this post wasn’t talking about men. You want to talk about the unfair and damaging societal standards of masculinity men are held to? Fine. That is an important discussion I would enthusiastically participate in. You want to talk about the unfair treatment of men by the justice system? Great. You want to get the ball rolling on misandry? Go for it. The internet is a big place; there are plenty of places to discuss all that. It is not, however, the discussion happening here. Now is not the time, nor is this the place. You are frustrated with Tessa’s lack of a thorough rebuttal, but I’m going to applaud her for not engaging your attempt to derail the discussion. Bravo, Tessa.

The real lesson here? Don’t try to play “Spot the Derailment Tactic” with me. I’m really good at that game.

You can find Mary on twitter @CodeNameMreb and at her own blog “Mary Digresses”

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