I am going to do something a little different today. Normally when I share writing in this sort of forum it is a compromise of sorts. The writings stop short of a formal composition (which I reserve for projects offline that take more time) but consist of some degree of thinking and revision. That is, they are not merely thoughts spilled out on page. Even the “stream-of-consciousness” entries that I submit involve an element of organisation.
Today that goes out the window in favour of a more non-sequitur, as thoughts occur to me style to vent some of my frustration.
The brunt of the criticism I receive comes from fellow white men in the form of anti-feminist sentiments. Most of those opinions have no form other than, “This is a feminist thing? You’re stupid”, and I count them for the intellectual contribution they are and move on with the day. Others take specific issue with elements of the writing, generally in the form of “feminists are angry, intemperate individuals causing more harm than good by wasting energy on ‘everyone is equal’ instead of fixing problems”.
Everyone is not equal. In fact, the differences between any two people may be glaring. The point of feminism is that we have more in common than divides us though, and the characteristic basis of the individual (their sex, gender, orientation, race, ethnicity, etc., etc.) do not indicate what those inequalities are.
My personal favourite argument is, “You say that we have to respect diverse worldviews but you are promoting your worldview and telling me that mine is crap”. Yes, I am. Because the worldview that I promote, that feminists promote, is that we need to consider the worldviews of others – that is the worldview we promote: listen to those of others. When your worldview is, “My worldview is correct and the others should be quiet because I know better”, we are telling you that it is unacceptable.
Yes, democracy is poor logic. It does not follow that because most people decide on something that the something is the appropriate course. However, when entire groups of people are saying, “The way we do things is not really working for us”, it is not for one group to say, “Sure it is, we know better”.
Example: the majority of Ireland just voted to repeal the 8th, and it does not follow that majority opinion makes abortion okay. However, there are logical arguments than abortion is a necessary option and the pro-choice position is therefore correct. That makes repealing anti-abortion laws okay. Telling millions of women and their allies that they are wrong on some vague moral ground and that you need to enforce the ban for their benefit is beyond insulting.
What is the basis of that moral ground? “Only God can determine who lives and who dies – it is unnatural for us to make that call.” We do it all the time in other respects that none of you pro-lifers seem to care about. Capital punishment (which to me seemed an obvious no-go for Christians but experience and history suggest the precise opposite)? Or, to a less extreme, even other medical procedures. My tooth got infected and I had an emergency root canal. Well, nature says you got an infection and you live as long as you can until it takes you. A procedure involving plastic, metal tools, and artificial chemical compounds to reverse that is not natural. You want nature to take its course? Skip that double bypass surgery and forget your blood pressure medication.
We allow for abortion as an option because there are circumstances when it is necessary. You do not agree with that? Do not get an abortion. No one is forcing abortions on anyone. But you also do not get to force that choice on others. “Abortion is wrong in the eyes of God”. Not everyone believes in God and it is not your place to make them. “But their soul will not be saved otherwise”. Their choice.
I will repeat it here though it will make little difference (for those reading this who might be deluded in the slightest, this is not a persuasive writing – those who disagree will continue to do so vehemently. These writings serve to rally and inspire those who do agree to push back against that oppression). The point of feminism is that we live in a world where men (in the Western world, white men) have been making the decisions and wield the power. Women and minorities have been saying for generations, “These decisions you made are not working for us. They are causing considerable hardship”.
The argument that these people are unfit to lead because they lack the strength, character, or whatever other bullshit is illogical. Yes, some people are more fit the lead than others, but the idea that the leader class somehow derives exclusively from the white male pool is offensive.
One person in particular countered that they are best suited to lead because they know what is right and others do not know what they do not know. “The sky is blue, and no matter how well one argues that the sky is green, it will be blue.”
Here is what feminists are arguing: the sky is not actually blue. The correct statement is that the sky appears blue, but the sky is actually an amalgam of all colours based on the pure light of the sun. When the light hits the Earth’s atmosphere, only the blue light arrives at the correct wavelength to reflect off particles in the atmosphere, and so what we see is blue. The sky still contains red, orange, yellow, green, and purple. What misogynists and racists argue is that everything should be done according to the blue.
The only reason their blue argument seems to hold up is that for generations the blue argument is the only one anyone was allowed to see. Everyone else is expected to take the blue argument on faith alone.
Do not believe abortions are permissible? Do not have an abortion. There are volumes about the risk to the health and safety of women created by outlawing abortion.
Do not believe in modern medical care? Do not go to a hospital and seek modern medical care. The rest of us will continue to use it.
Believe you are entitled to women and they should submit to your strength and masculinity? We are going to prosecute you for harassment and assault.
Every one of these specific areas is a discussion unto itself and beyond the scope of this point: white males do not have the authority to call the shots for everyone.
Here again – why single out white males? Because we are the group in the United States who have taken that role. Since the inception of this country, white males have called the shots.
What about black on black violence in Chicago, Baltimore, Lost Angeles, and the like? What about the Central and South American drug cartels, what about MS-13? What about the Islamic extremists? What about the severe rape culture in parts of India? What about the “femi-Nazis”?
These are all critical issues that require our attention. In every single one of those cases though, the people referenced account for an infinitesimal portion of their total population. Yes, there is black-on-black violence in urban centres, but most blacks have no history of violence. Why should we ignore the entire group? There is a problem with drug cartels and gangs based out of Central and South America, MS-13 is a very real threat. Why should we ignore all Hispanics because of that? Some so-called Muslims have a violent, extremist view. Why should we ignore all Muslims because of that? Why ignore all Indians, Jews, Asians, women, trans-gendered….because some members of the group did things?
Every group has done things and every group needs to be held accountable for that. Trail of Tears, Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow – just a few of the things white America has done. World War II brutally killed millions of people in Europe alone between the fighting and domestic exterminations in places like Germany and the Soviet Union. That was all white leadership. Sure, the Greatest Generation stood up to fascism and won the war – they also stood by and allowed that situation to develop in the first place because they knew better for everyone. Majority of gun-related homicides? Shooter knew the victim and had a history of misogynistic tendencies.
What is the difference?
Perhaps we understand that we cannot fear every member of these groups and that, indeed, only the select few pose an actual threat. Is that it?
“James, black people may be fine as a group, but look at the violent ones and we do not know who they are until it is too late. Feminists may be fine, until they cross a line. Muslims may be fine, but there still exists that vocal minority using violence, intimidation, and fear tactics to try and control everyone because they feel they are doing what is best”.
A vocal minority, typically male, who has been using violence, intimidation, and fear tactics to try and control everyone because they feel they are doing what is best according to their ideology. A group that dismisses the thoughts, opinions, and worldviews of groups who do not fit with their “superior” perspective of the world – exactly.
The argument is not that feminists or some minority group should be allowed to take control. The argument is equal representation. They need to have voices in these policy discussions and the resulting policies need to work for those people. We can debate those issues and policies individually.
What #MeToo, #TimesUp, #BlackLivesMatter, and similar efforts are telling you is simply that the days of one group inflicting their worldview on everyone is over and you should expect women and minorities to be heard.
Is that going to upset the apple cart? Absolutely. People will struggle with their sense of identity as things change, but with proper support it will work out fine. All it requires is some solid change management. But members of these groups are not going to sit by while apples are forced down their throats to preserve that precious apple cart.
Get out of the damn echo chambers and when someone says, “This policy isn’t working for us”, listen to them. Do not dismiss it as “the little natives are getting restless”. There is a reason women push for pro-choice policies (“not all women” – no, but most women). There is a reason why black people live in urban centres in violent conditions. There is a reason Muslim extremists have such a problem with the United States. There is a reason so many immigrants flee to the United States and we deal with drug and gang activity from southern nations. Those reasons are not, “people are not listening to our sage advice”.
“This country has gotten more and more Godless and lost its way”. People have been whining that bullshit since the dawn of time. Yesteryear was such a wonderful time of decency and good conduct, but things have deteriorated in our day. Individuals who identify as atheist have a lower crime rate. Secular nations have lower crime rates. You know where violence does appear in large number? Religious areas like the evangelical parts of America and the Middle East. Feminists are not going out and committing mass shootings, but some of the misogynists who feel threatened by feminism are.
Toxic masculinity – the dominant group in most societies, the males. In the Western nations, generally white males. They have expectation about how things should do and they are the leaders. They are strong and have the intellect and nerve to govern. When anyone challenges that leadership, they become violent children.
“Violence is sometimes necessary because feminism has taught men to be weak, and the villains take advantage of that”. One, feminism is not teaching men to be weak. No woman has ever criticised me for being weak because I seek peaceful resolutions or allow myself to display emotion. In fact, many regard the ability to stand up to violent individuals with a de-escalating, pacifist attitude to require more courage. And when push comes to shove, those individuals will fight. The difference is that men of high character do not default to violence.
There is an expectation of what it means to be a man, and men have no problem with that expectation until something challenges and then that very expectation instructs them that violence, a show of their strength, is the appropriate response.
Indeed, the very response to these writings is a hostile one from this crowd. The entire argument being, “These groups, women and minorities, need to be heard and we need policies that work better for everyone”, and the response from white males is aggression.
“Try and take our guns”. (I have not once argued against removing guns, by the way, only that gun violence in the United States is a problem and requires action. The most anti-gun argument I make is, “Giving more civilians guns is not that solution”.)
“We white males will defend ourselves, thanks”. (Defend against what? The voting rights of women and minorities?)
“Society would fall apart without our leadership”. (Historically, it’s a miracle society held together as long as it did. In fact, things have only shown improvement since civil rights began to give rights to women and minorities.)
“You will not oppress our first amendment right”. (Again, no one is saying, “You don’t get a say”. The argument is, “You do not get the only say”. Dismissing everything that does not fit into your worldview, which, by the way, is not the infallible force of logic some of you think it is, is not the way we do things as a people.)
You know why all of these groups have “safe spaces”? Because their opposition has proved violent and brutally oppressive in the past. If you ask a woman on a date, you might worry about hurting her feelings while she is worried about whether you will murder her when she says, “No”.
“Well, that’s ridiculous.” Except it isn’t because that is how far too many men interact with women.
“This is why they need men to protect them”. No, that is why they need men to stop being assholes. “Here is what to wear and where you can go to be safe, ladies”. How about, “stop raping and assaulting the women, men”?
I know, I am generalising all men – but that is the degree to which this is a problem, which more men would know if they would listen to the women (who have been saying as much for centuries). The numbers of harassment, assault, and rape are staggering. The cases of violence against women is staggering. And that is reported cases – not the ones so battered that we never hear about it.
So am I hating on men or white people? Not as a reflex. I am a white male, who grew up in a predominantly white suburb. I know far more white men that I consider decent human beings than villains (unless they have done things of which I am unaware – which is another big point here: when we learn that one of our friends has done something shitty, hold them accountable for it. Do not make excuses like, “I have never known him to do things like that”. Well, now you do know – act accordingly).
Toxic masculinity drives the vast, vast majority of violence, and white males are the the largest group in the United States. We were the group who settled in America and began legislating things. Every gendered or racial issue in American history has roots in the legislation of white males deciding what was best for everyone and legislatively they continue to be the group obstructing progress for other groups.
Yes, every single group in this country has been both victim and perpetrator. That is not sarcasm, I mean that as a genuine statement. What we need is representation for those groups in government, in executive leadership, fighting for policy that will correct those issues. That does not come in the form of white Christian males, as has been the tradition in the United States, dictating to everyone what that policy is without their input. Their reasoning is based on a faith that not everyone shares, so not everyone accepts the particular shade of blue they decide to reflect, just like those groups may bring a degree of faith to the discussion.
The only thing not bringing faith to the table is the scientific method, using reproducibility and independent verifiability to provide the grounds for objective logic, and science has found zero merit in inequality based on sex, gender, orientation, race, ethnicity or the like – the dominant group in a culture simply imposes that on others.
Stop imposing policies based on who can outshout the other, let everyone have a place at the table, use scientific reasoning to determine the objective basis of the discussion, and develop solutions that work for everyone or the largest group possible. The efforts we are making short of that point represent the misogyny and racism that feminism opposes.