Thursday, May 02, 2013

Misandry

It is a terrible sin to waste good fortune.

And today I woke up to exercise, for another day, my supreme good fortune. I woke up in a house that I pay for with money from a bank account in my name. I woke up alone, both in my bed and in my house. I woke up to a job that is mine no matter what the condition of my health is at any given point. I woke up to incredible freedom to wear what I wish, travel where I wish, see whom I wish and say what I wish. I also woke up to find a piece of opinion that I posted on the internet with no censorship or moderation had gathered comments and those comments were as reasoned, well explained and as carefully written as any opinionated writer could wish.

Today I woke up to an embarrassment of riches that the majority of women alive on this planet do not have and do not have the freedom to ask for, hope for and in some benighted corners of the world even have the right or information to imagine.

I would like to start with the gift of waking up alone. I am the head of my household. This is not a household ruled over by a male figure. I pay for this household, with money that I earn from an education that was of equal standing as my brothers’ education. I control the money of the household, I make the decisions, I decide who enters it and I decide when I leave it.

These simple rights that I enjoy as a human are not extended to the majority of my gender around the world. For those unlucky enough to be of my gender elsewhere in the world, one or all of the incredible freedoms above are curtailed or denied by law, religion or custom. Millions of women in the world at this moment are enduring child marriage, polygamy, restrictions on clothing, travel outside the house and restricted access to education and jobs because of marital status or children. And that includes millions of women in Australia, the USA, Europe and the UK.

I should not be wasting my independence by not talking about all those women who do not enjoy the same independence.

I would also like to add that my general good fortune to legally live as I wish without recourse to the authority of a male figure is also coupled with the personal good fortune of having always been bodily secure in all my social domestic situations. I have never had the control and security of my body compromised or even threatened in my bed, my bedroom, my living room, or on the street. I am one of the happy few, the band of sisters that are not the one in three women that experience violence in their lifetime. Millions of women in the world at this moment are enduring sex slavery, marital rape, domestic violence, honour killings and rape, rape and murder in war and female genital mutilation. And that includes millions of women in Australia, the USA, Europe and the UK.

I should not be wasting my uncompromised sense of self and safety by not talking about all those women who do not enjoy the same security.

As a side note, a discussion of the harassment in the workplace that I have experienced and witnessed will have to wait for another time - because there is something scary about acknowledging that you could, in fact, be one of those women, simply by having worked in mainstream jobs for one’s own independent income.

Today I woke up to use medicine that I had prescribed to me by a female doctor who was able to explain three vastly different, complicated and important health issues to me without recourse to governmental, societal or religious misinformation and manipulation. I was able to exercise my rights to employment security without questions about my marital status or gender. Millions of women in the world at this moment are enduring no or heavily restricted access to contraception and reproductive health care and bearing the terrible strains of selective abortion by gender and its results. And that includes millions of women in Australia, the USA, Europe and the UK.

I should not waste my good health by not talking about all those women who do not enjoy the same rights to medical care.

Today I woke up to the pleasure of seeing my thoughts, uncensored and unmoderated, on the internet for all to read. I read respectful comments in reply to those thoughts that engaged with the ideas in the arguments I made, and graciously avoided the personal framing of the debate. I got to read two opposite, but equally disappointing attitudes male readers are wont to develop when they are asked to read about the War on Women. I find the strategy of defensiveness, justification and identification as a fellow victim, as used by male opponents of Feminism, to be disingenuous and lazy thinking.

From the liberal artistic left I received the uncontested arguments that the meme I spent half the post critiquing was a result of capitalism turning objectified humans into consumables. These ideas have been used extensively by Feminists to illustrate the unequal treatment of women in Western Democracies, so we were on the same page. But this argument was then followed with an assertion that misogyny was a concept that was losing its power by being applied to all men on the actions of some men, and that misandry was alive and well and causing my interlocutor some discomfort because he was not being respected for his gender or point of view.

I have no problem with the concept of misandry existing as a counterpoint to the concept of misogyny – discrimination on account of gender is perpetrated by both genders and there needs to be a word to describe both. As a political expression misandry just isn’t a cause of institutionalised injustice in the world. I struggle to imagine a list that held even one misandrist society, religion or body of laws. Gender discrimination on this earth is not equal in power, reach, horror or violence.

There is not opposing Matriarchy to the Patriarchy, a Matriarchy that governs a powerful country, universal religion and international capitalist system with only women in the parliaments, clergy and boardrooms. There is no international trade in male sex slaves, young men married by force to older women, young men raped and killed to preserve the honour of their female relatives, no systemic selective abortion of male foetuses, no restrictions on the clothing, education, jobs and travel possibilities for men, no restriction of contraception and reproductive care for men (oh, that’s right, the patriarchy doesn’t have that either, only women need that kind of care, but don’t get it) … do I need to go on?

Misandry is always going to be a quaint idea, the linguistic balance of a feather against the brick that is misogyny. Don’t insult your mother, your sister and your daughter by claiming that not accepting a male point of view without argument is misandry. And don’t ever insult anyone else’s mother, sister or daughter by thinking that they owe you the respect of accepting your views without argument and accuse them of misandry if they do not.

Men need to start earning the respect they think they deserve. They need to stop wondering what their place is in the world when they realise that it is not handed to them, when they realised they have to fight for it. They need to start fighting to prove that they are logical humans, with brains and hearts. And I have just the fight for them.

I suggest they start fighting for the rights of their mothers, sisters and daughters, their wives, friends and lovers. I suggest they end:

- the international sex trade of girls and women
- the international Porn industry marketing girls and women
- Street Harassment of girls and women
- Rape Culture perpetuating Victim Blaming and Slut Shaming of girls and women
- Honour Killings of girls and women
- Restrictions on education, job security and health access for girls and women
- Restrictions on contraception and reproductive technology for girls and women
- Female Genital Mutilation
- Selective Abortion of female foetuses

and, oh, anything else that comes to mind as something men are allowed, but women are not. I’m sure you are clever enough to think of some more.

And as for the other reaction I got to my post last night, from the little misogynist himself, well, I guess I have to include it, disappointing and toothless as it was. His first reaction was to tell me that my post was too long, but he got the idea. I told him to read it all. He then asked me if I had ever discussed my issues with these ‘according to you’ misogynist men.

That was all he had - too busy to read, and then wondering if I had discussed things face to face with him or the other two. Little does he know that the three separate instances of having to deal with his offensive comments by the ‘polite reply on Facebook / private message to ask him to be polite on Facebook / deletion of his offending Facebook comments’ routine that culminated in the post last night were the least intellectually taxing and physically dangerous of the confrontations I have had with my pet misogynists.

One of my pets got so offended that I wanted to discuss exclusively female issues while dining at The Moon that he became threatening towards me. His barely contained contempt for me and my topic of conversation became so obvious that the table of girls next to us seemed to be ready to leap to my defence should he turn his physical shaking and angry voice into action. Nothing like freaking out unless we are talking about his topics of interest exclusively to make a woman respect a man.

My other pet misogynist regularly calls me sexist and chauvinist in the workplace as soon as I do not accept his taste in popular culture as mine. It’s quite insulting to be told I am chauvinist because I chose not to force myself to respect movies that don’t pass the bare minimums of the Bechdel Test. I should learn to identify with the male heroes presented to me on screen or perish it seems … how boring can one get?

Together these three men are the Unholy Trinity that keep my feminist eye sharp, my feminist jokes rolling and my feminist pity warm. These men are wrong, angry, threatened, lost and frightened. And they deserve to be, frankly, unless they woman the hell up and start learning about the world from a position other than their point of view.

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