Thursday, 25 October 2007

Emasculation?

Feminism gets a pretty bad rap in general. There is this hideous stereotype of the mad, hairy, bra-burning lesbian for starters. But something else feminists get accused of is man-hating and "emasculation".

The man-hating thing is partly a myth constructed in order to foster distaste for feminism and to introduce the idea that feminism is actually inherently sexist. It's also partly the fault of women who go around saying things like, "All men are bastards," which frankly is usually because they only go out with bastards. It has extremely little if anything to do with feminists themselves.

Emasculation however does have a lot to do with feminism. Masculinity and femininity are cultural concepts that have little to do with gender. They have been constructed by a patriarchal society to exaggerate massively the small differences between men and women (men are generally more aggressive and women are generally more nurturing, and that's about it - and we can blame our hormones for those trends, not our brains) and to perpetuate a culture in which men rule the roost whilst women make the tea. The pressure to fit into these stereotypes and the male dominance inherent in them is something that feminists generally are not too happy about.

However, I don't think men should be emasculated any more than I think women should be de-feminised. Everybody should have the right to be who they want to be, within reason. I feel more feminine when I wear make up and pretty clothes and remove my body hair. This might be because I have been indoctrinated by the patriarchy to define my femininity in such a trite manner, but it's harmless and it makes me feel good about myself. Likewise, I don't begrudge a man anything that makes him feel more masculine, just as long as it doesn't involve him being a complete shit.

If a man's definition of masculinity involves raping, beating or lacking respect for women, seeing women as second class citizens, feeling superior to someone because he has a penis and they don't, refusing to do housework or valuing women solely for their fuckability, then I am only too happy to emasculate him. This "you're just trying to emasculate men" attitude is often used as an excuse for the perpetuation of misogyny by equating masculinity with scurrilous behaviour and attitudes. All feminism seeks to break down is misogyny, and therefore the only way a person could believe that feminists hate men is if their definition of masculinity is entirely tied up in the idea of all men being total gobshites.

Feminists hate misogyny
Masculinity = misogyny
Feminism = emasculation
Feminists hate men
QED

If a man feels that his God-given right as a male is to earn more than female colleagues, get away with rape, visit dodgy brothels and value women only according to their sexual availability, then of course feminism is going to make him feel emasculated. Much as I try to avoid making sweeping statements about feminists in general, I think it's fair to say that none of us want to chop anyone's balls off. If you feel castrated by the thought of equality, you need to reassess your definition of masculinity.

I think that masculinity should be about self-identifying as male. Beyond that, there's not much to say. In terms of relations between the sexes, it should be about using one's greater size and strength for protection rather than dominance. It should be about being confident enough to be glad that women aren't stuck in the kitchen. It should be about valuing women as human beings even if you don't want to pork them.

Basically, be nice and we won't emasculate you :)

10 comments:

The mono-browed purveyor of ultimate filth said...

There's something that's even more than women saying "all men are bastards" and therebye perpetuating this myth that feminists are man-haters: women who actively discourage feminism.

There is a girl with whom I used to work (you can probably work out who) who, when jumping into a conversation a few of us were having about feminism, declared that she was "the complete opposite of a feminist".

The rest of us looked at each other, slightly disconcerted. Eh? She went on to say that she considered herself an anti-feminist because she still wants men to hold doors open for her, and give up their seats on the tube to her.

I explained that wishing that men were still chivalrous doesn't really make one an anti-feminist, but she added that she really does think that men should do the "grr argh I am man, I hunt meat, ug ug ug" role, while women should stay at home, simpering and playing the little wifey. She's only in the job until she gets married and knocked up, and can devote the rest of her life to lying on the bed with her legs spread and being a baby factory.

This made me angry. It's the sheer ignorance of these women that swan around saying that they "don't agree with feminism" that can be very damaging to women. As long as people hear that some women actively feel that their place is in the kitchen/bedroom, then the longer they're going to get away with not treating us as equals.

I (none too gently, I admit) challenged her on her statement, asking whether she thought it was important that women got the vote, or got equal pay, or were valued for their minds more than their wombs. She shut up after that.

Bonnie said...

This is why I think "choice feminism" is nonsense. Sure, everyone wants to make choices, but maybe you should consider how those choices will affect other women--possibly even your own daughter--down the line.

Randy said...

Hey there, randomly found your blog on Google. Veryyyyyyyyyyyyy interesting for me (25 yo Male). I figure I could learn a thing or two about how some women thnik ;)

Randy
(From Canada, where Randy is an actual name and does not mean horny)

The Urban Feminist said...

Miss Monobrow, I do know who you are talking about, and I think women of her ilk basically just have a warped view of what feminism actually is - specifically that it's about pressurising women to live their lives in a certain way (ie going out to work and not having babies, or having babies and palming them off on a nanny whilst you go out to work) and that they don't want that lifestyle for themselves.

There's nothing wrong with an individual "staying at home, simpering and playing the little wifey and only being in the job until she gets married and knocked up, and can devote the rest of her life to lying on the bed with her legs spread and being a baby factory". That's fine. There is something very, VERY wrong with the above being expected or enforced. And there's something unbelievably self-centred about rejecting feminism entirely just because you happen personally to want to adopt a traditional gender role. Shouldn't that be a choice? Shouldn't women who don't want to make babies have the right to be taken seriously in the workplace? Agh!

On a final note, I think the chivalry thing is ridiculous and petty. It might be a bit silly expecting men to open doors for you just because they're male and you're female, but I don't really think an open door constitutes an "issue". It certainly doesn't constitute an issue big enough to reject an entire ideology that ultimately seriously benefits you. Given the choice between having to open my own doors and not being able to walk down the street without being harassed by sleazy men, opening a door doesn't seem an onerous task.

All Diva said...

I've always had these words in my head but I never could express it. Thank you so much for this post. I've added it to my list of 20 Posts All Women Should Read.
http://www.alldivamedia.com/blog/2007/12/01/20-posts-all-women-should-read/

Vakker Kvinne said...

Men are strange. As it seems, everything you do makes them feel like "less of a man". . ..and I just don't get it. Maybe I'm just a heart broken girl. . . with too much time on my hands.

abcrane said...

I have wonderful female and male friends and business associates because I have chosen them. The rest can f--k off! But I do have one amazing male friend (spiritual, kind, smart, athletic)--but has no luck with women and we ALL know why--he is "too feminine". All my female friends are with very warm wonderful men, but the men that we are with are masculine in their mannerisms, and that is what makes us feel "feminine" and drives us crazy in bed. What advice should I give to my emasculated friend who deserves the best?

The Phantom Educator said...

Dear Monobrow,

I would have expected that by now we'd have all gotten past this ridiculous stereotype of men as "bastards" and "shits" who do nothing more than go about whoring, raping, drinking beer, and lording it over women. Where do you live, anyway? Idaho?

I'm a 45 year old single white male, and I don't know any men like that. Most of the ones I know are too busy working 80 hours a week, making a buck to take care of their families and please their wives, or, if single, pleasing their girlfriends.

Let's talk, then, instead, about a disturbing trend in the world of work today: women in power who are emasculating bitches.

You know who I'm talking about. The female boss, supervisor, or manager who abuses you verbally, gives you no credit for your good work (or worse, steals it), and ends up crafting clever lies about you so as to get you dismissed from your job.

I've lost two jobs this way, one as a clerk in a bookstore years ago while in my teens, and more recently as a public school teacher when a new principal came to the school I was working at (although I must say, in defense of women, the previous principal, a woman, was the epitome of professionalism).

I have NEVER been fired from any job in which a man was my supervisor. In fact, these where the only two jobs I've ever been fired from in my life.

I think Norman Mailer, the poster boy for macho and on the feminist top ten most wanted list, had it right in a Time magazine interview in 1991:

"I had a great many prejudices that have since dissolved. But what I still hate about the women's movement is their insistence upon male piety in relation to it. I don't like bending my knee and saying I'm sorry, mea culpa. I find now that women have achieved some power and recognition they are quite the equal of men in every stupidity and vice and misjudgment that we've exercised through history.
They're narrow-minded, power seeking, incapable of recognizing the joys of a good discussion. The women's movement is filled with tyrants, just as men's political movements are equally filled.
What I've come to discover are the negative sides, that women are no better than men. I used to think — this is sexism in a way, I'll grant it — that women were better than men. Now I realize no, they're not any better."

I'm fortunately dating a very independent and liberated woman who enjoys and admires my masculinity (I lift weights, swim, and practice tai chi and yoga) and write poetry and play classical guitar.

I find your blog extraordinarily out-dated, as well as your views of male and female roles. Honestly, this was the same talk I heard back in the 19070's as a teenager. Surely we can move with the times?

Mandude

anuska said...

hi there! English is not my mother tongue but i will try to do my best.

I am writing an essay about stereotypes and identy and I founded this at random.

Personally, when I read about the rights women's history I start to cry because I feel so proud of being a woman ans so tiny when I think about what previous women did for me in the past.

If i go out with a man I Expect certain chivalrous behaviour, just because he is trying to conquer my heart. Unfortunately, we run out these guys.

There is too much tension in both sides: women and men. Men who feared to lost power and women who had to work too hard to destroy the obstacules that misogist men create.

However, there is tension everywhere one look at and everybody learn what they see, it is quite difficult to change a person, education is the solution, it would be nice to educate people in a proper way. The question is how, I'm terribly sorry for that, I don't have the answer.

I must say I spend most on my days at home reading, studying, I am not aware of the current situation, but I would like to participate in the change. Everybody have prejudices and preconceived concepts. If it is possible to change things one day, we should be proud.

I know for sure i'm not going to enjoy that day, but the future generations will do.

Thx for reading

kisses from SPain

Stephan said...

I've discussed this before with people. I think the concept of Feminism, anti-feminism, misogyny, misandry...really these types of polarized conflicting mindsets, are a bad way to go. Societies have rules for polite interaction. They're there to keep us from killing each other. However, if you must pick a side of the fence, might I suggest Misanthropy. Let's just hate everyone. Then we can warmly thing of everyone else as being sub-human soulless animals there only for contempt and destruction, without having to make it about gender. That's so trite. Let's just accept that everyone is a self-obsessed ass. Then we can just get onto the merry work of destroying ourselves. After all, when no one's left alive, none of us will have to hear this incessant bickering and complaining from anyone else. And how much easier would that be?