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Women under patriarchy often are told that the choices they make will differentiate themselves from those “other” women. That the choices they make as an individual will empower them to overcome the obstacles they face. Granted, in some individual cases this can happen, but for the vast majority of women the choices they make individually in society does not alter society’s or men’s impressions and evaluations of them. Hence, the resultant series of catch 22’s that define the female experience – Virgin/Whore, Push-Over/B*tch, Motherly/Control Freak et cetera.
The common factor that is missing from much of liberal feminist analysis is the idea that misogyny is the backdrop (canvas, background radiation, insert meaningful metaphor here)to the stage of how society operates. Men will hate women in whichever role they choose, thus negating much if not all of the progress claimed by individual women.
Let us thank tumblr user Sazquatch (original post unavailable) as she provides perspective into the finer points of how misogyny works in society.
It’s not really as simple as saying “Men treat you badly when you do x, therefore men hate x, and so you doing x is empowering yourself and standing up to them!!” because men treat us badly no matter what we do, even if what we are doing materially benefits them. That’s what misogyny is – the hatred of women.
Men treat women who engage in sex with them badly, talking about how they’re worthless sluts if they send nudes etc., and you’re not gonna convince me that men’s goal in life is to ensure no woman ever has sex with them. Men want you to engage in sex with them, but they treat you badly afterwards because they hate women.
It’s like how men want women to be subservient house-servants who cook and clean without complaint, and then they turn around and slam those same women for being dependent, boring, or doormats. It doesn’t mean they want us to stop performing domestic labour for them, it just means they hate us.
Nothing we are doing in relation to men is standing up and doing things they hate to empower ourselves, unless we’re actively avoiding them and not centring them in our lives.”
Still not convinced? But wait there’s more! Did you want to see how quickly the shift happens in dudely behaviour from ‘possible happy sex times’ to let’s see how fast we can pile on the misogynistic insults. The bullshit dudes pull really turns a dime. Don’t believe me? Go see for yourself.
This is just a small sliver background of misogyny that we exist in and yes Dudebro’s it applies to you, because you let it go on around you. Your part in the equation is to stop the misogyny when your friends start in on, if you don’t then welcome to being part of the problem.
“People say, “Oh, well, pornography—that’s for masturbation, nobody can get hurt that way.” But orgasm is a very serious reward, isn’t it? Think of Pavlov’s little dogs, right? They don’t just think about salivating; they salivate. They do it because they learned it. Period. Now think about pornography. The dehumanization is a basic part of the content of all pornography without exception. Pornography in this country in the last ten years has become increasingly violent by every measure, including Playboy, including all the stuff you take for granted; and every single orgasm is a reward for believing that material, absorbing that material, responding to that value system: having a sexual response to stuff that makes women inferior, subhuman.”
– Andrea Dworkin, Feminism: An Agenda, 1983
It takes dedicated effort to remove these sorts of fiery speeches from the history of women. Oratory like this somehow doesn’t make it into the classrooms, or history lectures. So the lessons need to be discovered, theorized, and fought for in each generation of women making progress glacially slow. Yet we have helpful mnemonics for the British Monarchy, US presidents and Canadian PM’s that we teach to children. Yet nothing for the bold female speakers of the 60’s and 70’s who set their minds to one of the most important projects facing humankind – the dismantling of patriarchy.
Unless you seek information like this out, you won’t be told about it by your choice of news station, you most likely won’t hear it on the radio and I’m almost certain you wont get this in secondary school. The exclusion of feminist history in the mainstream is not an accidental omission, but a tactical choice.
– [Source:Notes from the Third Year]
Excerpts from Elizabeth Stanton’s address to the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
“Some men tell us we must be patient and persuasive; that we must be womanly. My friends, what is man’s idea of womanliness? Is it to have a manner which pleases him- quiet, deferential, submissive, approaching him as a subject does a master. He wants no self-assertion on our part, no defiance, no vehement arraignment of him as a robber and a criminal …. while every right achieved by the oppressed has been wrung from tyrants by force; while the darkest page on human history is the outrages on women – shall men still tell us to be patient, persuasive and womanly?
What do we know as yet of the womanly? The women we have seen thus far have been, with rare exception, the mere echoes of men. Men has spoken in the State, the Church and the Home, and made the codes, creeds and customs which govern every relation in life, and women have simply echoed all his thoughts and walked in the paths he prescribed. And they call this womanly! When Joan of Arch led the French army to victory I dare say the carpet knights of England thought her unwomanly. When Florence Nightingale, in search of blankets for the soldiers in the Crimean War, cut her way through all the orders and red tape, commanded with vehemence and determination those who guarded the supplies to “unlock the doors and not talk to her of proper authorities when brave men were shivering in their beds,” no doubt she was called unwomanly. To me, “unlock the doors” sounds better than any words of circumlocution, however sweet and persuasive, and I consider that she took the most womanly way of accomplishing her object.
Patience and persuasiveness are beautiful virtues in dealing with children and feeble-minded adults, but those who have the gift of reason and understand the principles of justice, it is our duty to compel to act up to the highest light that is in them, and as promptly as possible…”
-Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Ms. Stanton had the revolutionary fire that, as of late has been sputtering and spitting; hopefully new female leaders can step forth and reanimate the movement and bring back the revolutionary zeal that in 1890’s (and henceforth) got things done.
This excerpt from an article in the New Statesman:
“It’s a shame then that my enjoyment of International Women’s Day each 8th March is consistently spoiled by the United Nations’ attempt to put men at the heart of feminism with their #HeForShe campaign.
I personally am very happy for men to describe themselves as feminists, but they should be the loyal, kit-wearing supporters in the stands, and women, the first XI. #HeForShe is a pitch invasion, where men nick the ball and start booting it around to show how much they want the match to go ahead as planned.
International Women’s Day is about women. It is about the issues and oppressions that affect women globally. Hearing the statistics and stories should be enough for men to support women without it being specifically branded for them. If a man can hear that 85,000 women are raped in the UK each year and only care when this fact is labelled FOR MEN like a horrifying statistical Yorkie, he probably isn’t that much use to the feminist cause in the first place.
Feminism is constantly expected to make itself pretty and palatable. We’ve created the straw feminist, all smouldering tits and desiccated ovaries, sticking pins into voodoo dolls’ little embroidered balls, just so we can say, “I’m a feminist, but I’m not one of those feminists. I love men!” Loving men and being a feminist are not mutually exclusive but nor is “loving men” in any way a mandatory part of feminism. We should not pander to make men who, whether they support it or not, are part of a system that benefits them.”
Ms. Fletcher isn’t going to win many male friends for this article, but rightly so, feminism isn’t about the men. :)