Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Teach our children well

I think we all have seen this image floating around on Facebook:

I agree with this. It is excellent advice for today's world. I also think we can switch the gender nouns and pronouns on many of them and apply it to our sons. Not all, since we do not live in a world where the genders are completely equal in terms of power. I might, however, put it like this:

We need to teach our sons to distinguish between:
A woman who flatters him and a woman who compliments him,
A woman who expects him to spend money and a woman who expects him to spend time,
A woman who wishes to be property and a woman who wishes to be equal,
A woman who lusts after him and a woman who loves him,
A woman who believes she's a gift to men and a woman who believes he's a gift to her,
And to teach our daughters to be that kind of woman.

Only the second and third reflect our unequal power structures that remain in society today - commonly known as the patriarchy. And patriarchy is not the small-minded idea of a World of Evil Men; it is simply a society that values men over women, and both men and women take part in reinforcing it. (Note that patriarchy hurts men as well as women, commodifying them and confining them to narrow definitions and forcing them into 'traditionally masculine' roles instead of allowing them choices.)

Avicenna recently blogged about this next image that has been making the rounds (click to enlarge):

As you can see, it is a response to the first image that comes out of hurt and mistrust - common themes of the Men's Rights Activist (MRA) movement. They operate on the assumption that there is a war between the sexes and it is a zero-sum game, and that feminists are their enemies, not their allies. 

Here is my response to this response (edited slightly from what I wrote in Avicenna's comment section):
I am really actually quite okay with all the “and a woman who…” statements except for the first one, which could be worded in a less snarky manner.
Teaching our daughters to be good communicators? Teaching them responsibility? Empathy? Loving someone for their character? I’m down for that. We should teach our sons the same things.
I have a huge problem with the first part of every single one of those statements though, because each one is a consequence of patriarchy, the same system that MRAs say does not exist outside of Women's Studies 101 classrooms.
Why do some women expect men will pay for them? Because in the past, it was their responsibility to, since women were financially dependent on men. Feminism has made it possible for women to earn their own money and go dutch on dates. Yet MRAs hate feminism.
Why do women hint, to the point of deception sometimes? Because in the past, they would be disregarded if they stated their wants, needs and opinions at best, and beaten at worst. Feminism has made it acceptable for women to have opinions without fear of retribution. Yet MRAs hate feminism.
Why do women regret sex? Because a woman who enjoys sex or a one-night stand is seen badly in the eyes of society. Why do some of them “claim date rape”? Because either 1) they were date raped, or 2) it is better in society’s eyes for them to be a victim than a slut. Feminism is WORKING on this one; we are trying to convince society that women are more valuable than their hymens. Yet MRAs hate feminism.
Why would a woman expect a man to “man up” ? Because she, too, has internalized the gender roles that show a ‘man’ to be very certain and specific things in today’s society. (I am unsure how this has to do with agreeing with her all the time, unless of course, this is an unspoken fear that women will do to men what men have done to women for centuries.) Feminism is dead set on questioning these gender roles that say men must do or be certain things to fit a standard of masculinity, and women must do or be certain things to fit a standard of femininity. Yet MRAs hate feminism.
Why would a woman love a man for what he can give her? Because she has internalized the patriarchal myth that she is nothing without a man, and that her value is based on the things he provides for her. Feminism encourages women to find worth in their own selves and provide for themselves, that they may meet men as equals and not as dispensers of financial security. Yet MRAs hate feminism.

Feminists and men's rights activists should be each other's best friends, working in solidarity for a better world where people see each other as humans, and where all people can make choices that best suit them and be free from fear and abuse. Unfortunately, the few times I have made this suggestion to MRAs, I just hear the same old talk about how feminism is the problem, and I have stopped trying. 

Men are not the problem.  The system is the problem.

This is not a zero-sum game. 

If a woman gains a right, it does not mean that a man is having one taken away.

Let us teach our children how to live in a respectful, just, and equal society.


  1. I'm sorry but feminists don't want to work with anyone. There are disliked not just by "MRA's" but by 90% of the world.

    Why is it that western white and black women hate men? There are more women than men in American colleges what more do feminists want? they want to see men punished. Which is interesting because there seems to be a direct correlation with the economic downturn of the west and rise of the modern "feminist" society. How do you explain this?

    1. I am a feminist, and I am happy to work with anyone who treats me like a human being and doesn't write me off for my gender, or for my race, or for my country of origin.

      It seems to me that feminists are more than happy to "work with" people - it is those who dislike them, be it "MRAs" or 90 percent of the world - who refuse to work with them.

      I, and many other Western feminists, do not hate men. I do not like the system that elevates a few men who fit a very particular culture-bound "masculine" ideal and allows them to trample all over everyone else, but I realize men are victimized by this system and are forced into being things they may or may not have inclination to be.

      If you had read my post fully instead of going into a rage, you would have read that there is no war between the sexes. There is no zero-sum game. Feminists do not want to see all men punished; that's just silly.

    2. Andrea I am not in a rage. You need to look at your side of the street though. I have been around western white women my whole life and seen the mass ignorance, racism and hateful attitude that you have as a group. There are of course exceptions but they are not the norm. The attitude that you can't do any wrong will not win you any friends, its amazing that you as a group don't realize this. Your whole blog is about how you are victimized as a gori and life is hard and this and that.

      You do realize that you have far more opportunities than 90% Indian or Pakistani MEN right? Be grateful instead of hating men and pushing for repressive reform.

    3. I apologize Andrew; I should not have assumed that. Would I be more correct in assuming that you are forming an argument based on bits and pieces of what I wrote, then, instead of the entirety?

      The point of my blog is to look at issues and ask questions about the relation of individuals to groups, responsibilities to groups, cultures, and subcultures. I disagree vehemently with the assertion that I only blog about how I am "victimized as a gori." To be honest,1 I do not see myself as a victim in any way, but I do want to have a voice and a say in how I wish to be viewed. Whether others decide to respect that or not is neither my concern nor my problem.

      Why do you say that reform is repressive?

    4. Andrea, at this point any reform in the United states is repressive. close to 60% of college students are women. Its pretty obvious young men are falling behind, and I have no interest in MRA's. This is honestly the first time I've heard of them. If you take out the time given to child birth, which is a necessary human process that cannot be avoided, women are making more money than men. What exactly do you want?

      If you want to replicate western culture in the rest of the world. STOP. It will only cause more wars and they will be MUCH larger than the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.


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