Women are the single most oppressed group of people in all of human history, we need to get straight on this fact first, before we pursue anything else. We can pinpoint every racial and religious divide, and challenge the hatred and bigotry that inspired those serious problems, and yet were we to look more deeply we would realize just how much worse women have had it even within the most tortured and enslaved groups of people. For example, a male slave still believes in his own power over a female slave, and is usually given that much freedom in their own mind.
Oh sure, men in our current age of dwindling power and complicated notions of equality suffer from deeply growing resentment. They no longer have quite as much say over their mothers and sisters and daughters and cousins and wives, and all of the other former chattel that their forebears proudly guided, and they can somewhat legitimately blame political trends and social movements–there are certainly instances where truly valid evil may be uncovered, some counter-bias imposed upon the world order in a misguided effort to remedy past injustice. None of this, of course, will get us past the truth that women have been treated terribly forever.
Please do not mistake me for some wishy-washy guy bemoaning the cruel exploits of my ancestors (what is the point of doing this unless we can reconcile ourselves with the realities and modern impact of the past?), nor as a person so consumed with a singular vision of fairness and justice that I am announcing, right here and now, a new social order that we all need to follow. No. Not me. I am far too disillusioned with humanity for such sweetly childish dreams. And so I must fulfill my role–the only one I am suited for. I must call into question people’s beliefs. This sort of inquiry, of course, can lead to great misunderstanding and, in spite of intention, even offense or outrage. Not that I care, but oftentimes this can get me into trouble. Let’s see how it works if I go after our #MeToo generation. . .
I am not going to state outright that there is no validity to this movement–of course there is! If you have ever been out among young people (even when you were young yourself), and you listen to your friends, both male and female, and hear how they talk about one another and each other like possessions or objects or games to be played, you probably realize that most of us have no consideration for anyone else–gender, race, religion, anything. And yet when we feel shunned or rejected–when whatever masturbatory fantasy we have about ourselves is undermined, the over-the-top reactions we explode with are prime examples of the sort of bigotry most people otherwise renounce. For this commentary let’s reduce the topic simply to gender.
Look at this leering scumbag. Who does he think he is? What the hell is he doing? Does he not realize how uncomfortable he is making this person? But then again, of course, this picture has a very small frame. He does not actually appear to be looking at her. He may be communicating with someone else, someone behind her. Even more likely he is simply oblivious and staring into his phone. We have no idea how crowded this space is. Certainly, we can safely assume, the guy is a self-absorbed jerk, someone with no consideration for anyone other than himself, but why is she immediately forgiven for the same thing? Do we know if he said “excuse me,” while trying to get by, and that, instead, she rudely closed her eyes and ignored him? For so long we have been saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ that we forget the fact that in a thousand words we can create a pretty convincing fiction. Let’s have a look:
This old timey image was meant to represent chivalrous gallantry, the sort of polite and deferential behavior it was once considered proper to treat one another with. But no, no. Today this is considered sexism, plain and simple. Look at the woman’s face, after all. She’s mad about something.
Have you ever been yelled at for holding a door for someone? I have. “I can hold it myself!” she actually shouted, and followed this up by calling me an “asshole.” It is on par with blindly, meaninglessly saying “bless you” to an atheist after they sneeze and having them take violent offense at your casual politeness. And this is what I’d like to focus on.
Looks pretty bad for the guys here, doesn’t it. You can see the thought bubbles: “Check out her ass!” But despite the unfortunate profile, and the fact that in the second picture Obama and Sarkozy no doubt talked about the girl’s ass briefly shortly thereafter, what is anyone really doing wrong? Despite the discomfort some people may feel, it remains okay to admire someone. Of course there are lines that are sometimes crossed,
behaviors that have no place in a civil society,
and we can understand the rising anger and demands to establish safeguards against such terrible things.
This is a good thing, legitimate, and it helps to eventually make society better.
But we don’t have any patience, and people angry at not being tolerated tend to be counter-intuitively intolerant of incremental change. And of course we can understand this–Equal Rights Now!–but this has never been how society works. Whenever we try to force change immediately, troubles rise in the form of resistance movements and often violent hatred. Look at this present tense contrast:
And of course both sides have a point, to a certain extent. The culture that has oppressed woman for so long needs to be done away with, but this does not mean that lies are necessary to speed the movement along. For every one hundred legitimate instances where some piece of shit man attacked, abused, raped or oppressed a woman personally and professionally, there is an increasing number of women taking advantage of this, not because the issue isn’t valid, but because people are innately corrupt and seek the simplest solutions to the problems they face in life. I will not give a number of how many for every hundred. It is probably far less than one. But this does not mean it doesn’t happen. Things like this are not absolute and not sustainable:
They are not sustainable because we as people will allow it to become perverted as the hyper-feelings of both sides overwhelm the legitimacy of the original outrage:
I can hear the laughter too. But are these guys wrong? Surely, circumstantially, and with far more frequency than we are likely willing to admit, what these men are protesting against has validity. And the more power women rightfully gain, human nature does not gain in its notions of equality even if the strict separations we have always placed upon ourselves continue to fall. We are still angry creatures. We are vengeful.
And then the men get angrier and angrier and lose their very identities. Look at that last image again. How many of us know men like this today, overwhelmed by their wives or girlfriends or partners, or whatever term is presently used to be non-specific on the identities of those involved in a relationship. When we strip it down, and if we are truthful, does a woman really want a man like this, some broken, nervous, nodding yes-dear child, the oldest baby there to take care of the other children when she has better things to do? Because this odd trajectory has entered increasingly into the real world as well, perhaps merely a consequence of the occasional over-reactions to the very real horrors inherent with gender relations.
Here is, for a literary academic such as myself, something that terrified me:
This is an example from another academic–one who takes themselves far more seriously than I do–about how the English language is inherently sexist. And of course there are valid arguments to be made in favor of this, but languages tend to be diverse enough and metamorphic enough to transition themselves into different eras by simply continuing to expand. And with a language such as English, where words can take on numerous meanings, this is particularly relevant to such a discussion.
But this comes from a person who has no interest in HIStory, but only HERstory. This is a person who changes the spelling of words–womyn, womin, gurrrl, and other roaring grunts of assertive anger not because they believe that this corrects things, but simply as a renunciation of the world as it is. They do not protest ‘El’ versus ‘La’ in Spanish, nor the ‘o’ versus ‘a’ endings of words, and neither do most other languages’ native speakers. But here . . . here . . . radical lunatics decide that we need to invent a new language, modifying the past entirely, in order to destroy all evidence that once upon a time in the people were intolerant of one another for stupid reasons. To me that is the essence of intolerance, no different, really, than the sort of violence that the original civil rights leaders and seekers of justice rose up to combat. But everything goes too far, everything is broken and destroyed, and we are left muddling in some bitter aftermath where no one can face each other, and we distract ourselves with yet another new form of outrage.
Men are childish jerks, boors. We as men know this even better than women do. We are almost constantly filled with shame and regret over the stupid things we have done and said. For many of us this leads to blame, and in the broadest sense we blame women, our mothers and everybody else:
But, as with everything, there is an equal and opposite side, perhaps not quite as prevalent, but not irrelevant either, a sort of subliminal attack on future generations:
Misogyny, many people want to proclaim, is a hate crime. In plenty of instances one’s actions under this world view fulfill this, just like racial hate crimes are provoked by the simmering irrational bias and blame within so many people. And a racial hate crime, of course, is a crime by anyone against anyone on the basis of race. A white on white or black on black or every other twist and dice roll or exchange of every shade of skin crime can be a racial hate crime if that was what provoked it (and I will ignore the simple statement that all crimes are some form of hatred, because we are here talking about one provoked by ideas on race or gender). But there is a growing secular radical hate movement, misandry. Here’s a distinction:
Once again: listen to the words drooling out of our mouths as we talk about each other, not bothering to humanize the issue we are caught up with. There is a whole turgid history of misunderstanding based upon the refusal to hear what we are saying to one another, as well as our inability to express the deepest ideas on equality we wish for the world. And we lack the patience to follow through and, frankly, the interest to care about the struggles of world problems. And this is leading us into an increasingly complicated and self-loathing age, one where children have no idea who they are nor who they want to be or should actually try to become. This is in no way meant as an attack on trans movements or culture, but it still points a bit of a shaky finger at the drastic rise in such social changes, especially as they are coming at younger and younger ages:
We should all celebrate the teaching of acceptance–the toleration and valuing of one another over our struggles, our differences, and our triumphs. But we should never interfere with validating one’s identity, or cast a person into shame simply because they are part of a group fallen into disrepute. This is exactly how racism and sexism and homophobia got their legs in the first place, as society solidified its desired ideals. A new world of toleration is not what we seem to be seeking however. It is a re-prioritization of shame that seems to be winning these final culture wars.