Egalitarianism

defend-equalityI can’t remember when it started. I can remember male bashing when I was very young. Since then, there have been a long series of confusing and frustrating events. Most recently, I’ve had a number of feminists in my life. This spawned a lot of conversation which deeply frustrated me. I love women, and I believe in equality. Yet, so many talking points brought out a warrior type spirit that wanted to debate points and defend a male point of view. More so, I was legitamitely insulted by the demonetization of men.

As soon as I would begin to debate and argue, I could see immediately that my efforts were at best ineffective, and at worst more damaging. The feminist rhetoric is as powerful as an organized religion and contains a wide variety of deeply emotional justifications for much of the inherent misandry. Once powerful emotions are triggered, a fair and logical discussion grows increasingly difficult if not impossible.

Most recently, I’ve been drawn into Men’s Rights groups. These are, very much, a counter point to feminism. At the core, they have strong talking points. Many of which I recently posted about. In that post, I barely scratched the surface. I am, currently, a strong believer that – if men were privileged in the USA (and I think they were), they are no longer privileged above women. There now exists, as a direct result of the Feminist movement, a significant amount of gender biased law and gender biased government funding putting men at a distinct social disadvantage.

That is my current belief. I may learn more that could show me this is untrue. I invite such knowledge. However, the more time I spent reading content related to the Men’s Rights movement – the less happy I was becoming. I became angry, vengeful, and perhaps even a bit misogynistic. I’m just aware enough to watch the irony of this as it boils up inside of me. While my emotional response may be justified, my instictual response will not help.

I need an outlet for this huge energy. I need an intent to apply this energy to. I believe the Men’s Rights path will ultimately lead, if successful, to the exact same negative outcome created by Feminism. Emotionally, I want to join the fight and stop those that have created suffering for my brothers. Spiritually, I refuse to wage a war on my sisters.

After lots of exploring online tonight, I’ve finally found the term that best fits the intent I wish to adopt, Egalitarianism. I was asked once if I was a Feminist. I had to ask what that would truly mean. Upon hearing the verbage of “equality” in the dialog, I said that I must be a Feminist. Knowing what I know now, I am not a Feminist. Nor am I a masculinists. I am an egalitarian. This is core to who I am, not just regarding gender, but also race and sexuality.

I’m blogging about this as a bit of personal record as to how this word brought me a sense of peace tonight. I like it.

6 Comments

Heather

Hi,

I followed your link on the fbomb to your blog, as I think we’re getting off-topic from the original post, which is a bit disrespectful to the teenaged creator and audience.

I accept your apology, and I also apologize for being condescending. I won’t apologize for being angry which, you’re right — I am! I think there’s a lot to be angry about in this world, and if anger sparks passionate discourse and brings issues to the forefront, then I think it’s pretty important. W.E.B DuBois has a great article on agitation (as it related to the civil rights movement); you might want to check it out.

I just wanted to clarify a couple points — specifically re: education. I recognize that women (in North America) are enrolling in post-secondary institutions at higher numbers. What I meant by my point is that despite this, it’s still only a small group of women who are enrolling (and a small group of men!) Our educational system is culturally biased, classist, and as such, inaccessible for a large percentage of our (male and female!) population. So while it’s great that pay inequity gaps are narrowing between educated, childless men and women — that still kind of defeats the point when women and men in marginalized groups are actually seeing a worsening wage gap — within their own culture, and when compared to the white “majority.” It’s also worth noting that, among uneducated women/men, women do make less — so that’s probably why more women then men enroll in college… to make a decent living, they HAVE to.

I do agree with you that men in North America are victims of a certain kind of oppression. But if you investigated the modern feminist movement — you’d see that this is a popular topic of conversation and study. I took several college classes that were dedicated to men’s role in the feminist movement — the fact that they offered these classes implies that modern feminism does indeed have a place for men, and does address their issues. Some of the issues that the movement concerns itself with include circumcision, which you brought up, and things like misportrayals of men in the media; biased cultural expectations around masculinity; violence against men; the discourse surrounding sexual assault of men/women and how men who are, say, victims of statutory rape by an attractive older woman are considered “lucky” and not victims; how beauty expectations are harmful to men; etc etc etc.

I can see how you find it difficult to identify with second-wave feminists; *I* find it difficult, too. As I mentioned before, I’m a visible minority, and for me, oldschool feminism is incredibly passe. It created this myth of a universal sisterhood, and perpetuated outright lies regarding our innate differences from men. It completely ignored the fact that women, like men, are NOT all the same, and the issues facing women in one particular place in the world, of a certain demographic, are NOT the same as issues facing all women. And, some of the more radical doctrines (note — not ALL — just, incidentally, the ones the media likes to pick up and run with) were definitely anti-men, which is difficult for me to rationalize, as I have a male partner, a father, and many male friends and allies.

But what I’m trying to get at is that this is NOT the “new feminism,” nor has it been remotely representative of feminism for about 20 years. And while I see where you’re coming from, saying then great, we should all just be egalitarians/humanists (which, well, we should be!), that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be feminists, too. Like it or not, women still do have different issues than men in our society. Whether or not we’re more oppressed is debatable (I’d say yes; you’d say no), but there still are gender-specific issues that feminism can (and needs to) address. By saying we need to “address” these issues, I don’t mean at the expense of men — I mean with the full participation of men. I don’t want to widen the gap between gender relations — that’s the furthest thing from it. I want us to work together and acknowledge the problems and privileges facing BOTH genders. One of the most feminist films I’ve ever seen recently dealt with what is typically a white woman’s concern — the beauty industry. And it was directed by an African American man. And a huge part of the reason I loved it was because it looked at a typically gendered issue and acknowledged that it harms women — but it also addressed how it harms men, by creating unreal expectations of women and encouraging them to judge their self-worth based on the attractiveness of their partner, etc. Because yes, both men and women of every race are oppressed by it — but in different ways. (http://www.americathebeautifuldoc.com/ — that’s the documentary, if you’re interested).

Anyway, I like that you’re self-aware enough to identify some of the problems with the men’s rights movement — and the feminist movement. I am not saying it’s perfect. I just am saying that it’s very much misunderstood and misrepresented, which is a shame, because feminists I know do some really, really amazing stuff.

For me, I think the most important thing we can do is question what we’re told. When it comes down to it, men and women AREN’T different, and it’s important to recognize that society has built up falsehoods and myths about both genders. Feminism is one lens (of many) through which we can deconstruct some of these damaging expectations. And while men and women still face unequal challenges in our society (and note I am not saying women face “more” challenges/oppression — but I think we can agree they face a different kind of challenges/oppression than men do), there is still a need for feminism.

alex

First and foremost, I can’t begin to tell you how awesome it is that you’re joining this conversation. I think that we have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to really start talking about this and working together.

I also think this post does a much better job of getting across your points than your comment on fbomb. You’re 100% right. I think the answer to this societal problem is two-fold: one, egalitarianism, for sure. You’re absolutely right that men and women should work a hell of a lot harder to understand each other and work together.

Two, I think men should have their own groups, just as women should have theirs. I think the concept of gender-focused groups have been perverted into discriminatory groups. I think men’s issues are important, valid and there should be a safe haven for men to do guy things and discuss relevant issues.

What scares me as a woman is seeing places that SHOULD be that sort of haven become corrupted by the ugly fringe groups. Sites like AskMen that are providing advice and information about the opposite gender wind up spewing misogynist crap and attracting a hate-filled audience. That’s not progress.

I read some of your earlier blog posts about doing twitter searches. I did a google search: “Women Suck,” vs. “Men Suck.” The results are a little scary. Men suck has jokes about men (offensive on the scale, for sure, but kind of low-down), as well as astrology tips for finding a partner. It’s pretty clear – we’re making light of men, but in the end, we want to have them in our lives as men.

Women suck has a lot of serious websites devoted to how bad women are. No joke sites. They’re posts and forums about how to manage women in your life and get what you want from them. Until this shit is addressed, the issue of equality in our society or sexism won’t be cut and dry. I’m not saying that sexism towards men is right; to the contrary, especially with regard to custody battles, there are some down right horrifying results of female-favored laws. We NEED men in our culture. Kids need dads, and Super-Moms are not empowered and doing it all, they’re overworking and burning themselves out (not exactly a winning proposition).

This is a long ass comment, but I really think it’s awesome that you’re talking about this and you should also check out http://blurbomat.com/archives/2009/06/19/are-men-better-than-society-says/ – he talks about being a dad and his role as a man in our culture, which is critically important. Let’s keep discussing this.

Zaskoda

@Heather & @alex – Thank you both for your comments. You’ve both given me links to probe at and get involved in. You’ve also done a fine job of representing feminists in a positive light. I believe it’s a bit too late for me to adopt a positive view on feminists, but it seems the two of you are egalitarian in heart… I can honor and respect your position within feminism.

Alex

Thanks for your reply. The cruel irony, of course, is that all either feminism or egalitarianism, at their core, endeavor to do is allow people to be treated as people based on their own merits, ideas and talents – rather than judging them based on trivial, shallow things, like gender, or whether or not they call themselves a feminist. You say potato and all that. What bugs me about your comment is your refusal to accept that we’re redefining feminism on our own terms and taking back that word from its ugly connotations (deserved or not).

In fairness, I *do* get what you’re saying, more cautioning you to be careful when it comes to these touchy subjects. Just be careful you don’t come off as, “oh, that’s nice, the little lady thinks she’s a feminist, but she’s really not.” Don’t humor me. We both agree that communication – especially between genders – is crucial to the evolution of our society. Let’s talk.

Zaskoda

@Alex – There is a huge difference.

You’re born with your race and gender.

You choose to call yourself a feminist, an egalitarian, or a white supremest.

I will not judge you based on how you were brought into this world.

I will judge you based on the choices you make while you’re here.

Alex

That’s all I ask. Also, I posted on fbomb about this, but please check out http://www.alexawesome.com/forum in response to your comment there. I think this is a great conversation, and I want to conduct it in one place where we won’t be dominating someone else’s topic. Or blog. Since we’ve now posted on three different sites :)

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