Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Discussion inspired by comic about societal views on rape and feminism

Comic: Sometimes I have the time and patience… I’ve been a part of some lengthy discussions online sparked by this comic by Kate. (I first saw the comic via my friend Lee who shared a link from imgur)

Please read the full comic before proceeding…

Yes, some of my language below is insulting, but that is in keeping with the flavour of the cartoon (and my frustration level).

These discussions centre around feminism in particular, but have strong parallels to other anti-oppression struggles. Here’s some of what I wrote in those discussions:

“But, but, but… men are victims tooooo!

Every time some male idiot chimes in with some awful statement, like the ones the off-camera dude does in this cartoon, I mourn a little for humanity.

I’m a male survivor of sexual violence, a male survivor of non-sexual assaults, and a male survivor of extensive bullying, but I don’t feel in any way threatened by recognizing and shouting the fact that patriarchy is an extreme evil, that violence in our society is heavily gendered with females being the predominant targets, that females are systemically targeted for sexual violence and abuse, that the longest running war in human history is the war against women.

The idiot males trot out numbers of female-on-male partner violence, but conveniently ignore the context that the vast majority of those incidents are self-defence or responses to extended periods of abuse (I also consider those responses to abuse a form of self-defence).

The idiot males trot out numbers of male victims of violence, conveniently ignoring the fact that the vast majority of those are male-on-male violence. Males make up the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of violence.

By trotting out their complaints of “reverse sexism” these idiots act to reinforce patriarchy by belittling or dismissing the very real sexism, the very real systemic gender oppression, in our society.

Acknowledging and addressing the pervasive sexism in society does not mean putting men down. It does not mean “emasculating” males. It does not mean putting women, women’s issues, and women’s needs, above men. It means acknowledging the truth of our reality and working to end oppression for the real benefit of all.

As a male survivor, advancing feminism (and all other anti-oppression struggles) makes the world a better place for me and everyone I care about. It's not a “zero-sum game” where advancing women’s rights means taking away from men’s rights. The reality of anti-oppression work is that it’s more like an “exponential game” where every advance against oppression makes things better for everyone (even those who society has raised in the role of oppressors).

“Resistance is HOT!”

Yes, women who fight for their rights, who challenge oppression, are “HOT AS HELL” — because it speaks to an intense strength of character to rise above the massive forces of oppression arrayed against them in virtually every aspect of life under patriarchy.

Patriarchy harms everyone

The enforcement of gender roles harms both those placed into the role of oppressor and those oppressed. No one gets out of systems of oppression unharmed. But it remains critical to acknowledge which way the oppression flows.

I've long held that the greater responsibility for the work of feminism rests with men, being the ones that patriarchy has handed the position of "Privilege". We have greater opportunity to contribute to the work because of our privileged position.

To be clear, when I speak of men’s “greater responsibility for the work of feminism” I don’t mean to suggest that men should be leading or guiding feminist movements. In all anti-oppression struggles, those coming from positions of privilege need to spend more time listening to, learning from, and supporting the oppressed than anything else. The work of feminism needs to be rooted in meaningful, supportive and learning, partnerships.