It’s a man’s man’s man’s man’s world

by Lord Sutch

Feminism coverSo this is a post I’ve wanted to write for a long time. But it’s been hard to get it right in my head, let alone down on page. So what you get is a stream of consciousness.

A lot of people have said to me there’s an awful lot of feministy articles on the Ruminator. And they’re right. I’m the curator of this blog so I get the final say in what goes up. And I like feminism. A whole lot. I’ve had discussions with other people over whether or not you can be a male feminist or if you can support it from the sidelines but not actually be one. Like the All Blacks I guess. But I don’t think that’s right. I think that if you’re into gender equality then you’re a feminist. Because right now genders aren’t equal.

I’ve not always felt this way. Back in my university days I was the sort of dickhead who’d say “Why do we have a Minister of Women’s Affairs but not a Minister of Men’s Affairs?”

Because I was a bit of a dick.

Then I went out into the workforce and I saw how women were treated. I saw how women were passed over for promotion, paid less, objectified and I went “fuck”.

And so now I’m a male feminist.

Which is weird sometimes. Because I find myself in situations where I’m more pro-women’s rights than some women. Example: someone I know was telling me that their CEO calls women staff members “front bums” and the most senior woman on staff was “Queen of the front bums”. I was really angry. I couldn’t believe that a person in a position of authority could demean an entire gender like that.

“GRRRRR” I said.

In rage I told my family about it. Of the four I told, the only other person in the least bit appalled was the other male. The three women all thought it was “funny” and “harmless fun”. So I’m a confused male feminist.

And I don’t know what to do it about it. Because I live in a liberal bubble of progressive beliefs. Most of my friends think like I do. My twitter feed is filled with people who think like I do. And yet I know that not everyone thinks like I do (if only). I know there are some politicans who don’t think like I do, and that’s a real shame.

Here’s a twitter conversation I had with National MP Tau Henare about the latest Tony Abbott gaffe where he said that one of his Liberal party candidate’s pluses was her “sex appeal”:

Tau Henare

 

That’s our elected official right there. Not getting it.

So I’m a little betwixt and between. Because I know most of my friends think like I do. That we don’t have gender equality and that we should be pushing hard for it. But if you tell someone you’re a male feminist, and they’re not a SNAG (whatever happened to THAT acronym?), then they’ll call you a “fag” or a “poofter” or some other anachronistic word and laugh off your concerns because either “you’re a man, what do you know?” or “what are you talking about? Women run the world!”

And I don’t know how to deal with these retorts either.

And I get confused by strange things. Like the word “cunt”. I’m a sweary guy. I like to swear. Fuckedy shit fuck fuck. And I like(d) the word “cunt”. But I’m not sure if it’s anti-feminist. Some say it is, some say it isn’t. So I get nervous now. Same with the word “lady”. That gets a lot of flack for being demeaning. So I’ve tried to remove that word from my vocabulary.

One word I’ve completely removed is “bitch”. That’s a horrible word isn’t it? So I’ve got clarity on that one. No bitches.

But as for everything else, I don’t know. I want to be a better feminist. I want genders to be equal and I want to help make that happen. I just don’t know how.

 

Cover image by Jay Morrison, flickr

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4 comments

Chelsea Hughes
Chelsea Hughes August 15, 2013 - 8:49 am

I’m a confused feminist too, and I’m a lady cunt.

I don’t know if cunt has ever been used in a positive way, and it’s a very specific word for a very specific bodypart. That would make me think I shouldn’t say it. But I really like saying dick, and the same logic applies. Maybe since one is female and one is male, they cancel each other out?

On a side note, one thing that really drives me crazy at the moment are all these bigots and sexists who claim certain struggles are ‘over’ and ‘they got what they wanted’. The Feminist Movement ended in the 1980s, dontchyaknow. The gays got civil unions, that’s what they wanted. Why do they need marriage too?

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Lord Sutch
Lord Sutch August 15, 2013 - 8:52 am

Exactly, it’s usually the “repressed majority” who make that argument. They think if they can convince everyone it’s true then they can keep their hold on power. Ugh. Makes me MAD. But then I’m just a dude. What would I know?

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Gwynn Compton August 15, 2013 - 10:06 am

I’m much the same as you. Though I suspect the solution lays as much as ensuring women are treated equally in the workplace as it does in making men feel more confident in assuming their parental responsibilities. The world generally has a pretty piss-poor rate of men taking parental leave versus women, suggesting that parenting, especially in the first year or so, is still viewed as a women’s domain.

I find this concept hugely disappointing. I remember a few years back when a male colleague decided he was going to take a year off to look after his children while his wife went back to work. I was shocked at some of the remarks that my co-workers made about how he was going to be a “kept-man” and that his decision some how made him less of a man in their eyes. I thought it was fantastic that he had no issue with his wife being the made income earner and that he wanted to spend some quality time with his kids.

While the focus is, and rightfully so, on ensuring women have equal opportunities and equal pay in the workplace, we need to work more to change the perception of men’s roles in the workplace and home too. Taking time away from work to be a father should be as common place as it is for women to take parental leave, and women as managers should be just as prevalent as men.

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John Fouht August 15, 2013 - 4:39 pm

I play a mixed sport. There are rules about gender balance, so we often discuss the female players (for entirely non-sexist reasons).

It’s pretty common to use the word “girls” when doing so.

Some years ago, there was a woman in Wellington who played the sport. We were both 21 or 22, I guess. She felt strongly that she was no longer a girl, and should not be described as such.

Fast-forward ten years and I have taken on coaching of a women’s team. So I find myself often addressing or speaking of groups of women. And I ponder, what word do I use?

I want to be informal. If speaking to men, I would probably say “Hi guys”. Is the female version “Hi gals”? It feels odd to use a gender-neutral term when addressing a group that is single-gender by definition. And demeaning to say “Hi girls”. “Ladies” seems like the best option.

(Of course, most of the women in the team refer to each other as “girls”…)

(There’s also an increasing incidence of calling men of all ages “boys”, so maybe we’ll get gender equality by the back door..)

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