As my wonderful new followers know, this blog is very new. There is a lot of stuff I’ve been thinking about for a long time which I can finally express to an audience of like minded people, and hopefully one day, to people with different opinions as well.
Until a few days ago, however, the blog was secret from everyone who knows me apart from my husband, whose support has been awesome. I have had to keep it secret from everyone else. Nearly all the people we know (of both genders) are confirmed and often active feminists, and in social scenarios I am frequently berated for being a misogynist because I refuse to accept that every example of something that is gender specific is proof of sexism. On occasion, I have even been laughed at for not considering myself a victim. The most infuriating example of this came when I made the point that I earn less than my husband not because of unfairness but because I had made different choices than he when faced with exactly the same opportunities – and thus that I refuse to blame anyone for my low income other than myself. The reply went something along the lines of “Well, of course it’s very noble of you to try to take responsibility for something like this, but that doesn’t change the fact that you were brainwashed into making those choices by the patriarchy from the minute you were born…” Can you imagine anything more patronising! A fat lot of regard that shows for me as a human being with a mind of my own… and to top it off, the greatest irony here was that the person who actually said this to me WAS A MAN! And if the brainwashing is so absolute what made him (or any of the millions of feminists out there for that matter) able to escape it? Anyway, that’s what life’s usually like in my group of friends.
However, a (male) friend came to visit a couple of evenings ago and I sensed he might be a bit more open to a less absolute way of looking at things, so I started sounding him out about whether he sees the new feminist wave as entirely constructive/rational etc. Some really interesting stuff came up – for example he agreed that the copious denial of the fact that a victim can do certain things that put themselves at risk is illogical and demonstrative of a fundamentalist ideology. He felt that this was totally logical but that as a male he needed to be careful about stating these beliefs in a public environment because it ‘wasn’t really his place’ – hmm does that sound a bit familiar?
To all you slutwalkers out there, we both agreed – for the record – that blaming a victim after the fact is not only wrong but totally pointless! However, we also felt that the manner in which feminist groups deny logic is not constructive. No matter how many reasons you can come up with to argue that a vagina is not like a laptop (I have read them all by the way, and hope to write another blog at some point in the future which explains why I am not convinced), it is possible for a woman to do things that increase her chance of being assaulted. FACT. Would it not be a better use of energy to take practical steps to stop sexual assaults happening? Would it not be constructive, for example, to educate both boys and girls about how to behave when another person is in a vulnerable situation? Would it be a bad idea to teach children of both genders about things they can do to stop themselves being at risk of all sorts of awful things in this world? The issue here is that feminism is a theory, and that theories do not always transfer directly into practice. Life is not like that. If it were the world would be perfect – nobody would ever lie, cheat, steal or be nasty. Of course we need to work towards achieving these things, but simply ordering people to ‘be nice’ doesn’t cut it – yet this is what feminists seem to think that women deserve from the world.
I ended up telling this individual about my blog, and he was supportive – he especially thought it would be a good way to open up the floor to discussion to practical ways to deal with a lot of the issues that are on the feminist agenda, and which are at present being blamed on this famous ‘patriarchy’.
Well, I guess it’s over you guys…
Do you believe that there is such a thing as ‘rape culture’, or that the term is a constructive way of tackling the problem of sexual assault and violence?
What do you think might be helpful in terms of stopping sexual assaults?
My personal view is that it is all down to education and instilling a sense of good manners – I know that feminism despises the concept of being a ‘gentleman’ or a ‘lady’, but is there a way that we can update this for the modern world?
What about different demographics or social groups – how should we deal with people from different backgrounds and cultures coming together?
How do we teach people (particularly women and girls who are on average more sexually vulnerable than men) that, no matter how enlightened and well mannered we may all be, there will always be some people out there who do awful things?
Where should women and girls draw the line in terms of their safety in a scenario where if something happens it will simply be their word against someone else’s?
I’ll look forward to hearing your comments – sorry if this is covering frequently visited ground, but is really is my dream to get people to question assumptions that are being taken for granted. I’ve used the rape/responsibility issue here, but I’m aware that there are many more, and am planning some more posts to cover them. Next time I’m hoping to discuss the problems that women face balancing work and family, whether this is the ‘fault’ of the patriarchy, and whether there are much more constructive ways of thinking about the problem than ‘patriarchy’ blaming.