I am more than willing to admit the feminist movement has flaws. Feminism, like all things, has a different definition for everyone, both in and outside of the movement; but for some reason, the most common connotation of a feminist is the stereotypical “Feminazi”- an angry woman bent on not only destroying the patriarchy, but replacing it with a militant matriarchy and restricting men’s rights.
Ummm…nope. No, that is not feminism at all.
Are there some people who want that? Yes. But there are also some people who want to eradicate homosexuality. There are some people who want to bomb the US. There are some people who want to get rid of non-English speakers here in the States. There are some people who want to have sex with young children. There are some people who want to kill other people. There are some people who are neo-Nazis. Do you get what I’m saying here? Just because a small group of people in the world do hate men, that does not make the feminist movement one of hating men.
In fact, I think the vast majority of feminists believe in equality for all genders, in breaking down gender stereotypes for women, men, and everyone in-between, in overcoming oppression for many groups. Yes, it’s true that women’s rights and women’s issues are more prominent and focused on in feminism, because there are greater problems surrounding women’s rights than men’s. The bottom line, though, is that feminism is about promoting equality between the sexes.
I’ve talked before about the inequality that women face in our society (here, here, and here) and I have many, many more things to talk about. The ways in which women are disadvantaged are exorbitant, and that should be unmistakably clear. However, there are groups out there who do not understand this. There are groups that think the feminist movement should be stopped. There are groups that think women should shut up and accept the way things are. These groups call themselves MRAs, or Men’s Rights Activists, and they piss me off more than I can accurately verbalize. Not because there is anything wrong with men’s rights, but because this particular group isn’t actually about promoting men’s rights, or equal rights, but rather about continuing to oppress women’s rights. From what I’ve experienced, their ideas of what men’s rights entail women basically being subservient. They pop up anytime feminism takes a stand against the patriarchy. They are there when women ask society to teach men not to rape rather than teach women not to get raped. They are there when women ask not to be objectified. They are there when women take a stand against hate speech. They are there attacking women over their clothing, their careers, and their desire to be people.
Typically, I try not to pay attention to MRAs, because I think they’re a relatively small percentage of people, and they take a ton of heat already from people calling them on their bullshit. However, recently there was a situation that pissed me off beyond all belief, and I wanted to talk about it.
Some wonderful, strong, empowered women’s rights groups recently challenged Facebook’s position on hate speech. There are a plethora of pages on Facebook that are dedicated to violence against women, rape jokes, abuse, and just general misogyny, and they have been unmediated in the past. You can read more about the fight to end rape culture on Facebook here, where Rosie does a better job explaining it than I ever could (and you should stick around and read more because that blog is incredible). The pages in question on Facebook are all explicit, violent, and sickening; they include(ed?): “rapist community” (page); “slap a bitch day” (group); “Bip’s dead hooker emporium” (page); “don’t wrap it and tap it, tape her and rape her” (image); “women deserve equal rights and lefts” (image); and many, many more violent and bloody images encouraging violence against women, sexual assault and rape. It was horrifying. Facebook finally issued a statement saying they would do more to moderate these kinds of pages, following pressure from groups pointing out the dangers of this kind of hate speech.
And then this happened. MRA Paul Elam claimed that the fight against hate speech against women was an attempt by feminists to take away his freedom of speech. Elam should be able to say things like “Women are begging for rape. Damn near demanding it…” (an actual sentence that he actually wrote) and advocate for violence against women because FREEDOM OF SPEECH THAT’S WHY. (Check out this post over on manboobz for more).
You know what, Paul Elam? Your freedom of speech does not mean you can endanger other people. Your rights do not mean that I deserve less rights. And removing harmful, abusive images and pages from social media sites does not affect your right to walk around the world without fear for your safety. It only helps make it a little more safe for everyone else to as well.
Rosie from makemeasammich had this to say regarding the MRAs, and I think she hit the nail on the head:
This is not about free speech: Free speech, while important, is only one of our civil rights. Much as your right to own a gun doesn’t preclude my right to not get shot, your right to free speech does not trump my right not to be surrounded by images suggesting that beating, raping, and killing people like me is acceptable, expected, and funny. This is hate speech, it encourages (read: incites) violence against women, and it cannot be tolerated in civilized society anymore than we allow racists to harass and threaten people of color in public spaces.
Like I’ve said in previous posts, one person’s rights do not supersede another’s. You, Paul Elam, do not have to fight to be seen as a person. You have lived your entire life as a privileged man not experiencing oppression based on your gender. You are not objectified. You do not have to worry about whether or not you will be raped. Should someone ever assault you, threaten you, or attack you, you will not be blamed for it, asked what you were wearing, or told you are lying. Women experience all of these things and have to live in fear of all of these things every. single. day. That’s why we are fighting against this kind of hate. We are fighting for equality. You are fighting for misogyny, sexism, and violence. You tell me which one is really the problem.