Gender equality is a tough thing to discuss as a man in 2017. Quite often you’ll be met with phrases like “check your privilege”, or get accused of “mansplaining”, this can happen even when you are in agreement. So when exactly is it our place to discuss the matter? The feminist struggle towards gender equality is one that would benefit both men and women, so should we not also comment on it? Or is it specifically the side that only effects men, however when the issue is interchangeable how do we manage to discuss the issue? Whatever you do, don’t get bought over by the nutjob meninists on Voice for Men, it’s a reactionary argument. However I for one would argue that all views and opinions exist with an element of logic and reason. There is always a reason why people are turning to the meninist groups that are a part of the rise of right-wing populism which needs to be unpacked and understood.
Feminism is an ideology that aims for gender equality and despite the fact that the name gives connotations of being in favour of women, it is the fight for equality of both men and women. There are some feminists who are quite radical in their view of this but that does not in anyway represent the notion of feminism. Feminism is a very unique ideology in that you can’t really disagree with the notion of it whilst being in the realms of debatable issues.
You can disagree with liberalism, socialism, and conservatism but not feminism, because to disagree with feminism is to disagree with female equality thus making you sexist. Thus I would describe myself as a feminist, anyone who doesn’t is either sexist or does not understand that. That being said there are a lot of arguments that come from the feminist movement that I would argue are logically flawed. However the way the zeitgeist is currently set is that to disagree with an issue raised by a female feminist as a man is an example of mansplaining which is logically wrong, men can point out that there’s something flawed about a feminist argument the same way a middle class person can point out there’s something wrong with a working class person’s argument about class. If we are to do away with this then we’d never get an outside perspective and we’d cut out a lot of people who can help. There are of course certain things that I can’t really understand because I haven’t been through it. For example I go out on nights out into town and no one grabs my bum and gives me a disgustingly creepy smile; this happens to women practically every time they go out, but you’d only know that if you spoke to a woman about it. You can’t then turn around and say the fight for equality is over when you don’t understand what they’re going through.
There a many arguments that are not challenged properly because everyone is too afraid of being sexist, or the ones who do challenge it are sexist. Thus they ignore all criticism and inevitably have a flawed argument. Instead of “check your privilege” we should “check the debatable territory”. For example, the gender pay gap broadly speaking is the result of women in lower paying jobs, yet a mantra of “equal pay for equal work” is still blasted on social media and placards. When people find these flaws in the arguments point them out and are accused of sexism they are a lot more prone to following people like Sargon of Akkad and Milo Yiannopoulos, because credit where credit is due they do point issues like these out (but then mix it with a load of ignorance). The culture that has got so absurd that there have been high-profile cases of women accusing their boss of paying them less than men and unjustly demanding more money, when they do this everyone starts clapping for a victorious day of feminism.
The Women’s US soccer team which The Daily Show gave a very biased account of, have now sued their bosses for unfairly paying them, when what’s really happened is that on average men still bring in more revenue than women. That’s starting to change and the pay needs to be updated to reflect that, but its not a case of discrimination. Robin Wright is another case, where she demanded the same pay as Kevin Spacey despite the fact that Spacey plays the protagonist, who normally gets paid more regardless of gender. Should it have been about Robin Wright’s rise to power as president, then she would have been paid more that Spacey. Yet I can tell there will be some who would read this and think of me as some sort of sexist parasite, but I am fully committed to gender equality, I am also committed to logic, reason and consistency. And a lot of the post-truth world we now apparently live in comes from these socially progressive ideas, where to question the logic behind a righteous cause is to be immoral. A lot on the left will think of the right as creating the death of reason, but they forget that they are a reaction to the failures of the left.
Creating an equal society for both men and women will be difficult and complicated. It won’t come about from self-righteous arguments, it won’t come about through meaningless slogans, and it won’t come about through shutting down people’s arguments as sexist. It will come about through detailed study, reasonable debate and legislation that tackles the root causes of the problems.
Firstly with regards to the gender pay gap the vast majority of research finds that it comes from women not appearing in industries that pay more such as finance, this could be the result of gendered education and gender roles instilled from an early age. Nursing seems like an ideal job rather than being a doctor for example as a result of this. Working cultures need more reform too, having worked in digital marketing I have found that there is a bit of a masculine culture reminiscent of mad men in these industries which will put women off, more needs to be done to tackle this as it is frankly annoying place to work as a man as well. The crazy 70 hour week working culture in the corporate world also needs to end as it is not supportive of raising children, quite often it is men that are willing to take on this role whilst women stay at home, more needs to be put in place so that overtime can be worked at home with the rise of technology that is going to be easier. Men should take paternity leave as often as their female partners and our image of what a dad is needs to change, parents need to take it turns to stay at home with their babies whether that’s taking the responsibility for different children or sharing time. Iceland has implemented a similar policy and with great success, America needs to wake up and create legislation for mandatory paternity and maternity pay.
Secondly feminists need to change need to be more careful with labeling people as misogynists or sexists unjustly, as labeling theorists would argue this can quite often create a self-fulfilling prophecy as we have seen with the rise of meninists. Some less educated men can quite often say the wrong thing because they haven’t grown up in the more modern liberal culture that the middle class people such as myself do. So when telling working class men to check their culture remember to first check your own. Please start going easier on the “nice guys”, yes quite often they are losers who don’t understand how to act around a woman they fancy but that doesn’t mean they’re bad people. Being freindzoned does suck and does happen to men more often than women, but that doesn’t always mean men feel entitled to have sex with them, sometimes they’re in love and read all the signals wrong and are really upset that those feelings aren’t replicated, it’s tragic that their then labeled as a misogynist.
The attack on “lad culture” is somewhat stereotypical and can be perceived as an attack on the working class rather than on sexist behavior. I understand what the attack is on its on getting really drunk and shouting at women for sexual advances, which is a culture that exists. However being a lad does not constitute being sexist, many men identify themselves as lads in the sense that they like to get drunk, play football, chant with men in the streets but are very respectful to women and consider themselves feminists. Arguing that there is a higher amount of sexism amongst people who have the laddish traits is like saying there are higher amounts of terrorist attacks from Muslims so let’s try and end Muslim culture. Mansplaining needs to be attributed far more carefully than it currently is; whilst it is a fully legitimate experience in that men are being patronizing to a woman simply because they are a women there is an overwhelming amount of times that this is used as a way of shutting down the debate, vilifying your opponent instead of using logic and reason as the Australian senator Katy Gallagher, shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, and first minister for Northern Ireland Arlene Foster have all done.
There is certainly an issue where are some people with ideas we disagree with, and there are some people who have very annoying behavior to both men and women, but that doesn’t give one the right to label them as a misogynist without any evidence.
Thirdly we need to accept the fact that men do face discrimination from being a man. Discrimination isn’t linear and it quite ironically doesn’t discriminate which group it discriminates against. It’s not a one-way road, women can be discriminated against at the same time as men, it’s just that men face discrimination a lot less and certain groups of men face discrimination more than others. Society has gender roles that are deep-rooted, in expectations of what men and both women could be; men are seen as worse parents, women are seen as worse workers, so when men want rights over their children they are quite often discriminated against.
Whilst intersectionalism is quite new and vague it does touch on an important point, that different social groups combined together face different experiences. The combination of being both working class, a man in a post-industrial area now puts you at a massive disadvantage with regards to how well you will succeed in education; it’s pretty much already been decided for you that you will not do as well as any other group. What jobs you can have now are not the jobs your parents used to have, there are no masculine working class jobs anymore, they’ve all been outsourced to China. The vast majority of decent jobs out there are ones which many haven’t been culturally inclined to doing, so you end up either stuck in an non-unionised menial job in industries like retail that have few career prospects, or you stay on the dole for your entire life.
You’re less educated and everyone around you instills values into you that people in more middle class metropolitan areas find repulsive and tell you to check your privilege with regards to immigration and sexism. Quite often you’ll find the only way to ‘make it’ is crime, its how you can gain respect and how women will see you as a provider. You’ll elect Trump and leave the EU just to make a point that the modernising world has left you behind. You or some of your peers may have some bigoted views and some may not but you haven’t kept up to date with the modernising way we treat social issues and that’s just your background, but everyone makes out that you’re a monster.
Fourthly we need to tackle sexual discrimination in the everyday feminist manner, there have been many campaigns with regards to what consent is. Acquaintance rape occurs far more often than by a stranger, quite often it comes from men feeling they are entitled or that they are led on or as with the case with Ched Evans that she is too drunk to consent. Whilst it will be as difficult to tackle rape by a complete stranger as it is with murder, so that men really think before committing rape. It should also be noted that men are also victims of rape, this is the case in US prisons as it is amongst the gay community, support networks are never put in place for them and are quite often neglected leading to depression and suicide. The underfunding towards support rape victims is atrocious, we need strong institutions that can not only provide support but can also act as intermediaries with the justice process. We also need to recognise that men get falsely accused of rape and that we shouldn’t pursue witch hunts of anyone accused, a la ‘guilty until proven innocent’ manner that we now treat them.
This is so we don’t have incidents like Jay Chesher, who was hanging from a tree in his local park after being cleared of rape. We need more campaigning on issues such as sexual harassment on a day to day basis, wolf whistling at girls in public is not acceptable, grabbing a girls bum on a night out is sexual assault and not banter. Talking patronizingly to a woman in a ‘calm down love’ or ‘listen sweetie’ way is chauvinistic trash talk.
Finally we need to have a non-emotive, pragmatic reasonable debate, the only solution to the growing trend of polarisation. When people are wrong they should be treated as if they were wrong, not necessarily pathological. When people disagree with you, you should point out their flaws, when people are simply being sexist or ignorant we cannot turn them away from the debate, we must do everything within our power to use logic and reason, not insults to reform them. I understand that not everyone will want to do this, but ultimately its arguably our civic duty. Whilst everyone may disagree on issues we need to be clear about one principle, and that would be to distinguish what is up for debate and what is not. Both sides of this argument need to stop shifting the goal posts of reasonable debate, disagreeing with some points made by a feminist is not male chauvinism, advocating for women to get back in the kitchen is sexist, and saying that women do not suffer discrimination is just plain wrong.