Thursday, January 27, 2011

Will the real patriarchy please stand up?

Every day, literally every day, there's some new signpost on the backlash against women's struggles, and some reminder of just how much malice and misogyny is out there. Recently, there was the spectacle of a couple of sportscasters nattering and sniggering like a couple of Alan Partridges about women, one of them going so far as to sexually harass a female co-worker. But even more interesting than these sad sacks has been their pathetic defenders, enraged by the suffering of the male. Another near coterminous example was Tory MP and ex-corporate lawyer Dominic Raab's expostulations about "feminist bigotry" and male oppression. Those are just a couple of instances that have grabbed headlines recently. There's a near constant sewer-flow of this invective. The target is usually, explicitly, feminism. The implication, with little variation, is that men are harmed by feminism, that they have lost something as a result of its achievements. Who is the audience for this? Who is intended to receive the message? Plainly, me. And other men. It's almost as if it's somehow necessary to innoculate men against feminism. Why would that be?

"Anti-feminist backlash exists because the movement was successful at showing everyone the threat patriarchy poses to the well-being of females and males. If feminist movement had not offered a true accounting of the dangers of perpetuating sexism and male domination, it would have failed. There would have been no need to mount an anti-feminist campaign. While patriarchal mass media continues to spread the lie that males are not welcome in the feminist classroom, truthfully more males are studying feminist thought and converting to feminist thinking. It is this significant change in feminist movement that makes it more of a threat to patriarchy. As has been stated, had the movement only focused on women, the patriarchal status quo would be intact and there would be no need to severely bash feminism." - bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody, South End Press, 2000, pp 116-7