I am a feminist.
I believe in, and actively work to achieve, a society of equality for all individuals. I believe that women are as capable as men in all things, and vice versa. I want the women today’s world to have an equal life now, and I insist on my daughter and the women of the future having that equality.
While privilege is a relatively new concept for most of us men, it’s something that I acknowledge. I know that I come from a place of many privileges: I am an educated white American man, who grew up in a house in the suburbs. I had all of what I needed, and most of what I wanted. There were and are doors open to me that were and are not open to others for simple intrinsic biological factors, and I have stepped through those doors. Once inside, I’ve tried to jam the doors open, but that’s easy to say from the inside.
That said, I don’t always get it right – and here’s where we all need some tolerance.
I’ve been the guy who said “Not all men…” when confronted with generalizing statements about men. I’ve failed to hear the underlying intent of those generalizations, or the effect of behaviors perpetrated nearly entirely by men on women. That said, when I – and most other men I’ve known – have said “Not *all* men,” what we meant is “I am on your side. I am your ally. How can I help?”
So, responses like #YesAllWomen, while well-intended, create enemies from allies, I fear. It sets a confrontational tone, when really the whole of us need to be on the same side against those entitled jerks like George Will and Elliot Rodgers, and the many like him out there. We need to be working together to create a society where their despicable ideas and actions have no place, instead of arguing amongst ourselves over hashtags.
If I get it wrong, I want to know it. I want to hear differing opinions. I just think we need to give each other the benefit of the doubt – especially those of us who come from a place of privilege and thus have the mindsets and blinders inherent therein. Most of us want to get it right, but often we don’t know we’re getting it wrong. Shouting at us is probably the least effective way to get us to come around.
That said, I have some shouting to do. The aforementioned George Will, a ridiculous, cowardly hypocrite who rails against education while polishing the frame of his Princeton PhD, implies in his Washington Post column that women falsely report rapes and sexual assaults to attain a coveted “victim status” on campus. He whines that sexual assault no longer is just penetrative sex, but includes groping, which apparently is not an assault in his withered, crippled little mind.
And thus, he perpetuates these myths and angers on campus. He creates the sense of entitlement among men on college campuses that women are there for our sexual gratification (“Who cares that she couldn’t walk back to her dorm? She totally didn’t say no!”) and, in fact, confers that same “coveted status” of victimhood onto college men which he so stupidly bitches about in his ridiculous column.
Men like Elliot Rodgers. Entitled little pissants on college campuses who can’t see past their genitals. Men who find companionship in the crippled, misogynistic, testosterone-scented basements of the internet where people read George Will’s column and chant “USA! USA!” while trying to convince themselves that they are a legitimate societal movement by rallying under the banner “Men’s Rights.” Men who have nothing but disdain for women, and yet demand that those they hate are there for their own gratification.
Men, like Elliot Rodgers, who then go out and murder in the twisted belief that they are, in fact, the victims. And why not? The Washington Post has told them that they are, thanks to George Will and his ilk.
And somehow, we have to parent through this. I have to raise my daughter to know that it really isn’t all men, and that most of us are disgusted by those who think and act differently. Somehow I have to raise her with the tools to differentiate between the Elliot Rodgers of the world, and the people are nothing like them. I have to give her the tools to make decisions that will reduce her chances of being a victim of these people, while not creating the mindset that if she is victimized it is her fault.
That’s all hard enough. To do so in a world where the George Wills of the world have free reign to perpetuate this sense of entitlement from one side, and in which people who should be allies are screaming at each other over something which is basically poor word choice on the other, well, that’s much harder.