Reject the Collective Feminist Ideology that Makes Monsters of All Men
Reject the Collective Feminist Ideology that Makes Monsters of All Men
Rebecca Solnit, a well known feminist and writer, has taken feminists to task (briefly, before she attacks men) in an essay entitled: Let This Flood of Women’s Stories Never Cease. Her first complaint in this essay is that feminists allow single incidents about men behaving badly to only be about that one man. In her view, this does injustice to the “pervasiveness of misogyny” and allows society to be comfortable in thinking that the behavior is an exception and not the rule. Her second main complaint is that but for these awful, heinous men (including men who look away), promising futures have been stolen from women, all women. Because even if a woman hasn’t been personally affected by abuse or an assault, the lack of support or recognition of this misogyny is devastating to the integrity and perpetuity of women.
Solnit has been engaged in these issues for years, so she would likely tell me that my forthcoming critique is out of touch and uninformed, if she bothered to listen at all. (I’m not the kind of woman feminists like very much: I’m pro-life, I’m content, and I’m self-reliant). But it’s simply a matter of her not acknowledging that her world is not my world, and her failure to recognize the experience of women, all women, is not and will never be the same. Because I do recognize this, I can say at the same time that some men abuse women, but that dynamic does not define the world. And I think my view is the right one.
I will address three points regarding Solnit’s essay: the pervasiveness of misogyny; the idea that women’s futures are being stolen; and the premise that if women were in power all would be well.
Solnit opens with this:
There’s a problem with the way feminism moves forward in reaction to breaking news stories. It brings focus to a single predator, a single incident, and people who haven’t faced the pervasiveness of misogyny can build stories around it about why this was the exception, not the rule…. This is a society still permeated and shaped and limited by misogyny, among other afflictions.
The biggest problem I have with feminism is the collective blame feminists seek to lay at the feet of all men. In this one statement Solnit shows her unawareness of how well feminism is doing to make all men guilty for the sins of individual men. It is working, and because of this, because I have a son upon whom this guilt is being dumped, I must push back. I will not allow these feminists to paint him or other innocent men with this brush. I worked hard to make sure I put a good man into the world and I will not let her and these other elitist feminists destroy the good that I have done. But for these good men, we will have no one to look to for our gentlemen. Yet these feminists think tearing all men down will save the world: a world built by men (more on this later).
This statement is also illogical on its face: people who haven’t faced the pervasiveness of misogyny. Those people can’t know the horror, apparently. Well, if it’s so pervasive how did it miss me? Have I been vaccinated against this so I have not been affected? Why do I have a different experience than Solnit? Using feminists’ definitions of what it takes to join the club, I could easily join the #MeToo campaign, but I see things in a different light. Misogyny is not pervasive just because she says so, just because she’s heard lots of stories, or experienced her own bad times with men. Misogyny is not the norm. Stop trying to make it happen. It is a self-fulfilling circle of viciousness perpetuated by feminists: “Men are all monsters! You all hate us!” What do they expect to get in response? They just said they hate men, even men that don’t do anything abusive. They have found a way to label everyone that doesn’t subscribe to their screeds as haters. Therefore, everyone is a misogynist. It’s a lazy and devastatingly flawed ideology. In the end, it’s just an excuse.
Solnit’s next vexing point is the idea that women are deprived, that women are not on a fair playing field, because men made sure of that.
What would women’s lives be like, what would our roles and accomplishments be, what would our world be, without this terrible punishment that looms over our daily lives? It would surely rearrange who holds power, and how we think of power, which is to say that everyone’s life might be different. We would be a different society…. Who would we be if our epics and myths, our directors and media moguls, our presidents, congressmen, chief executive officers, billionaires were not so often white and male?
Eleanor Roosevelt is famous for this quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Why do feminists constantly accept the premise that women are in second place? Why have they made men the standard by which to compare themselves? Why have they assumed that men hold unyielding power? In my opinion it is due to a superficial world view – they fail to recognize the many facets of power in the world. Women are indispensable when it comes to the survival of humanity, and yet feminists throw away this power at every step. They want unrestricted abortion, but fail to recognize the power of women to contribute to the future of man. A woman can do what no man can do, and yet they trivialize it and adopt an attitude of subordination. If a women recognizes the miraculous power within her own body, and if she cherishes it and protects it, she will recognize her equality in the joint venture that is mankind. Men desperately need women, but feminists bravely set about to prove they don’t need men. Their task is against nature and will never be successful. They have to come to terms with sharing power, and they desperately do not want to do that.
Some men have abused some women, and have unfairly placed fear in their lives where they have been afraid to speak out or seek help. This is undeniable, but what is the solution? To do nothing, to maintain silence and singlehandedly carry the burden? Eleanor Roosevelt also said, “You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.” So long as women continue to accept as truth the feminist explanation as men being impervious monsters, women will continue to cower. But women are stronger than that. I am not saying it is easy to stand up for oneself – it is not! – but it is necessary. If women ever hope to understand their power, they need to exercise it. Women are not powerless; they underutilize their power by succumbing to feminist thought about women as a second sex. Feminists do women a grave disservice by promoting this attitude; in reality it is an attitude that bolsters the power of men who wish to take advantage of women who think they are weak. Women are strong in their own way, if they would only recognize their strengths. With the benefit of the times that we live in today, if anything has been stolen from them, it is only because they have let it slip away.
We live in a world where uncountable numbers of women have had their creative and professional capacity undermined by trauma and threat, by devaluation and exclusion. A world in which women were equally free and encouraged to contribute, in which we lived without this pervasive fear, might be unimaginably different.
The premise that the world would be a different place if the arrangement in power was different is certainly true. But this is not to say it would be better. Solnit appears to imagine that a world powered predominantly by women would be ideal. I don’t happen to think so. Femininity, in addition to masculinity, has it’s own unsavory attributes. Both are needed for a harmonious existence. Femininity is not free from negativity, and in fact, it is also nothing without a balance. There cannot be a yin without a yang, a light without a dark. Without the night, we would not know the day. The opposing, or let’s say complementary, forces of nature are necessary. A world powered by women would be different, but I don’t accept that it would be better.
Solnit used this picture to illustrate her essay. It is from the 2011 floods in Omaha, Nebraska.
The floods nearly covered this Monument to Labor. I’ve included close-ups above of the figures included in the monument. I’m sure she thought flood waters engulfing statues of men was quite an apt visual and dovetailed nicely with her message. But I think it is quite ironic, and shortsighted, to use this as a positive illustration for what she thinks is happening right now.
The men memorialized in these statues are exactly the kind of men we want and need. They are the individuals who are most responsible for building our roads, our high rises, our railroads, our trade, our agriculture. Our electrical grid, our server farms, our factories, our academies. Without these men, where would be? What would the world look like?
Does me making this statement diminish the contribution of women? Only if you are a hypersensitive feminist. Many women stood behind these men, provided the foundation from which they rose to make the systems and the institutions that benefit us today. It is well and good that women can join the front lines of these endeavors, but let’s not forget that without men, the world would be a different place.
A male commenter on Solnit’s essay drew the wrath of self-entitled feminists when he said:
Normally I find Solnit an astute commentator but here she overstates the case, forgetting of course all of the good, decent men who support their wives and families and make decent lives for them. It’s a case of all-or-nothing thinking run riot: since a number of powerful men in high positions have abused their power against women, why, it must mean all of us are bad! What nonsense, and sexism to boot….We’re at risk of hysteria here and the rhetoric needs to calm down. Otherwise, instead of making progress in educating men and boys about proper treatment of women, all we do is polarize the debate and make people angry. At a time when the climate is out of control, America is in collapse, and economic inequality is worse than ever, we need to be coming together. This kind of rhetoric won’t do it.
The responses to his comments included being called dense, SELFISH, “pissed because his ego was hurt,” to “get over [him]self,” called out for using the word “hysteria,” to “check [him]self,’ that women have “suppressed [their] anger for literally hundreds of years,” a derailer, playing the #NotAllMen card. Lest you think this was only one respondent (it’s not, these are from multiple different commenters), here are more:
“And we recognize the violence that comes from good men who say nothing. From good men who look the other way. From good men who don’t examine their own bias and privilege. From good men who imply they “support” and “make decent lives” for women as a gift bestowed in return for their roles in power and right to have the last word.”
“This is a critical-thinking zone and we are thinking about the institutional engines of oppression. If you dont understand, then you are not only benefiting – which is not a choice, but keeping them in good repair. Sit down & shut up til you learn how to read, then some remedial logic. Until you are appalled at someone else speaking this way, you’re embarrassing yourself.”
“You think it’s overstated. I find it’s just right. And the average man has more than his share of hang-ups with women, shown by your own statement “make decent lives for them” as though somehow men have a special role in the family…do you even see what you’re doing? Do you see how you are using your “decency” as a silencing technique? Maybe just stop trying to be defensive and listen with an open mind.”
Speaking as a women, as that supposedly gives me some special privilege, I will contribute my voice to the chorus of so-called feminists who wish to see me silenced, just as they are trying to silence the lone male above who dared to comment.
Even though they may say my view is ignorant or immature, I won’t accept that characterization of my experience. I won’t let them diminish my womanly accomplishment of putting a good man into this world. I won’t let them denigrate my individual achievements, mostly forged in an environment dominated by men. I don’t accept that I am unequal or that men hate me. Even if that were true, there would be no way but to go forward with an attitude of worth and confidence. If I listened to the feminist message, then I too would be very angry. I choose not to live in that artificial shadow of inferiority. If they want to stay under that cloud, that is their business. Forgive me if I don’t care to join them.
I will join this kind of feminist though:
“My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1759-1797)
I often wonder what the first feminists would think of where we are today. I think they would be in shock at where the movement has gone, and would easily recognize the contradictions in today’s feminist ideology. Feminism was about ensuring women were equal in the eyes of the law, not about making them superior. Today’s feminists fight imaginary villains, and seek totalitarian-like power. That is an ideology of annihilation, not equality, and I will continue to reject it, until it recognizes the natural law that men are partners in the future of humanity.