I wanted to reflect on the reaction to my first blog entry and what better way to do so than by writing another. This experience has exposed me to the realm of the troll. Now I haven't been faced with the scary ones...they didn't have big red hair or live under a bridge. Nor were they threatening to rape or kill me. They haven't persistently harassed me - yet, I hasten to add - but then, I am a man. Instead what I've been faced with is Men's Rights Activists, or at least a branch of them, for I too consider myself an activist for men's rights. More accurately I'm an activist for human rights because that is what we are and should be. Our gender is merely a social construction: a set of ascribed characteristics, values, ideas, concerns and expectations that society links to our biological bodies. It is a construction that suits capitalism and consumerism - for those who don't know - just watch an episode of Mad Men.
From reading comments on my blog about the problematic 'crisis in masculinity' it becomes apparent that some men find feminism unhelpful and unnecessary. Some other men find it hateful and disgusting. While I believe this view to be wrong I hope I can make clear as to why; and I do so by recalling a recent conversation. This took place with a young man in a high school where I was an invited judge for a debate on feminism. The motion was that 'the goals of feminism had been achieved and feminism is no longer necessary'. Without going through the different sides to this argument, I want to focus upon the crux of the young man's viewpoint. He presented the case for 'genderequalityism': a movement that encapsulates both men's and women's struggles, one that would consider for example, body size to be a concern for both boys and girls. This is a movement that in theory I would support.
However the problem with replacing feminism with genderequalityism is that it silences women. It glosses over the generations of struggle women have faced. It deliberately forgets these histories and crucially, it implies that women's and men's issues are now equal. They are not.
I don't cite this story to have a go at a young man trying to be critical with the world in which he lives. I encourage this. What I want this example to serve as is the antidote to the man who lazily points to a Diet Coke advert and states that men suffer sexism too.
Let me be clear, men do suffer sexism. There are injustices and as just one example, paternity issues are a real concern. But it is the frequency and pervasiveness of misogyny that trumps any misandry that currently exists. While the 'trolls' label me a white knight for harbouring such views it is a burden we must bear when we consider our biological privilege.
I'll end with blog with the words of Jess Phillips, MP who joins the long line of women to suffer vile abuse online, this time for her opinions on International Men's Day:
'It seems to me like every day is International Men's Day. When I've got parity, when women in these buildings have parity, you can have your debate. And that will take an awfully long time'.
I won't hold my breath.