The Blog

Why This Man Wants Page 3 Gone

I could blather on about the misconceptions of feminism all day long but I think the male point of view is best discussed by, well, a male, don't you? Someone with no ulterior 'angry man-hating feminist' motive.

Since this week saw International Men's Day I thought today would be a good day to write about misandry.

I could blather on about the misconceptions of feminism all day long but I think the male point of view is best discussed by, well, a male, don't you? Someone with no ulterior 'angry man-hating feminist' motive.

I can explain that being a feminist does not mean that we need to dismiss men as misogynistic,

chauvinist or sexist.

I can explain that being a feminist means supporting other women in their rights for equality.

I can question what equality would we have if we tipped the world on its head and men became oppressed and women the oppressors.

But Luke Beesley (A WASS supporter and NMP3W campaign member) can do all of that better, and from a male perspective, so here is Luke's opinion on what feminism really means to him, as a man.

'Nothing is duller than a dreaming platitude'; the myth that feminism demeans men

There is a tendency amongst all reactionary organisations, activists and public ranters to resort to sloganeering and cliché once they have objectively lost an argument. The cliché, they believe, can stand in for rational argument by appealing to an ideological sacred cow; by imposing a great statue of social value, purified of any actual meaning, to tower above their position and disastrously collapse around all of our ears if their opponents gain ground. It seeks to provoke the response 'I agree with everything you've said, but your position would ruin everything!'; the cliché is designed to create stupidity.

One of the most dominant clichés of the last one-hundred-and-fifty years is that which asserts that the struggle for women's rights is predicated on an hatred or a subordination of men. This cliché has, of necessity, changed its content since the campaign against the Contagious Diseases Act and the battle for Universal Suffrage - where campaigners were accused of threatening men's freedom to use prostitutes and employment - to today where feminist campaigners challenge the culture of modern sexism as well as the legal mechanisms through which women are currently subordinated.

The contemporary cliché can be seen in full force in responses to campaigns against 'Lads' Mags', the Sun's 'Page 3' and pornography in general. Like all good clichés, it varies its form depending on the audience it is trying to infantilise. Amongst the bedroom-warrior bloggers and self-styled Moseses of the MRA community, the cliché asserts that any restriction of the availability of pornographic content is an attack on the sexuality of the already beleaguered male; a further 'oppression' against him demeaning whoever he darn well feels like and a crushing assertion (reminder, maybe?) of his politico-sexual insignificance in the public sphere. The better premed and less agoraphobic anti-feminists - those who hold public offices or have significant media power and appear on our screens and radios - attempt to bypass the bile of their brethren's babble by appealing to the great buzzwords of liberalism: 'freedom', 'equality', 'choice'. Their assertion is that limiting access to pornography infringes on a man's freedom to choose whether he wants to see them or not. They (pre)tend to find the idea of watching pornography rather vulgar themselves, of course, but they don't have the moral authority to tell anyone else not to. Anyway, don't some women enjoy pornography as well? Surely, it can't be sexist if women make and consume pornographic material. Let's just call it empowerment and call the whole thing off....

The cliché is clever and pernicious in that it latches on to two observable tenets of current campaigns and twists their meaning beyond any recognition to reach a perverse conclusion. There is no dispute that feminists would like to defeat the kind of male sexuality that sees women as objects to be harassed and reduced to their bodies. Nor is it any secret that, at the most superficial level, the restriction of the availability of pornography in newspapers and men's magazines is a restriction of a man's ability to choose to buy sexual images without specifically purchasing pornographic publications. By challenging this sexuality and this freedom, however, feminists are not attacking men but inviting them to question why exactly they want that sexuality and that freedom.

It's a pretty depressing position to be in. Do you really want your sexuality to be based on seeing women as things? Do you really want your freedom to be predicated on whether or not you can buy the exploitation of others? That's a pretty pathetic attitude to take to yourself and the people around you.

Feminists point out to men that sexist attitudes are not things you have simply because you're a man, but things that are caused by growing up and living in a culture saturated with sexism; a culture which needs women to be subordinated and oppressed in work and society to keep their wages down, their employment casual and their social and political rights minimal, a culture that needs you as a man to stay stupid and silent while this is going on.

The good news is that feminism tells you that you don't have to be the kind of rabid, wounded animal or parasite that the anti-feminists say you are. You can change yourself and help change the world. The bad news is that it's hard work. The sexism around us is so pernicious that it is capable of infiltrating every element of our social being. As men do not experience women's oppression first hand, we are likely not even to realise when our attitudes are sexist sometimes. If we are to be better than the patriarchy says we are, we have to listen to the women around us, accept the lead of women in campaigns and respect that women know more about this than us. It's difficult to try and relearn our social relationships, but was anything worthwhile ever easy?

Have some self-respect, bro: be an ally.

Before You Go