Trigger warning for rape.
My name is Dan. I am a feminist. I support equal rights for all people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or any other group who does not currently benefit from privilege. I seek to eliminate things such as rape culture, male privilege, white privilege, cisgender privilege (look it up if you don’t know), heterosexual privilege, and discrimination in the workplace, in government, and just in our everyday lives.
I do not have all the answers and I may very well have a lot of questions. I am an imperfect being in an imperfect world. I am both trying to better that world for my family and better myself so that I can be better at improving this world.
I also just speak for myself and nobody else. It is possible that others may agree with some or even with all of what I am about to say. If they do, great. I will know that I have some kindred spirits out there. But I do not presume to speak for anyone but myself. But this is coming from my heart. So here it goes.
Sometimes I feel that male allies of the feminist movement are held to an impossible standard by some in the feminist movement when it comes to what they should believe in order to be considered to be a “good feminist”. This is not to say that most feminists do this. I have had some very good experiences with feminists.
Here is an example. I can agree with someone that we need to combat rape culture. I agree that society does too much victim blaming (believing that what the woman was wearing, where she was walking, or if she was alone had anything to do with her being raped). I agree that we need to do a better job with explaining that the majority of rapes come from people you know. I agree that we need to, as a society, put the responsibility on people who would rape to not rape instead of putting the major focus on explaining how people can avoid being raped. However, I might also suggest that because not all rapists will listen to any messages about how to not rape because they don’t care about consent, that it is reasonable to give some general safety tips (like always watching your drink when you are out).
Now, to those who believe the last statement is victim blaming, it could go two ways. Some could just say “While I disagree with that last statement and feel it is victim blaming, it is good we agree on most of the other points. Let’s work together on all those other things”. Unfortunately, too many times recently, I received the other possibility, which is people who insist on focusing on the one area where we disagree and claim that I must be some sort of rape apologist, mens rights activist, or some other label that clearly isn’t me just because I believe something a little different than the other activists.
This is where I get confused. Nobody in a movement is going to agree on every little thing that would make this world a better place. Hell, in one of my more recent twitter discussions about this very issue, several feminists disagreed on what exactly such safety tips meant. So if someone is in agreement with you 95%, why would you attack them for disagreeing on the last 5%? It doesn’t make sense to me.
“You have a penis, so you cannot understand privilege”.
Then there is the issue of needing to tell male allies of feminism that they cannot understand certain things because of privilege. Male allies of feminism understand privilege, some more than you might know. Take me for example. I am Jewish in a country that constantly seeks to push Christian values on everyone. I am also a big man in a country where skinnier people have advantages. Those are two areas where I am not in the privileged group. My life has been impacted in several ways because of my lack of privilege. I may very well not see certain things because of the privileges I do have. However, comments like “hey, your privilege is showing” in conversations about feminism towards male allies of the feminist movement are not helpful. The reason is that those allies understand that they privileged and are working to fight that privilege. An ally will be willing to understand why they are seeing things with privileged glasses without having to be beaten over the head with the “you are privileged” stick. Often times the label of privilege is thrown around as a negative descriptor and why are you seeking to label your allies in a negative way?
“Hey priviledged guy, shut up and listen!”
In dealing with some activists I have also have heard that people who are privileged who want to be good allies should sit down and shut up and just listen. Well, I am not someone who learns best by listening. I question things around me, all things. If something doesn’t make sense, I am going to wonder why. There was a time where I rejected that we lived in a rape culture. I now acknowledge that we live in a rape culture. Had I just listened to those who would have me shut up and listen I would have likely never agreed. However, because I questioned and involved myself in discussions with others about the topic, I was given an argument that I could not refute and as such I changed my mind on the issue. So the idea that people should just shut up and listen is flawed as not all people learn by simply listening.
“You were falsely accused of rape and brought it up, you must be a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA)”
I was falsely accused of sexual assault. You can read the short story here. I acknowledge that false accusations are rare. I also do not believe that just because something is rare that it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be dealt with. (For example, women who abort their pregnancies because they were raped make up less than 5% of all abortions. However, just because it is rare it doesn’t mean we should ignore it in abortion debates).
MRA tend to be very loud about false accusations of rape. They tend to give undue weight to the subject as compared to rape. They tend to try and equalize the two as being the same sort of injustice with the same frequency (and they are obviously not). One “well known” MRA even suggests that we should participate in jury nullification in rape cases and not convict the accused until society deals with false accusations of rape.
I am not an MRA. First of all, I do not hate women (and that seems to be a prerequisite). I also like to let facts, logic and reason dictate where I stand on issues. If you embrace facts logic and reason you would acknowledge that rape is more rampant in society than false accusations of rape. Finally, MRA tend to be trolls by bringing up false accusations of rape in every discussion of rape they participate in.
Me? I only bring up false accusations in general (or my accusation in particular) when relevant to the conversation. If you wish to see me dealing with an absolutely ridiculous person as it pertains to false accusations, see this blog post (about false accusations) over on the Yes means Yes blog and look for the conversation between myself (Daniel Z) and Ginmar.
I could go on and on, but I fear some people might invoke a tl;dr. I will end with this. I am not perfect and I never will be. But I will try my best to do what I can to help promote feminist ideals because at the end of the day laws that require equality will benefit all. We may not always agree. However, does it do us good to argue over the 5% we disagree on or does it do us good to work on the 95% of which we agree on? My answer will always be the latter. I hope yours is as well.