Why it is necessary to challenge parodies of feminism

I came across these blog entries today, in which ‘Opinionated Man’ parodies the feminist movement:

http://aopinionatedman.com/2015/03/25/my-feminist-vow-by-opinionated-man/

http://aopinionatedman.com/2015/04/27/part-2-my-feminist-vow-by-opinionated-man/

Now I am the first person to appreciate a bit of satire and yes I can see the humour intended in these posts. I can and do laugh at myself (hell I spend a fair bit of time in stilettos, a mini and a bra filled with rice every month, if I didn’t laugh at myself I would probably go insane). I am also a big proponent of freedom of speech and think that you should be free to say whatever you want. I do not seek to silence this blogger, but I do want to take issue with his parodying of feminism.

We live in a patriarchal society. Male privilege is all around us and I believe I have some insight into this. I see how much privilege I have as a male when I voluntarily surrender (briefly) that privilege when I don those heels, skirts and bras. I realise how risky it is not being able to run away from trouble, not being able to fight back because the false nails mean you can’t make a proper fist. I see how differently I am treated. Suddenly I am way down in the pecking order, simply because I am wearing a dress. As a parent I see how differently my daughters are treated to the way I was treated. I see how boys as young as five seek to assert sexual dominance over my daughter (slut shaming a five-year old girl? Really?). And they get away with it! If a girl is assertive she is bossy. If a boy is assertive he is a natural leader. This plays out in adult life. Women have to fight harder to be treated the same, women are paid less than men for the same work http://mg.co.za/article/2015-04-23-men-still-get-lions-share-of-income, women are told what to wear in the work place (don’t wear that top as it shows your cleavage, but a man can wear shoes that accentuate the length of his foot no problem, ahem, both are inherently sexualised, you just don’t want to admit it) and a whole host of other things, both big and small go on every day.

Feminism is a movement that is predicated on equality. It demands that all people are treated the same. There is nothing wrong with this. It is a worthy and helpful ideal that we should all embrace. It would make us better people, it would make society better. The fact that males make up a minority of the world’s population makes the fact that male privilege exists even more unacceptable. This is a wrong that needs to be corrected, urgently. Just because a system exists and has existed for millennia does not make it right.

Slavery was the basis for much of the world’s economic systems for millenia. It was an evil system that took away people’s freedom of movement, their dignity, their basic rights as human beings and denied their very humanity. It took a few enlightened souls to see that it was wrong. It took centuries to become a pariah system and although it has not been eradicated it is less of a threat today than ever before. Having said that it is interesting to note that women in the modern world are disproportionately the victims of slavery when and where it exists. Even more evidence of the need for feminism. My point though is that very few of us would dare parody anyone fighting slavery. The abolitionists of the nineteenth century are seen as heroes today and so should they. Certainly people at the time could not always see what was wrong with slavery. They were products and even victims of the time in which they lived and were incapable of imagining an alternative. I am sure some slaves were themselves unable to see the wrongness of the system. They too were victims and products of the time and system in which they lived. None of this makes slavery acceptable.

In that light I recreate the blog posts below:

I vow I will never withhold the whip again. If the overseer is about to shred her back I will not turn away, but will instead observe the harsh reality of discipline.

I vow to never consider them human again. They are dirty, calloused and seemingly incapable of thought. If they were indeed human… we would not have been given dominion over them, right?

I vow to never say the word “person” again! I turn my back on the label. From this day forth they will be known as chattel. I also intend to pick randomly which one I may choose to lie with each night. Since they are not human they have no right to refuse me. I am no longer observing silly things like human dignity. I have always wondered what a slaves genitals look like…

I vow to never listen to an abolitionist again. A pair of handcuffs and a chain gang is a good way to organise a work group.

I vow to never look them in the eye again!

I vow to write a tweet every week about the enslavement of lesser being devoid of meaning and how work will give meaning to an otherwise empty existence. Work indeed will set them free, eventually death will come.The current efforts to create an equal society are against God’s law we must defend our breadbasket at all costs!

I vow to only cheer for the oppressors in Disney movies. This is justified by my religion.

I vow to never place ‘citizen’ in front of my name. Instead I will hold strong and place Master there instead for I have dominion over these beasts of burden!

I vow to not do the dishes and clean ever again.This is beneath me.

I vow to aggressively attack anyone so much as hinting that slavery is less than the ideal system for our society. If you aren’t with us you are against us!

I vow to keep track of every slave master to ensure they are holding up “the banner.” They must beat their slaves, whip them and keep them working 365 days a year. Rest will come when they die!

I vow to never allow a slave to see me in a weakened situation. If that means I have to shoot the bastards so be it!

I vow that when I reach Heaven I will thank God for giving us dominion over these brutes.

I vow to become a geneticist so that we can eventually remove the need for these lesser creatures. They are evil, ugly, and they move by themselves sometimes!

Clearly such a piece of writing is unacceptable. It is shocking and deeply disturbing. Yet we allow people to poke fun at feminists who are seeking to change society for the better. I am a feminist. I want to see a just world where women and men are treated equally and where the wrongness of male privilege is appreciated. To my mind the acceptance of painting feminists in a negative light is just evidence of the innate sexism residing in society and an example of the everyday sexism that charcterises our supposedly equal society. I am sure this post will be received badly by some and I apologise if I offend but I feel this needs to be said. I also appreciate that the human suffering brought about by slavery should never be trivialised, but then again many women all around the world suffer terrible lives as a result of patriarchy. Feminism seeks to right the wrongs of millennia.

Opinionated Man, you are trying to be funny but this is in fact no laughing matter.

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55 Comments

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  1. I see none of the para-phrases or even implications you mentioned in the other articles. What I do see is the other articles promising a future of true EQUALITY that the feminist movement has exhaustively been whining about.

    How about instead of compulsively playing the victim in any situation imaginable the feminist movement actually start *REALLY* claiming equality; and here’s a good place to start
    https://timgoodluck.wordpress.com/2015/04/24/child-support-feminism-and-the-rape-culture/

    I’m not sure what gave this notion that men live in some luxurious power filled world were everything demanded is given to them. Perhaps its flawed statistics about wages that say as you referenced, “The gender pay gap is the difference between average gross hourly earning of male paid employees and of female paid employees”. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that many more technical and higher paying careers are not a females desire as much as males. My engineering classes in college didn’t have a SINGLE female in them and it had NOTHING to do with not be allowed to be there or even accepted there. IE. Blaming your own desires on someone else isn’t going to fix anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well said! The only privilege I see feminists owning is whining.

      Like

    • Oh my word!!! that is all I can say…

      Like

    • I think you’re missing one important point here: socialization. You can’t deny that even in 2015 where opportunities are “available” for both men and women that children are still being steered to like, engage in and live archaic gender-specific roles. Some cultures force this gender stereotype more than others. Insidious is a word that aptly describes this process.

      It’s not something that happens overnight when a woman is faced with deciding what she will do with her future – what career she will choose. Those “choices” are not necessarily black and white. These “choices” are an accumulation of suggestions and influences of family members and friends and strangers and the media.

      Think about your favourite films and tv shows. What are the roles of women? What place do they occupy in the story line? What’s their function or purpose?

      Why do movies and tv shows still limit a woman’s potential? Often women are tits and ass. Slab of meat. Something to be desired.

      I’m not discounting your lived experience regarding this matter. I just wanted to point out that, like abuse, these gendered mindsets are sneaky little devils that surface and manifest themselves in one’s life even if one believes in equality. It’s hard to break free from.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Feminism likes to think it is about equality and it may have once been. It is no longer about that anymore since the “movement” can’t even decide what values they champion anymore. I still have zero use for feminism and am still 100% for equality. I will never have a need for the word feminism in my life. People have been fighting for equality long before that silly word was invented. You cannot have the word equality as well, people still fight for that just not under “your” banner. 🙂

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  3. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    Comparing modern women to “slaves” just shows you have no idea what slavery really is. It also shows how sad the modern feminist view of society is and how badly they want to be victims. I will always be for equality, but will never, ever need your banner of feminism to do that. -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here, please visit their post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So lets say you insist that men have privilege, and I insist we don’t. (Or I facetiously identify as transgender for this specific comment and insist that you now have all the privilege.)

    You can provide your evidence for said privilege and I would provide evidence against it. What happens with that kind of impasse?

    Alot of conversations about feminism or critics of it – I’m an anti-feminist – exist for the most part in our echo-chambers and communities who think like we do. Essentially we preach to our own choirs.

    I realize the “neutrals”, undecided, and kids/students are who we are trying to influence, but what happens to the conversation on the subject when little agreement can occur? Feminism wears ALOT of hats, but what hat does it wear for that situation?

    Usually there are the radicals and bitter people of various communities who ruin ideas for future and more cordial discussion. I do think that you have avoided that though. 🙂

    Agree to disagree, I guess.

    Keep strong. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • You don’t have privilege. I can get the same job as you easier because I am female and you aren’t preferential hiring. Women can make as much as a man if they learn to negotiate as I have. The world needs equality and that is why I am no longer a feminist.

      https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/why-i-am-not-a-feminist-i-am-a-freedom-fighter/

      I’m a freedom fighter and want true equality for men and women. Why do men have no say in abortion? It’s my body doesn’t cut it because it took 2 to make that baby. But if a man wants the baby the woman can still abort against his will.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Valid points. I would add that different societies operate differently. Where I live the (soon to be former) leader of the second biggest political party in the country who is also the Premier of the second biggest province in the country (kind of like a governor of a state in the USA) was campaigning before the national elections a few years back. She visited a village and before she was allowed to address anyone she had to go and cook for the village elders (all of whom were men). Think about how that affects (taints) any political message she may then want to deliver about freedom from oppression, self actualisation etc.
        Additionally, when our President visited one of our more rural provinces he applauded the women he met because they prostrated (as in literally lay flat on the ground before him), not because he was the President but because he was a man. How does this affect society?
        I am sure the gendered power dynamics are less fraught in your community but they are (probably) still there. There is a lot of work to be done.
        You are entitled to your opinions and I too wrestle with the abortion issue but given Tim Goodluck’s views above I think the ‘it’s my body’ argument will have to stand. Until men are prepared to take equal responsibility they cannot have equal say. And sadly the very real possibility exists that the male may insist on keeping the baby and then never arrive at the hospital to care for it. (I am of course not going into the merits and demerits of abortion because then we will be here forever.)
        There are certainly no easy answers. It is good to debate and discuss these issues and get a global perspective.

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  5. Don’t you just love it when men to tell us how to be feminists? And, for that matter, how to be women?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Can’t we all stick to humanism?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. And now the Opinionated Man learns why he can have likes and followers but no juice or cash

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve lived my entire life as a woman and rather enjoyed it. I’ve seen humans of all genders shamelessly use and abuse other humans by playing whatever their “power” is, for all it’s worth, to gain what they wish to gain. I think the power struggles have nothing to do with gender although gender can certainly be played as a “tool” by both “sides” and the “middle”. Women play their powers, men play theirs, and there are those who try to play both sides against the middle too. In the end it all evens out. I don’t see the whole “male power thing” as something that is any more real than the “female power thing”. I’ve gotten out of life what I put into it and observed others doing the same. Whether it’s running my business or running my home people treat me the way I allow them to treat me. It’s my belief and my experience that when people behave respectably they gain respect.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hmm fair enough and interesting, but then you have not lived as a man (or have you) and seen the privilege work for you? We get to do an awful lot that many women cannot. I can only speak for the society in which I live which is almost certainly more sexist than yours, but (for example) when a simple thing like going for a walk on the beach in the afternoon, alone, attracts attention (I was en femme) because women do not walk on a public beach alone, then male privilege is indeed deeply rooted.
      But I agree with mutual respect would be an awesome starting point and that a lot could be achieved if we all put up with less abuse. The trouble is when societal systems prevent you from doing that…

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      • I would like to know how much privilege you have seen as a man since you keep hinting at it. Did you suddenly become a CEO when you were a man? Did you suddenly cat call and have women bow to you when you were a man? Did you instantly get a raise when you were a man? That doesn’t happen in the real world, in the real world Cindy gets a raise and help with anything she needs. Bill gets yelled at for being slow even if he is smarter than Cindy. What country do you live in where you honestly feel women are still slaves? Maybe your country just sucks?

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      • I’ll reply on my blog, too many words to fit reasonably into a comment box.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Opinionated man does his best to offend as many people as possible. Which in some light is funny, I guess. But I rather like your take, because like you said, this is no laughing matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Can we please all play nice? I will not allow flame wars on this page. If you have a point to make, make it. If you disagree by all means disagree but please be respectful. Ad hominem attacks say a lot more about you than they do about your target. Nevertheless they are not to be used. I value freedom of speech and at the same time I reserve the right to exert editorial control over this page.

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  11. First of all I think the fight of who-can-shout-loudest should stop if we at all should talk about equality. If we all yell, no one is heard. It seems you are discussing an issue not for the issue but for the sake of discussion. Daniella, you are being as respectful as possible and I admire that. But come on, Opinionated Man likes to provoke, so that’s what he’s doing. Why give him the satisfaction of reacting to his jokes? No offense, OM. 😉 And where do you come from Daniella? It sounds like a weird place, which I can’t quite pinpoint geographically.
    Women are faced with oppression and inequality in several areas, that is true. But as a woman myself, I really can’t be saying anything about how a man feels. There might be a bit of a way to go towards full equality between the sexes, but it is nothing compared to just 100 years ago. Even less than that… Men also experience a pressure and oppression we females cannot relate to. We might not even know about it, because we are too busy complaining about our own issues (as do all people). Women have benefits men don’t and the other way around, it goes both ways actually.
    As humans we have a choice: to be better than the primitives we arose from. We can be greater than dividing things and people into different boxes all the time (nothing’s black&white). We can make a difference by starting with ourselves, we can wish for control in other areas, but reality is: if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make a change. (Quoted from the great MJ – tihi). Treat all people in the best manner.
    If you take a glance at history and biology there is a reason that men were considered the greater sex. But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t suffer from this in another way than women suffered.
    Times are different now, so naturally things will change. But if we are busy making assumptions, busy only holding on to our own views, busy with talking instead of listening, we just are not going to move anywhere. It’s not about which sex you have. It is about us all being humans, let’s focus on that. We are so much more similar than we assume.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Marmaladescreams (cool name btw)…
      I live in South Africa. A country with one of the most progressive constitutions and a bill of rights second to none, a place that has spawned some of the greatest minds (our former Prime Minister helped frame the charter of the UN, we have more than our fair share of Nobel prize winners, in the sciences, literature and peace categories) but which at the same time allows woman politicians to be devalued in the way described above and where the President of the land accepts women prostrating themselves before him (he should have not allowed that and made a point for equality, but anyway who am I to tell women how they should define their femininity). Also a place where gender non conforming lesbians experience ‘corrective rape’ and murder because they do not ‘fit in’ with and threaten the patriarchal society in which they live. A great deal of work needs to be done before we can even start talking of equality.
      Even in Western Europe things are not as equal as they may seem. Just look at pay differentials, the share of household tasks etc. Things are undeniably better than they were thirty years ago, but that doesn’t mean that things are ‘right’.

      Like

  12. Thank you very much, Daniella! I’m glad you like it. 😀
    I was reading this from a western point of view, where I think there are things much more important than money, looks and household tasks. Also because even if I do feel unfairly treated because of my sex at times, I also see that I am very privileged.
    But the issues you’ve mentioned from your own country sound just horrible and I know this is going on in other countries as well. I agree with you, it is not okay in any way at all. But in the US there are currently greater problems than women vs. men. It IS a subject that also suffers from unfairness and inequality, true. But we have corruption, we have poverty, a large size of criminality and so on. And right now, it just seems like feminism is trending, so that’s why it is such a big issue (in the western world). I feel a lot of feminists have lost their way and now like to ridicule, trash-talk and patronize men and THAT is no longer equality. Suddenly it turns around to a new form of inequality – this time beneficial for women. I believe this is wrong and I think that’s why men (like OM) feel a need to make parodies of feminism.
    Keep fighting for your beliefs! I have a good impression of you. To me you seem kind, collected and respectful. For me respect is everything. So it is good to see that you are speaking up – even if I think you shouldn’t feed on a person like Opinionated Man. I’ve read his blog and I think his heart is in the right place (not that I know), but he just wants to provoke for the sake of his own amusement.
    Love and luck to you and I will fight (where I can) and hope for a better future for South Africa!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. // Clearly such a piece of writing is unacceptable. It is shocking and deeply disturbing. //

    Then don’t read it.

    // Yet we allow people to poke fun at feminists who are seeking to change society for the better. //

    Not all of them. You have good people in your ranks, but if you have not noticed, the radicals, man haters, superiority seekers and charlatans have taken over the public face of the movement. Things are shifting to their whims, not to the reasonable.

    There is a good place to start. With the people that are actively milking or undermining your cause. Not with those mocking it from the sidelines.

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  14. Good post Daniella. Lots of confusion over terms in the shitposts in the thread above, though. Feminism is not the same as misandry.

    Any “man” who doesn’t recognize male privilege is either willfully ignorant or simply a fish who doesn’t know he’s wet.

    Privilege is intersectional. Being a beneficiary of one sort of privilege doesn’t mean you fail to experience other forms of oppression.

    I would love to take down individual points here, but frankly I think this thread has already given enough of a platform to the haters.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I always feel bad for guys who are fixated on taming women. Give me an uppity chick with an aggressive posture any day. Back in Ye Olde Tymes i fell in love with a subservient girl, though I didn’t recognize it at the time–when we were 18, her deference was a boy’s dream. I mean, at the risk of being crude, “do whatever you want” is like the holy grail, right? Maybe that doesn’t get old for some guys, but it was too much work for me–always having to take the initiative, always having to decide where we’d go on a date, where we would eat, what movie we should see. In the end I despised her as dull and I think she quietly resented me, though she never actually said that–or expressed any displeasure. In the end, I settled down with an intense, passionate woman who never hesitates to speak her mind and take her turn at the helm. When she wants something, she says it. When I screw up, she lets me know.

    And that’s what we want as a nation–an entire population of people who are motivated, enabled, empowered to contribute to the best of their ability, without having to fight against entrenched, ridiculous gender-specific expectations. That doesn’t mean women can’t be sexy, or stay home to run the domestic front (if they can afford it), or whatever backwards folks think feminism is designed to squash. What it does mean is that my high-achieving daughters better not be limited to opportunities by less-competent or less-motivated men. They better not have to stand for bosses who call them honey, or worse, and they sure as hell better be compensated equally for equal work.

    These guys, who bitch about feminism, don’t have the first idea what they’re railing against–are there extremist feminists whose rhetoric extends towards the absurd? Absolutely, but the purpose of extremists in movements has always been to draw out the center by making the ideal seem less radical by comparison. They’re like the anti-government wacko wing of the Republican gang–very few entrenched conservatives actually agree with kneejerk seditious paleo-anarchists like those who surfaced during the Cliven Bundy carnival last year–but in political terms, when you’ve got semi-illiterate ranch-hands actually raising arms against the The Republic, it makes more mainstream asshats like Rand Paul and the entire Teabagger Army look downright moderate in comparison.

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  16. Well done for your moderation of the comments to this post Daniella. Inequality and misogyny is by no means limited to developing countries. The other day a female parliamentarian was wolf-whistled and jeered while giving a speech. In developed countries, equality is still a relatively new concept: Frenchwomen got the vote in 1944; in Switzerland it was 1971. Entrenched cultural attitudes can take many generations to shift, and in the meantime men and women take for granted the benefits that previous generations have fought for, and choose to ignore the social conditioning that still limits the equality and aspirations of women.
    I can understand though that some men may feel disempowered and dispossessed for whatever reason (possibly due to the growing divide between haves and have-nots, and the global impacts of Anglo-American economic liberalism), and that no one is advocating on their behalf. Doesn’t mean that vigilance on the gender gap isn’t still required though.

    Liked by 1 person

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