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