The deplorable sexism of the Obama administration is one of the many reasons I will be shuddering as I reluctantly vote for Obama this year. This report card explains my reluctance very well.
As disheartening as that is, however, there is no reason to believe that anything will be different under a theoretical Romney Administration. Sexist laws on domestic violence and sexual violence based on the man-hating, woman-infantalizing, and just plain wrong notion that violence and sexual assault are things men to do women, rather than something people do to each other, probably cause the most suffering. But there’s also:
* The lack of reproductive freedom for men and boys
* The debtor’s prisons now swelling with men who can’t (I didn’t say wouldn’t, I said can’t) pay their alimony and child support and can’t get it modified to something humane
* Our widespread cultural acceptance of genital mutilation (warning: Not Safe For Work, but subscribe to Typhonblue’s channel here, she’s funny and thoughtful and incredibly well-informed)
* Our lack of action by the law against that insidious form of child abuse called parental alienation (which, like most forms of child abuse, is more frequently committed by women than men)
* The unconscionable arrest, prosecution, and sentencing discount for women at the expense of men in criminal matters
…and more. It is all driven by our widespread cultural tendency to treat women as perpetual victims (and, often, as perpetual children not responsible for their own choices). Programs and set-asides and special protections for women abound, all while underplaying, ignoring, or outright ridiculing the plight of males who are sick, poverty stricken, undereducated, unemployed, homeless, imprisoned, and the victims of violence–even though males are in the majority in all those areas of need and suffering in our nation. But it is our culture, where females are privileged over males in countless measurable and unmeasurable ways people will rarely acknowledge, that most needs changing. It starts with asking women, particularly white women, to learn how to check their privilege and modify their behavior accordingly.
It often appears as of women in America, especially middle class white women, are totally blind to their privileged status. This gynocentrism favoring white women in particular is what appears to be at the root of much of it, so neither Democrats nor Republicans are likely to change it. Change has to begin at the grass roots, by changing people’s attitudes, and by local action.
Those of us who advocate for men and boys have our work cut out for us in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Fortunately, we are a growing movement, and despite all the hate-based lies that we are racist, hate women, hate gay people, are violent, or are surly straight middle aged straight guys who are just “angry” because we’ve lost our cookies, the reality is that what we come in all races creeds colors nationalities sexes and sexual orientations, and what we care about most is marginalized and ignored men and boys, period. The claims to the contrary are rooted in ignorance, and ignorance is the root of all bigotry. So the fight for equal rights and equal responsibilities shall continue, through advocacy, political action, and refusing to be shamed into silence.
It starts, I think, with recognizing both the historical and modern-day reality of Female Privilege. Here’s my friend Karen, writing to a young man who, after arguing with man-hating bigots who claimed to be “feminists” on what she thinks the real lowdown is:
Letter to a young man on privilege-blindness.
She even better lays out some (hardly all) of the historical realities of Female Privilege here.
She simply states the truth, and the truth hurts for a lot of people: in this society, today, it is not men who are the privileged class. It is women. And in reality, females have been privileged in multiple ways for thousands of years; the feminism of the 1970s, whatever righteous claims it had, still started out with a flawed premise: that men as a class oppress women as a class, and have for thousands of years. Which is a hateful thing to say: hateful toward men, and demeaning toward women. And it’s also just plain not true. It was always a balance between privilege and responsibilities, perks and burdens, that both sexes always had to live with, and that we should no longer have to.
In recognizing this reality, and rejecting the false theory that we live in a “PatriarchY” (and the grossly insulting “Patriarchy hurts men too” thinking that goes with it), we can begin to hope for change, and hope to see men’s and boys’ issues receive greater prominence in the next election cycle, no matter who wins the election today.
In brighter news, we have November 19 to look forward to!
Brb. Laying on my face forever.