This essay was recently recorded for a podcast that I host at Crumble Cult. If you want to hear the audio, you can access it here, here or here. You can even have a listen while reading the comic strip I initially based it on. Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy reading the original text. Words on a page can sometimes resonate more than simple audio. We’re all about options here at Unbolt Me!
I sometimes wonder if Eve was a feminist. Yes, that Eve. The one from the Garden of Eden. That same Eve who helped herself to forbidden fruit and used the devil as her skipping rope. Yeah, she really stuck it to god because that’s just what you do when someone’s being an authoritarian prick. God, the first patriarch versus Eve, the first underdog. It didn’t go too well for her in the end but at least she stood her ground. You’ve got to admire someone for doing that.
So, Eve, I salute you… but I still won’t call myself a feminist.
So, what is feminism exactly? Well, I don’t know if I’m the best person to be talking about this. All I do know is that it’s been much maligned and misunderstood since its inception. Throughout the ages, male and female alike have been quick to vilify and tear down any woman who dares to challenge society’s blinkered take on gender roles.
Still, does anybody even know what the word ‘feminist’ means any more? There’s a snifter of an ideal at play there—my nostril hairs divine that much at least. Any scholarly text will tell you that feminism was traditionally about advocating political change so that women had equal rights with men. Oh, and no more body shaming or rape. Or beatings. Or acid. Or genital mutilation. These and other means of punishing women for… well, being women.
So, the struggle was real, and it still is. That’s a fact. Parity of the sexes has still not happened. And there’s no good reason—nor has there ever been—for why women should still be treated as second class citizens. Globally, society really needs to do better.
Now, this is not to say that I believe all women are naturally kinder or more compassionate or generous or nurturing, and that they can do no wrong. For example, I don’t think a matriarchy would work any better than the patriarchy has. People are people and will still screw things up no matter what gender they identify as. Egos, incompetence and ill intent exist on all sides of the fence.
I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all been raised to believe certain lies about our so-called gender roles. If men are really predisposed to being thuggish, emotionally stunted, money-making, bash machines then it must hold that women are simply fuckable, child-bearing, disposable, self-denying machines, yeah? And that’s the natural way of things, right? No, it isn’t, and frankly everyone suffers when those so-called ideals are the ones that continually get pushed out there. And if you think they’re not, just glance at your nearest TV.
Of course, biologically speaking, there are differences between men and women. Most men can lift really big things. Most women can’t. Women get to have lovely, squidgy chest bits. Men get to have rather dubious, dangly, nether bits. Sure, men can aim their piss as a result, and women have to jockey into position, but is that really an advantage? Women can lactate after all, whereas men’s nipples are a joke. Of course, no one wants to see a breast-feeding father. Baby will be coughing up hairballs for a month and probably will need therapy for life! Nevertheless, these differences are there, and for some reason we get scared all of a sudden. And we go on the attack. That’s a shame.
Variety is the spice of life. It would be boring if we were all the same. Women are cool. So are men. So are trans, genderless, bigender, trigender, pangender, genderqueer, Harry Potter, kitchen sink, and whatever the hell else you wanna chuck in there—it’s all good! And, yeah, I really mean that. It really is all good, so how about we stop being scared?
So, anyway, this still doesn’t address my earlier question which was: Why won’t I call myself a feminist?
Okay, so we live in a patriarchal society, yes? I don’t seriously think that can be argued against any more because… well, evidence. On the whole, women haven’t enjoyed the same rights and quality of life that men traditionally have throughout history. We men have had an unfair advantage in a lot of ways and, frankly, it’s one that’s been collectively exploited to the hilt. That’s why there still aren’t enough women in positions of influence such as business, politics, religion, etc. So, parity in these areas is important and definitely needs to be worked towards.
But here’s where I may get myself into a bit of trouble. This patriarchy I speak of defines itself through the acquisition of money and power—power mostly. And it achieves this end by stomping on the weak and helpless. It always has. And this power that people hunger for is, to me, just vile ruthlessness dressed up as healthy competition. Sadly, it’s human nature to lift ourselves up by pushing others down. I guess it’s your call as to whether or not you’re personally guilty of this every once in a while, but I know I’m sure as hell am. It’s my belief that we just cannot help ourselves.
See, it’s often the use of force—whether physical or verbal—that gets us what we want. So, if force works, why change this for a more inclusive, even handed result? And it’s this mantra that feminism seems to be marching under right now. It seems to have adopted the patriarchy’s value system of power at all costs, so much so that there are feminists out there destroying each other over who truly counts as one of them and who doesn’t—establishing a pecking order as it were. And there are even others tromping about the place trying to shame everyone else in the world into labeling themselves feminists too—as if a mere label makes all the difference.
I can’t help but wonder if feminism has become a kind of dogma. And if so, is that really progress? Is that what we actually need? More people grubbing for the lion’s share of an ever dwindling ideological carcass-pie? More money, higher degrees and greater political and corporate clout for women everywhere are fair enough things for us to strive toward, but to what end? If everyone’s out for number one—themselves—then I fail to see how this benefits women in society on an individual level. If, say, a single mother’s lot isn’t improved but there are more Gina Rineharts in the world, then how is that better?
The patriarchy has always misused power. Why should I believe that a matriarchy would be any different? People have been known to swing their dicks around no matter what they’re packing between their legs—men and women. The fact is, we need everyone, and we all need to be in it together. We all need to hold each other accountable. Woman, man, gay, straight, brown, yellow, blue collar, white collar, politician. Everyone. This Frankenstein monstrosity we call a society cannot even begin to work unless we try collectively to shape it into some kind of Adonis.
Make no mistake, I need feminism to be in this world. I need their voices to be in the mix in order to experience as many different viewpoints in life as I possibly can. I don’t know everything and I never will. I’m not always right—as much as I’d like to be. I’m not perfect. I will hold wrong attitudes about women, and say and do the wrong things sometimes. In short, I probably will be a bit of a dick to womankind at some point, and that’s why I need feminists. Someone has to get it through my thick skull whenever I get it wrong. I need to not listen to respond, but to listen to understand. And that’s why feminists need to be there, to use their voice. Hell no. Let’s make it all women. All women need to use their voice.
At the end of the day, you’re just a woman. Beauty isn’t the most remarkable thing about you. At the end of the day, I’m just a man. Having a dick doesn’t entitle me to anything. Respect is intrinsic. It doesn’t matter what gender we are. There should be no conditions attached to treating someone with dignity. No one should have to earn anyone’s compassion.
And why should I have to identify as anything in particular anyway? Can’t I just use my own name? Sure, it was given to me—I had no say about that—but I like it plenty enough, and my parents raised me in such a way that the mere thought of hurting others can fill me with shame. As it ought. I was taught to know better. Their love ever so gently holds me accountable. Isn’t that enough?
We need to stop viewing women as the weaker sex, the fairer sex, or the whatever sex. Women aren’t in need of rescuing or being won like a prize. Nor are they victims. The more we see them as victims, the more we’ll kick them while they’re down, and then they’ll never be anything other than victims. You don’t need to be a feminist to comprehend that. The women in our lives are worth so much more than a label.
And to you women out there, remember this: You are real. You are all woman. You are human. You are whomever you want to be. And nobody can take that away from you.
by TONY SINGLE
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