So alright. There's been a surge of forum threads in here recently that in one way or another dealt with feminism and/or related topics. And methinks there's some common mistakes made on both sides there... mistakes that grab a basically good discussion and toss it into the sewers. It may perhaps help if we all, should we ever touch that topic again, try to keep in mind a few things that I feel need to be considered.
What exactly is feminism anyway?
I've seen quite some unneccessary bitching that resulted from people talking past each other regarding what feminism is and isn't. Some thoughts on this:
As I understand it currently, feminism is the concept that men and women shall have equal rights and duties and not be confined to any rigid gender roles. To have that said, I fully support that. Some minor issues can be raised here I think (the name feminism kind of sounds like it's only about women, and there's some merit in the statement that it might be better to just deal with equal rights and duties, and the best, for all human beings and just be a humanist), but acting like that's a serious and important thing is overblown I think.
However, I also consider it a sad fact of humanity as a whole that every group/movement/whatever that gets sufficiently large can and does incorporate some morons, a lunatic fringe if you want to call it that way. In the case of feminism these morons are those who do not want to get rid of gender roles and gender-based discrimination but just reverse it so that now women are the masters instead of men.
If you agree with that latter idea, please stop reading now. You will not like the rest of it. Thank you.
Of course many, if not all, of these morons will call themselves feminists too, and they may well honestly believe that they are feminists. To make a clear distinction within the context of this entry I'll call the misandrist loonies "bitchocrats" as an homage to a good book about the specific German variant of this stuff.
I've seen quite a few comments (usually from men, but not always) who rant against what they call "feminism" while what they really mean is bitchocracy. These same people have often stated in the same thread, sometimes in the very same postings, that they fully support gender equality and just oppose replacing the traditional patriarchy with a "modern" matriarchy. Yet somehow this seems to evade many people on "the other side". Bottom line of this section: Blokes, please stop to ask yourself for a moment whether the person you want to criticize really is a feminist or just claims to be one. Gals, please take a closer look on what exactly someone is pointing at with indignation. It's not always the concept of gender equality.
Is gender-based discrimination an either-or thing?
There seem to be those who assume, whether consciously or not, that if there is one kind of gender-based discrimination going on in this world there cannot possibly be its polar opposite anywhere else on the same planet. Ah how wonderful that would be - it would make the entire topic much easier to understand and deal with. Sadly, no. Reality's a bitch.
Looking at the world as a whole, I'm (sadly) confident that there are much more women on the receiving end of the discrimination game than there are men. For starters, I'm not currently aware of entire countries where men can be treated like cattle and no one blinks an eye. For the opposite, there's quite a few places in the world where that's normal.
...I need only take a look around here in Germany to see that discrimination against men can and does exist too. It tends to be of the more subtle kind I admit but that doesn't make it less real. Looking at popular memes in the media, ads and such shows that nicely already. There's many kinds of "humor" at a man's expense that suddenly look like pure horrific discrimination as soon as you reverse the genders in the concept. Ummm, if it's sexism one way, why would it not be sexism the other way?
And it continues in other parts of society, up to and including legislation and politics. Our leading bitchocrat can publicly demand that men be stripped of all protection of the rule of law as soon as women blame them of anything, to (quoting her) "send a message to men that they aren't safe from women anywhere", and no one cares. Town officials get fired just because they publicly declare that in theory gender-based discrimination can have both women and men as victims. A man can be declared guilty of rape and thrown behind bars even though the claims of the victim don't add up plausibly in any way, including that the man supposedly threatened his "victim" that she better not tell anyone or else at a time when he was already jailed and awaiting his trial. Then, after it became undeniably clear that the entire rape claim is bullshit, the system kept sitting on its fat arse for two years before setting him free. In at least one case where a man was suspected of being into child porn, the fact that no porn at all had been found on his PC (where it should have been according to the accusations) has been claimed to be in fact proof that he's guilty because "if there's no porn found on there then it clearly has been deleted to destroy all evidence". Let me get this clear... so men either have gigs of porn on their PCs or they must have had gigs of illegal porn on it previously? (To be fair, at least as far as I remember the judge didn't follow that line of reasoning)
Yes, these things are not as severe as the shit that women had (and often have) to put up with traditionally in many places for a long time. But does that mean that therefore it's not real at all?
Bottom line: It can sadly be very justified when a man complains of discrimination against his own gender. Which kind of discrimination is worse is another topic but just because he says that doesn't automatically mean that he thinks there's no discrimination against women at all. Both kinds of crap are sadly not exclusive to each other.
Oh, and while I'm at it, two caveats:
"Feminism as a whole is not a monolithic thing, it consists of many groups, concepts, ideas et cetera"
I've seen this brought up a few times when someone blamed "feminism" of having crossed the line and promoting matriarchy instead of equality. The statement ain't wrong, but some may want to stop a moment and consider that this goes both ways. If there's many "kinds" (ha ha, babblical cretinist pun not wholly unintentional) of ideas feeding feminism, which one is "True Feminism" then? With what justification exactly do you say that your concept of feminism is the correct one?
"Priviledge is often invisible to those who possess it"
I agree. We humans are like that... we see that which we hate much more clearly and prominently than that which we love. However... while this is usually meant to say "men don't realize how priviledged they are compared to women, thus they think there's no discrimination going on while there really is a shitload of it!", this blade also cuts both ways. Is it impossible that on the other hand women sometimes don't see anti-male discrimination that's going on in front of them?
Note that I'm not saying that the one is more frequent or more blatant or similar than the other... just that this is possible.
Well that's it for now. I know I'll catch flak from some for writing this entry, but maybe... just maybe... some people will read this and find that it helps them expand their horizons too. And if that happens my effort wasn't spent in vain.