Edit–12:47 I’ve been having a conversation with this person. Even if we never agree, let me be clear before you start reading this piece–I don’t know this person. I am responding to this piece of writing, and I do so in a passionate way, because I feel passionately about the topic and I feel that the piece I am responding to is poorly written. But I make no claims about the writer.
So we’ve garnered a response. And he said something, in his response (well several somethings) that I cannot let stand without addressing. In defense of derailing the conversation(the logic is astounding, here), he gives this example:
People opposing Female genital mutilation are supporting harmful bigoted sexism. This isn’t because Female genital mutilation isn’t a problem, it is. But it’s not the whole problem, only half the problem. If we are to actually address the problem we need to be talking about INFANT genital mutilation.
What the actual FUCK? Excuse me? So no one should talk about those 3 million girls who experiences FGM annually? Let’s be clear: razors, knives, sharp stones, and broken glass–obviously without proper sanitation–are the instruments used to perform most of these surgeries. FGM does not generally happen to infants and has profound complications and risks , which is a large part of the stupidity of this argument. There are several types, but even the most “mild” of the types remove the clitoral hood and generally the clitoris itself, or at the very least, some burning and scarring of the labia and vulva. In some instances, the girl is left with nothing but a slight opening to relieve herself through and to allow menstrual blood to pass (this means removal of clitoris, inner and outer labia, and then leg-binding for 2-6 weeks to create the new opening). There’s a fundamental misunderstanding here of the operation, who experiences it, and how it varies worldwide. And its horror. To say that we shouldn’t talk about this is fucking stupid.
Phew, glad that’s off my chest.
Now for this atrocity of logic:
In the 1800′s does anyone think the Abolitionists where voicing main stream views? If they where to talk about freeing the slaves, they had to disrupt some other conversation to do so. Does any one think that conversations shouldn’t have been derailed and we shouldn’t have broken the status quo of slavery? Slavery and the apologetics to support it where sickening. Discussions about how to be a better slave owner or justifications for continuing slavery needed to be derailed. I WILL NOT “agree to disagree” with someone claiming “niggers are sub human and must be controlled through slavery”
First (and I’m trying hard not to be a real jerk and point out every wrong thing here, down to the misspellings and grammar issues): No, no one had to disrupt an ongoing conversation to talk about abolition. By the 1800′s, abolition had been an ongoing, transnational conversation for some time. The newly established United States of America was not unaware of this conversation–they were right in the midst of it. Tensions rose every time a new state was admitted, as it would threaten the balance of slave/non-slave states; this was important for political clout–if one set of states gained a hand over the other, laws could be passed that would affect slave-holders or non-slave-holders even if they all voted against such changes.
And at the middle of the 19th century, these tensions rose. Acts pushed through like the Fugitive Slave Law angered entire portions of the country. Kansas became a literal battleground during its settlement between slave and non-slave holders. It was atrocious. And not unprecedented. Further, if we’re talking about the subjugation of the black race in American when we’re talking about slavery (which is where that seems to be going), it did not end there. It still hasn’t ended. It took 100-ish years for the Civil Rights Movement in America to help the races reach anything like equality, and it took systematic dismantling of years of oppression to do that. It’s still happening.
Second, I defy the mean-spirited, absolutely ridiculous parallel that is attempted here. No one is talking about “controlling” those who are “subhuman.” And to use the idea that you personal won’t agree to disagree with someone who says that nastiness as a transition into your ideas about feminism is to attempt that parallel. It doesn’t work.
And now for this one, which is the meat of the argument against feminism.
Gender is not nor has it ever been The Oppression of Women. Gender roles are interconnected interdependent divisions of labor that place responsibilities and obligations on BOTH men and women and grants the rights necessary to fulfill these responsibilities and obligation. Sexism Against Women can’t happen, not doesn’t happen, but CAN’T. Gender roles are interconnected and interdependent. Sexism does happen, but it can’t happen to ONLY women. It happens to both men and women in equal measure because the roles are interconnected and interdependent. We need to address sexism, not sexism against women.
Except that gender and sex aren’t the same thing. This happens again and again with the writer, who has evidently decided that gender and sex are synonymous and uses them interchangeably. They are not interchangeable. Gender is the way we socially construct what is appropriate for the sexes and the way we perform those roles. Sex is the biological and physical characteristics of male and female. They are fundamentally different concepts.
Sexism against women can and does happen. It’s patently dishonest to say that it does not. And saying that does not mean that no man ever experiences sexism. That’s an illogical conclusion. Over and over, this piece of writing enforces binaries that do not exist. The writing of that piece is based on an either/or fallacy and circular reasoning. The logic doesn’t work, doesn’t hold up. It is ill-informed at best, intellectually dishonest at worst.
Last, I’d like to address the idea that feminism cannot and has not done anything for men. That, again, is an outlandish idea. Men are no longer expected to be the sole breadwinners because of feminism. They can work in what society, as soon as women started working, termed “female” jobs–nursing, secretary, teaching, etc. Feminism prompted Sandra Day O’Connor, in her first Supreme Court ruling, to insist on men being allowed to enroll in Mississippi University for Women as a mark of equality and inclusion. Feminism has allowed for conversations about male rape and abuse, which had been traditionally seen as nonexistent or as too shameful to acknowledge–those things only happened to the weaker sex, to women. Feminism created the Family Leave Act, so now there can be paternal rather than just maternal leave. Feminism has ensured that if you are promoted at work, it’s because you deserve it and not because you have a penis.
Feminism is not what you say it is.