I have plenty to say on this issue, as I followed it as it developed last month and got to slog through all kinds of comments and posts within the community surrounding it. So prepare yourselves!
The main issue I have with what you're saying, Louise, is that while you do make some astute observations that are true in some
cases, you also paint a heavily stereotypical view of feminists that seems to lack a deeper understanding of the group itself. You've painted an 'us vs. them' picture that you have simultaneously expressed disdain for when you perceive it in feminist groups who seemingly "hate men". "Feminists today" and "many feminists" are inaccurate terms that dismiss nuance for a broader picture, and without numerical values to support your claims, at that. I could just as equally say "many men rape women" -- and while that may be true (seeing as 'many' is an incredibly relativistic term), it also contextually gives the impression that a majority of all men everywhere
rape women and basically shuts down the discussion right there with a big, bold assumption off the bat. If you heard that latter sentence come out of the mouth of a feminist, I would be willing to bet that it would set off a red flag for you.
It's especially confusing to me when you acknowledge that not all
feminists are 'this way' or 'that way', but then spend the majority of your post railing on why you dislike them so much and -- again -- using phrases like "feminists today". Aren't we kind of treading dangerous territory here? Take for instance this substitution: "Not all
black people steal, but many black people
do." You are justifying your own prejudices with a qualifier to lessen the blow, but the message is still there regardless of how delicately or euphemistically or technically qualifying you try to be. It sounds a lot to me like saying "I'm not a racist, but..." At least that's my interpretation.
One part of your post snagged me in particular:
-feminists today often seem blind to the fact that sex/gender has reached a much higher "explanatory power" in the climate of today than a generation ago. Or they just don't know how to handle it in an honest way. People are expected today to "act like men" or "act like women" and to have a personality, manners, interests, ways of talking, dressing, dating, eating that fit those slates, it's set in in a far heavier way now than would have been the case in the sixties or seventies, and these expectations (buouyed by a glamourized culture) is something many women trade a bit on, but many feminists seem to refuse to recognize that those shifts in atmosphere and ways of thinking have been happening. Nor do they wish to address that it often pushes men and trans people into corners. Women who pick up tradiutionally male careers, ways of behaving, clothing and attributes are hailed aloud as trailblazers, men who try to embrace a more modern and innovative masculine role (the old hard-drinking factory man is half dead anyway) or pick up ways of doing things, appearing, talking that have a whiff of traditonal or semi-modern femininity are seen as wimps, and get ridiculed and rejected both by macho men and by a big part of the female public realm.
Except none of what you're listing are feminist problems at all.
Most of these things are actually feminist concerns
-- this is feminism 101, if anything. Of course
feminists take issue with these things, they actually have a vested interest in breaking down gender stereotypes and roles across the board, which makes them perfectly in line with the interests of transgendered people and men. I'm not sure where you're getting your beliefs on this, but it plainly flies in the face of "the feminist agenda" (I hate this term as much as I hate "the gay agenda", but I mean it in a broader sense of what they're striving for) Are there feminists out there whose definition of equality is skewed in favor
of women? Of course, but they are pretty firmly on the fringe and are scorned by any sane feminist you talk to. If you take the time to study feminist causes and hold a discussion, you would find that they are equally as disdainful towards those who abuse men and corrupt their position and will just as gladly show support for -- for example -- a male rape victim. Your whole paragraph here is just fundamentally inaccurate.
I really don't see many feminists around who try to pick up on those issues, there is a lack of modernity in some aspects of the masculine roles we have around but many feminists are perfectly okay with that because the state of affairs, and the way it's told in the media, often by these ladies themselves, showcases women, as a group, as more modern, attractive and intellectually at the helm - and still victimized! We really should be able to discuss those issues in a more dispassionate way but as long as many feminists just harp that "all men are pigs" and that every woman is trampled by every single man she encounters, that's not likely to happen.
This final paragraph has me thinking that you lack a lot
of baseline understanding about feminism - and feminists themselves. You've got concerns that have been addressed by the feminist community before and are actually a bit fallacious. Truthfully, the picture you're painting is one I used to hold about feminists, as well, and you've made similar arguments that I've made in the past. I know where you're coming from, but to turn things to "but what about the men!"
is simply a red herring. You've put feminists at odds with men all on your own -- it sounds to me as if you've made wanting equality for women mutually inclusive to 'it's okay to oppress other people on the way'. No feminist I have ever spoken with (...including myself?) has ever said "Men deserve to suffer, especially if we get ahead".
However, that's not even the point.
To disregard the fact that there are major steps that still need to be made towards equality for women in favor of showing that other people have problems is irrelevant. Racism is also an issue, but it doesn't do anyone much good to say "what about white people?". White people have troubles too, but they're not oppressed. Men have troubles too, but they are not oppressed. The magnitude of problems men (especially straight, white men) face on the whole are incomparable to the inequalities and blatant disrespect that women face, on the whole. This ties into male privilege, which is a major factor for feminism.
For the sake of clarity, feminist values hinge on these things:
Breaking down gender roles and stereotypes (including impossible/hard-to-attain standards of beauty)
Ending slut-shaming / sexual liberation for women
Ending the rape culture of America / victim-blaming
Breaking down male privilege
Educating others about objectification / sexism
Feel free to ask about any of these things (they're also covered in the links I'll provide below, I'd recommend going to those sources first as they explain it better than I probably can) and I'd be happy to discuss them as a spoke of the wheel of feminism, but those are central tenants to the whole cause.
Resources:Feminism 101 FAQFeminism Wish List (explicitly mentions trans* people)
REGARDING REBECCA WATSON...
The situation itself was not equatable to actual sexual assault or rape. Nobody is trying to say that, least of all Watson.
Is it possible that the man was entirely well-meaning? Of course it is. I'm sure he's a lovely chap. But these details are irrelevant. The situation is the crux of things here -- Rebecca had just expressed her desire to go to sleep after being at the bar at 4AM in a foreign country by herself
, and this guy didn't stop to consider that following her into an elevator -- alone, at 4AM, in a foreign country by herself
-- would make her uncomfortable. That's the essence of male privilege -- the ability to disregard (consciously or not) the expressed desire of a woman in the pursuit of romantic interest. The guy probably wasn't a rapist, he probably wasn't a nefarious creep, but when you're in the situation, he becomes what is called Schrodinger's Rapist.
You don't know. You don't know if he's just oblivious or if he's got malicious intent. You don't know he's a rapist until you've been raped -- or not. Which chance are you going to take?