I’m a heterosexual man. I always have been. I was a child in the 1970s and a teen in the 80s. I have made lots of mistakes in my life and my attitudes have evolved over time – I’m sure that despite my trying to live in a better way, I have attitudes and unconscious behaviours that are far from perfect in regards to equality. But I’ve never raped or assaulted women nor have I wanted to.
Rape, sexual assault and violence are an extreme end of a spectrum of disrespect and abuse and oppression of women. How can any objective person not see that? That there are links between everyday, humdrum inequalities and the kind of violence that the La Manada* case exemplifies.
* (CW: Extreme Sexual Violence)
I think that despite the failings of men like myself, society has changed dramatically in terms of how women are treated and it’s better for everyone that it has. I don’t know about calling myself a feminist – I don’t know if I qualify for that, and its not important, what is important is to support women who are feminists and who have seen that the achievement of equality is political. That feminism is and has been and will be crucial in achieving equality – equality still hasn’t been achieved but is a damn site nearer than it has been in history.
I would say to other heterosexual men, don’t listen to those whining little shits like Jordan Peterson and the other men who claim that feminism is their enemy. Support your feminist partners, mothers and daughters. Nobody has anything to gain by women “knowing their place” Not for them and certainly not for men. I find myself sickened by the lad culture, informed by pornography and entitlement. I find myself reading about men acting the victim – we are being emasculated, we are unsure of our role, we are oppressed by feminist ball-busters getting on at us for not doing things their way and I don’t recognise their complaints.
I don’t want to be saying #NotAllMen or trying to make out I’m a saint or anything. I just find that so many of the gains made over my 50 years on the planet are being attacked by a stupid but influential fringe of more or less alt right, conservatively minded, and often childish men who want women to be their fantasy objects, whether in a sexual sense or in terms of how we all interact.
The countries with the best levels of equality are also the happiest countries. Feminism is not just good for women it’s good for us too! And I know we have all met counter productive, overly ideological and annoyingly strident and judgemental feminists sometimes, but they are necessary too. Sometimes its just that they are telling truths we don’t like to hear, and like any other political position, the extreme fringes tend to shout louder than the rest – but sometimes the extreme fringe has a point too!
We heterosexual men should support and encourage the women in our lives to be political on their own behalf, even if it’s sometimes uncomfortable for us. And we need to not pretend we are victims, but take it like a man when we are criticised for behaviours that we sometimes don’t even see, but which are part of the construction of the inequality surrounding us.
There is a demo today, June 24th 2018, against the release of the La Manada rapists, at 6pm at the Spanish Consulate, North Castle Street, Edinburgh