So, I’ve been thinking again…
Lately, the great Feminist comeback to criticism of Feminism has been going through a renaissance, courtesy of #Womenagainstfeminism. It runs like this: “X complaint isn’t really about Feminism,read a dictionary.”. I really had to restrain myself to keep this as neutral sounding as I’ve seen it (all of twice), so as not to be accused of straw-manning it. However, it’d be remiss of me not to mention having seen it delivered along with a steaming plate of bile…
So, what’s the problem here? Is everyone completely misunderstanding Feminism, except Feminists? Are they simply lacking PR savvy? Or are the evil forces of Misogyny, corralled and harnessed by the evil Patriarchy just too good at negatively influencing the masses against the pure, hallowed ladies of the Feminist movement?
Or could it be something completely different? I humbly submit an analogy that may shed some light on this conundrum. Say you’re a globally recognised and heavily consumed beverage company. You spend a lot of money and time advertising your product (Let’s call it “Drink”, for reasons that should be clear to all), and on marketing and so forth. Surely that’s the only reason people like it, right? “Drink” is so heavily advertised, as “The drink that promotes equality, and fights thirst.”. So that’s all, right? A simple message, no evil global conspiracy working against you, everything is sorted, right?
But one day, an accident happens at a factory. A batch of “Drink” is tainted with borax. Luckily, no-one dies, but people are injured. What are we (the board of “Drink” inc.) to do? Well, what any sensible organisation does. Apologise, work out who went wrong and were, roll a few heads. Whether this is done well and sincerely or just pantomime for the masses doesn’t matter (sadly) in the short term. All that matters is that we go out there and make it plain that we will fix this. Those hurt get medical care, or money thrown at them. Someone at the plant where it happened loses their job, and are forever disassociated from “Drink” in all ways. Seriously, companies that don’t do this don’t tend to last that long.
Why? Because apologies matter. Because showing you realise harm occurred and don’t support it matters. Because perceptions of intent matter. The difference between someone who accidentally stepped on your toes and some prick who tried to crush your foot? An apology, and a timely one at that. Your face, your brand, your responsibility.
Now, I accept that Feminism is a “broad church” and all that, but so do Feminists who say that. By saying that, they admit to being part of the brand. By allowing some under their banner to harm others and make public statements that offend, hurt, damage and annoy, well, they’re not doing their jobs. By putting the blame on (and all of their effort into blaming) those who have been hurt, you are the company that leaps to screaming at people “You should know it’s not “Drink”, drink says “Does not dissolve esophagus” on the can!”, rather than looking at why they’re now publicly condemning your brand. The whole “I didn’t say it and don’t agree with it, ergo it’s not Feminism” argument isn’t only false, it’s insulting. THIS IS YOUR BRAND, THESE THINGS WERE SAID ON YOUR WATCH. People with your banner hurt people every day. People under your banner sling gendered insults, abuse rape victims, abuse victims of child genital mutilation, downplay the suffering of DV victims. You know, all those things the dictionary definition claims you fight against. While you’re fighting the one true evil of “The Patriarchy”, you also stop do deny the pain of those who are treated daily in the same exact ways you stated no-one deserves to be treated. Every time you take aim at detractors of Feminism, you real Feminists stand between victims and their abusers and defend the abusers.
Seriously, it’s coming to the point where Catholic priests are going to be making Feminist jokes, just to feel better about their chosen allegiance. Sure, not all Feminists abuse innocent men, or deny wrongdoings, or belittle women who’ve used the choices they have to choose anything other than the only acceptable option (as far as Feminism is concerned). Sadly, not many (if any) Feminists actively decry these behaviors while they happen under the same name, and same banner. I didn’t bring up the Catholic Church by accident before. We’ve all seen how a large organisation that claims to be working for the good of all somehow manages to protect it’s own at the expense of those it’s meant to help. So, why should we believe them when they say they have our best interests at heart, but put bad people on their own side above innocents from the outside? In other words, what makes you think everything that has come out of Feminism was something that was always for the good of everyone? This is the only movement that never makes mistakes, is always perfect, and never deals with repeat offenders. Feminism is currently no better than the Catholic Church if the church was still denying anything bad had ever happened!
So, Feminism, if you’re wondering how to fix this, look at what you think would work for the Catholic church right now, and put down the stones and get out the windex, cuz that glass house you all live in could do with a spritzing…
Written by Jacob Shaftoe:
Jacob Shaftoe is an odd little duck. Sometimes he writes poetry, sometimes he packs trucks, and he definitely prefers the company of free thinkers to that of ideologues. He will however, engage with either because we’re still all humans just trying to make sense of a ridiculous world. Through dealing with his own mental health problems in the past he has learned a lot about himself and about people in general. He’s a sensitive man and lives in Sydney, which is proof that he’s not yet entirely sane. He assists in updating the Facebook page