I wrote this post while very very angry and feeling attacked.
Here is what guy said on Face Book:
“If you really are interested in talking to me about feminism than you’ll hear me use this word alot: Axiom. It is my attempt at a safe word to use when people start making up imaginary-scenario based, emotionally charged nonsense and try to pass it of as a logical argument. I value your perspective, wit, and intellect but when you say I lack perspective because I’m “privileged” my standard answer is good logic cuts through all illusions. I also don’t discount the need to be guided by emotions, but it seems the only emotion main stream feminists want men to feel these days is angst and guilt–they don’t seem to preach love and forgiveness.”
But let’s give credit where credit’s due… You have a critique of Feminism. Everyone stand up and give this guy a pat on the back. Obviously, your critique of feminism is a fresh new angle that Feminism hasn’t considered yet! You’ve got a special insight, and you’re just bursting to tell a feminist your thoughts and to have said feminist react with something along the lines of, “Oh my goodness, you’re right! We’ve all been doing it wrong the whole time! I’m so glad you figured that out for us!”
Let’s see what you’ve got.
Your first critique seems to be that “Feminism is illogical”. That it is made of fluff and feelings and illusion, and that you, with your superior scientific intellect, have a few corrections to make…
Feminism is not an institution. It is not a singular cohesive entity to which you can apply mathematical if-than logic chains. It is a conversation. It is an ongoing, constantly morphing and evolving amalgamation of thoughts, feelings and conversations. It is the shifting sand. It is made of individual people, struggling to understand their trauma, struggling to figure out how to heal. You gotta pay pretty close attention to the latest developments in order to have anything like an informed opinion.
When you sit back on your haunches and claim logical superiority, you are suspending your responsibility to listen for understanding. Listening for understanding is completely different from listening for the purpose of formulating a response. Listening for understanding isn’t about convincing another person to believe what you believe or debating the details of what happened. Listening for understanding is about understanding the other person’s experience and beliefs and accepting their experience. You have not demonstrated a desire to understand my thoughts on feminism and have me understand yours, you have demonstrated a desire to explain to me your thoughts on feminism. This is a textbook example of mansplaining.
If you want to have a serious discussion of gender politics, you’re gonna have to hang your precious logic on the wall and wade into the world of feelings, subjective experience, and Other People’s beliefs. Human relationships defy logic. Not because humans are inherently illogical, but because we are made of logic. Everything we do is a logical result of everything we did and everything that happened to us before this very moment. To that end, nothing anyone ever thinks or does can possibly be illogical. All thoughts and ideas that have ever been thought are a logical extension of every thought and idea that came before it. That is how human consciousness evolves. Very simple. Cause and effect.
Feminism (and the phenomenon of male privilege) are not up for debate. They are not theoretical concepts that someone thought up and decided to try and impose on reality. Feminism is a series of observations of individual people’s experience of reality. If it doesn’t make sense to you, then it is because you have not stepped far enough outside of yourself to clearly see the other person’s reality.
If Other People don’t make sense to you, it is only because you do not fully understand their perspective. If feminism doesn’t make sense to you, it is because you don’t understand feminism.
Your second critique: “It seems the only emotion main stream feminists want men to feel these days is angst and guilt–they don’t seem to preach love and forgiveness.”
You are demanding that feminists look in the mirror: take responsibility for the way that women perpetuate their own victim hood. Furthermore, you are asserting that Feminism itself perpetuates the victim/villain dichotomy, and that Feminism need to be nicer to men in order to escape that dichotomy.
You are demanding love and forgiveness from traumatized people who are desperately working to heal themselves. You are demanding that the victim take on the work of healing the villain. But you are not expressing a willingness to return the favor. You are not showing up at the table with your own shadow work. You are not taking responsibility for deprogramming the misogynist programming embedded in you as person growing up in the context of this culture. You are standing back, pointing the finger at Feminists saying, “you’re hurting me, stop hurting me,” without taking responsibility for the way in which you perpetuate your own reality, and the reality in which women are still threatened with physical violence from the men in their lives, on a daily basis.
This sets me off into a rage. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that you’ve never studied feminism. You don’t know the history of its intellectual development. You don’t know the difference between First Wave Feminism, or Second Wave, or Third. You’ve never grappled with an intellectual analysis of the impact of Cis-gendered white liberal feminism on women of color and trans-gendered people.
Because you’ve never bothered to actually study Feminism and understand it from the perspective of a feminist, the “Feminism” that you are familiar with is a disjointed smattering of media propaganda, personal interactions, and projections of your own insecurities. Your understanding of Feminism is in no way representative of any existing feminist person. It is a straw man that exists only in your head.
Your understanding of feminism is warped and anecdotal. You cannot effectively apply any logical argument structure to the understanding of feminism that you hold in your head because your data set is incomplete and illusory.
Do you know why your critique of feminism sets me into such a rage? Because you know who else has a critique of Feminism… Now hold onto your pants, this might be a shocker… OTHER FEMINISTS.
Because feminists are already doing this work. But we are doing it on our own terms, sorry, not the way you think it should be done. We’re doing it in the way that makes logical sense for us. Feminism doesn’t give a flying fuck what you feel. And it certainly isn’t obligated to make you feel the way you want to feel. It is not obligated to do or be anything for anyone. It just is. It is a collected reflection of the thoughts and ideas happening in individual people’s heads. It is a live, ongoing conversation. Feminism is a verb.
If you want to be able to participate in the conversation, you’d better be prepared to do your homework, asshole.
If women get angry and offended at you ever time you try to talk about feminism, the problem isn’t feminism, the problem is you. The problem is that you are aggressive and offensive in your demeanor, and that your actions put people on the defensive.
Listening for understanding is an act of faith. It is an act of vulnerability. It requires both participating parties to have a certain amount of mutual respect of the others’ boundaries. It is also hard work for everyone, because it is not how we are trained to think or communicate. It necessitates a certain baseline of trust, whether that’s communicated verbally or non-verbally.
So here you are, walking through the world, oblivious to the fact that you are being aggressive and setting the people around you on the defensive… and then you complain about how the people around you are not showering you with love and compassion.
The only person who’s job it is to save you from your demons is you. No one is coming to help you. You’re on your own.