Editor’s note: This article is also available in Swedish.
Someone posted a link on my Facebook page to comments the fabulous Karen Straughan made on a video on YouTube. I didn’t watch the video, so I don’t specifically know what she was responding to, but I found her comments to be very interesting. I’m going to reprint them at length and then try to answer her question.
This is Karen talking:
Here’s why I attack feminism: feminism bills itself as a progressive movement, yet it employs traditional conservative tropes in order to achieve its ends, and characterizes its appeals to the traditional as “progressive”.
Actual conservatism (whether you agree with it or not) is more honest. It says “women are incapable of X, therefore women need protection from Y, and men must provide that protection”. Feminism says “women are every bit as capable of X as men, but men are monsters whose agenda is to keep women subordinate, therefore women need protection from Y”.
Traditionalism says that sex is something men do to women, therefore rape is something men do to women. Feminism says that sex is something that men and women do to each other, but because of the malicious and malfeasant “Patriarchy” and all the men in charge of it and benefitting from it, rape is not just something men do to women, but a conscious process by which all men keep all women in a state of fear. Also, because of the political context, yada yada, it’s just not the same when a woman forces a man to have sex. Yes, we think men and women are equal, but it’s still different, because reasons, most of which have to do with how men created a system that oppresses women for the benefit of men.”
Conservatism said “women are temptresses, and it is a man’s responsibility to not succumb to the seductive nature of women, and if he does, then he’s at fault for defiling his own purity, oh and we’ll probably make him marry her.”
Feminism says “women are helpless victims with no sexual agency even though they should be allowed to climb random guys like fire poles and grind on them because how dare you shame her for expressing her sexuality, and it’s a man’s responsibility to not succumb to his own predatory and rapey nature, and if he does, then he’s a rapist and needs to rot in prison.”
Both ideologies hold men more to account than women. Both ruthlessly exploit conservative ideas about men and women. But only feminism says that it’s about treating both genders equally.
When we are fighting feminism, we’re often also fighting conservatism. But I’m sorry, a shotgun wedding is less bad than 20 years in prison. The acknowledgement that women are “temptresses” (that is: women have sexual agency) is better than the assertion that a woman in an abbreviated latex dress and stripper heels shouldn’t have to endure the “male gaze”. The claim that women are dependent on men and should be appreciative and respectful of the men they’re dependent on is better than the claim that women are independent and need men like fish need bicycles, while women rake in 75%+ of available government benefits that are funded disproportionately by men.
Marriage, even to a harpy, is better than being impoverished paying child support to a harpy who accused you of DV and got you jailed for it and who won’t let you see your kids, and who has you thrown in prison for non-payment because your DV record got you fired from your job, and then claims that she’s all about “equality” between the sexes. I’m sorry, but it is.
Feminism is traditionalism dialed up to 11. When we fight feminism, we’re fighting extreme traditionalism. Moderate traditionalism can wait.
She gets attacked pretty harshly by commenters who feel one must address feminism and traditionalism as mutually complicit in a culture that refuses to care about men. Karen goes on the explain her position a little more clearly:
I think perhaps my biggest beef with feminism is that it has convinced society in general that society hates women and has always hated women, when in reality all societies have largely served women. And they’ve essentially said that men created these societies that hate women for their own benefit and privilege.
This is a smear on the characters of men that I have a great deal of trouble tolerating, and even more so because it is not remotely true, and I doubt it has ever been true.
During the suffragette era, there were political cartoons that showed a sweating, distressed male politician sitting between two pretty young women, one wearing a sash that said “suffragette” and another wearing one that said “anti-suffragette”. Back when universal male suffrage was enduring its birthing pains, the UK put the question to women: do you want the vote? 70% of women said no. Yet Cenk Uygur acted in our interview as if there was no way male politicians would have given women the vote were it not for the suffragettes committing acts of domestic terrorism. He ignored the fact that women themselves opposed women’s suffrage, and that this was a major reason why women got the vote later than men. So literally, a government listening to women was a government that was oppressing them.
I guess what I’m getting at is that both traditionalism and feminism require that men provide for, protect, and sacrifice for women. Traditionalists call that loving women. Feminists call that hating women. This is why I oppose feminism first and foremost–all feminist roads lead to misogyny.
As for going back to traditionalism, I don’t think it’s possible. The toothpaste is out of the tube. As George RR Martin wrote once, the cow’s been milked, there’s no squirting the cream back up her udder.
Then Karen goes on to ask the million dollar question:
I never said traditionalists accept an individual man for what they are. I said “do X, Y and Z and you’ll get respect.”
The difference between traditionalists and feminists is that they both demand you do X, Y and Z. Traditionalists will respect you for it. Feminists will spit on you for it.
You can do what you want. I can understand why you’re upset with me. But I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not going to say there’s some world where you won’t be required to do X, Y and Z. I’m only saying that if you manage to do that, you should be respected rather than shit on.
Like I said to some in this thread, show me an alternative. The alternative depends on convincing society to care about men as much as they care about women. So show me how to make society do that. Show me it’s possible. Show me a society in the boonies in Nepal that made that work, even on a small scale. Show me that it can happen, on a visceral, emotional level.
Traditionalism is bad for men. Feminism is worse. If you were forced to choose between them, which would you pick?
Show me the alternative. How do we make society care about men as much as they care about women? Both Karen and another commenter mention the possibility of artificial wombs – remove women’s reproductive powers and suddenly the playing field gets a whole lot more level. There is something Matrix-like and creepy about the idea of gestating babies in machines, and obviously, that requires a massive amount of technology.
Instead of eradicating women’s reproductive powers, perhaps we should be considering making men’s reproductive powers equal to women’s? Birth control technology for men would go a long way towards achieving this, but we could affect this change tomorrow by changing two laws:
- Reproductive rights for men
- Legal presumption of shared custody
I’ve written before about legal parental surrender and allowing men to walk away from children they have contributed genetic material to, just as women may do, but having given the issue more thought, I am convinced that will only lead to increased hatred of men, not less. For a law surrounding reproductive rights to create a society that genuinely cares about men, the law needs more bite. It needs as much bite as the reproductive rights women currently enjoy.
No human child may be born without the on-going and affirmative consent of the adults involved.
Gender neutral and perfectly clear. To give birth to a child without the explicit consent of everyone who contributed genetic material should be a felony and the child should immediately be seized and placed for adoption by the state. In the beginning, to be sure, we are going to end up seizing a lot of babies under equal reproductive rights, but it will not take long for reality to sink in: make this choice and you will suffer for it.
And note that no one will be forced into abortions they do not want. If a woman falls pregnant with a child the father does not consent to, she will not be forced to abort that child. She is free to follow her conscience and give birth to that child. She will not be allowed to keep it, but she may give birth to it. Marital status will make no difference. If you do not have the consent of the father, the infant will be seized.
The most immediate effect of a law like this is that a market for male reproductive services emerges. A 35-year-old woman who no man on the planet has consented to reproduce with has a choice: she can pay a man to consent to parenthood. His consent means that he is obliged to support the resulting child so his fee will be:
Child support + ongoing expenses over 18 years + premium for looks, intelligence, height, etc.
That could be a very sweet deal, and men will suddenly be rather valued by women who choose to forgo any efforts towards attracting men into a mutually beneficial pair-bond.
Wanna be a bitch? Have at it. If you want kids, you will pay for it.
There’s step one in creating a society that values men: bring their reproductive value up to the same value as women’s by prohibiting the use of their genetic material without explicit consent. Now on to step two: the presumption of shared parenting. Just as men and women are afforded equal reproductive rights, so too shall they be accorded equal parenting rights.
The genetic offspring of two individuals is the rightful custodial responsibility of both equally.
Wanna break up your relationship? Have at it. But you will not take the children with you.
This also creates a market. Let’s say a woman whom no man has consented to have a child with desperately wants children. She will have to prove her worth to the man by parenting his existing children brilliantly. This is gender neutral, of course. A man who wishes to have more children will also have to parent a woman’s existing children very well to prove his worth.
Both of these laws instantly provide men with something they currently lack under feminist acknowledgements: worth. Of course, men are inherently worthwhile as human beings – I am simply highlighting the fact that feminists ascribe them no worth, and describing that truth, as Karen notes, is not endorsing it.
Women have gotten away with shit from time immemorial because we have the babies. No society can live without us. It is the sole source of our value and always will be. A society in which all women are brilliant engineers and not one of them will have children is a dead society.
Let’s give men the same value.
No human child may be born without the express and on-going consent of the adults involved.
The genetic offspring of two individuals is the rightful custodial responsibility of both equally.
Reproductive equality is the key to making a society that cares about men as much as women. Equality leads to more equality?
Lots of women ain’t gonna like that.
Ed. note: this post originally appeared here and is reprinted with permission.]