Megan Milanese is a feminist with a BA in Women’s Studies. She thinks its great when men identify as feminists. However, her idea of a male feminist is a guy who will simply sit down, shut up, and do as he’s told by the women who know better. She’s totally ok with being labeled a man-hater, but misandrist is probably more descriptive and slightly more polite. So, what’s it take to qualify as a male feminist?
First and foremost, he may never interrupt a woman when she’s speaking. She claims this behavior is rude (it is) and is more common in men than women. To support this claim she cites an apparently unpublished study (published only online) from 2000, citing research from the mid 1970’s to late 1990’s that demonstrates that not only concludes that gender is a factor, but status was as well. Of course Ms. Milanese doesn’t mention this.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”left”]her assertion that gender-based slurs can only be used against women is ludicrous. While women may be denigrated by language such as “whore, bitch, or slut” men may also be denigrated with language like “bastard, fag, creep, womanizer, pig, etc.[/quote] Further, the study cited appears to be a literature review and not an actual study and it cites primarily only studies that support its conclusion.
Nevertheless, the paper contained one quote that appears to indicate that this is not necessarily due to “male dominance” or “male privilege.” “Women’s language was described as weak, unassertive, tentative, and women were presented as losers, as victims. (Coates 1998:413).”
In this light, the tendency of men to assert themselves more than women may be a by-product of feminist-victim ideology wherein both sexes view women as losers and victims.
The author concludes “There is evidence that the vitality factor in the female subculture is increasing resulting in growing assertiveness… Gender and status rather than gender or status will be the determinant categories.” (Kunsman, 2000). In other words as we progress out of the 1970’s and into the 21st century, women are becoming more confident and assertive and the tend is expected to continue. The difference may not have been due to any discrimination or gender bias, but to a lack of confidence by and in the women entering into formerly male dominated workplaces.
Milanese continues with the “sit down and shut up” directive for male feminists. A male feminist should never “mansplain.” According to her this is condescension that occurs when a man explains something to a woman that she thinks she already knows all there is to know on a particular subject.
What I find interesting about this position is her condescending attitude towards men as if men cannot have a conflicting view of reality. Further chuckles are had when she asserts that men were not necessary for feminists to win the “vote, Title IX, Roe v Wade, legal access to contraceptives, a single woman elected to office, the small narrowing of the wage gap that has occurred.” Funny thing, if men had not changed laws, policies, procedures, rules, working conditions, and been willing to step aside, what would have been gained by feminists?
Then of course she objects to gender-based slurs. Although I occasionally find them useful, for the most part I have to agree. But her assertion that gender-based slurs can only be used against women is ludicrous. While women may be denigrated by language such as “whore, bitch, or slut” men may also be denigrated with language like “bastard, fag, creep, womanizer, pig, etc.
Then there is her sexist view of the “tone argument.” “However, when men use it against women it is especially pernicious.” Why? Because somehow this becomes the use of “male privilege” to silence women and win the argument. Funny thing, righteous indignation (the tone argument) tends to have that effect no matter who is using it, man or woman.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”] To be hired as a male feminist you must sit down, shut up, do as you’re told, castrate yourself, and prepare to be abused. Even then, I doubt you’ll have done enough.[/quote] Now that the “sit down and shut up” portion is behind us, we come to the “do as you’re told” argument. She begins by chastising feminist groups that place men in positions of leadership “before he’s ready for them.” The argument against this practice is sort of like the argument against affirmative action. Men aren’t qualified to hold such positions and shouldn’t be put there as a PR strategy. Oddly, she does seem to be arguing against the feminist exploitation of the male, though she seems to think it’s the other way around. Her message to the male feminist is “get to the back of the bus.”
And what about the menz? For Milanese, feminism is by, for, and about women. Men and their issues don’t matter. So much for equality. Men’s problems are their own fault. “It is a systemic devaluation of femininity that creates the rigidly defined masculinity by which men must abide. If men have a problem with masculinity as it currently exists, perhaps they should consider increasing the social status and viability of femininity in all people.” If we worship the feminine, all men’s problems will simply disappear. It’s simply a matter of giving up misogyny. Besides, men problems pale in significance to women’s problems. “So yes, men have issues. However, in no way, shape, or form are they of the same caliber as the problems and oppression facing women.”
[box icon=”none”]And of course, men must put down their pictures of scantily clad women while at feminist rallies. Male sexuality is verboten. To think of a woman in a sexual manner is to objectify and degrade her. Never mind that sexuality is the basis for all human interaction. [/box]
It is the most basic of all social needs and ensures the survival of the species. Men and women are biologically programmed to be sexual beings. To view another person as a sexual being is to view that person in the most human way possible. It is anything but degrading.
Then the male feminist must realize that the feminists they work with don’t trust them. Males, feminists or not, are seen as rapists and violent or emotional abusers and of course, a man “has no right to tell a woman that her distrusting attitude toward men irrational.” This is an issue of entitlement and “No one is entitled to another’s trust.” But then she claims that the male feminist must “be understanding” which is in itself an offering of trust, which she claims no one is entitled to. But obviously the woman is entitled to the man’s trust, regardless of his past experience and history. Her past matters, his does not.
The male feminist must be a “mangina.” Yes, she pretty much says this. He must endure being called this because women have all endured sexual assault, violence, and verbal abuse for “standing up for their rights.” Although she stops short of requiring the risk of life and limb, she believes the male feminist must be willing to be abused.
And finally, the male feminist is not entitled to his own feelings. If he is pissed off by her article, he cannot be a feminist and should be expelled from the movement.
It’s probably a good thing that I am not a feminist. As she says, feminism should be “large, powerful, and diverse. But obviously it should not be so diverse as to include half the population of the planet and not nearly powerful enough to equally address the needs and concerns of that half the population. However, that neglected and cast out half should be willing to give up its masculinity on behalf of feminism. So there you have it. To be hired as a male feminist you must sit down, shut up, do as you’re told, castrate yourself, and prepare to be abused. Even then, I doubt you’ll have done enough.