A (not so) long, long time ago, I was proofreading the final copy of a magazine (I won’t name it, for obvious reasons) as a favour, and I was happily going about my business until one of the articles (purportedly written by a self-professed “feminist”) made me want to cover my face with my hands to hide my wailing soul, and then migrate to the most deserted, liveable place on Earth (that’s Tristan da Cunha, by the way, in case you were wondering) and never have contact with another human being ever again.
The said article’s headline read:
ALL MEN ARE EGOTISTICAL AND SELF-CENTRED TYRANTS
The article went on in pretty much the same vein, generalising and stereotyping men as uniformly awful, sexist and childish creatures.
Oh, the irony. Let’s be serious here—feminism was never ever about subjecting men to the same sexism women face from patriarchal conventions and attitudes! I wonder how many feminism pioneers have been rolling over in their graves. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ongoing wave of sexism masquerading as feminism causes a feminist pioneers zombie apocalypse.
So I looked at the Chief Editor and went, “Uhm, Mr X? I’m not too sure about where this article’s heading … Doesn’t it sound sexist to you?”
Mr X looked hyper worried at the mention of “sexist”, snatched the article from my hands and started poring over it, word by painful word.
Exactly forty-seven minutes and thirty-five seconds (and two strong coffees, three doughnuts and one very antsy me) later, Mr X looked up from the papers strewn over his desk, and started squinting at me.
I tried to move away from his very uncomfortably nervous sort of gaze—I was starting to sweat. Did I do something wrong? But just then, Mr X cleared his throat and managed a squeaky, “Are you against feminism, Geri? ‘Cause if you are, then I don’t think we can have you helping—”
“No! Of course I’m not against feminism! Goodness, X! What were you thinking!” I jumped in hastily.
“But you disagree with the article?”
“But you say you’re not against feminism?” Mr X didn’t believe me.
By this point I was close to tears.
I mean, seriously, come on. Sexism against men by stereotyping them all as entitled and self-absorbed tyrants, even in the name of “feminism”, is—guess what—still sexism! True feminism is anti-discrimination. Feminism’s pioneers fought for sociopolitical equality for women, not for discrimination against men. Capish?
These days, almost everyone just seems to nod along to reverse sexist rhetoric spouted by pseudo-feminists, thinking that to disagree with reverse sexism would mean they’d be labelled as sexist and discriminatory. But why? People seem to think that they’re being “progressive” by blindly agreeing with anything with a seemingly noble label (like feminism) slapped on it. Really? Really?
Where is our spine?
In being afraid to disagree with militant pseudo-feminists, we’re setting back the work of feminist pioneers like Mary Wollstonecraft and Elizabeth Cady Stanton by a few hundred years.
Where is our heart?
Feminist pioneers—the ones who fought for women’s right to vote, who passionately supported the abolitionist cause, who, in short, fought hard for an egalitarian society based on merit—who basically helped to build today’s society, they paved the way for us. They, these wonderfully courageous people who dared to challenge inequality, are the ones who have enabled us to share in their vision of a world where discrimination, be it gender, race, age or nationality, isn’t a factor.
Feminism, at its purest form when it first took root, is all about anti-discrimination and fighting for a world where everyone is treated equally. So how can people who subject men to sexist stereotypes call themselves feminists?
And yet, we’ve gone and thrown all of that away in this generation.
Where is our grit?
Perhaps we all need to be reminded.
To carve out a path where there was none is a daunting task. It’s like getting lost in the middle of a thick forest with no trail to be seen. Where, and how, do you go on from there?
To go where no one else dares takes a certain amount of courage and faith.
To break ceilings and challenge the status quo with innovation necessarily requires grit and a skin thick enough to withstand any possible ridicule. Because let’s face it: if we’re going to go where no one else has gone, or is prepared to go, we’re going to have to face the naysayers who will laugh at us.
To do all of that, to break barriers, to lay the foundations of today’s society, to do what was once thought impossible, to be the first to say “Let’s do this”—basically, to be a pioneer—this is daunting.
After all, feminist pioneers like Mary Wollstonecraft sure got trolled and hated on a lot when advocating for women’s right to equal treatment in the 18th century, when everyone thought she was crazy for calling for equal treatment.
And yet the direction that we’ve now taken with feminism… We’re practically taking a wrecking ball to the foundations the pioneers have laid down for us.
Because this is what people are missing—reverse sexism is still sexism.
So where do we stand? Where do you stand?
Are we going to be the kids at the playground who get pushed over by the mean, big kids, and then decide to bully these bullies right back? I sure hope not. ‘Cause that’d be like hitting a heavy ball hanging on a chain, and then having it hit you right back in the face. That’s painful.
True feminism may not mean anything to these pseudo feminists, but it does mean something to the rest of us.
Well, for now, I’m going to keep pointing out the hypocrisy in pseudo-feminist articles and edit the sexism out of it, armed with my ridiculously strong coffee and obesity-causing doughnuts. That is, until I go stark raving mad and move to Tristan da Cunha, or until the day comes when I don’t need to.
(But I wouldn’t hold my breath, if I were you.)
P/S: I know, I know… I usually talk about editing and more technical stuff, but I really needed to get this out. As editors (and writers! and artists!), we have to be mindful and sensitive, to be careful we don’t become the monsters we rage against in our overly zealous quest to condemn.