Posts Tagged ‘ feminism ’

Stop Degrading Male Feminists. We’re on Your Side.

Here’s what I don’t enjoy…

Being called “pussy-whipped” by men who accuse me of faking my enthusiasm for gender equality as a cheap way of “attracting chicks”; and, at the same time, being shut down by a ‘mansplaining’ charge by women who disagree with me, as if my gender automatically invalidates everything I write on the subject of feminism. I acknowledge that women have better insight on problems affecting women than men do (duh), but that does not invariably each one of them an expert on the feminist theory. It’s like when my conservative grandmother says she “doesn’t need a lecture from a man”, when I challenge her outdated view that women must always know how to cook.

I acknowledge my male privilege, and the fact that I sometimes get more attention for saying essentially the same thing that female writers have been saying for over a decade. But that is not my fault. I didn’t ask for this bias towards me. I’m trying to use my male privilege to undermine male privilege itself, the best I can.

From the conversations I’ve had with certain female feminists, I’ve come out wondering if I should just delete all that I’ve written on my blog as a (gasp!) ‘male’, and simply replace the text with links to articles of Jessica Valenti or other female feminists. Whenever I find myself in a discussion on women’s issues, I should pretend I’m illiterate, whimper and point my paw at the nearest woman, because fuck me if I have an observation to make as an actual writer.

Several days ago, I got into a Twitter-tussle with Eiynah Nicemangoes, the creator of ‘My Chacha is Gay’, whose work I have much respect for. That respect was somewhat lost when a post appeared on her blog “highlighting the asshole brand of feminism”. Basically, the blog rails out against feminists like myself who objected to the Rosetta scientist’s sexist shirt (#shirtgate) in November 2014. How dare these “asshole” feminists see anything wrong with a shirt with pictures of giant-breasted female archetypes plastered over it, that too while he’s practically representing the scientific team that landed the probe on a comet?

On Facebook, I confronted Eiynah. I challenged her blog, stating that the shirt was indeed sexist. Not “stop-the-planet-and-hang-this-scientist” sexist, but sexist nonetheless as it reinforces the idea of women as sexual objects. Frustratingly, her first line of defense was pointing out my manhood. Turns out, I was ‘mansplaining’ to her. Mic drop. How dare I, a man, challenge her views on feminism?

Admittedly, I once took pride in calling myself a “sex-positive” feminist too, as Eiynah does. My views have since evolved, thanks mostly to radical feminist bloggers like Heather McNammara, and a lot of other wonderful people (mostly female feminists) on social media who patiently put up with my ignorance and rudeness. Unlike Eiynah and several other feminists I’ve met since then, they did not use my gender to devalue or disqualify my views on feminism, but carefully considered the quality of my arguments, and the accuracy of what I said.

More recently, I’ve met feminists who’ve vociferously defended niqab, and implicitly, other self-imposed burdens like breast implants and extreme cosmetic treatment; with a basic argument that I, as a man, am not allowed an opinion on what women do or not do with their bodies. Essentially, what it means is I have no right to identify these behaviors as symptoms of the patriarchal culture/

This false sense of superiority, in my opinion, stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism as a battle of the sexes; a Boys vs Girls situation, rather than a larger fight against the patriarchal culture which transverses gender boundaries (so to speak).

Yes, women can have patriarchal mindsets too. Calling yourself a ‘feminist’ while being a woman, does not ipso facto make you right. I can just imagine being in 1917, having a conversation with the group of *women* campaigning against women’s voting rights; and then slighting me for ‘mansplaining’ to them the need for women’s suffrage.

As a gay person, I don’t try to invalidate your speech with a blind “straightsplaining” charge, wherever I disagree with your methods.on fighting homophobia. That word means something; it’s not just there to make me feel superior to a straight opponent, no matter how valid her or his argument may be. Likewise, I expect not to have my participation in the feminist movement to not be devalued simply because of my gender.

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This Blog Post is Against Our Culture (and is sponsored by Jews)

The demonic child of Mr. Nail and Madame Chalkboard is a term used repeatedly in Pakistan to justify any kind of censorship and moral policing, however ludicrous.

The term, “against our culture” is a curious little brain-bugger. What precisely is “our” culture, and who among us has the privilege to define it? Is it at all possible that your culture may be different from mine, and that it’s unfair to use your government as a platform to promote one kind of culture as opposed to the others?

I’ve frequently been mocked as “excessively Westernized”, which is now a badge I wear with some pride. It’s not that I believe the Western cultures are without their faults, but I do concede that they’re better.

Pakistanis, and I fear this is true for most third world countries, are unable to differentiate between foreign cultures and socially-advanced cultures. The Western nations are often scowled at for their acceptance of gay rights, gender equality and many other concepts that we find outlandish. And an attempt to import these concepts into countries like Pakistan, generates an abundance of angry, full-caps tweets from around the world, hash-tagged with ‘racism’.

The thing is that there’s nothing “Western” about these ideas. These nations share a horrific history of  treating gay people as inglorious HIV-dispensers, and women as decorative commodities. These nations have suffered through a plague of socially-acceptable slut-shaming (not that the disease has been entirely eradicated yet). Traditional America has been a nightmare for transgender people, so has old Europe.

What I’m saying is that what the culture of today’s Pakistan is not too dissimilar to the culture of America in the 70’s. The difference is that they evolved past the hate, the exclusionism, racism, and while they still need to evolve much further, they deserve credit for what they’ve achieved.

Meanwhile, we haven’t evolved enough. Watching the bikini-wearing, gay-accepting, alcohol-chugging and even marijuana-smoking culture of the West is, for Pakistanis, like gazing into a crystal ball at our social future 30, 50 or 100 years from now on. That is, if we survive long enough to allow the transition, and not start devolving into a complete mullah state.

Most of what we see is not a foreign culture, but a ‘developed’ culture.

..which is a message for the people of the West too. I am hopelessly in love with Pakistan’s famous truck art; the Islamic architecture; Pakistani heritage sites; our musical tablas and sitars; countless colorful, wondrous things about various kinds of lifestyles that people live in Pakistan. Just as I admire mardi gras parades, American folk music, hamburgers, European films…

But never, for a minute, tolerate injustice, homophobia, or gender inequality in the name of multiculturalism. You too must be able to draw the distinction between a foreign culture and an outdated culture. Resist the shariah court, or any other kind of religious court that delivers verdicts based on archaic laws that are an insult to human dignity.

On Nude Protests: Open Letter to MuslimahPride and Friends

Dear Muslimahs,

You deny that you’re oppressed. That may very well be true, but consider the following:

In the early 1900’s, an organization known as the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOW) was operating unflaggingly to prevent women, such as your yourselves, from being able to vote. Interestingly, this anti-suffrage movement was being spearheaded by prominent women like Mrs. Arthur Dodge and Mrs. Crannell. These women too did not believe that they were being oppressed by being denied their voting rights.

Femen, or feminists in general, are not opposed to your right to wear hijab, or cover yourself up however you please. We do have concerns about this kind of self-imposed clothing restrictions that men don’t have to put up with, but forcing you not to wear such clothing would defeat the purpose of feminism. Your right to wear these garments has never been in question.

But know this..

Pardah (conservative clothing) is never really your ‘choice’ unless you have the right to refuse pardah also. Claiming that it is your choice is like standing outside a closed mall saying that you “choose” not to shop there. What other option do you have?

If a community where relieving yourself of pardah would be perceived as a green signal for harassment, or even get you in trouble with the law, you are not choosing pardah. You are submitting to it. The only question here is, are you submitting willingly or unwillingly?

Please repudiate the notion that the Western idea of gender equality is different from yours; that is is acceptable for Western women to be able to wear what they wish, but you’d rather not have that freedom because you’re Muslims. Besides, the movement is not just about you. It is about countless women out there who are forced to follow Islamic values against their will.

There’s a growing paranoia among the Muslim world that the Western feminists are marching in to rip the hijabs off your heads. That is not how this is going to be. Nobody is promoting nudity! That is simply an art of protest that screams: “My body, my choice”.

Lastly, you may be concerned about FEMEN’s alleged disrespect towards your religion. You need to understand that your religion is consistently used for moral dictatorship and causing tremendous suffering to the cultural and religious minorities in Islamic countries. It is impossible to condemn what happened to women like Aliaa Elmahdy and Amina Tyler, without addressing the ideology that inspires such problems again and again.

I acknowledge that Islam is not a monolithic faith, and that your interpretation of it may not be the same as that of the Islamists who threatened to stone Tyler to death for her nude protest. But you’re missing the point FEMEN is trying to make with provocative statements like “Fuck your morals”; it is that we should not have to debate over the interpretations of religion to reach a conclusion that enforcing our values on others is just plain unacceptable.

We, as civilized and tolerant human beings, should be able to decide upon that using our conscience alone, regardless of what your religion has to say about it.

To each, her own. And yes, this freedom is for you too.

Nude Protests: Is Feminism Different for Different Cultures?

It’s understandable why the Islamists would protest against FEMEN’s ‘jihad’ campaign. It escapes me why any educated liberal, in the Western or the Muslim world, would support the #MuslimahPride on this.

Western feminists of the Jezebel variety have, through their opposition to FEMEN, set an example that their cherished concepts of gender-equality and freedom are not applicable to the Muslim world. Being able to wear what you want is a Western-thingy, and preaching the same to the Muslim world would be “culturally insensitive”. Note that FEMEN members have employed the same tactics when protesting against the Catholic Church’s misogynistic policies.

For Western liberals, it has become fashionable to revere foreign cultures as it allows them to feel more open-minded. In their outstanding ignorance, they often become apologists for cultures and ideologies that are consistently inspiring unspeakable crimes against humanity, and women in particular.

This is but the only conclusion one may draw from the act of supporting Amina Tyler for nude protests and cursing FEMEN for doing exactly the same!

The peaceful religious people being offended by Femen’s protest are the theist apologists who do not have the decency to flatly disown a source of unfathomable suffering to the world.

It’s those who are still mucking about with translations and interpretations and no-true-Scotsman fallacy, trying to unlink themselves from all the damage being generated by the ideology they revere. Those who are more enthusiastic about defending their ‘precious little believies‘ than defending human freedom and well-being. That’s the reason the MuslimahPride group is practically teeming with self-righteous assholes, generally more concerned about women’s modesty than the suffering inflicted upon countless women like Amina Tyler.

Being an anti-Islamist doesn’t make you anti-Muslim by default. Take it from a liberal Pakistani man with Muslim parents, mostly Muslim friends, and a whole bunch of Muslim heroes, none of whom I intend to offend by my criticism of their religion.

If Todd Akin ever issues a statement, “Women are a tilth for men to plant seeds in however they please” (Quran, 2:223), heads will explode from London to New York. Nobody will excuse this incident fearing that an attack on Akin would be an offense to all his political supporters because, you know, not all his supporters endorse this statement. No liberal would defend him saying, “Oh, you’re misinterpreting Mr. Akin’s words” or “You need to read all of Akin’s statements ever made before you decide whether you like him or not”.

At least in theory, there should be no confusion among us that these are harmful ideologies unworthy of our defense. Whether we choose to tread lightly or act diplomatically to safeguard the world from them, without endangering the peaceful Muslims, is another matter.

Am I Feministy Enough for You?

Turns out, I’m not just 102 85 kilograms of feminsm. I’m many things.

I’m a man. So even though I recognize that women are far more commonly mistreated than men, I am not dismissive about the existence of misandry either. I despise the term “reverse-sexism”, because it implies that discrimination against women is different from that against men. It’s all “sexism”, plain and simple. If you rant about how not all women love the color pink, and end your speech with “Urgh, men and their stupid obsession with sports!”, you’re being sexist.

Furthermore, I’m a man of science, thus not a fan of the idea that any study whose conclusion does not fall perfectly in line with what’s considered politically correct, must be false (and the scientist behind the study must be a rape-apologist).

Feminism (fem-uh-niz-um) is a movement advocating social, political, and all other rights and opportunities for women equal to those of men. Up till here, I’m feminist to the bone. It is not a prudish rampage. It is not a movement of man-haters, porn-haters, science deniers or of those who pity or judge all sex workers for their line of work.

Unfortunately, the movement seems to have been overrun by the Jezebel crowd and when I call myself a feminist, I’m often stereotyped as being an angry, man-hating, sex-phobic person. I’m many things, but not that.

As theists have traditionally used the term “God did it” to explain everything without having to prove anything, many feminists have latched on the term “patriarchal society” as an explanation to all their woes. The feminist theory asserts that there are no real psychological and behavioral differences between men and women, and all observed differences in the way males and females behave is the result of society teaching us to do so.

Science asks why the society became patriarchal in the first place. The common feminist explanation, I can only imagine, is that Bam-Bam I, the High King of the Cave People, ordered all men to go out and hunt, and leave women to cook and clean inside the caves. And this law has been followed ever since. The scientific idea, is that the way society has become structured today in a patriarchal form, is the result of genuine biological differences between men and women.

Now if you read the above sentence and went, “Oh? So you’re saying that men should be allowed to rape women because its in their nature?! That gender-based discrimination is natural and shouldn’t be fought against?” then you’re among the stupider variety of feminists who thinks that a natural explanation of behavioral differences among men and women, is necessarily a validation of harmful discriminatory attitudes and stereotyping.

It isn’t justification. It isn’t apologia. It’s merely scientific inquiry.

Like it or not, men ARE hornier than women and they DO have greater sexual needs. Study after study has proven this fact, and it explains why you’re more likely to find female prostitutes than males.

Does this mean that men must be exempted from controlling their sexual urges? No. Does it mean that we may need to restructure our system that could more easily accommodate people with greater sexual needs (which may include women too) instead of forcing them to battle their instincts out of an artificial sense of propriety? Probably so. Note that sexual assault is not a matter of “propriety” but an actual crime that needs to be prevented no matter what, to maintain social order and ensure prosperity of human race as a whole.

Women ARE more socially aggressive than men, and that’s a proven fact too. Does this mean that all women, in everyday life, must be treated as back-biters? No. Because the study only shows how an average female can be expected to act. It doesn’t show that every woman is more socially aggressive than every man. But is it justified for Jezebel or any other feminist banshee group to deny this research on political grounds? No to that too.

Feminism cannot go very far if it continues to be at war with science, particularly evolutionary psychology, seeing it as a threat to their awkward doctrine that men and women are behaviorally, psychologically the same, and any observed differences are the result of the patriarchal society alone.

Feminism needn’t be that convoluted, and the aim should be simple: Ensure equal rights and opportunities for men and women, regardless of any behavioral/psychological differences that there may be. Because not every man is an “average male” or every woman an “average female”.

Another Blog Post About Bras and Boobs

Feminists, anti-feminists and plain horny people who stumbled upon this piece by accident (no images for you, shoo!), welcome back!

I came across yet another article on bra-burning today, written by a Facebook friend of mine. If you don’t have time to read the entire article about how bras are an invention of a patriarchal society, allow me to summarize it.

One garment to rule them all
One garment to find them
One garment to bring them all
And in Darkness, bind them!

While that captures the essence of the diatribe, I would like to respond a little more specifically to the points raised by the author.

The principal concern is that bras are meant to sexualize a non-sexual body part. This includes training-bras. You can tell that the author’s a male by his obliviousness of what boundless (yes, I use that word most deliberately) joy is to go out jogging with the breasts flying all over the place. In this case, at least, bras have more to do with aerodynamics and comfort than male-domination.  In case you’re asking, I’m a guy too but I have man boobs, so I’m at least partially qualified to make this assessment (not that you needed to know that).

If breasts are a non-sexual body part, then I don’t see why a bra-burning feminist should consider a person ogling at a woman’s breasts
as “sexual” harassment. Perhaps the next time a person says “Excuse me, miss?”, he could knock on the knockers instead of tapping on the shoulder, or any other non-sexual body-part. If the goal is to ‘unsexualize’ the female breasts, then why continue to treat them as sexual objects yourselves?

The author – no, wait. I think the term ‘random-guy-with-access-to-the-keyboard’ is more appropriate. The guy spices up his argument with the claim that bras can cause breast cancer. As a doctor, I’ve never heard of this (probably because sexist men control medical science). I couldn’t find any credible study on this on the internet either. I’m guessing this is no more of a hazard than a tight neck-tie is for males, as it causes throat problems, cardiovascular issues and deaths due to entanglement in moving machine parts.

It pisses me off whenever feminists start suggesting that people can be “taught” what they should or shouldn’t be sexually attracted to. This polemic flies awfully close to the gay conversion hypothesis, which I have a personal disgust for due to my bisexual orientation.

Listen, folks, if you could actually teach a person what to be sexually attracted to, gays would not exist! I cannot imagine anyone in our exquisitely homophobic societies teaching young boys to be attracted to abs, muscular pecs or facial hair. Yet it happens! It is obvious that when it comes to sexual preferences, nature trumps nurture. It is extremely unlikely that men’s affection for women’s breasts is something that has developed artificially.

While it’s not possible to absolutely rule out environmental influences and the epigenetic triggers, a woman likes what she likes, and a man likes what he likes. Stop trying to make people feel bad about liking the color orange when the socially acceptable choice is blue, especially when this preference deals no real psychosocial harm, and only perceived damage.

A Feminist and an Evolutionary Psychologist Walk into a bar…

There are a lot of people radical feminists hate (not unreasonably so, in most cases) and frequently argue with. But if you ever manage to find a feminist and an evolutionary psychologist at the same table, get some popcorn.

Feminists and evolutionary psychologists make natural enemies for the following reason:

Feminism asserts that the gender stereotypes and current mindsets about gender roles, are the product of the culture of patriarchy. Evolutionary psychology postulates that the way human societies are structured today, is the natural result of our evolution. In other words, it’s not the culture of patriarchy that gave birth to gender roles and stereotyping. It’s our innate, gender-stereotypical behavior that generated the patriarchal culture.

Evolutionary psychology explains, though not necessarily encourages, gender stereotyping as a natural behavior. Here’s why:

Take, for instance, these popular notions that feminists aren’t too pleased with:
– Women are easily intimidated, while men are stronger and more aggressive.
– Men have greater sexual needs than women

Almost universally in the animal kingdom (and more pertinently, among our evolutionary ancestors), it is the males who compete with each other to mate with the female. The female does not have to compete for the male. This is because a female only reproduces once every 9 months (different for various species, plus the lactation period), while a male reproduces around the year.

Because of this, the male has a reproductive advantage if he fertilizes multiple females simultaneously. The female, however, would receive no such benefit because she can only reproduce once in several months, no matter how many males she mates with.

As a result, we see males who are constantly searching for mates while females aren’t. This generates intense competition among the males, in which the more aggressive, narcissistic males have a natural advantage. The males thus evolved to become more aggressive and ever-ready for intercourse.

Females, on the other hand, had no natural advantage in scurrying around looking for males to mate with. Consequently, the female gender evolved to be less aggressive than men. Also, since mates were available to the females a dollar a dozen, they’ve had the luxury to be more choosy. This is why females are less obsessed about sex than men are.

This is as I said, merely an explanation of why things are the way they are, not how they have to be in modern society. For instance, evolution has designed us to bear and nourish our own kids. Instead, we sometimes adopt children and help advance their genetic lineage.

As repulsed as we often are by the idea of biological determinism in these situations, we have to acknowledge the presence of real biological barriers in combating certain behaviors. This is not the same as being an apologist for misogynism, but recognizing that undoing hundreds of thousands of years of behavioral shaping is not something that can be done in a matter of decades.

Gender stereotyping is wrong, because it does injustice to the outliers in the group. Women who are physically strong, and men who are not hypersexual should not be clumped with the average people and receive blanket treatment.

Some behaviors, however, are so deeply ingrained within the male psyche that fixing them could be a pathological change.

Radical feminists sometimes complain about men who drool over pictures of nude women, and in doing so, they’re not fighting for gender equality as much as they’re calling for global castration. No amount of education and awareness could make a male less titillated by erotic imagery.

In such cases, it’s far more rewarding to rethink our expectations than to fight our hardwired biological instincts. Sex-positive feminism, which I subscribe to, proposes that we change our attitude about sex by removing the stigma, instead of railing out against men for their desire seek it. A stripper, female or male, is degrading herself or himself only if we believe it’s a degrading job.

Why is quenching a patron’s thirst as a bartender not as great an embarrassment as serving a client as a prostitute? It’s because the society has not stigmatized the former, or at least, not the the extent as it has the latter.