Feminism and Egalitarianism

You know, despite the best efforts and good intentions of pretty much every feminist out there, we still encounter those disheartening individuals who say they support gender equality and women’s rights… but not feminism. I have made posts before about calling it Humanism, a mistake because Humanism is a philosophical belief system about the destiny of the human race as being “to be good people”. However, perhaps you or someone you know says it’s not feminism they support but egalitarianism? An egalitarian society is one in which race, income, gender and background do not affect what rights you have, everyone gets the same chances and that’s that. Awesome right? Ehh…

Egalitarianism was the philosophy that served as the starting point for fair and equal societies, the argument stood as thus – everyone is fundamentally the same, we are all human, we all therefore deserve the same as one another. In the early days of society, those who spoke of egalitarianism got the ball rolling for the formation of fairer societies in which equal rights were not available. Slavery, colonialism, sexism, many creeds of people were denied the most basic of resources on flawed grounds and egalitarianism is the idea that this can be rectified by giving everyone the exact same entitlements. A great concept, if everyone was given £100, everyone is £100 better off right, especially those who are without any money right? Well the problem with this idea is egalitarianism fails to take into account some factors that might drastically alter how far that £100 goes – maybe you already have £100,000, what’s £100 more? Maybe £100 isn’t enough to pay off £500 of debt? Maybe what you need more than money is a home and food? Maybe your problem, say, a disability, can’t be fixed by throwing some money at it? Egalitarianism doesn’t address this, everyone gets the same resources, everyone has to make do.

Feminism, as a concept, only really existed as a combination of ideas and legal battles and protests, taking its name as a means to represent the under-represented class of citizens at its time, women. Women wanted the same rights as men, rights to an education and to ownership of property, to be allowed to divorce unfaithful men and to be allowed to earn their own keep. However, what is often overlooked is what feminism stood for and still stands for – gender is not a fair basis for discrimination of any kind. Feminism grew to encompass the idea that no discrimination is acceptable and a feminist will not stand for discrimination on the basis of sexuality or socio-economic status just as much as they won’t stand for discrimination based on gender, because every human issue affects every human being, regardless of gender. To the outside world, you are defined by your gender, your race, your religion, your sexuality, and feminism says that whatever the world sees, you are never fair game for being discriminated against. Feminism was the word chosen for the movement that defends the rights of those that were unspoken for, it was the name given to the gauntlet cast against the uncaring majority. If a feminist claim isn’t one that seeks to achieve equality in terms of rights and protections for all, it’s not a feminist claim and feminism is still a valid name, though that’s a blog post in itself.

Egalitarianism opened the door to this discussion for the masses when people proposed the concept of an equal society but feminism is the only mainstream movement actively making strides to achieve just that, in fact one must consider that what we often seek is equity, not equality. Equity Theory, as it is known, is the recognition that our varying backgrounds not only make us who we are but that they must be reflected in what must be done to render us all equals. Confused? Say you have a room full of people to feed and you offer everyone in that room peanut butter sandwiches. Here is the difference between equality and equity:

EQUALITY: “You are all entitled to a plate of peanut butter sandwiches”

EQUITY: “You are all entitled to a plate of peanut butter sandwiches but if you are wheat-intolerant, allergic to peanuts or just don’t like sandwiches, we’ll fill your plate with something more appropriate”

Like the £100 analogy from earlier, just offering everyone £100 is equal means but not a fair playing field, some people only have that  £100 and some have that £100 added onto the £100,000 they have in the bank. A fair society is one that levels the playing field so there is nothing outside of the individual’s control that is affecting their chances at a happy life. Equity, therefore, is the offering that if you need more, you can take more and if you can give more, you should give more so that we all share in the wealth and thus, share in the happiness of a secure life. Where does Feminism fit into this? Feminism, at this buffet, is the person at the buffet table telling people not to push and shove because we should all get what we want, everyone deserves to eat and that even if you are entitled to your sandwich, which you are, you shouldn’t force your way through the crowds because when it comes down to that, it’s the weak that get left the crumbs at the end.

The notion of equality can be exploited but equity is harder to fool if implemented correctly. Feminism seeks equity and for a truly fair society, so should we. To fight for social justice and a fair standard of living for all, where all needs are met and everyone feels safe, valued and able to contribute, is to be a feminist and that names does not need to change. By our very human nature, we are social animals who want to better the world we live in, even those of us who commit crimes think we are doing the right thing in some capacity, so a society of equity would ensure everyone’s basic needs were met whilst everyone’s talents were put to use. That is what feminism fights for, that is what a fair society is and that is why we are not egalitarians, we are feminists! 

Give A Little; Get A Little

Feminism, let’s take this blog back to territory it belongs in, wash our hands of Transformer posts and personal stories for a while and once again utilise this blog as the launch pad for topical discussion… or at least, hopefully. I want to talk to you about sex and in particular, how society sees sex as something to be given or something to be pursued, depending on how you fit into that power dynamic we’ve settled on. I’ve been inspired by “That’s What He Said”, a YouTube series I fully recommend in which just ordinary men sit and discuss feminist issues in a calm civilised manner, there’s no aggressive “Change this!” rant going on like I’m prone to, it’s more just a group of men exchanging ideas and you are given this seat at the table to overhear their discussion. What inspired me was one participant in the discussion described sex in a way I had always thought of but not consciously, not in any depth – sex is something women give and men get and as a man, I’m gonna get it. Paraphrasing but he essentially pointed out that sex is seen as the end goal, the flag on a conquered fortress that a man has to earn and a woman has to relinquish which puts strange standards in place that I would like to address here.

You probably don’t need me to point out that men are typically somewhat aggressive in the quest for sex, typical male tactics of machismo, cat-calling and even forceful coercion and women either play along, resist or utilise such tactics themselves (though they are seen as whores for doing so). Men play the quest-taker then, they have a goal and must utilise whatever they deem best to do so be it honest communication, money, blackmail, dinner dates, whatever, the end goal is sex and women play the part of the goal and the goalkeeper, by this model they can either choose to let the player win or ensure he loses somehow and this creates a weird disconnect and competition between ourselves that needn’t exist, for the sake of everyone involved.

I’ve highlighted this before but between men, frequent sex with multiple partners is seen as an aspirational thing, like war stories you’d expect to hear in a Viking meadery, whereas between women it’s seen as a lack of self-respect, a willingness to go along with the whims of any old idiot. Why? Well, this standard of men get, women give, ties into how we view ambition and charity and other such things. Someone who gets what they want all the time? Ambitious, commanding, successful. Someone who gives everything away? Foolish, naive, a pushover. As a result, the more men get, the more we think of them as conquerors and the more women give, the more we think of them as conquered, even though the women have to give for the men to get (Obviously not the case of homosexual men, I realise this blog post applies to a cishet gender binary and apologise for that, I am boiling down this issue to the most basic principles. If you have anything to say with regards to sexualities and genders outside of cisgender/heterosexual, leave your comments below, I’d love to read them). By doing this, we put pressure on men and women alike, for men to get as much as they can whilst women must give as little as possible, essentially making sex much less fun for everyone and turning our biological urges into a battleground.

Men, you’re told to get, if you don’t get laid soon enough or often enough, you’re a loser right? Single men are seen as creepy or pathetic a lot of the time, your mates talk about past girlfriends as if they were boss battles in a video game and your role models are always seen as attractive and strong. I mean, there’s no male role model in the modern world that doesn’t have some strongly infatuated fangirl community and it’s not like you’re after that, even just two or three girls secretly thinking of you would be great wouldn’t it? The pressure to “be a man”, to get action, means that men develop a variety of tactics, as indeed they would if they were actually fighting. Some use charm, some use money, some are honestly just attractive and well-endowed but what about the men that aren’t any of those things? Here are where you find the cat-callers and “good guys” waiting for their female best friend to offer him a blowjob just for being a nice person – they don’t see themselves as attractive, or society doesn’t, and they lack charm or impressive talent so they resort to underhandedness and aggression, they blame their failures on women. After all, you get stuck on the same level in a game long enough, you start blaming the game for being too hard or unfair or not making the answer more obvious. The same logic applies here and men are only ever seen as playing the game, very rarely is it that men can be the game. A man is told to get, not give. Why? A man has every right to be called desirable and chased after, it’s not pathetic, it’s wanting validation and wanting someone else to put some effort into you, men deserve that. Men should have the option to give, to be engaged by a stranger or to have someone crush on them without it being weird. Sex isn’t a trophy and if it is, men can give the trophies if they want, that’d be fun for all involved.

Women, by contrast, are put under pressure to not have sex, to ‘save’ themselves for someone and even in this day and age, I hear women talking about saving their virginity for their husband or true love, as if it already belongs to a man they might not even know yet. If a woman expresses a love of sex or long track record, we judge her, we think her irresponsible and stupid, we think of her as ‘easy’, again tying into this whole competitive game. Easy? The level everyone cleared, the tutorial for getting a REAL woman. Heaven forbid she’s a liberated woman who decides who she sleeps with and how often, that’s madness, no she must just be some floozy moron that can’t stop herself. Women have to give in too, that’s how that works – a certain number of dates, a certain number of drinks or a man with enough masculine presence and she’s supposed to give herself to him. We see fictive works of men like Christian Grey, men who are bold and ruthless and unafraid to take advantage of a woman and that’s supposed to be an erotic image for women? Maybe for some but to me, alarm bells ring that this man is essentially a very handsome psychotic stalker and rapist abusing a very naive woman. Women shouldn’t give in, it’s not about giving in, it’s about seeing another person you honestly want to have sex with and both parties agreeing to it, or all parties, go crazy.

I realise our biological differences mean men are naturally inclined to seek more sex more frequently, nature tells a man to spread his seed far and wide to ensure his genes carry on whereas women are the fields to be ploughed in this model but we are more than the sum of our urges and even so, this competition doesn’t ensure anyone gets the best deal. Picture a society in which sex is just another run-of-the-mill thing, it’s casual, it’s given and received on terms we all agree on as individuals and there’s no pressure on anyone about anything. Still a virgin at 32? Nobody bats an eyelid. Fucked a different man each day of the week? Cool, you’ve made seven different men very happy and you had fun too, awesome. Men have nothing to prove so there’s less coercion and pestering and women have no false reputations to lose so if they fancy an idle fuck, woot, go ahead. I realise to some of you this sounds like a godless debauchery but our warped views on sex are much more harmful to society than this alternative vision could ever be.

I will end on this note, if anyone ever gives you grief about your sex life, well I guess just Sodom! (EYYYYYYYYYYYY GET IT? GET IT?!)

Ugly Words

Ever want an easy way to start a shitstorm in a comment section? Say you’re a feminist, works wonders. Want another way? Try saying Black Lives Matter and wait how long it takes for All Lives Matter to come up as the rebuttal, I’d tell you to take a drink every time that phrase inevitably surfaces but you’d be comatose in ten minutes. Of course, these are dressed up as well-meaning things, calling yourself a fighter for equality because men have issues too or saying all lives matter, not just black ones but in truth these are attempts to whitewash and control social movements by an ignorant majority – the very fact they have to distance themselves from the word feminism shows they’ve missed the point. I don’t mean a marginal misunderstanding you can correct as easily as a spelling mistake, I mean they missed the point by such a distance they’d need to catch a bus and a plane to get back to it. Still don’t get my point? Hmm, let me fill you in.

Feminism

People have the misconception that feminism is about putting women at the top of the social hierarchy and rebuilding society around the awe-inspiring might of the vagina or something. Feminism started out as a movement to give women the rights that man already had – the right to vote, to work, to own property – and through protests and other means they achieved a great deal of what they set out to do. We’ve come a long way and humanity deserves some credit for that, for the most part in modern Western society, women are not so much seen as sandwich making housemaids but are also seen as politicians, doctors and so forth, that’s great. However, gender roles are still a thing, a negative set code that is forced on boys and girls alike, which I have discussed in great length and it is so ingrained in us that just the Fem in feminism makes it an ugly word to us, associating it too strongly with women (Counter movements even take the name of Meninism). Feminism isn’t done, women are closer to being equal to men but not quite there yet – most CEOs are still men and that’s not because women don’t bother, they’re just never promoted ahead or so on, women still receive lower wages for the same work as men in various fields such as teaching, construction and management and of course there are still things such as victim blaming in rape cases and entire countries where women are still oppressed (Though meninism tries to tell Western women that they should be glad they don’t live in Saudi Arabia, like that’s an excuse to call them a slut and demand sexual favours, akin to saying “It sucks that you got mugged but at least you don’t live in Venezuela, that place is really dangerous!”). Are we so uncomfortable with our feminine selves that we must lambast a movement rooted in it for daring to suggest women and trans women, lest we forget them due to their lack of representation in the media, are in fact just as worthy as cisgender men? Feminism isn’t about taking away the rights of men, it fights to represent them in things such as the oppressive male standard and how men can be victims of domestic abuse and so on – what feminism is is gender equality, it is not so much destroying the male dominated power structure but disrupting the lack of diversity within it by allowing women to be seen as true peers to their male counterparts.

Black Lives Matter

When police brutality began claiming name after name of black victims over things such as kids holding toy guns, men fleeing in panic at the sight of a police officer and even one police officer apparently mistaking his pistol for his taser and ‘accidentally’ shooting a man dead in the street, the media didn’t sensationalise it like it does everything else – bit pieces were featured in newspapers but the world spun on not really caring all that much. Black Lives Matter is a social media campaign to get people to talk about the fact people are dying and they’re not being spoken about in the news in any great length, their murderers let off the hooks with weak excuses and attempts to besmirch the names of victims are made. Seems in this world, if you’re raped or murdered, someone has to find a way to blame you for that, not your assailant. However, this campaign was hijacked by people saying All Lives Matter, all victims should be grieved for and justice for all innocent lives claimed wrongfully… which is what Black Lives Matter is all about. BLM began because the news already covers the tragic tales of innocent young white people getting murdered or assaulted or accidentally dying in tragic circumstances, black lives not so much and if they are, it’s not with that same respect and dignity, instead it’s a “Who is really to blame?” rhetoric spurted out at us by some right-wing imbecile defending the prejudiced actions of a trigger-happy police officer. BLM, therefore, tried to say the minorities were being overlooked and in response the majority went “Oh god, if they’re being overlooked, maybe we are too, let’s make sure that’s not the case! Quickly majority, let’s make sure every single story about us is heard on every platform we have!”, forgetting the minorities who are still waiting there to be given some time on that stage. Social media is where that happens but they get shot down for daring to suggest their deaths are just as sad as those of white people, who feel offended and have to ask why BLM isn’t giving those deaths consideration. They’re not a movement for that, white people don’t need better representation in the media, we’re already the ‘default’ definition of a human being, what more do we need?

In summary, the straight white male is obviously still the demographic that has all in its favour and it fears for the length of its supremacy over all others when those others unite and demand fairer treatment. Nobody wants to take away the rights of men or white people or Christians or straight people or whatever, when gay people are allowed to marry or white-on-black violence reported in the news, nobody loses out, nobody is worse off. Feminism isn’t man-hating, BLM isn’t racial discrimination. Such movements only want to establish an equal playing field where there is no favouritism. There is no need to fear, white men of the world, we still have a pretty sweet deal going on – we run most of the world, politically and financially, most heroes in fiction resemble us and we’re the most pandered to demographic in all marketing. Equality isn’t, and has never been, a movement to destroy society, it has always been a movement about making it fairer, richer and representative of the diversity within it.

The Fragile Man (Part Two – Masculinity and Men)

Part One first, please read for context

(https://oldmanwolferants.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/the-fragile-man-part-one/)

Following on from yesterday, let us now divulge into the topic of masculinity and its effects on men, is it truly a fragile thing? Or are these men harder than we give credit for? #masculinitysofragile argues that they are not. The said hashtag is a social media campaign to point out how men who pride themselves on being bastions of blokedom, the toughest in their circles such as it were, react far too extremely to accusations of being anything less than a god in the flesh. Men who can perhaps take a blow to the gut can’t take a blow to the ego, angrily snapping at people who reject their advances, buy them a misgendered product (This is women’s soap! Where’s my Ultra Max Men’s Only Caffeine Body Wash?!) or have to justify wearing satchels and hair buns by calling them more macho names like Man Bag and Man Bun. Of course, it lead to an escalating inferno of internet flame wars, evidence of the frailty of the male culture being posted left, right and centre and MRA sorts responding with their own campaign #nohymennodiamond, to shame women who aren’t virgins… because that helped prove their dominance apparently…

So is masculinity fragile? Seems like the first question to address. Well, the answer there isn’t as simple as either side of this argument makes out, obviously once you trend something on Twitter, the original point is diluted and worn thin by people who grasp a concept but not the core ideals. You see, this could just be my opinion here but there is a difference between internal masculinity and societal masculinity, the difference between a culture of ‘REAL MEN’ and the expectations set upon those who are born into the rat-race of achieving arbitrary standards of manliness. Have I lost some of you? Let me go over my point in more length and detail to help everyone understand where I’m coming from.

Man-bags, coffee scented shampoo, man-sized tissues, these are prime examples of businesses exploiting a weakness in the market, hitting a demographic that steers clear of their product because of an image reason. Men, in the sense of the masculine conformist, don’t want to use tissues or scented candles or mascara because of a fear of being seen as ‘weak’ or outside the gender norm. If you run a business and you sell something, you find a way to sell it to every group possible? You make biscuits? Gluten-free, low-fat, biscuits with nuts, biscuits guaranteed nut-free, chocolate, dark chocolate, ginger – you try enough things out, soon enough there’s a biscuit for everyone. Men aren’t buying perfume? That’s half the population you’re missing there, better invent some manly fucking perfume, cue your Old Spice and Hugo Boss scents. More than anything else, these ‘Man’ products are revamped normal products made to appeal to a different audience. Of course, I’m not calling you all stupid, you have realised this, the frailty of masculinity is in needing these differences to feel secure in purchasing the product, even though the change is minor. Blue bag, pink bag, same function. My point here is that this side of masculinity is stupidly laughable yes but no true harms come of it, unless the customer is so insecure in themselves they can’t buy anything that is not branded as manly.

I remember the first time I encountered a man comfortable doing something ‘unmanly’, in that a friend of mine at the time turned up wearing a pink shirt. I was confused, give me a break I was ten at the time, all my shirts were either Adidas/Puma stuff or had pictures of Pokemon on. Anyway, my friend said it was a white shirt but red sock in the wash deal, now it was a pink one but it was still has favourite shirt so he wore it. Granted, he got a few laughs but he didn’t let it get under his skin, he felt fine, he knew the joke would wear off the more often he was seen wearing this shirt without looking disgraced or downtrodden for doing so. Sure enough, that happened, heck I saw more pink shirts after a while. Thinking further back, I can think of times a younger me tried to step outside masculine norms – I watched Sabrina the Teenage Witch, my favourite anime was Cardcaptors, I played the part of female characters in my imaginary games sometimes and not as damsels, though sometimes as that, no, heck I played characters that were just me if I was a girl, drawings of which I continued to produce up until age 16. Jenny Wolfe, no joke, a female identity I conjured for myself. Of course, I kept it on the downlow, I doubt many could say they ever heard the name Jenny Wolfe, even fewer have seen pictures. Gender identity and finding security in the spectrum is a process of experimentation and discovery that can last a lifetime, it takes a lot to know where you fit and be comfortable there, it also takes courage to keep searching when the world makes a freak show out of you for trying.

Masculinity is the possession of qualities typically associated with being a man – handsomeness, resourcefulness, ambition, bravado, charisma – ideals men are told to strive for, both explicitly and implicitly. The gender binary standards are horseshit of course, there is a pressure to pursue a certain lifestyle pinned on us from as soon as we are born. Men that vary from these traits are laughed, be it for effeminacy, subservience (especially to a woman, i.e ‘being whipped’) or lacking in strength or knowledge. However, there is a certain sort of poison that comes with striving for masculinity, a deep self-loathing that drives feelings of inadequacy and insecurity into the hearts of those made to chase down that path. I’m the eldest son of a very ‘manly’ man – genius level IQ, can fix your motorbike as easily as he can tie his laces, former bodybuilder, martial arts master – every macho standard going, he hit the passing grade and then one-upped it, because he damn well could. I had the brains, I had my own pure raw strength, never lost a fist fight growing up and with role models like my father and the warriors in my books and games and films, all I wanted to be was the absolute best. The smartest, the strongest, the fastest, the meanest, standards I had to achieve to be liked by people, to be worth something? My Dad would tell me it was okay if I needed to cry or ask for help or talk to someone about my problems but that wasn’t what I saw, that wasn’t what life taught me growing up. My Dad was invincible, so were the warriors, I never saw my peers cry and get respect for it, nobody ever admitted they saw counsellors to me – as far as I was concerned, the world was a stage for a perpetual contest of power.

So what happened from there? Rage. Lots of it. People didn’t like the know-it-all punch-happy callous prick I was in school, I was the best by the technical definition, sure, I could beat my classmates in exams, in battles of wit, in physical contest, but I wasn’t respected, I was hated. I was devastated, here I was, masculinity incarnate but I was not the most popular guy in school, no girls dated me, no guys invited me to hang out, everyone avoided me. Masculinity is a weapon of the patriarchy that teaches boys a damaging philosophy that the world is out to get them, any tears are a weakness to be exploited so be the top dog or die trying. I had my interests, my nerdy hobbies, my insecurities – that’s what was exploited by those I beat. I proved I was ‘macho’ but it didn’t fix the fact I was a complete social dork, that I talked to myself, that I cried when people rejected my affections – that could be exploited and it is world-changing to men in that position. Masculinity is so fragile because when there is a hole in that stone shield, it can all fall down and the man inside feels naked and exposed. The bar is always set higher and we’re all scared we aren’t reaching it, not just men but women too, there’s a bar set for them by the patriarchy, standards of beauty and behaviour.

Men are hurt when they are told their masculinity is fragile and shown that they justify their behaviours by adding manly buzzwords to girly things because they pride themselves on it so much, it is what they were told they had to build for themselves as soon as they could talk. Be good at sports, be into action films, know lots about cars, don’t get beat up, don’t admit to having feelings, basically be an ironclad titan in all walks of life, be the man other men want to be, be the alpha male. If you’re made aware you’re not that alpha male, or further still, nobody is and nobody should be, it’s an entire philosophy challenged. Insecurities are exposed and they respond the only way they know how, the ‘manly’ way – fierce ‘banter’ or savage violence. Of course, the truth is masculinity, as a set code boys must live by, is a terrible thing we need to move past, men need to know it’s okay to like wearing make-up, using cinnamon scent candles as air-fresheners, being the weakest player on the team, nobody has a ‘worth’ to prove and the world is not a competition. I really hope we as a society can realise this, that being you is okay because for many of us, myself included, we spent so long thinking it wasn’t that we lash out at people who offend even an aspect of who we are, whatever that might entail.

The Fragile Man (Part One – Masculinity and Women)

Let me level with you reader – basically, last night I put together a blog post called “The Fragile Man”, meant to address the subject of Masculinity So Fragile, a campaign to show the frailty of masculinity in how men feel the need to showboat to prove their worth, justify the purchase of ‘feminine’ products by buying male-focused alternatives and mock those who do not fit into the predefined standard, be they genderqueer or effeminate. However, the culture of masculinity, the standards it imposes and the effects on men, women and all identities beyond and between is so profound that it won’t fit into one post. I did try but I missed out heaps, I had it proofread to find I knew very little of the female viewpoint so after talking about it with a variable collective of female friends, I’ve split this post in two. Tonight, I want to discuss the effects of masculinity on women, using my own reading and the real-life experiences of women I know, as well as the experiences of a genderqueer friend of mine. Just a heads up, it gets dark later on, if you’re the sort who reads sensitive subjects and gets triggered, steer clear of my blog for the next few days – it’s about men and women and power and sexism and gender identity, I’m sure you can guess which tough topics will be brushed upon, namely abuse for starters.

So if we think of the opposing standards of masculine and feminine, going on purely polar ideals, notice the difference in the traits? Masculinity is strength, resourcefulness, wisdom, stoicism, charisma whilst femininity is chastity, elegance, beauty, obedience and gentleness? A tough woman isn’t feminine, a quiet man isn’t masculine. The masculine traits are aspirational though – strength and ambition are goals to strive for, how does one strive for chastity or beauty? You might say you can do many things to beautify yourself but then you’re accused of faking it, you could refuse sexual advances but then you’re called frigid and prude, masculinity expects feminine traits of women but challenges them if they adhere too closely to the rules. Women are expected to be virgin saints, yet sluts in the bedroom, be cutesy and adorable yet also mature and alluring, it’s an impossible demand that the perfect woman be an angel and devil rolled seamlessly into one bundle.

You might think, so how does this relate to masculinity and its effect on women? Well, the Masculinity So Fragile dawned the No Hymen, No Diamond, essentially saying that women who don’t adhere to the most sacred of sexist rules imposed on women, chastity until commitment, don’t deserve marriage. Men attacked because they felt they were attacked, even though the masculine culture damages them too, but more on that another time. The stunted emotional growth of my gender, and myself for a good period of my life, led to generations of bitter angry men understanding any emotional response as anger, the unknown or the confusing is a challenge and challenges are qualms about capability. Challenges are accepted with aggression, machismo, violence – the word ‘fragile’ was an affront to their strength so they sought to prove it, as men often do. Women, does this sound familiar – a man treating you differently in the presence of his male peers to how he does when he’s alone? The difference being, with people to observe him he seems to show off? Has the boyfriend/husband ever referred to you as the ball and chain? A term suggestive that he is a caged or trapped beast, hindered in his quest for freedom and power. Masculinity, in the sense we know it, demeans women as the weaker sex in so many ways, some of which I want to discuss here and now.

The idea of women as sexual objects, as owing men sex for their patience or commitment, as sandwich makers, as posers and whores for having confidence, as the ‘ball and chain’ restraining a man, all are indicative of how women suffer because of masculinity. If a woman is a threat to a man’s testosterone, either by taming his beast through commitment or by having traits associated with men like confidence or wit, she is demeaned, abused, called out as being less of a woman or by being a nuisance to a man. She’ll be called a dyke, her gender identity challenged because they feel challenged in their own, seeing those outside their peer group display the personae they spent lives building. I have a genderqueer friend, they’ll remain nameless because I didn’t ask to use their name so I won’t risk it, but when they present as a man, they’re told they’re not so by other men, even though this person has the male identity down to a t – dress sense, interests, even their living space looks like a true bachelor pad. The rules of masculinity are unyielding indeed.

Here’s where it gets darker though, beyond the ‘friend zone’ fedora brigade and sexist jokes is the really horrid side – men who won’t date women more successful than them, the use of rape jokes and rape as a power play dynamic (To rape is to assert dominance, to be raped is to be dominated and thus, pathetic. Notice how men talk about ‘raping’ or ‘getting raped’ in contexts that aren’t even sexual just as indicators of performance). I fear for women in situations where there is the need for the ‘man’ of the house to keep people in line, so he will say, using physical or verbal abuse to show he is in charge. Men who fail and lash out at those that are physically weaker than them, at those who won’t hit back – wives, girlfriends, children. Men that were taught don’t cry and don’t fail and in turn become heartless savages, unable to talk through their grievances and finding release only in rough-housing others. The impossible standard of never bending and breaking can make men snap and some take it out on themselves but some shift the blame, be it selfishly or for sanity’s sake but very rarely do they unload their frustration on those who can endure it without consequence, they want to inflict hurt because they are hurt. For women in such a place, it’s not easy and it is certainly not right.

However, of the masculine image, the women I spoke to said that they liked a man who wasn’t so much masculine as secure. A confidence backed by substance and a self-acceptance, self-acceptance being the most attractive trait we seek in others, perhaps because we seek it so badly in ourselves. A remember a friend once told me “If you need to prove you have power, you have none at all”. Likewise, when I was a rough and tumble violent headcase, that wasn’t what got me noticed, it wasn’t fighting my way up to alpha male that got people to respect me, those who did respected traits I showed that were those of aspirational standards we can all seek – being self-assured, breaking the mold, expression of inner self. Masculinity and femininity are not inherently bad things, adhering to one like the law is, a truly good individual can feel comfortable in who they are whatever the label might be.

So you want a true man? A true man isn’t always the strong one, the smart one, the funniest or sharpest wit or possibly not all that practical but a true man has a strength all their own to use for good. A true man, as the standard should have it, is one who will stick up for those that can’t stick up for themselves, will go without because others need it more, will endure trial and hardship to win the day. However, a true man has tears, a true man has a heart that can love and lose, a penchant for pink he needn’t turn his nose up at and he needn’t see the world as stage to this contest that isn’t happening. In that, there can be a true man in us all and women are not less womanly because they strive for ambition and competition, nor are men less manly for wanting to wear mascara and bake cakes and above all, a man is no greater a man if he must achieve his greatness through the exploitation or abuse of others. We are equals, we are mankind.

Close Call Cafe

Set your mind back a while now, do you recall December 2014? Recall a blog post I wrote back then about an independent business that sold rare brands of cereal to those looking for a unique/quirky/hipster-baiting experience? No. Refresh your memory:

https://oldmanwolferants.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/this-is-cereals-business/

Why do I bring them up? Haven’t you heard? They were the target of a protest, not a peaceful picketing either, full on property damage and graffiti on the walls. Why? Their prices are in the region of £2.50 a bowl, quite dear yes ($4 upwards for the Americans in the room) but then again this isn’t a bowl of corn flakes and a mug of tea affair, this is “Hey, remember this weird cereal from your childhood that was nothing but chocolate, marshmallows and delicious tooth decay?!”. Essentially, Cereal Killer Cafe was one of the targets of the Class War Anti-Gentrification protests, ‘anarchists’ seeking a war against those who pursue personal profit over the community and fixing issues such as poverty in the area. The protesters argue that it is their mission to target these niche stores devoted to using their resources to sell overpriced goods to narrow markets, rather than setup businesses that sell affordable products to the masses and play their part in helping the community. A slightly misguided cause, the world of business is not so black and white, not every manager or business owner is a penny-pinching fiend nor is every charity entirely honest and above reproach, but I can appreciate their core drive. We live in an unfair society, I do think more needs to be done to tackle poverty and inequality, there are diseases that need cures, countries that need feeding and natural wonders preserving but this… this is not the way.

Independent businesses suffer to stay afloat, in a society where the coffee is always cheaper elsewhere and products are easily copied and made at lower production costs in another country, the savings are passed onto the consumer and those that know how to do it on the cheap, ethically or not, get ahead. Outsourcing jobs, inferior materials, dealing inventors and designers duff hands, there’s no blow too low for the top dogs of the global market. Scale that down to a small family run affair based on a street corner, you don’t have a vast network to rely on, no contacts or partners or sister-companies, you have your life savings, your best friend who needs a job and a dream. Coffee shops charge us through the nose because they have to compete with Starbucks and Costa. If you are the best-known name in a trade, you can afford to charge less because your customer base is so vast, what does it matter? A 50% off sale is easy for some stores because it will encourage sales but some places just can’t afford to sell their wares for less, every penny counts. Your money, to an independent business, is all the more important, the difference between breadwinning and just dreaming of bread. So of course, they have to charge more, any less is profit-shaving they can’t afford, prices are tailored to be enough, to get them by – when have you ever seen the guy running that little tea garden swan off to Cuba for a fortnight just because? Chances are if they did, they either had good money to start from their social standing or they scrimped and saved like fuck.

Anti-gentrification in and of itself is a loathing of capitalism and what it has done to us as a people, I understand that, I sympathise, but the independent businesses of the world are not the villains, they are like us but they just had the resources to hand to build a business and they went for it, many of us would do the same in their shoes if we could. However, blaming them for their prices is blaming the wrong people? Can’t afford tea and cake at Julie’s Sweet Treats? Blame Starbucks for driving her prices upwards with their loyalty schemes and vast wealth of ingredients. Couldn’t afford new threads from that Etsy dealer? Blame the high street for making the hipster-crowd their target, finding a way to mass produce that ‘vintage retro’ look at the price of a few sweatshop slave wages. Hate stupid trends brainwashing the masses? Don’t take it out on people trying so hard to make their business stand out from the common crap we devour every single day. The people of these crowds claimed to fight for their community and yet they came together as a collective to do what they could to destroy it, to tear apart businesses in their area for excluding them with their prices. Cutting one’s nose off to spite their face is perhaps a release of frustration but you look no better off without your nose you know?

I’m angry myself, I’m angry and upset to hear the word protest become smeared with the mud of violence. Protests should not be violent, protests are standing up and saying this is wrong but being damn decent about it, channeling that anger towards injustice into a creative force for good. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, not common thugs but souls that endured shame, humiliation and hunger to defend what mattered, they could have resorted to firebombs and punching the police but they knew that to be heard, they had to be seen as reasonable. If you use that anger for destruction, people do not respect what you represent, trust me, they merely learn to fear your anger and to hate the person behind it, to demonise them and view them as a mindless beast. I get angry, I blog, I give back to my community by just being a good person ready to help someone in need and by giving my free time to charity. Imagine if this gang of hooded vandals had decided instead of rioting and attacking small businesses, they would clean the streets or feed the homeless or do some mass participation event to raise money for Cancer Research or British Red Cross or Oxfam. Such efforts would speak volumes of the worth of this community, this has just caused us all to see them as thugs.

Look, don’t get me wrong, I understand this rage at the system, the divide between rich and poor is ever expanding and the two ‘most developed’ nations of the West have poverty rates that’d make their charity cases look on with sad eyes, successive governments have taken more and more power away from the common man in favour of the business owner. We are angry at those who have anything because we’re told we live in great nations of wealth but see so little of it, the people at the top however are so wealthy it makes me physically sick. The eighty richest people in the world own the same wealth as the three point five million poorest, that’s not even enough to fill a double decker bus. The riot here, or protest as you might see it depending on your viewpoint, is a symptom of a disease that has afflicted society since the dawn of such and that has only worsened with time. Mark my words, ‘violent protest’ will only get more and more common a phrase in the next few years unless something is done to bridge this poverty gap. You of the middle class upwards might say those in high positions worked hard to get ahead and deserve what they get, you might be right, but do you really think that the world is just a nesting ground for millions of layabouts? Honestly? That there are so few people of worth you could fit their names on two sides of A4? I think not, if nothing else then the ‘lazy sods’ of the lower classes deserve at least the bare minimum – shelter, security, food – then maybe they can ‘get off their backsides and contribute to society’

Not Special Treatment, Human Treatment

Trigger Warnings – Abuse, violence, misogyny (No, not from me)

First of all, a big cheer for the blooming popularity of this blog after a period of relative quietness on the stats, this last week has seen the view counter soar and I’ve just had news from WordPress themselves that my blog’s average view stat is going up and up so thanks to everyone for that, makes me very happy. Anyway, today’s subject is feminism, yes the accursed word returns, even though it’s not a bad thing in itself despite what some might say and I’m here to take down some stupid arguments with a machine gun of intellectual assault so lock and load bitches, I’m going in red hot

I promise I won’t do that ever again…

1. So girls are equal to guys now? Does this mean I can hit them?

Whoa whoa whoa there sonny Jim, gender equality is a thing and the first thing is can you hit them now? What the heck is wrong with you that made that the first question? You aren’t a poof for hitting a girl because punching anything with a vagina is a cowardly thing to do, you’re a violent assailant for picking fights with people much shorter and less muscular than you, like women often are compared with men. By all means, if she’s six foot seven and carrying a crowbar, punch her lights out if she comes onto you but it’s not special treatment to not hit someone who is a foot shorter than you and in possession of less muscle mass than you, regardless of gender – if you do do that, that’s called bullying or you know, assault

2. Surely you’re sexist for thinking women need defending? Are you implying women can’t cope with harassment like the rest of us?

No, I’m not, women can cope, they’ve coped for centuries, it’s a matter of should they have to? I’m a white straight cisgender English-speaking male, I got it pretty sweet on that deal, I can walk down alleys without worrying who wants to attack me, I don’t get followed down the street, people don’t yell things at me and insult me for not responding. Add ‘fe’ to the start of that male bit and it’s a whole other ball game. Feminists are not sexist for thinking women have had enough of being treated like objects by their peers, it’s just human decency and anyone who disagrees should really try harder to empathise. I’ve met women who get things yelled at them as compliments and it just makes them feel awkward and cheap. Sure, some embrace it and take it in their stride to empower themselves, kudos to them, but not everyone can and the solution is not a thicker skin, it’s about challenging society

3. If women don’t want to be objectified by men, why do they go out of their way to attract them in the first place?

Because I go out of my way to look attractive as a guy, thus the suits and constant fuss over weight gain and hair loss, but truth be told I’m not looking to go on the pull every single time I leave the house. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you don’t dress for other people, you dress for yourself, for what you feel good in and if that’s a little showy then really, what does it matter? Avert your gaze or grow up, it’s terribly vain to think everyone around you is set on looking their best for your attention, maybe she just thinks she has a great looking butt and wants to strut it a bit? You’re not obliged to grab it to confirm that she is indeed correct, just turning your head was proof enough really. By the same token, maybe she just likes wearing corsets or sleeveless tops because they’re pretty and nice to wear, one reason I like wearing suits so much is they just look smarter and nicer than turning up in hoodies everywhere, makes me feel like I made an effort to be a human being

4. Men are objectified too! Look at guys in films, they’re unrealistically charming and handsome!

Ok, I’ll admit unrealistic standards of beauty exist for both genders in age of star power and photoshopping but the difference is that men are idealised in media, not objectified. If you look at the attention drawn to women in media like magazines and games, it’s about their appearance, their figure, their cuteness or sexual sensuality and if they’re smart or strong then it’s usually pitched as some sort of shocker like “Emma Watson isn’t just a pretty face, she talks too, about stuff, hot!”. Men, whilst depicted as handsome in many films, they are idealised as courageous, clever, thoughtful, strong – traits that are aspirational standards much loftier than a certain bust size or hair style. Looking at the success of men and women in the workplace, women are much more likely to attribute success to their support network and luck whereas men are more inclined to self-promote or  say their success was a result of their own hard work. Men, as a general standard, are the ideal – the best thing to be is a rich white straight guy, that is a patriarchy, true equality would be if you got to ask God before you were born
“What’s the best way to start life? Boy or girl? Gay or straight? Mexican or European?”
“Whatever dude, just go out there and make something of yourself!”
Aside from a surfer dude God, that sounds great right? However, as it is, if you got to ask what you would be born as to ensure your success in life, you’re best of going for a straight white guy from the West

5. Ugh, you’re such a smart arse. Ok, explain this then – why are women allowed to not like certain types of men and not be called shallow but if a guy says he doesn’t like fat/thin/tall/short girls then he’s a jerk?

Good question, it is a bit unfair and some of our standards are still drawn from the media when we choose partners, the whole taller guy and shorter girl for example, hard to list ten films in which the female lead is tall or tubby or the male romantic hero is four foot tall. However, this is one that is a big problem we all need to get over but maybe it’s just people don’t find certain factors attractive and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, though it’s nothing to parade about either. I find women are generally a softer touch with saying why a guy isn’t their type as opposed to the “No fat chicks” slogan of many old men’s shirts. You find some things attractive, some things you don’t, but maybe everyone should look around that at what matters more and maybe we should accept the reality we won’t be attractive to every person we meet or we would all get on so much better. Could you imagine a world like that? Jeez, everyone finds everyone attractive, not sure if that’d be awesome or awkward… or you know, one massive long orgy across the planet

6. Hey… you didn’t shout me down or avoid the subject… you’re not all bad. I didn’t realise men could be feminists…

Of course, feminism is often mistaken for some sort of raging hate group commanded by a council of evil lesbians hellbent on castrating every man alive but the truth is a feminist is anyone who believes your genitals don’t determine your worth in society. Men’s Rights Activism is the hate group here, they don’t represent men very well beyond a bunch of whiney white guys wanting their female friends to sleep with them already and stop complaining so much when the men who need representation are overlooked (Gay men as an effeminate stereotype/ black men being judged as poor fathers despite that making no sense/ the male kind being misunderstood as the majority of them being horny arrogant sods/ trans* men being seen as ‘fakers’ or men being forced into masculinity stereotypes against their will). If you think we all deserve a fair chance, you’re a feminist, there you go. Men can be feminists because men are capable of realising the flaws in our society and wanting them to be worked on so as not to see their female friends and family members lose out just because they have boobs

I hope this clears up a few things about feminism as a cause, it’s misunderstood by many of us, even myself once upon a time. Feminism sounds like it’s all about women because of the ‘fem’ but considering women have had laundry and dishes to do for centuries on end, only to be repaid with degrading butt slaps and cat calls, I think it’s fair to put a hand up and say “Uh hey, we’re not 100% cool with that, can we maybe not assume every girl likes to be manhandled and we’ll let you know if we do want a spanking? Thanks”. I’d certainly say so anyway. So get the word out, the Feminazis are actually Feminiceys… just don’t put it like that