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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » "WATM": hypocrisy?

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Author Topic: "WATM": hypocrisy?
mizchastain
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The acronym WATM stands for "What about the menz", a condescending and sarcastic term used by numerous people who, using feminism as an excuse, complain about misogyny every time someone brings up a problem that men, or indeed one man, may have. I bring this up because I've seen this problem numerous times recently and it's making me unreasonably angry.

I am biologically female and pretty sure of my cisgender status, and I recognise that women still have it pretty tough. I have never suggested that feminism isn't a battle worth fighting. However, I also acknowledge that women are not the only ones who ever have any problems at all.

Online recently, I've seen someone complain about a female customer throwing a hissyfit and declaring that "all men are useless" when a male employee made a mistake. I've seen someone complain about being accused of misogyny for merely writing a story with a male lead character in it. I've seen someone complain about female rapists and male rape victims being portrayed as funny in the media. Every one of these people immediately got leapt on by passersby who accused them of misogyny for daring to suggest that men may possibly have the slightest difficulty in their lives.

Am I honestly alone in thinking that this is rabidly hypocritical and petty?

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Heather
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I think there are certainly times when, in discussions about women and feminism, it is strongly inappropriate and ultimately, silencing or distracting, for someone to bring up men.

On the other hand, I think misandry is also absolutely a feminist issue, and should always be something everyone keep their eyes out for (because we care about sexism, right?), and that there are absolutely conversations and places where it's NOT a derailment or inappropriate to talk about men or men's issues.

Same goes, absolutely, with talking about forms of oppression that are NOT based on gender and about intersecting oppressions.

So much of this, though, is about context and tone, that I don't think we can ever make clear-cut rules or guidelines around this.

If I recall correctly, you hang out in some online space or another where you seem to often find that the feminist discussion is not exactly awesome. Is that right? If so, have you considered that, if all of this is happening in that space, maybe it's that particular space where this and other things you've had issues with are happening in a larger way than they are in other spaces and conversations?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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mizchastain
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The blogs on which I saw these complaints weren't actually strictly about feminism, they were general "rant" communities, though they do have a high proportion of girls and women using them. I see what you mean about it not necessarily being appropriate to discuss on a site meant specifically for discussing problems faced by women, but I don't think these were intruding in that manner.

I guess that's true, yes, but a lot of my friends are there as well. I've had a lot of good times there. It's a very big blog site, so I guess I just need to remember to stay out of any discussion that looks like it's taking a wrong turn. Sometimes I forget myself a little bit, though I'm getting a lot better at that.

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Heather
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Sounds like maybe you could at least benefit from adding a feminist discussion community, or blog with a lot of discussion in the comments, to your online-cruising roster?

In other words, I think it's possible you're having discussions about feminism with a lot of people who don't get what that means and all it entails. I mean, for sure, this can still happen in more established and informed feminist online communities, but it's a lot less rare and you're not likely to see the kinds of things you're reporting here.

(You probably also don't need me to tell you that women and girls are not, by default, feminist and don't automatically get feminism because of their sex or gender. But I just did anyway, just in case. [Smile] )

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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mizchastain
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I'm not even really sure why this kind of thing made me so angry, given that the people making such claims were strangers to me and I'm pretty sure at least some of them were just trying to make trouble. I think it might be the implication that the time I was fourteen and was sexually harassed by two female classmates either can't have happened or didn't matter just because the harassers lacked Y chromosomes. I could put up with that from someone who doesn't call themselves a feminist (would still be annoying, but not unexpected, sadly) but if someone claims they want equal treatment for women and support for survivors and then are dismissive of that incident ... well, yeah. I'm not particularly bothered by the incident in itself anymore because it was basically just talk, though I'm still annoyed that I let them get away with it, but I still don't want people to treat it flippantly.

Maybe there's also something to do with the fact that all my closest friends, since I was seven, have been male. The suggestion that the people I love and who have been nothing but good and respectful to me are completely incapable of treating me well because of our respective genders makes me angry on their behalf.

[ 03-12-2011, 03:04 PM: Message edited by: mizchastain ]

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Heather
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I totally feel you on this: I get very upset and angry about misandry, too. I get angry because of all the men in my life who I love and care about or who I have loved and cared about, but I also get angry from a place of my feminism, in that I know all too well how much ANY kind of sexism does all people harm.

That said, over the years I've also learned to be a little more patient with some folks' process. After all, sexism and gender inequity is SO institutionalized, and some folks -- most, I'd say -- kind of start coming to these issues without realizing how much they have to unpack, how much they have internalized, and without acknowledging that the issue isn't that this gender has the power while the other does not or should, but that the power should be shared and gender equity is the goal. Personally, I also have found that heterosexual women have a lot more baggage around men than someone queer like myself, which is pretty understandable, even if I'm not down with the way that some of them hurl that baggage around sometimes.

Of course, being patient doesn't mean not calling folks out or enabling them, it just means that when I have to do that, I can usually be a *little* more calm and patient knowing that this is a very long process for everyone.

So, do you want some links for some online feminist spaces where you can go to balance this one out, and where I know you can expect most folks to do a better job around this than seems to be the case where you've been hanging out?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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mizchastain
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To be honest, when I want a reasonable feminist discussion, here seems to be pretty good at that. But since this place is mostly aimed at young people and I won't be in the target age group forever, checking out some other places might be helpful, so yes, thank you.

I think my dislike of that attitude might also be partly reaction to the fact I've been outright told I'm a failure as a feminist or had it implied that I'm somehow not a good woman for not thinking it's right, or the way people get angry when they claim "all women" think this and I point out that I don't. I don't want to be a stranger's mouthpiece, and that doesn't change with their gender.

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Heather
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Sure thing!

So, there's another site for young feminists which we sponsor and I helped start, run by young women (who, when they felt ready, took it over so now nobody with wrinkles like me is there helping). That's htp://www.allgirlarmy.org

A couple others I'd suggest to start with are feministe -- http://www.feministe.us/blog/ -- Shakesville -- http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/ -- and, for some UK flavor, the f-word at http://www.thefword.org.uk/

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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mizchastain
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Thank you [Smile]

One of the things which is annoying me is that after having told myself not to get involved in these arguments anymore I can't use all the arguments and comebacks I came up with. For example, with the ones claiming that rape or abuse victims who are male and/or were abused by females don't deserve support because of the institutionalised misogyny meaning women get abused by men more often, I desperately wanted to tell them that, by their own logic, they must get rid of their computers immediately because of the institutionalised industrialisation worldwide ensuring that much of the world's population is too poor to own a computer.

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