Wowee. After reading the feedback I got at some discussion forums yesterday regarding my post, 10 Traits Men Possess That Women Take For Granted, I started to wonder if I was a misogynist myself! Me? The labeled, “activist poet”? How can this be?
No. I’m not a misogynist. This I know. I mean, if I was a misogynist, it would imply that I hate my own gender. Are you kidding?! Look at the name of this blog for heaven’s sake. Look at the anthologies my poems have been published in like Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence. No, my fellow woman and man, I am most certainly not a misogynist. Rather, I am a believer in gender equality and dignity.
I wrote the post in reaction to trends that seem to be infiltrating our cultures. While we seek the empowerment of females, we are simultaneously blaming males for this inequality. Look, gente (that’s Spanish for people) this just isn’t productive. If women don’t allow any room for men to be their selves or celebrate their selves or nurture their selves, then the men are being oppressed. They become (and many are) trapped into the identity we ironically hate most, “the insensitive sexist asshole.” Just ponder any other results of oppression and you get this: the oppressed lose self-development and become what the oppressor names them as.
It’s is an abusive cycle, not a productive one. Yes, women have been abused and oppressed for forever, still very much so today (very much so). However, why can’t women reject the role of abuser in search of power and try something else, perhaps something even more natural to us. In education they call it, providing positive reinforcement. If you keep saying no to a kid or “that’s wrong,” or “that’s not the right way,”, he/she will either lose self-confidence and stop believing in his or her self, or he/she will simply fulfill the role the teacher has placed on him/her as the “rotten apple,” or “troublemaker” etc. If all reinforcement is negative, the student only knows what not to do or how to avoid it.
How is being an extreme feminist abusive? Well, many of the tactics behind the feminist movement parallel the same tactics that abusers seeking control use. Traits of emotional abuse (Six Types of Emotional Abuse and Respect For Women: Types of Abuse) are visible in some of the popular feminist strategies :
Ignoring or neglecting the feelings of others (in this case, men)
Telling insulting gender-related jokes
Breaking, taking or giving away someone’s valued things
Harsh criticism, belittling, labeling
Physical or emotional abandonment
Unpredictable, unreasonable or extreme reactions
So, maybe this last post, 10 Traits Men Possess that Women Take For Granted, seemed a little…what? Too kind? Too exclusive? Perhaps I should have included the note, “none of this implies that women can’t do these things either.” I assumed this was a given, we can clearly do whatever men can do, and we compete with them well. My intention with the post was to simply bring out a breath of fresh air in the battle for gender equality, to answer, “no” to the following questions: Does equality mean abandoning the needs of our counterparts? Belittling their passions? Rejecting their strengths? Oppressing their feelings? Lacking empathy?
I choose to embrace my maternal instincts not fighting instincts. No. I don’t think battling men is a solution. It takes two enemies to make a battle. Why should we become theirs or vice versa? Sometimes enlightenment, kindness (a bit of flattery goes a long way), respect and generosity pave a path to a balanced society.
WIth the post, 10 Traits Men Possess that Women Take for Granted, I guess I was trying a different approach. Men, like any other human being, also need validation and support. Indeed the post over-generalizes, but nowhere do I claim to know what I’m talking about. Maybe instead of the last article, I should have just posted this one. What do you think?
Suggested further reading: Think You Know About Women? Think Again
PS–I’ll just emphasize one more time: My empathy towards men in the quest for gender equality does not imply pity or coarseness to the plight of women (which I am a part of and which is the reason behind this post!). It’s just a different approach.
PSS–Disclaimer: I do not have a degree in sociology, I have one in writing, so whatever I express comes from my own observations, perceptions and daily emotions, not an expertise in gender relations.
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