Thank You So Much for Teaching Me About Feminism, Sir

[Content Note: Feminist policing; mansplaining.]

Hello, LADIES. Antony Loewenstein has written a terrific piece telling us how to do feminism, and we should all definitely read it.

Actual Headline: 'Feminism lite' is letting down the women who need it the most.

Actual Subhead: "I've hesitated to write about gender, worried that I'll be slammed for daring to speak out. But we all benefit from gender equality, and therefore must give feminism some tough love."

Oh dear. We haven't even reached the text of the article yet, and already he's employing the old "I'm scared to speak, because feminists are scary and mean" chestnut. Which is a profoundly misogynist trope, used against feminist women all the time. So I'm super convinced this guy is definitely going to be a terrific ally.

Actual Opening Sentence: "Men are afraid to talk about feminism."

Here is it again. Right in the first line. Men are afraid. With the embedded humblebrag that he's brave, because here he is, a man, talking about feminism.

Actual Rest of the Opening Paragraph: "If that sounds melodramatic, I'd ask you to count the number of articles written by male writers tackling the big and small issues around gender and women's equality. You'll be hard pressed to find a strong selection."

Yes, and that's definitely because feminist women are so powerful and scary and mean that men are scared, and not because the vast majority of men are totally fucking indifferent to caring about, no less writing about, gender equality. Good grief.

The rest of the piece is positively littered with variations on the whole "feminists are mean and silencing men through fear" rhetoric:
We are boyfriends, husbands, fathers or friends, and yet too many of us shy away from these sensitive matters, fearing opprobrium. Too often, men worry they'll be attacked by women for questioning a consensus position on feminist issues.

...In hindsight, there's no solid reason why I couldn't have written this article years ago, but I've hesitated to do so. I've worried that I would be slammed for my white, male position and dismissed as ignorant of the real problems faced by women today. It's an odd concern, because I don't worry about extreme Zionists challenging me when I call them out on their racism (and I do receive plenty of vicious attacks whenever I write about it).

The bottom line is that writing about feminism when male is like gatecrashing a party – and I'm concerned I'll be slammed for daring to arrive without an invitation.

...I realise I've been been too cautious for too long, not daring to add my voice to the debate.
Not daring to add his white, male voice to "the debate." Which he seems to believe is about how feminists are not nearly as good at doing feminism as he is.

All of this is couched in rhetoric of men needing to get involved in feminism, because it's not fair to leave the fight singularly to women. But he uses that only insomuch as to suggest there's a place for him to criticize feminists, despite the fact that feminists who discuss men's role in feminism (myself included) are advocating that men get engaged to talk to other men, not "get engaged" to lecture feminists on how they're doing feminism wrong.

He's borrowing the language of feminists—who he repeatedly marginalizes as unyielding, strident, mean, and terrifying—in order to criticize us. And has already set us up as hysterical scolds, so that if any of us disagree that his approach is "helpful," we're just proving his point.

But I desperately want men to get engaged in feminist advocacy. The thing is that what Antony Loewenstein is doing here isn't feminist advocacy. It's feminist policing.

It's basic concern trolling masquerading as feminist allyship. And I have absolutely zero use for that.

I also have zero use for men who define their need to get engaged with feminist advocacy as anything other than "because it's the right thing to do." I don't, and never will, trust a man who says men need to get engaged because "we are boyfriends, husbands, fathers, or friends," embracing the language of ownership of and entitlement to women.

How about you get engaged because women are human beings the end.

[H/T to Jessica Luther.]

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