Listen, I think we all have the basics of feminism down:
1. Women and men are not better or worse than each other.
2. Women are fully human and should be treated that way by the law.
3. Being a woman is not inherently an insulting joke the universe played on half the population, therefore using womanliness as an insult against folks really sucks.
Okay, true, not everyone gets the third one, but we’ll work on it. I still throw the word “retarded” around like an insult, even though reading Jeff Atwood’s blog has now made me feel very uncomfortable every time it comes out of my mouth or off my finger tips.
It’s an unbecoming habit and it inadvertently hurts people I’m not trying to hurt, so, slowly I’m learning to stop. Not because it’s P.C., but because I don’t want to inadvertently hurt people.
I think most folks who call each other pussies or admonish their friends to stop acting like a girl don’t really think that, for instance, being me would really suck that much butt. After all, there’s lots of beer drinking and masturbating and watching TV and who doesn’t love that?
But here’s the thing (and I know we keep circling around this, so here we go round again): If you are doing something that assholes who wish me harm also do, it’s not my job–nay it would be incredibly stupid of me–to assume that you’re an okay guy.
For instance, if I knew a man who called me a stupid bitch and a whore before he threw me into a wall, it wouldn’t take but once for me to learn that being called a stupid bitch or a whore might be a prelude to violence against me.
Now, say I’m in a group of folks I don’t really know that well and I’m the only girl. Say one of the guys starts calling the other guys “stupid bitches” or “whores.”
In other circumstances, when I’ve heard those words, bad things have happened to me afterwards.
Why should I trust that this time is different?
You see what I’m asking?
Why do I have to make myself vulnerable to violence against me just so y’all can have your little ways of insulting each other?
If I were hiking around in the woods and I heard a rattling, I’d be an idiot to not walk away from the sound, even if, upon closer inspection, the rattling turned out to be drying seeds in a pod shaking in the wind.
I don’t owe things that give off warning signs the benefit of the doubt. “Oh, I hear a rattling up here in the woods where I know rattle snakes live. I should look closer on the off chance it’s a lost, but very calm baby.”
So, when my friend Kleinheider starts going on about how little kids are a bunch of pussies and the public school system has been feminized, I do take it as a personal insult–that Carter thinks so little of me that, when kids behave in ways that remind him of me, they need to have that behavior knocked out of them by as traumatic an event as folks in authority can come up with.
But that’s not why I’m writing.
Gentlemen, I’m writing for you. I’m writing to beg you to toss out any notion of “manliness” that’s predicated on your ability to lord your power over folks who are weaker than you.
It’s not good clean manly fun to take a bunch of eleven year old kids into the forest and pretend like, no matter how briefly, you’re going to kill them.
Manliness is not about being able to force people who are weaker than you to go through terrible ordeals just because you can.
Manliness is and should always be about keeping the weak people in your care safe, happy, and healthy. Strength does not have to be about being able to beat up most of the people around you. It can also be about teaching others around you to be strong.
Think of it this way. Is the martial arts practitioner a master because he can easily kick the butts of every person in his dojo or is he a master because he passes on his knowledge to others and helps them become strong?
Is the good father the one whose kids are afraid to misbehave for fear that he will beat the shit out of them or the one whose children behave because he’s taught them self-discipline and respect for themselves and others?
We equate the ability to perpetrate violence on others with strength, but this is wrong. Violence against those who are weaker than us comes from a place of fear and weakness in ourselves.
Being strong, being manly, shouldn’t hurt the people who are in our care.
But I can shout about this all day, every day, for the rest of my life, and it won’t do any good. I’m a “crazy feminist.”
This is work y’all have to do. You. You have to refuse to accept this notion that manliness is some kind of destructive force that wrecks havoc on weaker people.
Just like I go around saying, “Listen, fuckers, stop using femaleness as an insult and a sign of weakness,” you have to go around saying, “Listen fuckers, men are not monsters and manliness is not detrimental to the community. Stop perpetrating the notion that it is.”