The Thistle Volume 12, Number 2: July 4, 2000.

The Angry Feminist

As a Man, it is nearly impossible for me to know what it is to be a Woman. Just like itís nearly impossible for a human to understand what itís like to have the visual field of a horse. If you were to undergo extensive corrective surgery and stick a fork in key areas of your occipital lobe, you might be able to approximate horse-vision, but itís really unlikely that youíll ever get the whole experience. Similarly, as a Man, if I were to accoutre myself appropriately so that I could be subjected to abuse by the male sex, then I might reach some understanding of what it is to be a Woman. But odds are Iím too much of a chicken-shit to go to this much effort, and so my understanding will always remain as flawed and half-assed as it is.

Consequently, I feel ill-equipped to be a feminist. As a Man I canít possibly know all of what Men make Women suffer through, so how the hell am I supposed to put a stop to it all? Right?

I mean, come on, how many male feminists have there been? This is clearly a domain reserved exclusively for women. Men canít possibly understand the ways in which they fail women, so why even try? Just leave it to the women to fight the battles themselves. Maybe if this one-sided struggle goes on for long enough, some magic epiphany will occur and Men will collectively acquiesce to a more equitable, gender-bias-free world.

Now, some of you intransigent Men out there might have lingering doubts, and might for some reason feel like you can still try to empathize with Women. After all, if Men donít make the effort, you say to yourself, how will they ever change? If Men donít bother to question their own attitudes towards women, and examine where they break down and how they cause gender bias, how do we expect Menís attitudes to evolve?

Isnít this exactly like race? you say, still stubbornly refusing to believe me. I mean, isnít this like the white person trying to correct their own behavior and meet the black person halfway, to work together to correct social injustices?

The transformation of gender relationships in the past thirty years in this country has come about as a result of women waking up to the possibility of their own empowerment. Women stood up and fought hard for their own humanity, and whatever theyíve won has come about because of a change in the attitudes of women. This, though, is only half the puzzle. In order to destroy the remaining pieces of patriarchy, in order to remove the boot from the neck of Woman, itís not sufficient for the Woman to push the boot away - itís necessary for the Man to wake up and realize where his foot has been.

Men have failed to participate in feminism, and this is precisely the problem. Men maintain the glass ceiling. Men engage in battery of women. Men commit rape. Men refuse to acknowledge equality of women in the workplace, in the home, in government, in every facet of society. Empowered women may point these failings out until they are blue in the face; until men realize that they are at fault, and until men take steps to correct their own behavior, the feminist revolution will never be complete.

Of course, this is just a load of clap-trap and drivel. Any man can stand up and swear that he sees and treats women as equals. Iíve heard men do this many times. IíVE done it many times. Making it an active process, however, is vastly different. As long as itís always women who have to push womenís issues into the light, women who have to engender debate and press for abortion rights, harassment laws, etc., men who claim to support feminism are failures, fakes and frauds. This is an active process, you Men - donít wait for the women to force you to recognize the problems. Seek them out yourself. Correct them yourself. If you donít, it will be many, many years before equality.

Itís probably unrealistic to expect Men to come to this realization. Letís face it: historically, the oppressor has never given up his (no mistake there!) role out of mere altruism. He has only ceded it when itís clear that he canít maintain his power without a concession. Until such a time comes, it falls upon those few men who arenít thinking with their balls to take a step up and swing the bat for feminism.


The Thistle Volume 12, Number 2: July 4, 2000.