Category Archives: feminism

in the company of men.

 As a feminist I have, of course, heard numerous forms of the ‘man-hater’ label.  Usually this happens when a man is threatened by my mere mentioning of the fact that some men are violent or when I point out that they aren’t picking up on my emotional, experiential logic framework of discussion.  No, I don’t hate men.  In fact, I married one.  Though this is somewhat surprising given the actual state of affairs: I am afraid of men.

 

a man's man.

a man's man.

I am not the only one afraid of men: many women (and men) have shared with me that they are  likewise fearful.  Our shared fear takes many forms.  Personally, I face extreme discomfort with actual or possible sexual attention from men, panic at the sight of certain types of men (read: dudes), and absolute panic at the thought of interacting with male authority figures on a personal or critical level.  This means that going out to any public drinking establishment sans spouse is frightening (last time I was called a ‘lesbian’ and was forced to call the guy ‘asshole’), interaction with male professors and administrators takes extensive emotional planning and preparation, and asserting myself with peers of the opposite sex is next to impossible.

 

Am I neurotic? Perhaps. But these personal experiences are not the most extreme I’ve heard of and I know many people who face similar tribulations. In fact, the overarching problem of fear of men is far more prevalent than we should be comfortable with in a supposedly progressing society. The good news is that, as I see it,  it has its foundation in avoidable circumstances.

First, of course, low self-esteem is instilled in women and girls through various actions of a unintentional social conspiracy of the patriarchy including the obvious, beauty standards, and the less obvious, a well-documented lack of support for girls in the classroom.  

Second, from a very young age socialization is gendered.  Boys hang out with boys and play boys’ games with boys’ toys and girls hang out with girls and play girls’ games with girls’ toys.  To blur these lines is to be socially punished by peers – think being taunted as a ‘tomboy’ or ‘sissy’.  Thus, with little variance, girls grow up on one path and boys on another not to meet again until it comes time to partner off in heterosexual couplehood.  The outcome is essentially two groups unique in childhood experience, and therefore socialization, somewhat coached in reconciling these differences for the purpose of  sexual pairing but with no real development of the tools necessary to effectively interact with the opposite sex outside of that sexual framework.  On top of this, as girls, we are taught that there are strange predatory men lurking around every corner poised to attack.  

So by the time we are women we have learned how to deal with family-member men, boyfriend/husband men, and dangerous men.  But what about all those other men?  From personal experience and in talking with others I come to realize that to many women, those other men become mysterious beings who communicate very differently than we do. We have been told (and sometimes we perceive first-hand) that they are unemotional, helpless against our sexual power, constantly judging our sexual power, and are prone to arrogance, disloyalty, superiority,violence, and general dude-ness.

So, what of all those complicated social interactions between sexes?  Well, some women end up feeling constantly disempowered: those women who do fear men likely feel constantly disadvantaged in social relationships with them as their self-doubt is magnified by a palpable, though often imaginarily so, sense of inferiority and powerlessness.  

I believe this is all connected to the fact that women are still entering a ‘man’s world’ when entering the public sphere.  Less gendered socialization and more support for the development of self-esteem and empowerment in women and girls are minimum steps necessary to making a truly egalitarian society.

3 Comments

Filed under feminism

your ontology is killing me.

this pig has boots.

this pig has boots.

This story was on the CBC  morning show yesterday.  It is an illustration of some of the evils of factory farming: animals are treated like emotionless product/cargo and often transported long distances without food or water, crammed in uncomfortably, and as the story specifically shows us, often without concern for whether or not the animals will fall out of the truck.

Feminists should care about factory farming because the way we as a society treat animals is an indication of the status of the patriarchy.  Violence against women and violence against animals is the result of the same ontology operating on society.  The ontology that places MAN above WOMAN and NATURE/ANIMALS in a hierarchical structure of understanding despite the interconnectedness of the well-being of all actors on the planet.  Obviously, feminism is quite concerned with ‘man’ being above ‘woman’ in this proliferate model, but concern for the other ‘other’ is slower coming.  As I see it though, systemic violence against nature/animals is not only linked to the health and well-being of all of our world system including people, but is a sign of a sick society that is yet to give up an ontology of hierarchy as one of its basic principles.

The struggle for animal rights has many similarities with the struggle for women’s rights.  For instance, there are systemic laws in place which normalize the oppression of animals and make it next to impossible for the average citizen of Canada to begin a process whereby we view animals as something for than a commodity.  Just as women in legal matters were mere property, animals, particularly food production animals, are legally  bound to be reduced to mere property.  The case of the little pig on the 401 is an example of this as the piglet, by virtue of being a ‘farm animal’, cannot legally be owned as a domestic pet.  Just as women were viewed as baby-making property, animals are still viewed merely as meat-making property and even if we wanted to reimagine the role of meat-producing animals in our lives, we can’t because of the laws restricting private ownership.   

These types of by-laws and laws normalize essential commdofication of animals, keeping them in the hands of mass producers as most cities in North America disallow city dwellers to own or raise animals such as chickens, despite the fact that most standard backyards are more than enough space to safely raise happy, well-cared-for chickens.  This also makes alternative food production, a move which could help reduce strain on the environment, difficult.

Like the current trends to focus on class and ethnicity as well as gender within feminist discourse, I think we also need to start looking at systemic models of animal oppression as indicators of the status of security and equality of women in our society.

4 Comments

Filed under environment., feminism