I was a feminist, at one point. I left the feminist movement around this time of the year back in 2014 (March-April). I did not leave it for any stereotypical reasons one could throw at me.
“It wasn’t all about you so you left!” No.
“You are a sexist, misogynistic man so you left!” No.
“You left because you do not want equality, and can’t stand women having equal ground!” No.
But I left because I want to search for equality. Real equality. Feminism turned its ugly side to me and I left because of its own self-destructive ways. Let me direct to a brilliant video that surfaced after the 2016 Election. In case the embedding did not work here is the link.
Jonathan hits the nail on a belief I held for so long, a discussion is key. If you limit discussion you just breed more of a difference. Liberals/Feminists feel as if they ‘won the culture war’; anything that is not ‘them’, is wrong and is blasted. Either to silence it or label it in a demonizing way.
This is what scared me away from feminism. It was the cultural thinking that this is a strict belief and anything outside of it is sexism. That is not how public media and activism should occur. Clark and Aufderheide in their work A New Vision for Public Media state a viewpoint of John Dewey, “access to participation is to be free and equal, ‘without respect to race, sex, class, or economic status” (MSJ, p.61). I know this tends to help defend those who are marginal.
But truthfully this should apply, always.
I wanted to participate with the feminist groups and blogs, I supported them, reposted their work, and even to this day I take stands against sexism and inequality. However, my participation was limited, restricted, and sometimes thrown away.
I did not go into feminism and try to curse it, nor to make it egoistic about me. I realized it was egoistic. Any time I tried to gather support for men on an issue I was silenced. Even if the issues were the same, I failed to see the equality in ignoring the problem men face simply because it might statistically ‘happen less’ or ‘it is different’ as some feminists would state.
At no time, would I ever devalue the suffering of women, every time I showed support for the cause, but asked: “What’s the stance with men and this issue?” Assuming equality was the cornerstone of this movement I was baffled by the clear absence of any male issues that did not pertain to simply boys not being allowed to cry or play with ‘girl toys’.
Not saying overbearing masculinity isn’t a problem. If you know me, you would know I’m no manly man. But there was no widespread consensus within the feminist population about men being forced to sign the draft, male bodily autonomy regarding male genital cutting on nonconsenting infants and minors with no scientific bound reason, fathers being alienated from their children by their once partner, and especially courts favoring mothers against fathers. But anytime I brought this up I was called a sexist but I just wanted equal representation that I thought was their cause.
I became silenced to the point I was once told: “The mere fact you are a man means your opinions do not matter here!” Of course, this would be dispelled as “just a bad feminist” and I did receive many other female feminists who jumped to my defense. But that did not stop my ban, removal, and silencing within these feminist online groups.
Feminism is almost like the Democrats in Johnathan’s video above. They believe they own the culture, they are right, cannot be wrong, and their culture bleeds into the media. Feminism is in many of my readings in the academic field, its trends all over media. It is a strong prevalent movement. People say feminism wants global equality but there is so much ‘us vs them’ within the movement. I understand some skepticism to the Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s), but this should not destroy any effort at collaborating something better. As Hamelink states that within media we get a strong “us vs. them” narrative, with them always being dangerous to us (MSJ, p.28).
And I still support most feminist struggles. Women do have many inequalities which need to be changed. But men do not live a utopian life. This is a founded flaw of feminism I had to walk away from. Women’s issues still do not make it into media as it should, sometimes, but it is still increasingly dominant.
But it came to a point where I realized, systemically, my points and suffering or even just the general suffering of men I brought up was being ignored or silenced. This was not equality.
Nina Gregg in her work Media Is not the Issue, she states the issue is justice itself. You need to fight to get yourself into the media and you need to be courageous and demanding to get it put out (MSJ, p.86). But that cannot be done if the culture around it belittles and attacks other points that are still within the same spectrum of justice.
The Red Pill is a documentary that was conducted by a feminist, at the time, who wanted to get more insight on this seemingly “misogynistic and hateful” movement as she learned within feminism. But I argue, legitimate MRA’s exist because they became marginalized when they needed help. Some of the points these activists fight for I personally know some feminists who do support it. But the movement abroad seems to want nothing with it.
Some fight because they are victims of parental alienation, victims of domestic abuse, and many other types. Watch a sneak peek about this here.
A sad part of the video is seeing the backlash, from people who could not even stand for 5 minutes to hear what they had to say, referencing the anti-MRA march that showed up shouting instead of listening.
In fact, since this documentary has been released its release was canceled in Melbourne, Australia by feminist outrage. People who did not even watch it blasted it and tried to silence its attempt to bring men’s suffering that has gone ignored. What type of message does that bring?
Now I will agree there are sexists within the Men’s Rights Movement, but I could show you just as many ‘bad feminists’ I am told to ignore because they ‘are not real feminists’. Margaret Gallagher said in her work Feminism and Social Justice, that one criticism of feminism is that it is achieved at the expense of men. That somehow now they are the victims (MSJ, p.132). Which as a feminist she would believe that this is false, women are the victims and men are privileged. But that’s not the case, they have been victims. In some cases, men are becoming victims more due to ignored statistics and struggles.
I left feminism because my ideas of reform to address my own suffering and suffering of men I have met was ignored or struck down. Discussion to them was not a possibility, no matter how I tried in various ways. Therefore, they breed a bigger divide and even created more resistance to their movement.
Both want gender issues to be addressed. Christine Dunbar-Hester’s main theme in Drawing and Effacing Boundaries in Contemporary Media Democracy Work is that movements build walls to each other. When there should be a collaboration there is instead frustration and creating even more of a difference on top of the existing difference (MSJ, p 195-197).
Both need a reform, not one is perfect. But both has such great amazing points and possible strength. It is the problem that feminism built up its walls and defends them. Any difference is automatically sexism and hate. But how is bringing up the suffering of a man wrong to a movement I was told was for gender equality. We do not need MRA’s to just ‘understand feminism better’ or for feminists to go away. Personally, I would love for both to join together and create its own non-gendered equality movement that does not favor one side. But at least a collaboration of the two to take care of one another’s valid activism and provide each other’s weaknesses with the other’s strengths.
Why can’t we just see how the walls are built from inside talk and theory and realize it isn’t the great hero we think it is, we are wrong.
Why can’t we just work together for a better, stronger purpose?
Why can’t we be friends?