Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Women are People. Sometimes, People are Jerks.

Whenever I post these gender charts on social media, people tell me that’s not how radical feminism always looks in the real world. That is true. There are some radical feminists who believe men are inherently evil and women are inherently good. I am not one of them.

I don’t think women who want to live as separately from men as possible are in any way wrong. They have ample justification from life experience and should be able to live their lives how they please.  However, a female separatist community won’t be an instant utopia. Because women are people.

Let me re-state: women are people.

Not helpmates nor holes nor mother goddesses. People.

People? Can be jerks.

Thus, women can be jerks.

The idea of inherently good women and inherently evil men is not, for me, impacted much by NAMALT. Not all men are like that, of course, but far too many are, thus the desperate need to critique & dismantle masculinity. The idea of inherently good women and inherently evil men is, however, fairly well destroyed by, you know, the women we all know who are jerks.

Furthermore? Women have the right to have some jerks on our side. Women have the right to be imperfect. Expectations of perfection are oppressive as Hell. Maintaining the lie that 54% of the population is inherently good? Exhausting. Just relax and accept the truth-- Any human being on Earth regardless of their sex, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, “gender identity,” physical ability, geographic location and any other identity check box you can think of? Might just be a jerk. Or not. Or maybe just sometimes.

We can acknowledge this truth (which we all know) -- and still analyze unjust power structures.

These four statements are not contradictory:
  • Women as a class are oppressed via gender.
  • Women as a class are not to blame for all the ills of patriarchy.
  • Some individual women are jerks.
  • Women who are jerks are still oppressed by gender and are still not to blame for patriarchy.

It’s still true that women are socialized to put men’s feelings first, often, as is the case with transgender identity politics, ahead of our own material reality. It is also still true that men have the empathy beaten out of them in the name of "masculinity."

This doesn’t mean empathy is a bad quality in a woman. Women need to balance their empathy with self-regard and class analysis, and men need to balance their self-regard with empathy and class analysis. All human beings, male, female and intersex, as social animals born into imperfect social systems, need to find that balance.

Masculinity and femininity are intimately intertwined. We have come to a crisis point where the feminist deconstruction of femininity has run into men’s brick wall defense of their masculinity. SBW (@StopBlaminWomen) is interested in getting as many people as possible to consider freeing their minds from gender programming. We believe our cause is best served with a balanced approach of clear-eyed analysis, humor, and yes, kindness.

You know who devalues other people’s kindness? Bullies. And yes, women can be bullies. And disregarding the efforts of women who try to bully us does not somehow mean we are disregarding all women. We are simply disregarding bullies. And in so doing we are saying to anyone out there who is interested in analyzing gender: You too can disregard the bullies.

You do not have to be a tribunal-certified lesbian separatist to read Andrea Dworkin. You do not have to think all transsexual people are perverts to understand that gender identity politics are inane. You too can choose to find your own balance of empathy, self-regard and class analysis; your own balance of truth-telling, snark and diplomacy.

Nobody owns radical feminism. Nobody owns gender analysis. Nobody owns me, or you. Free your mind. Tell the truth. Women are people. Some women are jerks. Gender is still sexist horseshit.

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