One of the things anti-feminists find hard to swallow is the idea that patriarchy permeates the mechanics of our society. Okay, correction: far from existing as just an idea or theory as many would believe, the patriarchal problem is very real and it hurts men, too. Some would rather be persuaded to use another term to describe certain injustices women face, like ‘discrimination’ perhaps, and ignore that male-dominance in certain positions of power (in politics, religious organisations, film and media corporations, literature, etc.) is really the problem. A great article by Laurie Penny at Liberal Conspiracy tells us that anti-feminist men should get over the myth of male-bashing feminists and embrace feminism without risking losing their Y-chromosome.
In recent weeks, I’ve faced a lot of accusations of misandry for daring to point out that some bad things that happen are perpetrated almost exclusively by men, and for having the temerity to suggest that in some situations women get a raw deal simply because of their biological sex. I thought I’d respond to the critics with a few reasons why feminism and misandry are not synonymous, and why male and female feminists need to work together to break tired economic models of gender.
As feminists, the liberation of the y-chromosomed half of the human race has never been high on our list of priorities – historically speaking, we’ve had enough to worry about. However, it’s high time that we started a serious recruitment drive. Although the feminist movement has faced many obstacles and lost many battles, women have now won themselves enough social and economic capital that we can finally start to address the other half of the equation: the emancipation of men from capitalist patriarchy.
There are many urgent reasons why socialist feminists of all genders need to concern themselves with popular misandry and the subjugation of men, especially when we’re facing down the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. A recession is never a good time for women’s rights. Economic crisis moves economic equality from the agenda, and a great deal of women’s struggle in and out of the workplace revolves around the battle for equal economic status. Cuts to welfare benefits and part-time employment hit women with children hardest.
But most importantly of all, any recession creates a large body of justly angry, disenfranchised working men, men who are encouraged implicitly and sometimes explicitly to take that anger out where it will do least damage to capitalist hegemony: to whit, on women. It is a well-known and oft-repeated fact that domestic violence against women increases in times of economic crisis, usually, as is the case now, contiguously with a cut in state spending on women’s refuges. But another backlash against feminism itself is also to be expected – and as feminists, the fallacy that the problems that men face in a recession are the fault of feminism is something that we need to turn and face.
Read the rest here.