Liberation through Lesbianism

Image Description: two interlinked female gender symbols, which each consist of a circle with a plus sign attached to the bottom, on a rainbow pride flag background.

First of all, a disclaimer: I’m not lesbian. I’m bisexual, meaning I am attracted to genders similar to, and different from, my own. For me personally this translates into attraction toward feminine and masculine presenting folx. Yet for the vast majority of my sexually active years, I mostly had relationships with men – mostly straight, cis men. (No, this does not mean I “used to be straight,” because sexual behavior does not determin sexual orientation.) The reason for this is because it was honestly eaiser. We live in a hetero-normative society, so hetero-normative relationships are easier to enter and sustain. They’re not better or healthier; there are just more opportunities to be in one. My current, and most serious, relationship to date, however, is with a woman. Sure, I hooked up with women in the past, but those never turned into anything serious. So, having a female significant other is a new experience for me. 

It hasn’t exactly been a Hollywood movie where I date a girl for the first time when I go off to college, she reveals the wonders of the glorious vagina (note: not all women have vaginas), and I find sexual liberation. Nor did I ever expect anything like that. In fact, it’s always felt remarkably normal. But over time I have slowly noticed some differences between being in a committed relationship with a man and being in a committed relationship with a woman.

For one, I’ve felt less pressure to make myself look “hot.” Yes, we find each other attractive, but I don’t worry about her making rude little comments about my body. Instead of, “eww! Why do you have a random long-ass hair on your back? Lol,” it’s, “hey babe, you have a random long-ass hair on your back. Do you want me to pluck it for you?” And while our behavior toward each other’s bodies might not work for everyone, there’s no denying she is less critical of my body then men typically have been. She understands women’s bodies aren’t perfect – probably because she has one – but that doesn’t disqualify our bodies from being beautiful. 

However, the two most significant differences I’ve noticed between being with a woman and being with a man are (1) a lack of gross entitlement in my partner, and (2) a far lighter demand on my emotional labor.

My girlfriend does not act entitled to my body. She doesn’t assume I will have sex with her whenever she wants. She doesn’t assume I will do all the cleaning and house work even though we both work full time, and she certainly doesn’t expect me to clean up after her. She doesn’t pressure me to be friends with her friends, or demand I take her side in a debate. She doesn’t act entitled to every minute of my time, and think my entire universe revolves around her needs. She knows I’m always there for her for the important stuff, but she’s also aware I have obligations to other people and myself.

This substantially lessened demand on my emotional labor now that I’m with my girlfriend actually just hit me today. I was reading an article about how men expect the women in their lives to manage their emotions for them, and I was like, “that’s spot on! I used to have to do that all the fucking time! But now I don’t… Why is that?” The reason is twofold: One, I actually don’t have a ton of men in my life these days. I was never one of those people who only had female friends; I just kind of hung out with whomever I clicked. But lately, I just don’t have a lot of guy friends. Maybe it’s because I’m not in college anymore, my office is all women, and there aren’t that many dudes in my circle. Or maybe it’s because my tolerance for sexism and men’s bullshit has shrunk to miniscule ammounts, so all my male friends decided to bail rather than confront their sexist behaviors. I don’t know.

Reason number two should be pretty obvious: I’m no longer romantically or sexually involved with men. Therefore, the interactions I do still have with men are far less intimate. For the first time I am able to hold all the men I know at a distance if I so choose. And you know what? It’s been pretty great. Yes, I still experience harassment and abuse from male clients, male relatives, male acquaintances, and even male stangers. But when I go home at night I get a break.

I no longer come home to someone I have to mother, coddle, or play therapist to. I am no longer my significant other’s emotional landfill where they dump all their negative emotions and unprocessed feelings, expecting me to magically take care of them. I am no longer an emotional punching bag on which the man who claims to love me can take out his anger. I don’t have to worry about brusing my girlfriend’s fragile male ego. I can be direct with her, and that’s so refreshing. 

All this is not to say my girlfriend is faultless, but when she’s being an asshole I can tell her, “hey, you’re being an asshole,” without fear of having to deal with an angry display of male dominance. And can I be completely honest? I feel incredibly free without men. I didn’t realize how heavy the burden of performing emotional labor for the men in my life was until I wasn’t carrying it around anymore. I can’t say I particularly miss having men in my personal life. I deal with enough abuse from male clients at my job. Just today, I had a client throw a bitch fit because I was talking to my boss for a minute while I was on the phone with him. Never mind I had already given him 20 minutes of my time listening to him ramble incoherently, like always. Never mind that he wasn’t saying anything at that time. Never mind I was talking to my boss. Never mind he regularly talks over me, ignores me, and hangs up on me. He got shitty because someone didn’t prioritize his delicate man feelings and dared to refocus their attention off of him for a moment. Then he took that anger out on me and my boss. This is what men do, and I certainly don’t miss coming home to that.

When I studied feminist philosophy, I learned about something called “Political Lesbianism,” which essentially argues the solution to our patriarchal society is for women to simply abandon it and cut themselves off from men (or perhaps cut men off from women). Aside from the obviouse feasibility issue, Political Lesbianism is a branch of Radical Feminism that I have found to be particularly welcoming to Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. Often, cis women holding this ideology don’t view transwomen or transfeminine folx as “real” women. Political Lesbianism also de-emphasizes the importance of intersectionality and solidarity with other social justice movements. It’s more of a, “fuck you, I’m leaving” mentality, than my preferred, “fuck this, let’s join forces and dismantle this unequal society” mentality. 

While I don’t believe Political Lesbianism is the solution to our patriarchy problem, I am starting to think part of the idea might be applicable to my personal life and the personal lives of many queer feminine of center folx. When I’m asked if I would consider ever dating men again (for now, let’s ignore the biphobia in that question), I say no. Obviously, I don’t plan or want to end things with my girlfriend. But beyond that, I am really enjoying not dealing with men, their entitlement, and their demand for my emotional labor.

To the People Saying We’ll Survive Trump

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Image Description: Crowd of people standing and a few are holding signs. One sign reads, “this is not okay,” and the other sign reads, “fear…” and the rest of the sign is unreadable.

[TW: discussions of, and references to racism, Islamophobia, colonization, xenophobia, racialized violence, transphobia and other queerphobia, misogyny, sexual violence, ableism, and various types of hate crimes and bigotry]

This is to all the people telling members of various disadvantaged and oppressed groups to “calm down,” that we all just need to “come together,” and that if conservatives “survived Obama,” we’ll “survive Trump:”

SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.

Do not fucking tell us to calm down. We’re entitled to feel however the hell we feel. Do not tone police our reaction to President Toddler Hitler-lite. You have no idea where we’re coming from, and you clearly are not bothering to try to understand our very precarious situation. You’re blinded by your own privilege, so shut it.

And don’t you dare tell us we need to come together with Trump and his supporters. We are not obligated to unite with people who hate us, are bigoted toward us, and who terrify us. Trump and his supporters don’t get to be raging xenophobic, misogynistic, racists for a year and a half and then expect everyone they hate to be all hunky-dory and just fall in line. Fuck that!

How hell do you not understand that asking a person of color to set aside their own rights and well-being to make peace with a white supremacist is a giant slap in the face? Or how expecting Muslims, immigrants, or refugees to forget about all the hate and discrimination they faced from Trump and his supporters for the sake of your personal comfort is just plain heartless? Or how simply asking the LGBTQIA+ community to overlook the fact that Mike Pence and many Trump supporters think it’s perfectly acceptable to torture the f*ggot out of queer kids may cause actual trauma? Seriously, where the hell do get off asking these things of people?

Do not tell us we’ll live or we’re overreacting, because here is a list of people who will literally not survive the Trump-Pence administration:
1. Black folx and other PoC who will face increased racialized violence from police and white p*wer groups.
2. Native North Americans and Indigenous people whose land, water, and other resources will be polluted and stolen by the government and corporations.
3. Latinx people who will be racially profiled by ICE, many of whome will be illegally detained in inhumane facilities.
4. Undocumented immigrants who will likely be hunted down, rounded up into concentrated areas (does this sound vaguely familiar?), and deported.
5. Muslims who will be stigmatized even further, face an increased threat of violent hate crimes, be racially profiled by law enforcement, and who may have to register as Muslims (you know, like Jewish people in pre World War II Germany).
6. Refugees who will not be granted asylum in the U.S. Refugees who are running for their lives and have no where to go.
7. People with mental illnesses, disabled folx, and those who otherwise depend on state assistance for lifesaving healthcare.
8. People with pre-existing health issues and anyone else that relies on the regulations set forth in the ACA to obtain lifesaving health insurance coverage.
9. Any person who needs, or will need, access to affordable reproductive healthcare, including contraception, abortions, STI testing, reproductive-related cancer screenings, etc.
10. Trans and genderqueer folx who need accessible, legal avenues to change the gender identity on their legal documents (birth certificates, passports, state-issued photo IDs, etc.)
11. LGBTQIA+ folx who need access to safe transitional housing, to mental healthcare, to legal protections for their civil rights, and who will face increased rates of hate crimes.

If you don’t believe me, check out the links below. There are reports of trans suicides, racial violence, and violence against Muslim women.

And do not compare our terror and protests of Trump’s presidency to people’s animosity toward President Obama. Most people were angry about Obama’s presidency because they were racist. A few people may have simply been upset their candidate didn’t win, but let’s be honest, most of them were just racist assholes.

Those of us freaking out about Trump aren’t doing so because we’re sore losers, or because we’re bigoted assholes who are scared of losing our privilege. We’re freaked out because we know we’re about to face a living nightmare of hate crimes, police violence, and a loss of civil rights. We’re not shitty because other people might take a few steps toward equity and social justice, thereby narrowing the gaps in our social hierarchy and reducing our own privilege. We’re shitty because we’re about to take a giant step backward.

So yeah, sit your damn ass down and shut the fuck up!
Preston, Dominic. “Reports claim ‘at least 8’ trans youth died by suicide after Trump’s win,” Pink News. Nov. 10, 2016. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/11/10/reports-claim-at-least-8-trans-youth-committed-suicide-after-trumps-win/

Boyer, Ashley. Facebook Post screenshot via Kat Blaque. Nov. 10, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/kat.blaque.5/posts/1218259301582221

@Toure. Tweet screenshot via Shaun King Facebook page. Nov. 11, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/shaunking/photos/a.799605230078397.1073741828.799539910084929/1195912750447641/?type=3&theater

A Shit List of Male Entitlement

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Image Description: an outstretched hand, with palm up,  of a white person on a black background

Dear men,

I am tired of your shit. I am especially tired of your male entitlement. You are not entitled to the things you think/act like you are. Frankly, I don’t care why you think you’re entitled to so much from so many, and I don’t want to explain why you’re not so entitled. Here is simply a shit list of things you are not entitled to:

1. You are not entitled to my body

No one owes you sex of any kind. Not women, not gender nonconforming folx, not sex workers, not your significant other(s), no one. Nor do you ever deserve sex. No one ever deserves sex; sex is not a right. You can live without sex. In fact, some people are quite happy to live without sex. So, stop acting like the world owes you an orgasm. Understand this also includes unsolicited sexual advances and molestation.

But male entitlement to the bodies of others doesn’t stop with sex. It includes things like, when my father would force me to hug and kiss him even though I didn’t want to. Or when he would hit me, pin me down, or slam me into walls in order to get me to do what he wanted. Domestic and intimate partner violence have long been tools used by men to bend their spouses and children to their will. Historically men have showed little regard for the bodily autonomy of anyone who wasn’t socially or culturally considered to be a man.

2. You are not entitled to my time or my attention

I can’t count the number of times a male relative, significant other, or close friend expected me to drop whatever I was doing and do something with or for them. From the college boyfriend who expected me to sacrifice studying so we could fool around, to the friend who only spent time with me when it was convenient for him, their time and their schedule was most important. Screw my job, my homework, and my personal obligations, the men come first.

However, this also includes brief encounters. Random women and feminine of center folx you pass on the street are not required to give you the time of day. If someone wants to ignore you they are free to do so. Yes, it might sting a little, but they probably have their reasons. And even if you think those reasons are ridiculous, it’s still their right to choose not to engage with you. It is not your right to force anyone to engage with you.

3. You are not entitled to my emotional labor

This one is a doozy. Men expect women and feminine of center folx to be their mothers and/or therapists. Numerous exes expected me to clean up after them, remind them about important dates and deadlines, and do all the planning anytime we wanted to go anywhere or do anything.

Having to parent an adult man isn’t sexy, but I think being someone’s unpaid, on-call therapist is even worse. Women and feminine of center folx bear the brunt of men’s emotional needs. We are the people you call at 10 pm to go on and on about the train wreck that is your love life. We are the people you ask to take care of you when you’re sick. We are the people you dump on if you’re struggling with mental health issues because going to a professional therapist who’s actually trained to deal with these problems is “un-masculine.” We are the people you emotionally drain. But we are not the people you want to go to the movies or laser tag with. No, you have your dudebros for the fun stuff. But when we need emotional support we certainly can’t call you, because you wouldn’t know how to perform emotional labor even if you were willing to try.

4. You are not entitled to my good opinion

I’ve gotten this one mainly from male relatives, professors, and bosses. Sure, female or feminine of center relatives, professors, and bosses expect to be afforded a certain degree of courtesy, but they rarely demand to be treated with love or respect for simply existing. While I’m sure you men think very highly of yourselves, you don’t automatically deserve my good opinion just because I’m related to you, learn from you, or work for you. If you’re an asshole I’m going to think you’re an asshole. I might be civil toward you depending on the situation, but you aren’t automatically entitled to the good opinions of others. you have to earn good opinions via your conduct toward others, just like everyone else.

5. You are not entitled a girlfriend/significant other

The friendzone does not exist. Friendship isn’t a toll you pay in order to get a date or sex. Female and feminine of center friends are not back-up plans in case your current significant other doesn’t work out. The world doesn’t owe you a significant other simply because you are man. And rejection is not a personal slight against you nor evidence of ‘misandry’ (which doesn’t exist, by the way). Everyone deals with rejection, it’s part of life. So, grow up, get used to it, and get over yourself.

6. You are not entitled to be listened to

This is especially common among self-proclaimed “male feminists.” You burst into every feminist discussion, every dialog between women and feminine of center folx, and every other conversation that you aren’t invited into or that isn’t about you. From a woman’s Facebook post about not shaving her legs to political dialog about abortion services, there will always be at least one of you forcefully inserting your ill-informed opinion on topics that have nothing to do with you as if it were fact. Where oh where would us poor women and feminine of center folx be without men telling us what they think about our body hair, our medical choices, and our feminist theory. Never mind the fact it’s my body, my medical choice, and my graduate thesis. No, the men, no matter how ignorant, must be heard.

There are, of course, other instances of men demanding to be heard. For instance, I regularly witness men demand recognition, even appreciation, from women and feminine-presenting folx after catcalling them – as if men do us some great favor by showering us with disgustingly graphic and unsolicited sexual propositions every time we leave our houses.

Note: Most of these are derived from my experiences with cis men, but that is not to say trans men do not participate in, or to a lesser degree benefit from, sexism and patriarchy.

8 Types of “Male Feminists” who are Actually Misogynists

In mainstream feminism (by “mainstream feminism” I mean white, western, able-body, and cisgender -centric feminism) there is substantial discourse on whether or not men can be feminists, and on the ways feminism benefits men in addition to women. It should be noted this discourse, like mainstream feminism, speaks from the gender binary. I am not promoting binary feminism, and I fully recognize one of the many problems with mainstream feminism is the exclusion of trans woman, non-binary trans folx, and other gender nonconforming people.

Another problem with mainstream feminism, and the one I’ll be focusing on here, is that it often hides, or even enables, sexism in various ways. One such way is that it allows [cis] men to proclaim themselves “male feminists” without acknowledging how they benefit from, and contribution to, patriarchal systems of oppression. There are numerous types of self-described “male feminists” who use the problematic nature of this mainstream feminism to hide and/or justify their misogyny. Below is a non-exhaustive list:

1. Captain Feminism

This guy is ready to smash all the patriarchy!

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Image Description: masculine-presenting superhero wearing a black and blue suit with red cape kicks feminine-presenting superhero wearing red and yellow suit while taking off in flight toward the sky

He swoops uninvited into the daily goings on of women and feminine of center folx in order to rescue them from the horrors of the patriarchy. Are you a sex worker? Captain Feminism will save you from your terrible life of being sexually exploited by getting you an honest job at McDonald’s that pays a whopping $8.25 an hour, where you’ll be treated like crap by customers and managers alike. Having a conversation with a man who says something sexist? Fear not! Before you have the chance to speak up for yourself, Captain Feminism will verbally bitch slap that sexist pig with his snarky feminist comeback he got from an internet meme or an episode of Inside Amy Schumer. Going on a date? Captain Feminism will stop you from shaving your legs and succumbing to the patriarchy just in the nick of time! (Phew! That was close.)

With his sexism-deflecting shield and his patriarchy-smashing hammer, Captain Feminism is ready for whatever is thrown his way… Unless, of course, he’s asked to take a step back so women and feminine of center folx can take the lead in feminist movements, to give them space to speak for themselves, or to be quiet and let women and feminine of center folx decide for themselves what’s in their best interests.

This is a form of benevolent sexism (more on what benevolent sexism is here), where Captain Feminism reinforces stereotypical gender rolls by assuming women are weak and need saving, rather than understanding women and feminine of center folx have simply been held down by patriarchal systems of oppression, and just need some supportive male allies to hold other men accountable for their sexist actions. He also can’t imagine how his bulldozing methods of combating sexism might actually cause more harm that good.

2. Mr. Helpful

This guy loves giving every woman and feminine-presenting person he meets little tips on how to be good feminists or how to deal with the patriarchal nightmare that is our society. Wondering if something you said was unfeminst? No need to ask a community of well-informed feminists, Mr. Helpful will be more than happy to answer that for you. Worried about being sexually assaulted? Mr. Helpful will gladly recommend a specific brand of pepper spray or sagely advise purchasing a pair of anti-rape underwear (yes, that’s actually a thing, click here to see the commercial).

While Mr. Helpful has genuinely good intentions, he’s too wrapped up in those good intentions (or in defending those good intentions whenever confronted about his own problematic behavior) to think about underlying patriarchal systems of oppression that, for example, have created a society where anti-rape underwear are necessary. Like Captain Feminism, Mr. Helpful is also prone to benevolent sexism, always thinking women and feminine of center folx are unable to figure out how to feminism themselves, and are thus in need of his help… In other words, he’s patronizing as fuck.

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Image Description: a white feminine-presenting person in red apron standing in a kitchen looking confused. Text Reads: “how do I feminism? If only I had a man around to tell me”

3. Cookie Monster

(copyright 1969; intellectual property of Double Fine Productions, Sesame Workshop, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

This guy totally thinks women should be treated equal to men, and that women get a raw deal… from other guys. That’s why he never contributes to sexism, and he just wants to make sure everyone knows that. He also expects recognition from feminists for his marginal human decency. That is to say, he wants cookies. He wants cookies for not beating his girlfriend, raping his sister, or for abstaining from some other, albeit monstrous, but rather stereotypical form of overt sexism. And he wants cookies for being a “male feminist” – something he believes he is simply because he’s never beat his girlfriend, raped his sister, or engaged in any other stereotypical violently misogynist behavior.

He typically trolls online feminist spaces and butts into discussions that have nothing to do with him in order to reassure everyone he’s never done, said, or thought X.
Example: *someone posts a very personal story about their experience as a rape victim and survivor*
*Cookie Monster comments, “that’s so terrible, I would never do that!”*
Sorry, Cookie Monster, but no one’s giving you a cookie for that. Trust me, the rape survivor already knows rape is terrible. And kudos on the not raping anyone thing, but you don’t really get an award for “Never Sexually Assaulted a Person” anymore than you get one for “Never Killed Someone With an Ax.”

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Image Description: gold hand giving thumbs up trophy with a plaque that says, “not a total shit.”

Cookie Monster might seem innocent enough, after all, he’s made it very clear he’s not a rapist or murderer. But when women and feminine of center feminists refuse to give him his cookies and suck his dick in appreciation of his “male feminism” splendor, he can become verbally abusive, and sometimes a little scary. His comments will basically devolve into “not all men,” and “I’m not a sexist, but…” He will accuse feminists of being “misandrists” and “feminazis” for “overgeneralizing” and “lumping all men into the same category” (i.e., the category of sexist). He will tell feminists they’ll never acomplish anything if they push away all the “rational” people, and what he really means is they’ll never accomplish anything without him so they better give him his damn cookie. He might even aggressively harass and cyber stalk women and feminine of center folx in order to (a) convince them he’s really a nice guy, and (b) calmly explain how they’re total bitches for not acknowledging that.

4. The Femin-izer

This guy is a little different from the rest because he doesn’t actually believe he’s a “male feminist.” The femin-izer simply pretends to be a “male feminist” in order to pick up [primarily] women. He’ll use feminist buzzwords – such as “wage gap” and “patriarchy” – as conversation starters, but will have absolutely no understanding of those concepts. Then, he’ll namedrop – Sheryl Sandberg and Beyoncé (that’s it, those are literally the only powerful women he knows) – to make himself seem more impressive. He thinks feminism is stupid, but he also feels entitled to use it as his ticket to ride.

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Image Description: a white masculine-presenting person with blond hair crying. Text Reads: “said I was a feminist but she still wouldn’t sleep with me”

Frankly, I don’t know which group has it worse – the people who call his bluff and reject him, or the people he successfully deceives. The former won’t get their hearts broken or be trapped in an unhealthy relationship with him, but they might get beat up or raped if they reject the wrong femin-izer. The latter, on the other hand, are at risk for becoming emotionally invested with a guy who isn’t what he claims to be, and is actually a raging asshole.

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Image Description: I white masculine-presenting person in red sweater with a look of dread. Text Reads: “I’ve made a huge mistake”

5. Ryan Gosling

(for legal purposes note I am not referring to Ryan Gosling the 35 year old actor; any resemblance to Ryan Gosling the actor is purely coincidental)

This is the guy who’s either featured in, and/or the creator of, the “Hey Girl” memes. He thinks every personal and social crisis can be solved with an inspirational quote or funny cat video. And while his thoughtfulness is genuine, being a “male feminist” is more of a hobby for him. After all, Ryan Goslings are typically white, middle to upper class, straight, cis, Christian-raised men – i.e., the epitome of privilege. He can’t imagine being a feminist because his very life depends on it. He can’t imagine working in an economy that systemically devalues his labor on the basis of his gender, facing regular threat of sexual assault, or the intersectional struggles of WoC, trans women, and women with mental or physical impairments.

Because of his immense, largely unacknowledged, privilege Ryan Gosling often thinks feminists overreact to, or even imagine, instances of discrimination and oppression. He thus trivializes the lived experiences of women and feminine of center folx, who deal with very real interpersonal and systemic patriarchal oppression on a daily basis.

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Image Description: a white masculine-presenting person with blond hair and glasses looking very sincere. Text Reads: “Hey girl, I know 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted, but here’s a cute cat video”

6. Professor Feminism (aka: The Mansplainer)

This guy goes around “educating” women and feminine of center folx on what does and does not oppress them, what is and is not sexist, and what they should and should not find offensive. If they fail to find something oppressive, sexist, and/or offensive that they should (according to Professor Feminism) he will kindly explain – or mansplain – to all the women and feminine-presenting folx within earshot why that thing is oppressive, sexist, and/or offensive. Conversely, if someone finds something oppressive, sexist, and/or offensive that isn’t (according to Professor Feminism) oppressive, sexist, and/or offensive he’ll happily mansplain that to everyone, as well.

His other favourite activities include mansplaining what feminism is, mansplaining what the best form of feminism is, mansplaining how women and feminine of center folx can be better feminists, and mansplaining why any problematic behavior of his is not an instance of sexism, but rather a shining example of feminist excellence.

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Image Description: a white masculine-presenting person with long dark hair and a mustache. Text Reads: “Let me mansplain. No, there is too much. Let me mansumup.”

Now, one might think because he is a man, it isn’t really Professor Feminism’s place to be “educating” women and feminine of center feminists on what sexism and feminism are. After all, we all have a pretty good first hand understanding of both. But surprisingly being a man makes him uniquely qualified to “educate” women and feminine of center feminists on feminist issues because he’s “been on the other side.” He may not have experienced sexism, but he’s dished it out so he knows how it is.

Since leaving the dark side and joining the Feminist Force, he’s in the perfect position to become Professor Feminism, because he understands “both sides of the issue.” He’s the one who can be “objective,” “rational,” and “unbiased.” He won’t say as much, but this means he thinks women and feminine of center folx are incapable of being objective thinkers who fully comprehend the complex dynamics of gender power relations and patriarchal systems of oppression. We’re “too close to the issue…” We’re irrational… We’re hysterical?

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Image Description: black and white photo of a white feminine-presenting person talking on an old phone. Text Reads: “The 1950s are calling they want their outdated opinions back”

7. Free Pass Frank

Free Pass Frank is a lot like The Femin-izer, except he really believes himself to be a “male feminist.” However, he uses his self-perceived status as a “male feminist” to excuse his blatant sexism and misogyny like a get out of jail free card.

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Image Description: a masculine-presenting person in a striped prison suite being kicked in the butt by a boot. Text Reads: “Chance: This card may be kept until needed or sold. Get out of jail free”

Free Pass Frank will make sexist comments, laugh at rape jokes made by his dudebros, objectify women and feminine-presenting folx, and treat women and feminine of center folx with covert, misogynistic disdain. Yet he’ll express his acceptance of abortion and maybe donate to women’s organizations to ease his conscience and prove his “male feminism.”

Other men – since they have the good fortune of never actually experiencing sexism and misogyny, and therefore can’t recognize sexist and misogynistic behavior unless it’s glaringly obvious – will think Free Pass Frank is a good guy. These other men, especially Professor Feminism, will be quick to mansplain away any concerns women and feminine of center feminists have about Free Pass Frank’s behavior. After all, he’s totally fine with women having careers (so long as they aren’t his boss). It doesn’t bother him if some women aren’t sexually interested in him (because those women are obviously all lesbians). He’s not even bigoted toward trans women or otherwise queer feminine of center folx (he’s just understandably terrified of accidentally having sex with a “man” because he’s not a “f*ggot”), and those people need to take all the support they can get.

Because men’s opinions are the only ones that matter, Free Pass Frank is secure in the knowledge he’s not sexist or misogynistic. How could he be? He’s a “male feminist,” which is, by definition, the opposite of being a sexist/misogynist.

8. White Cis Gay Men
why-are-some-gay-guys-so-misogynist-1447196106

Image Description: a white masculine-presenting person with blond hair, wearing a pink shirt with a yellow equal sign on it, and holding a sign that says, “vaginas are disgusting.”

It’s not clever, but the name is pretty self-explanatory. There are a large number of white cis gay men who are extremely misogynistic, transphobic, and racist. They regularly comment on and invade women’s and feminine-presenting folx’s bodies, make transmisogynist “ewww! vaginas!” jokes, appropriate queer culture and history, exclude queer men of colour from their community, and actively reinforce the gender binary and patriarchal gender rolls. For a more in-depth discussion of gay men’s misogyny click here.

Cis gay men can be some of the harshest judges of feminine bodies. Their male entitlement affords them the freedom to make rude and disgusting comments about women and feminine-presenting folx, and their sexuality excuses them because they’re not doing it in a sexual way. They’ll shame bodies that have “female” traits and think it’s acceptable just because they don’t personally find those traits sexually appealing. Some cis gay men will even go so far as to grope women and feminine-presenting folx, but “it’s okay because I’m gay.” While the assault my not be sexual, it’s still a display of dominance. These men are saying, “even though I’d never fuck you because female bodies are sexually repulsive, I can still do whatever I want to you because I’m a man. But it’s fine because I’d never actually rape you… because you’re gross.”

[I’d like to quickly point out not only is this disgust with “female” bodies misogynistic, it’s also incredibly transphobic. Many trans men have so-called “female” body parts (to be clear, trans men are men, so their bodies are really men’s bodies), plenty of whom are gay themselves.]

White cis gay men also have a bad track record of appropriating queer culture and history. The best recent example is the movie, Stonewall, where white cis gay men are painted as the heroes of the 1969 Stonewall riots and the early LGBTQ+ rights movement. In reality, it was two trans women of colour, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, who lead the Stonewall riots and many of the early LGBTQ+ liberation movements.

White cis gay men think because they’re not heterosexual they don’t reek of privilege. They think the one marginalized aspect of their identity negates the need to check their cis, white, or male privilege. They will appeal to their sexuality as justification for actively contributing to and reaping the rewards of patriarchal systems of oppression. They also have this weird conception of diversity where they think they are diversity. In other words, that one marginalized part of their identity makes them, as an individual, diverse. Therefore, white cis gay men can check off the “diversity box” all by themselves; no need to include women, trans folx, people with mental or physical impairments, or Black guys.

real diversity

Two photos: On Left: four light skinned, masculine-presenting people standing behind rainbow coloured balloons. Text Reads: “What gay men think diversity looks like.” On Right: a group of feminine-presenting folx standing on a stage in front of a microphone, some are PoC, some are people of size, some are trans women. Text Reads: “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity. -Laura Prepon” 

 

In Conclusion…

One thing all these “male feminists” have in common (with perhaps the exception of The Femin-izer) is the perception that sexism is something men, specifically other men, do, instead of a system of gender-based disadvantage and oppression which functions on an institutional level, and from which these “male feminists” are always benefiting. In other words, they all recognize sexism is bad, but believe it’s only something other guys, bad guys, participate in. He’s not a bad guy, in fact, he wants to help end sexism, so he can’t possibly be sexist. This rationalization – along with his half-assed allyship – enables the “male feminist” to distance himself from the complex social problem that is Sexism. He can thus remain blissfully ignorant about his own male privilege, and reassure himself he isn’t part of the problem while still benefiting from, and even participating in, patriarchal oppression (i.e., he still is part of the problem).

So, he lashes out when women and feminine of center folx point out his own male privilege and his own sexist behaviors and attitudes. Suddenly someone’s challenging his overly rosy view of himself and suggesting that he might actually benefit from institutional sexism. That for all his good intentions he might be part of the problem, and that he – *gasp* – might even be a SEXIST!

Response to “Not all Men”

Every feminist on the internet has heard “not all men”-esque arguments when discussing feminist issues, especially the pandemic levels of [cis] male violence against women.

Example: *Feminist posts a photo or meme about the issue of rape culture*

pad rape gross

Image Description: A menstrual pad taped to a metal pole on the street with a note taped on the pad. Text Reads: “imagine if men were as disgusted with rape as they are with periods”

Random Not-All-Men [Cis] Dude:

12046615_1010623935671860_1102985071581878356_n

Image Description: screen shot of a Facebook comment. Text Reads: “How about don’t blame all men with your blanket statements. I am quite offended by this post. I am not part of the problem. I treat all people with love and respect. I’m not ignoring it obviously as I stated it’s a very tiny portion of men that act like savages.”

Did the feminist say all men were rapists or condoned rape? No, they didn’t. Did the feminist say Random Not-All-Men Dude was a rapist or condoned rape? Again, no. The feminist simply said men should be more disgusted with rape than periods. That’s it. Nothing more.

So, why do so many men become ridiculously defensive, and even offended, when feminists discuss the problems faced by women, transfeminine, and other feminine-presenting folx? Well, what these men are trying to do is: one, derail important feminist discussions that happen to make them uncomfortable; and two, distance themselves from the problems facing women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx, which are caused by our systemically androcentric and patriarchal society and perpetuated by men. They want to make it very clear they aren’t part of the problem. They will take over every feminist conversation and every feminist space if need be to make sure we all know they aren’t part of the problem.

In reality, these men are part of the problem. Men who feel entitled to have their feelings coddled by feminism at the expense of the real-life safety concerns of women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx are very much part of the problem. Men who feel entitled to invade feminist spaces and derail conversations about genuinely important issues in order to make those conversations about themselves, or men in general, are definitely part of the problem. Men who feel entitled to verbally bulldoze over women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx so they can make sure everyone knows they’re not a rapist are a huge part of the problem.

When men say, “not all men are like that! I’m not like that!” what they’re really saying is, “I don’t want to have to think about my privilege as a man, so I’m going to defer blame to other guys who I deem to be worse than me.” Nice try. You know what? People who aren’t part of the problem don’t derail conversations in order to convince everyone they aren’t part of the problem. People who aren’t part of the problem simply aren’t part of the problem; their actions speak for themselves. People who aren’t part of the problem don’t need to go around reminding everyone at every opportunity that they aren’t part of the problem.

And let’s be honest, if Random Not-All-Men Dude truly wasn’t part of the problem of rape culture he wouldn’t be offended by a Facebook post criticizing it. His offense is either indicative of his culpability, or it’s just plain childish. Either way, it’s certainly not justified. Instead of doing something about social problems, like rape culture, he just passes the blame. He feels entitled to anything he wants, and in this case, he wants his male privilege preserved, his man feelings to be coddled, to be reassured he’s actually a Nice Guy™, and given gold star stickers for never raping anyone. He views anyone discussing a feminist issue that makes him uncomfortable as a threat to his privilege, because forbid feminists ever make men uncomfortable. It’s not a threat. Not everything is about men or needs to be designed to make men feel good.

And no “not all men” argument would be complete if it didn’t include a bit about what great person they are, and therefore can’t possibly say or do anything sexist. In this case, Random Not-All-Men Dude explains why he isn’t part of the problem because he treats all people “with love and respect…” Unless, of course, they say or do something that makes him uncomfortable, forces him to confront his male privilege, or alludes to the fact he isn’t Mr. Super Male Feminist. Then he’ll just attempt to take over feminist discourse in order to convince everyone he’s never contributed to institutional sexism and never been misogynistic in any way whatsoever. Does this guy even hear himself when he speaks?

Finally, I would like to point out that his use of the word “savages” is extremely problematic. White western [cis] men have had a long history of selectively recognizing sexism, and then categorizing those selective forms of sexism as “barbaric” or “savage.” This allows white western [cis] men to blame other men – i.e., men of colour and non-western men – for all sexism and violence against women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx. White western [cis] men use racism and western imperialism to make sexism and male violence a black and brown person, non-western problem, thus shirking blame for their own sexism and violence toward women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx.

I Hope I can Have an Abortion if I Ever get Pregnant

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: White text on a brown background. TEXT READS:

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: White text on a brown background. TEXT READS: “I am a woman and I have these human rights: the right to life, the right to privacy, the right to freedom, the right to bodily integrity, the right to decide when and how I reproduce. -Soraya Chemaly”

I have never wanted kids. In fact, I find children repulsive. Their high pitched screams that pierce the eardrum, their sticky, germ-y hands they touch everything with, their constant need for attention. And don’t get me started on the way they eat – the way they chew with their mouths open – it’s vomit-inducing; I seriously cannot look at children when they eat. I walk by a playground full of laughing, happy children and it quickly ruins my good mood.

The best thing I can say about children is they’re not quite as awful as babies. Now, babies are fucking disgusting. I honestly hate them. They never shut up, they are always hungry, and they shit their pants all day long. But the worst thing about babies has to be the way they smell. That new human smell – I could go without food for three days, smell a baby, and instantly lose my appetite. Just thinking about it is literally making me gag.

Aside from my extreme distaste for babies, toddlers, children, and teenagers, I do not particularly want my life ruined by suddenly becoming responsible for another person. That seems expensive, time consuming, and exhausting. I really like having money in my bank account. Money for vacations with friends, for nice dinners, and for super exciting things like fixing my car if it breaks down. I also like having time to myself at the end of the day – time to go to the gym, or to watch some TV/read a book in peace. I also like to spend time partying, and I’m guessing it isn’t appropriate to go clubbing on a regular basis and leave my kids with that sketchy neighbor I barley know. I do NOT want to spend my evenings at boring PTA meetings or my weekends at some T-ball game where all the parents think their kid’s going to be the next Jackie Robinson or Yogi Berra and can’t see that every kid sucks because it’s fucking T-ball and no one is old enough to have well-developed gross motor skills. And I especially do not want to be late to work every morning because I had to help my kids get ready for school because they’re too incompetent to dress themselves and grab some coffee and toast like a fucking adult (note, I’m being a little facetious here). I’ll be damned if I get passed over for promotions in favor of some blow hard imbecile who only shows up to work on time because, while he has five kids, his parenting ceased when he pulled out and wiped his dick on his wife’s t-shirt. (I do realize there is a deeper institutional sexism regarding employment and job promotion.)

I want to be clear about something: this does not make me a bad person, or a bad woman. Some people do not like dogs, are they bad people just because they do not want a dog? (Yes, yes they are, but that is a different issue. Really, what kind of person doesn’t like dogs?) I’m not defective or callus just because I dislike children, I simply have other desires and priorities. If I had children, knowing that I can’t stand them and that I have no affection for them, then I would be a bad person – or at least a bad parent. I would rather spend my money having fun and my time on my career and volunteer work. (Yes, I know it’s shocking, but this hardhearted, non-maternal freak of nature actually volunteers.)

And, being the overly prepared, ridiculously responsible, anal-retentive person that I am, I have always been extremely careful not to get pregnant. I always use condoms if I have sex with someone who could get me pregnant (read: not only cis man), and I was using NuvaRing at a relatively young age. As soon as I was able to make my own medical decisions, free from my conservative family’s watchful eyes, I had an IUD inserted. And in a few years, when I reach the age range paternalist doctors are willing to graciously grant women sterilization procedures (sarcasm alert) I will make certain I never get pregnant.

While, as a white, middle-class, college graduate I might be less likely than some other women my age to have an unplanned pregnancy (I’m hinting at the intersection of class, race, and gender in regards to reproductive healthcare), the anti-choice/anti-abortion polices being pushed through state and federal legislatures terrify me. What if I get pregnant and do not have access to abortion? What if I’m forced to grow a parasite (sorry pro-birthers, but a fetus fits the scientific definition of a parasite) inside of me for nine months, forced to go through excruciating pain to get the thing out of me, only to be left with a smelly, germ-y, needy, expensive, time consuming lump of human cells that I feel no affection for? It could happen; it could happen to any person capable of childbearing at any time. The definition of “unplanned pregnancy” is unintentionally becoming pregnant, usually at an inopportune time. It doesn’t matter if you’re careful and using contraception; contraception fails, people lose their jobs and therefore their health insurance, people have drunken one night stands and forget to use a condom. In summary, shit happens, and it would be nice to know that if I ever got pregnant I could have an abortion so I wouldn’t have to ruin my life and permanently scar some poor kid because their mother never wanted them.

Dear Parents, From Not-A-Parent

Photograph entitled,

Photograph entitled, “Sad Silhouette,” photographer unknown.
IMAGE DESCRIPTION: the silhouette of an adolescent with long hair, wearing a hoodie, and with their head bent downward.

When I was a toddler, I found a small bird on the floor of my family’s house by the front door. This was, of course, quite out of the ordinary, so I told my mother, “there’s a bird in the house!” “No there isn’t,” she responded. Then the bird chirped and my mother said, “there’s a bird in the house!”

When I was four and started learning how to read I would miss punctuation marks and sometimes entire sentences. My mother would yell at me, call me stupid, and place me in time-out for “cheating.” I would cry, promise I to try harder, and apologize for “cheating.” I was still sent to the corner for time-out – sometimes for an hour. Years later, I found out I have a vision problem called divergent strabismus where my eyes do not track or focus properly. I never did receive corrective therapy.

Another time when I was four, I watched my father back my mother into a corner and put his hands around her neck. When I confronted him about it as a teenager, he laughed and told me I was imagining things.

My mother decided to home school me from kindergarten onward because she did not want me to learn “unholy” things, like evolution, sex ed, or critical thinking skills. Obviously, no one person is qualified to teach every subject, but my mother was not even qualified to teach one subject. I particularly struggled with math. When I failed to find the correct answer to most of the problems, I was sent to the corner or to my room and called stupid. Not until my last two years at university, after over half of my professors had validated my academic work and intellectual capacity, did I realize that I am actually very smart.

When I was still very young (perhaps four or five) I watched both my father and my mother abuse my older sister. My father would pin my sister to floor or wall and twist her arm. My mother would hit her in the face or pull her hair. I didn’t know that in just a year or two I would be next.

When I was nine, I told my father “no,” so for punishment he slammed me into a wall, stood on my feet, and held my wrists while he screamed in my face. My dog, who was still a puppy, tried to protect me and nipped him on the leg. My father kicked my dog across the room. When my sister told my mother to “do something,” my mother replied, “he’s disciplining her.” That was not the first, nor the last, time something like that happened.

When I was 12 or 13, my sister and I were driving home when a drunk neighbor started screaming at us from his yard and chased us back to our house. The drunk neighbor claimed my sister was speeding, so my mother yelled at her and befriended the drunk neighbor. I told my mother he made me uncomfortable; she proceeded to develop a crush on him (which she still maintains to this day) and regularly invite him into the house. This continued even after he spied on me through the windows when I was home alone as a young teenager and forced me to hug him several times.

When I was teenager, my father started waking me up on Sunday mornings for church by caressing my ass. I never told my mother because past interactions had taught me she did not care to know; her piece of mind was more important.

When I was 14, my father caught me trying to kill myself with a bottle of benadryl. He yelled at me and blamed my mother. Nothing else was said about the incident. Nor I did not receive professional help until I was an adult and sought it out myself.

When I was in high school, my boyfriend at the time was abusive. When I finally managed to break up with him, he stalked me online, had his friends harass me online, called me a whore for talking to other guys, and threatened me. When I told my father about it he said, “that’s disappointing, I really liked him.”

When I was 21, I confronted my father about his physical abuse of me for the last time. He laughed in my face about it and interrupted me. When I said I wasn’t finished speaking he responded with, “you won’t be finished until you’re 40.”

Dear Parents,

I am not a parent. I will never be a parent. I do not like children, and know I would not be a good parent. I do not see this as a shortcoming, but as being self-aware enough to know I simply shouldn’t have children – it is what’s best for me and for my non-existant kids. Nonetheless, I’m going to give you some parenting advice, and you need to listen up:

One, LISTEN to your kids. They have important things to say, and you need to be someone they feel comfortable confiding in. It’s YOUR JOB, as a parent, to listen to your kids, and to help them address any problems/concerns they are facing.

Two, BELIEVE your kids. If you do not believe your kids, who will? Yes, children lie (as do adults), but if a parent automatically assumes their child is lying, that child will be taught they are not believable. If something bad does happen to them, they will be unlikely to report it because they have learned no one believes what they say. Parents who regularly disbelieve their kids place their kids in a dangerous position for the rest of their lives.

Three, VALIDATE your kids’ feelings/emotional responses (especially your daughters’). It is extremely important to validate your children’s emotional responses (no, I’m not talking about toddlers throwing tantrums), because it teaches them that experiencing and expressing emotions is not only okay, but healthy. Emotions are not something people can usually control, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s important to teach kids how to deal with their emotions in a healthy way, rather than teaching them to bottle things up. And women are especially susceptible to being told their emotions are not valid (e.g., “you’re overreacting,” “don’t be so emotional,” “you’re such a drama queen”). Validating your children’s emotional experiences will give them the confidence to resist emotional manipulation as they grow up.

Take this from someone who was ignored, dismissed, and invalidated by their parents – it’s emotionally abusive, harmful, and dangerous. Set your kids up for emotional, psychological, and interpersonal relationship success.

Sincerely,
O.K.