TW: Rape and Sexual harassment
On social media recently, I’ve been faced with an eponymous type of man. The kind of man who says sexism against men is a thing.
Guys, its starting to get kind of annoying. Comparing the apparent sexism men suffer from to the sexism that women have suffered from for the last million years, the sexism they continue to suffer from and the sexism that they are most likely going to suffer from in the future, frankly undermines women’s experience of sexism as a whole. Instead of responding to women’s experiences of sexism with “men suffer from sexism too! :(” why don’t you support us in our quest to smash the patriarchy instead of undermining and devaluing our experiences because, guess what lads, patriarchy-where men are the dominant sex in society-affects you guys too.
See, here’s the thing that made me write this. Lord Rennard has allegedly sexually harassed four women on four separate occasions. The very fact that FOUR women have accused him, in my opinion, is evidence of wrongdoing. He denies it, of course, because he, as a middle aged white, upper class, man, has the power to deny these charges and get away with it. Sexual harassment is the epitome of power and dominance of men. But what is worrying is the amount of men who think, just because he said he didn’t do it definitely means that he didn’t do it. Once again, society believes the powerful man with resources at his fingertips over some young women because as we see increasingly, women are not to be believed because one or two women in the entire world have lied about being raped or sexually assaulted before. This of course means that every accusation from a woman isto be looked upon with doubt. She’s obviously lying. How dare she put a man through this? The discourse from this case is worrying from men. In yesterday’s Guardian, Michael White wrote an article entitled “Lord Rennard case overshadows more serious issues of sexual politics.” Jim Sillars on Question Time last night said that there are bigger issues at hand than sexual harassment and Michael Portillo blamed the victims of sexual harassment by saying they shouldn’t have been alone with him! Sorry, but should I refrain from being in rooms alone with men because they might sexually harass me?
I disagree that there are ‘bigger issues at hand’. Sexual harassment is about the power men institutionally have over women. Men who sexually harass women do so to subjugate them into making them aware as to who is the boss. It is to keep women in their place. Quite frankly, I think people who demonstrate power in this way are revolting. It is a sad reflection of today’s society when men still feel the need to grope and harass women to assert their dominance. I am not denying that men suffer from sexual harassment but it is not used as a woman’s way to dominate them and assert power because, as the Rennard case has shown, women frequently do not have power and are completely under represented in positions of power.
Here’s why sexism against men isn’t a thing. Women are still under represented in just about every position of power. Women only make up around 30% of MPs in parliament. That isn’t even a third. Women are under represented in the media where only one editor of a national newspaper is a woman. Women are thus splashed across page three with their breasts out to be gawped at by the nation. Are men?
Sexism is institutional like racism and homophobia are institutional. We have lived our lives until very recently believing in traditional gender roles and now those roles are being broken down, the men are getting worried. So, they go on a bender against women. Objectifying them, haranguing them. Just look at the Nigella Lawson case. The attention was taken away from the fact that her husband was violent to her and placed on the fact that she occasionally took cocaine. There is no racism against white people because they are over represented and the dominant race of society. They hold more powerful positions than BAME people and the same goes for men.
Areas where men claim sexism against them exists can be swiftly proven wrong. Guys, feminists aren’t responsible for the injustices you may sometimes face, it is actually other men. Men claim that sexism exists in cases of divorce proceedings because women are treated more favourably. That’s patriarchy. Divorces are based on what marriage was based on and that is basically, a financial contract to half everything down the middle- what’s mine is yours-bla, bla, bla- so why is it different in divorce. If you didn’t want to give half of your salary to your ex wife, you shouldn’t have married her. Men claim to be unfairly discriminated against in child custody cases but this is again, another example of the patriarchy in action. Child custody is based on the patriarchal idea that men work to support their families and women stay at home to look after them. Courts place children overwhelmingly in custody of the mother because of the patriarchal belief that women should look after them. Not because there is sexism against men.
Another area where sexism apparently exists is all women shortlists and gender quotas but for that, I’m going to have to tell you to go away and bile yer heid. You’re all over represented everywhere, its time for women to experience power. Men are also disproportionately more likely to commit suicide. Patriarchy again. Society is enshrined in the notion that men shouldn’t talk about their feelings because, guys come on, you’re acting like a woman! Women are supposed to be the emotional and hysterical ones, not guys! So, you’re all under pressure to keep your feelings to yourself and if you try and deal with them, you’re seen as less of a man. Lastly, sexism against men apparently exists when it comes to rape and sexual harassment cases because, as I previously said, a few women once lied about being raped, so that means all accusations must be viewed with suspicion. Instead of defending the guy who the accusations have been made about, by saying “this will ruin his life” or you know, whatever. Think about what lead the woman to make the accusations in the first place. Men get raped too, of course they do, but overwhelmingly, the perpetrators of male rape are other men.
So, guys, instead of completely debasing and undermining women’s experiences of sexism by trying to claim you suffer from it, educate yourself about a few things. You only say sexism against men exists to try and shy away from the problem of sexism women face on a more reguar basis. It’s to try and undermine the experience of women. Stand up to the men who are sexist towards women. Don’t try and lambast women for standing up to it and recognise, it is not women who are sexist towards you, but it is men putting pressure on you to be a ‘real man’ whatever that is. Help us smash patriarchy by talking about your problems and supporting the women you know and love!