(originally posted Saturday, 21 April 2012)
We got hit with a wave of trolls today. All male. All apparently really, really angry. And nearly all seemed to be most enraged by the photo of the man holding up a sign proclaiming his support for women’s rights. It’s my favorite part of the afternoon, really: a pedi, a fro-yo and a dose of being called a murderous whore or being told to shut my filthy mouth (is it just me or is there something a little creepily porn-ish about that demand?). The best comment was informing us that “real war is about blood and sacrifice, which women can’t possibly understand.” OK. Let that one sink in for a minute. We don’t know anything about blood. Or sacrifice.
Internalized that? OK, let’s move on.
In spite of such stupidity, I don’t hate men. I really don’t. I’m married to one terrific one. I’m raising two more. Incredibly, I even encounter men in my daily life outside the home. Surprising, I know. Here’s the truth: if anyone had an excuse to hate men, I certainly do. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse by a stepfather who also hit my mother and once beat my sister so badly we had to take her to the ER after having him dragged away by the cops. I have been up close and personal in the sex industry and gotten to know prostitutes and strippers, and have seen the nastiest, sleaziest sides of themselves that men have to offer. But I still don’t hate men as a monolithic group. So, to a few self-important trolls who think they’re going to … what? Enlighten me? Shut me up? I’m not impressed. You don’t represent “men” … you just represent assholes.
We, the women at WRUN, are lucky enough to be married to some pretty great guys who are supportive of the cause. And actually, in general, our personal experiences have shown us a majority of the men our age and younger are in favor of equality under the law when it comes to things like fair pay, protection from domestic abuse, and control of our reproductive decisions. Yet our audience is more than 85% female. There’s a feeling, I think, even among the men who support these things in concept, that this fight that we are fighting now against the wave of regression (and repression) is sort of a YP. “Hey, sorry about the whole government-sanctioned rape thing, wish I could help you.” I’m not talking to you guys that are already supporters of our page and cause, of course. But the rest of you… you know who you are. Or you would if you were reading this. Which you aren’t, because you’re not subscribed to this page, because this whole “government up in my vajayjay” thing is my problem, not yours.
Ooops, another troll. This is fun. It’s like whack a mole!
Again, it’s on the picture of the man holding up the sign. That one really makes them mad. The idea that we might like for men to support our rights, and the idea that lots of them do… The effrontery! This troll identified himself as a men’s rights activist, called me a hypocrite, and demanded that we support mens’ rights.
I think what’s making some of these guys mad, really, is that they view rights as a zero-sum kind of game. Some things in life ARE like that: if you have a box of Thin Mints (and who doesn’t love Thin Mints?) and your husband eats, say, half the box, well… yes. That’s fewer Thin Mints for you. But rights aren’t cookies (although it may be that cookies are a right! Here’s a glass of milk and a tautology!)
We don’t much get into the kind of cultural analysis that you find in a lot of other womens’ rights pages. If you’re looking for a takedown of that dreadful new men’s rights anthem that makes us want to jam pencils into our ears till they bleed, or that scathing essay that Ashley Judd wrote about sexism in the media, this isn’t the place you’re going to find it. We keep things here mostly about legislation (and on occasion, the behavior of legislators) partly because this is a labor of love for us as working moms and we don’t want to try to wrestle more than we can handle, but also because we feel equality in the eyes of the law is the first and most important step to changing a lot of the other things that need to happen between men and women in our culture. Will legislation fix everything? Probably not, and neither did the civil rights legislation of the 60s. There’s still racism and inequality. That’s going to take a long time to fix. But it was an important start.
Maybe you’ll want to beat my ass for this (which if you were married to me, and we lived in Topeka, would be legal. Really.) but I do think that there are burdens in our society that men have to deal with that are unfair, and they go beyond the old “if a robber breaks into the house, who’s supposed to go out there with the baseball bat” question. Men do in fact die younger and have a higher suicide rate than women. I think maybe this is partly due to men not seeking the care they should, be it medical or psychological. (I’ll tell the truth, I base this loose theory mostly on anecdotal evidence from women I know whose husbands resist going to the damn doctor.) Also, I do believe that there are things about family law and divorce law that are tilted against men in a way that might have been appropriate or understandable 30 years ago but not so much now. There are important conversations that we need to have about equality under the law as society and its norms and gender roles evolve over the years. We are ready, able and willing to share a load that has been mostly yours for millennia, chaps. You should try letting go of it. That’s included on the list of your rights now.
So guys, we don’t hate you. That’s not what this is about. We love you. We want you to be part of the world that is moving inexorably forward and becoming something new and different all the time. We want you on that trip. As men and women, like it or not, we’re bound together. Not just as two halves of a heterosexual marriage or partnership, but as two halves of a whole society, a whole culture. More rights and freedoms for us don’t take away your rights and freedoms: on the whole, they increase them. We are living “with” you, not “against” you. We are growing and evolving together every day in surprising ways,… now we just need to help the law catch up.