Book talk: Between sissies and feminazis, there’s a truth waiting to be told…

Often in feminist writing, women express bitterness, rage and anger about male oppressors because it is one step that helps them to cease believing in romanticized versions of sex-role partners that deny woman’s humanity. Unfortunately, our over-emphasis on the male as oppressor often obscures the fact that men too are victimized. To be an oppressor is dehumanizing and anti-human in nature, as it is to be a victim. Patriarchy forces fathers to act as monsters, encourages husbands and lovers to be rapists in disguise; it teaches our blood brothers to feel ashamed that they care for us, and denies all men the emotional life that would act as a humanizing, self-affirming force in their lives. – bell hooks, Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism.

 

A concept which such a simple definition as feminism continues to rally people around the world and pit people against each other. You would think that everyone would agree that women and men should be equal? But the critics have branded all feminist as angry “feminazis” (and lesbian) who hate men; Amazons who want to see men enslaved.

Women are angry, and rightly so. At best, we’ll get .70 cents for every dollar an equally-qualified man makes for doing the same task; we get harassed. We are afraid of how our interactions with men will be understood and how that affects our safety. We get called on for wearing too many clothes (Muslim! prude! grandma!) or not wearing enough (slut!). Being blamed as “unnatural” if choosing career over family. Being told again and again by the media that Prince Charming is waiting (but not too long, there is such thing as too old or too fat to marry) to sweep us up our feet, and forcing unrealistic romantic expectations.

Men, get defensive, as it happens when someone is trying to strip you from your privilege. But, there’s a gap: women should be angry and men are victims too. Both women and men on both sides of the argument fail to realize that patriarchy makes men victims as well. Like all power, the power that men have over women (which has been bestowed upon them by society and not nature) corrupts. It has corrupted their humanity. It has the ability to turn them into monsters, because they know they will be left off the hook. It has deprived them of the ability to be balanced. Because men who care about women are sissies. Men who cry are sissies. Men who don’t like sports are surely feminine, and in a world that looks-down on women, that is possibly the worst thing you can be. Men cannot step outside of their role without possibly subjecting themselves to violence. Men have to be tough, they need to show force. They need to be dominant. They need to be territorial. And, they need to be self-sufficient. They will carry the economic burden of the entire household on their shoulders. Men cannot be free to love what/who they actually want to love. Roll in the grass with puppies or giggle like teenagers. They have a world to rule. Woman to keep in check lest they become corrupted.

Wouldn’t it be better if we would shed off these constraining gender roles and embrace who we really are? Love each other as we are, no competition. There’s no race to the top. I’ll give you a hand, if you have my back. That’s feminism.

Author: Carla Hafez

Reader of mostly literary fiction and own-voices fiction. Latina. Feminist. Amateur reviewer. Opinionated. Unapologetically progressive. Mom. Wife. Believer.

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