Do feminists approve of violence against men?

Once again, I have encountered a common misconception of feminism: that it is a movement that only supports women’s rights, and that feminists don’t care about men’s rights. The most outrageous claim is that feminists quietly approve of violence against men.

Do feminists approve of violence or rape if the victim is a man?

Of course not! What kind of sick person would approve of something like that? Feminists campaign against violence directed at women because in the overwhelming majority of rape cases and cases of domestic violence, women are the victims. Let me ask a counter question: Is there something wrong with opposing violent assaults on women? Should women simply accept that men beat us and rape us, because they can? I don’t think so. I think violence against women is wrong.

But for heaven’s sake, that doesn’t mean I approve of violence against men! I was asked when have I ever heard feminists defending male victims of rape and domestic violence. The answer is, during the SlutWalks. I happen to know one of the people who organised the SlutWalk in my town, and she wrote to the paper about the message of SlutWalks, and she made it very clear in her article that raping and beating men is just as unacceptable as raping and beating women.  I also know from personal conversations that she is very much against all violence.

SlutWalks were mostly about women, however, and the reason for that is very simple. The movement was a response to a police officer’s advise to female students to avoid provocative clothes to protect themselves from rape. This is wrong because the woman’s clothes are not responsible for the rape. The rapist is. SlutWalks were about women’s right to dress as they please without getting assaulted, but the organisers of SlutWalk, as well as single participants, did not forget to speak out for male victims, too.

Do feminists care about men’s rights?

Yes, they do. It is true that in the early history of feminism the movement only supported women’s rights. The reason for this is that women were seriously oppressed and they had to fight for the rights we now take for granted, such as the right to vote, the right to file for a divorce, the autonomy over our bodies.

However, in the past twenty years there has been a major shift in feminism towards a focus on equality for both genders. But this is implicit to begin with. If women are equal with men, then men are also equal with women. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you are not a feminist and you believe men should be considered above women.

As women’s situation in the society has improved, feminists are taking an interest in issues where men are treated unfairly. Take the custody of children in divorce for example. If there is dispute about the custody, courts usually favour the mother in their rulings. Feminists oppose this policy because it is not self-evident that the mother is the best care taker. Each case should be considered individually, without a gender bias. When this topic is discussed in the media, feminists repeatedly state where they stand on the matter. Yet the claim that feminists ignore men’s rights continues to be a common straw man argument used to discredit feminists.

Do feminists only support women’s rights?

No. As stated above, they also support men’s right to be treated equally. The custody of children was just one example. In Finland, feminists campaigned for women to be allowed to join the army because they thought it was unfair that only men were responsible for defending the country. Now women can join the army but the situation is still not equal because women have a choice where men don’t. Men can opt for civilian service instead of military, but women can opt out of the military without having to do civilian service. Obviously this is unfair for men. Feminists have different solutions to this, depending on their personal views. Some hold that serving in the army should be mandatory for men and women alike, others think it should be voluntary for all, while the most hopeless idealists, such as myself, would rather abolish all armies.

Anyway, it’s true that feminists are still working on improving especially women’s rights. This is simply because despite all the advances, women are still not equal with men. Take salaries for example. All over the world, women earn less money than men do. In Finland, women’s average earnings are about 81 % of what the men earn. In the USA that percentage is 77 % (or 68 % for African-American women and 58 % for Latin Americans). It is common that women get paid less than their male colleagues for doing the same job, but partly the gap is due to the fact that traditional women’s jobs pay less than traditional men’s jobs. Besides being dictated by the market economy, the differences in wages in different fields also shows that typical men’s jobs in fields like business and engineering are held in higher value than typical women’s jobs in healthcare and education.

The Equal Pay Enforcement Act was recently repealed in Wisconsin on the grounds that “money is more important for men.” This is ridiculous. The way I see it, women’s work is just as valuable as men’s, and women are entitled to the same wages as men.

Supporting equal pay for men and women is obviously a women’s cause because men have it better. But if you think that supporting women’s rights, such as the right to equal pay, is not valuable or necessary in itself, or that it would be downright harmful to men’s interests, think again! Women are not the sole beneficiaries in this. If women earned more, it would improve the economic situation of those women’s families, so the husbands and the children would also benefit.

Feminism advocates women’s rights but it is in no way contrary to men’s rights and their general wellbeing. Improving women’s position reflects positively on the whole community, including the men.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1983185,00.html

http://www.hs.fi/talous/artikkeli/Naisten+ja+miesten+palkkaero+kaventui+vain+hieman/1135263693212

http://www.womensviewsonnews.org/2012/04/wisconsin-state-senator-says-moneys-more-important-for-men/

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About inmyinternest

A thirty-something woman, watching the world turn
This entry was posted in Feminism, Men, Rape, Women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Do feminists approve of violence against men?

  1. This is a great post, and so true. So many people don’t understand what real feminism should be, which, as you explained, is equality for everyone regardless of gender and sex. As a college student though, I’ve noticed that many of my friends who identify themselves as feminists tend to slip into a bad habit of generalizing about and stereotyping men unfairly. I think it’s important to remember that the goal is giving women the same rights as men, not attacking all men for mistakes that they may not have personally made. This was a really great post to start my day with. Thanks!

  2. seanlo says:

    You mentioned that SlutWalks were mainly for women because of an incident where the police officer advised female students to avoid provocative clothing to avoid being raped, and that rapists are wholly responsible for their actions.

    I do agree that ultimately it is the rapists who are in the wrong and who should be held accountable for what they do. However, I actually feel that the police officer was doing the right thing at that time, by advising the female students to avoid provocative clothing. This is because when rapists decide on their rape victims they commonly look out for those in provocative clothing more, and people who are otherwise also less wary of their surroundings. So wearing provocative clothing in those circumstances should be seen less as expressing one’s freedom to dress provocatively but as being unwary of their surroundings; the police officer, who might know that the area had a high incidence of rape cases, would only be acting in the best interests of the female students.

    Indeed it is true that women should have the freedom to dress as they wish. However, in circumstances where the incidence of rape is high, and one cannot do anything to change that fact, it might be wiser to protect oneself by dressing less provocatively, instead of expressing one’s freedom to dress provocatively and at the same time risking getting raped.

    Otherwise, I wholly agree that feminism is about achieving equal status of men and women, and is only named as such because men were the more advantaged gender to begin with. Good article!

    • That’s an interesting point and I’m glad you brought it up. I’m sure the police officer had nothing but good intentions when he gave his advise to the female students. Unfortunately, the assumption that rapists choose their victims based on clothing is partially a myth. For many rapists, it’s not so much about the sex as it is about the violence and the domination. Women get raped when they’re jogging in baggy tracksuit pants and ugly windbreakers, and when they’re coming home from work in their sexless warehouse worker overalls.

      So wearing ugly, non-revealing clothes is not a very effective safety measure against rapists. That’s why the advise was so infuriating. Instead of proposing to take firm action to catch the rapists and prevent future rapes, the police was trying to shift the responsibility on the (potential) victims. If it had been a useful piece of advise, like telling the women to keep a bottle of pepper spray at hand at all times, it wouldn’t have been half so bad, but ultimately I wish we lived in a society where it wouldn’t be up to the victims to prevent rape.

      • grampmk says:

        “So wearing ugly, non-revealing clothes is not a very effective safety measure against rapists. That’s why the advise was so infuriating. Instead of proposing to take firm action to catch the rapists and prevent future rapes, the police was trying to shift the responsibility on the (potential) victims. If it had been a useful piece of advise, like telling the women to keep a bottle of pepper spray at hand at all times, it wouldn’t have been half so bad, but ultimately I wish we lived in a society where it wouldn’t be up to the victims to prevent rape.”

        How about carrying a concealed weapon (with permit of course)?

        • Hah, yeah, shoot the rapist – end of problem! It’s an appealing idea but it seems that there’s a lot more violence and more violence related deaths in societies where people carry guns than in societies where people don’t carry guns, so I can’t really recommend it!

          I think rape victims should be allowed to defend themselves efficiently but they shouldn’t have the right to deal out capital punishments. A pepper spray is enough to discourage a rapist (if the victim manages to aim and spray before the perpetrator knocks the spray out of her hand…) But killing the rapist is a bit extreme (although the victims may feel differently about that). And besides, carrying a gun doesn’t mean you would be safe. The rapist might manage to wrestle the gun away from the victim, and then the victim would be in even more danger.

          Have you heard of the rape-axe?
          http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20008347-10391704.html

          I think such a device would be a suitable punishment for rapists but unfortunately it doesn’t actually prevent rape, as the article says. It just helps the victim get even, then and there.

          • grampmk says:

            That rape-axe reminds of what I heard the Viet Cong hookers were doing by placing razor blades in their vagina. I don’t have first hand info on the subject, I read about it in Stars and Stripes. I would recommend firearms only to those who get proper training. And regular folks can buy tasers these days as well.

  3. LAC says:

    As long as feminists are biased against men and only raise awareness to and fight for women, boys and men will continue to suffer sexual and domestic violence. As a professional in the mental health field, I am shocked that feminists block awareness, funding and services for male victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and that they support Male Genital Mutilation in the USA by not speaking out against it. Your facts are wrong. 51% of domestic violence victims are men abused by women. Women are the perpetrators in 25-75% of sexual assaults of boys. More mothers physically abuse children than fathers, with sons being the primary victims. And men are raped by women and men in much higher numbers than any biased stats show. If Male Genital Mutilation is added, more males suffer sexual assault. There have even been cases where teen boys and men raped by women can be forced to pay child support for a pregnancy resulting from the rape! Feminists are a political group that spreads hate and social aggression towards males, refusing to accept that male voices have been silent about their abuse, that only unbiased studies have begun to uncover the severity of the problem. Political feminists refuse to break their stereotype of women as innocent victims and men as dangerous, predators, therefore perpetuating the shaming and hatred of boys and men.

    • Thanks for commenting! It’s very likely that my facts about domestic violence and sexual assaults against men are wrong. Such violence doesn’t often make the news or even police reports, but that’s not because feminists would want to silence the fact that women can be aggressors, but because of the patriarchal culture where being a victim is seen as emasculating and shameful for men, especially if the perpetrator is a woman, so men who fall victims to domestic violence or rape are too ashamed to report the crimes. The feminists I know (including myself) want to abolish patriarchy. One of the good things that would come out of abolishing it is that violence encountered by men would no longer be seen so shameful that it would prevent the victims from seeking help and justice for themselves.

      Probably there are women who call themselves feminists and spread hatred and aggression towards men, but please don’t think feminists are like that. Such “feminists” have misunderstood the whole point of feminism. Actually, it is in the interest of feminists to break the stereotype of women as innocent victims and males as dangerous predators. These old stereotypes are the very thing feminists are trying to get rid off. One example that proves my point is the campaign against victim blaming. Feminists vehemently protest against the idea that men are predators who cannot control their urges when they see a short skirt. Victim blaming is as insulting to men as it is unfair to women, and feminists really do oppose the idea that men are predators by nature.

      And finally, I’m pretty sure feminists don’t approve of genital mutilation of males (or females). That’s an appalling claim! I don’t approve of it, and I don’t think it’s fair to say that feminists support it because they haven’t spoken out against it. Many feminists do speak out against it, and if all of them don’t, it’s not because they support the mutilation but because they are focused on other things. At the moment, feminists have a lot on their plates what with the political situation in the USA.

      • grampmk says:

        “being a victim is seen as emasculating and shameful for men, especially if the perpetrator is a woman, so men who fall victims to domestic violence or rape are too ashamed to report the crimes.” They should be ashamed.

        “And finally, I’m pretty sure feminists don’t approve of genital mutilation of males ”

        If this so called genital mutilation is circumcision , it’s pure bullshit. I’m circumcised and happy my parents made the choice for me. Thanks Mom and Dad.

        • Good for you, I guess. I know male circumcision isn’t brutal and debilitating like female genital mutilation is, but I still think the decision to alter someone’s body should be that person’s own decision, unless there’s a medical problem and the child isn’t old enough to decide what to do.
          That’s my opinion. If you don’t agree, that’s fine. We both have our reasons for thinking the way we do, and I don’t think getting into an argument about it would make either of us change our opinion. Besides, why would I want to argue with a circumcised man who’s happy with the way things are? I’m not here to try to convince you that you should be unhappy. But I don’t see any harm in advocating boys’ right to choose.

        • As a man who is also circumcised I used to also hold the opinion that it wasnt so bad, now I know better. It is VERY hard for a man who has been circumcised to accept that he will never be able to achieve the same amount of pleasure possible had he not been circumcised. You either ignore it or you just deny that theres a problem. Currently circumcision is accepted in society, even as an aesthetic preference or sometimes we’re told ts better for men because they can please their partners longer in bed! But you get anywhere near a little girl’s genitals with a knife and there will be a huge uproar of horror against the idea. Imagine also if a man said he preferred it if a women had her labia cut off, he wouldnt last 5 seconds. Circumcised men arent going to be a huge help in working against the practise because they do not want to accept what was done to them, even now I try not to think about what Im missing out on. Do not believe a man who says he is fine with it.

          • I’m so sorry, Edward. But thanks for your honesty! The best way to end routine circumcisions is to have the circumcised men to speak out against it. Otherwise people can keep pretending there’s no harm in it. But, as you say, speaking out against it requires for the men to admit their bodily autonomy has been violated, and the results are permanent. Admitting a thing like that is traumatic.

            I thought male circumcision was mostly a religious thing, so I was shocked to find out that about 60 % of baby boys are circumcised in the USA to prevent urinary infections. That’s absurd! Boys aren’t circumcised in Finland (unless there’s a medical problem that can’t be treated in any other way). Instead, the boys’ parents are taught how to keep that bit of the baby’s skin clean, which prevents infections just as efficiently.

            The argument that men’s circumcision reduces women’s cervical cancer is also iffy. No doubt it’s medically sound but ethically, it’s unbearable. And prolonging the woman’s pleasure by reducing the man’s is even more wrong. Using a condom gets the same result, without an irreversible operation.

            Thanks for speaking out! Maybe it will influence some people to decide against having their baby circumcised… but I wish there was a way to help the boys and men who have already had the operation done to them. I wonder if there’s a reconstructive surgery?

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  7. Political Cynic says:

    Feminists in India recently opposed adding gender neutral language to India’s new rape laws. Under those laws ONLY a woman can be raped-which means raping a man in India is legal.

    I do so applaud feminists for “supporting men’s rape…I mean rights” this way….

    Good for men. Yeah. As a male rape survivor I can’t thank feminism enough for what it does for me.

    • I haven’t heard about the recent developments in India but if it’s true what you say, that’s very unfortunate. However, the circumstances in India are very specific, and even if some feminists in India oppose gender neutral language in rape legislation, that doesn’t mean that all feminist all over the world share their views.

  8. YOHAMI says:

    I have yet to see a feminist complaining about violence against men in any form.

    • Maybe that’s because feminists are working on women’s issues? Like I said in the post, not “complaining” about violence against men doesn’t imply feminists somehow condone violence against men. It’s just that some people are more focused on reducing violence that targets women particularly, and that’s okay. Nothing wrong with that.

      Another reason as to why feminists don’t often talk about violence faced by men is that it is a slightly different phenomenon. If both the perpetrator and the victim are men, then it is not a question of gendered oppression. Traditionally, because of patriarchy, violence by women against men has been belittled. According to patriarchic notions of gender, women have been seen as helpless and harmless, whereas men have been expected to be strong and able to defend themselves. That’s why people have not taken domestic violence faced by men seriously. This continues to be a problem but the myth is already dissolving.

      Here’s a link to a Jezebel article braking the taboo about men as victims: http://jezebel.com/294383/have-you-ever-beat-up-a-boyfriend-cause-uh-we-have

      It’s a shocking piece but the point of it is to raise awareness. In the article, feminists are rubbing it in people’s faces that women, too, are perpetrators in domestic violence and it’s time to acknowledge it. The old stereotypes about men and women are hurting both men and women.

      • YOHAMI says:

        They dont complain when a woman cuts a man’s balls, they celebrate it. They dont complain about all the violence towards men perpetrated by women in tv (slaps, kicks on the balls, etc).

        Which would be fine by me if they didnt disguise everything as “equality’. If women were treated as equal that would mean more violence towards women, not less. The fact that women already receive less violence but they receive all the help and interest means favoritism, aka female supremacy and male disposability. Far from equality, and feminism is a farce.

        • Well, you certainly have strange views on feminism and feminists. I’ve never seen or heard anyone celebrating an act of violence against anyone. Also, I have no idea what makes you think equality would cause more violence towards women. The more equal the society, and I mean equality in all respects; gender, social, financial, the less violence there is in that society.

          Female supremacy is BS and you know it. It’s a myth perpetuated by the so-called men’s rights activists, and that lot have zero creditability. I’m all for improving men’s position where men have it worse, like family courts and support systems for male victims of domestic violence, but the MRAs seem more concerned about vilifying feminists than talking about men’s issues which makes me believe “men’s rights” are nothing but an excuse to their misogyny.

          Anyway, I’m not going to waste my time trying to argue this with you any further. You can google it, and I’m sure you’ll find a lot of rebuttals of female supremacy. If you really want to know more about the feminist worldview, there are plenty of feminists blogs and feminists twitter accounts to follow. Just bear in mind that there are as many feminist worldviews as there are feminists, so please don’t take the views of some nutter as representative of all.

          If you have no intention of trying to understand feminism by reading my blog and by talking to me, then the only other reason I can think of for you being here is to harass me because I write about my views on feminism. If this seems abrupt to you, it’s because I’ve dealt with so many trolls that I no longer have the patience to be more polite about it when someone comes to me with comments like “feminism is a farce.”

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