This is the question constantly posed: can men be feminists or must they call themselves allies? Once upon a time, I believed men could be feminists and then I changed my mind: feminism is a label for women only. Now, well, I’ve changed my mind again. I genuinely don’t care what men call themselves as long as they stop whining about being excluded from labels and get off their asses and do something! If they want to call themselves Chipmunks Anonymous whilst fighting for the liberation of women then they can. Or, Hamsters ‘R Us. Or, the Doodlebug Network. Whatever. Just stop freaking whining about being excluding all the freaking time.
We are constantly told we must not exclude men from Reclaim the Night marches and that we can not talk of women’s experiences of male violence as a class because it hurts men’s feelings. When we fundraise for rape crisis centres and refuges for women, we are accused of ignoring male victims of violence. When we discuss the objectification of women’s bodies, the harm caused to women working in the sex industry, the grooming of young girls or even the pinkification of toys, someone always pops to shout ‘what about the men’?
Well, what about the men? Where are the men campaigning to end violence against women.
I have been on Reclaim the Night marches which have capitulated to men’s demands to be included, to see those men who whined the loudest not bother to turn up. No one mentions the women survivors of sexual violence who don’t feel safe to attend a march which includes men; women who are silenced by male entitlement.
What about the sexual harassment and threats of sexual violence and death experienced by all women? I see women standing up to defend their sisters and I see men saying it’s wrong. What I don’t see is large numbers of men challenging abusive and violent men online. Where are all the men tweeting those who are sending death and rape threats? And, I don’t mean by including the target of the harassment in the tweet. If you are genuine about supporting women, you don’t need to inform us. Just get on with it. If you tweet the victim too, I’m just going to assume you’re in it for the cookies and blowjobs. Feminism doesn’t need anymore men pretending they’re cool; The Good Men Project already occupy that space of anti-woman hypocrisy.
If ignore those who post rape and threats, you might as well send them a card saying you approve of their actions. You don’t need to publicly call them out. Reporting abuse to Twitter, Facebook or the police is as important, if not more so.
Every time a man stands by silently whilst another man makes jokes about rape, they are saying it’s ok.
Every time a man stands silently whilst another man assaults a woman, they are saying it’s ok.
Every time a man stands silently whilst another man makes crass jokes about women’s appearance, they are saying it’s ok.
Feminism doesn’t need more men whinging about whether or not they get to call themselves feminists. It needs men to stop babbling and just get on with doing.