Saturday, May 30, 2015

Feminism + Not Hitting Girls

I was once forced to have a conversation about feminism with this random guy I didn’t really know, called Bob.* 

*Name changed for anonymity purposes but also because Bob is a hilarious name and I mean, heck, why not, it was either that or “Random Guy 1” – I chose wisely. 

Now by forced I mean, I myself brought up feminism and Bob said something, and I just chose to remain in the conversation for the sake of humanity and educating him. So, as I said, I was forced. You’re probably rolling your eyes like, “Margot, have you learnt nothing from online debates in the YouTube comment section, choose your fucking battles you obnoxious tit”. So to all who are premeditating hate on my life choices, it actually didn’t go down how you assume it went. He didn’t rant about how unfair this whole “white dude privilege” thing is, or how “women are already equal anyway lol”. Here’s a rough paraphrasing of the premise to the feminist discussion to come:

Me: I don’t really understand anyone who is against feminism, I would be really interested to hear a compelling argument for why we all shouldn’t have equal rights and opportunities. 
Bob: You know, I actually totally agree with you. I am so sick of these double standards. Like, if a woman hits me, I should reserve the right to hit her back. All this “you can’t hit her because she’s a girl” crap is basically just saying I can get violently assaulted and I can’t even do anything to defend myself. 

My first thought was, “??????? sorry wat?????” and my second thought was that Bob must be literally translating his own feces into words, because that is absolute shit.

I assume most of you would be reading this and thinking, no buddy, that’s just wrong. But maybe some of you are confused, maybe you’re thinking, wait a minute, does he have a point? 

Not really. Let me share with you, roughly, what I said to our pal Bob. First of all, of all the benefits that Feminism provides, the one takeaway from it really shouldn't be "oh cool I can hit girls back now lol". Second, violence is wrong, period. Don’t hit people. I don’t care if you’re a man, a woman or a llama. Don’t do it, it’s a crappy thing to do, and it’s just not on. Thirdly, let me explain a few reasons why there is this “don’t hit women” rule etched in our society’s code of conduct. 

To condense a few thousand years, women have been routinely reinforced and portrayed as the weaker, submissive sex, and as a result have been assigned this perpetual trope of the ‘Damsel in Distress’ in our society. Enter the macho, all-conquering male, the protector and saviour of aforementioned Damsel. The issue with this, is it can contaminate the every-man with a sense of absolute power, invincibility and a sense of entitlement, which is unfortunately often exercised over women (who do not have such power). This is why women are more likely to be the victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. This is also why there is no “don’t hit men” rule, because while there is no denial (at least not from any feminist I know) that men could be victims of domestic violence or sex crimes, it is statistically much more likely for women to be such victims. Furthermore, it is a fact that men have much more trouble inhibiting impulses than women, which is why random acts of violence (like fights that erupt in pubs) are much more common between men, and it is rare for it to occur between women. That is to say, it would be extremely unlikely for you, as a man, to find yourself in a position where you are being violently assaulted by a woman. Obviously, if you were, I doubt the "don't hit girls" rule would really matter to you in that moment, and you would probably have the natural instinct to defend yourself. My point is, this really shouldn't be your one takeaway from Feminism. 

Feminism fights against so many things that occur just in everyday life, it seems completely absurd to bring up this trivial "bonus". If anything, that says more about who you are as a person, and our society, if the one upside you see – from a gender equality movement that fights against institutionalised sexism and oppression towards women – is being able to hit girls back. 

So, if I were to directly respond to each point that Bob mentioned it would probably be as follows: 
  1. Yeah Bob, I know double standards are lame, I’m a woman.
  2. A person in general, regardless of sex/gender, shouldn’t hit you. That is assault. 
  3. “Don’t hit girls” isn’t just crap, it’s actually the product of institutionalised sexism. 
  4. In the rare situation that you do find yourself being physically assaulted by a woman, you do reserve the right to defend* yourself. 
  5. *Defending means protecting yourself, not using it as an excuse to be unnecessarily violent to somebody else
  6. Fucksakes Bob, is this seriously the only thing that you deduced from Feminism?
  7. I really thought this entire post went without saying. 


// Margot Alais

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