In no way do I wish to claim to speak for all men! I might speak about men, and in doing so I’ll admit I’m generalising and maybe even stereotyping but I believe there is value in this as long as we don’t get hung up on it and accept the generality of some statements. For example, I might say ‘Men are different to women’ What I mean here is men as a group are different from women as a group. Obviously, I accept women are different to each other and not all men are the same but there are certain differences, biological, psychological and even spiritual differences between the sexes, so the statement can stand as a generality.
In identifying men and women as two distinct groups we will face certain dangers and benefits. Grouping can allow some differences to be acknowledged but also we run the risk of missing detail. The same is true when we group black people and white people, some broad statements may be true but we will miss the minutia of difference. In allowing some broad definitions of man and woman to stand without over scrutinising or deconstructing, I can gain a space to discover a part of my own identity. Either as a part of the group or as separate from it. On the other hand, If we allow the statements such as ‘Men are more aggressive than women’ or ‘Women are weaker than men’ to stand with zero deconstruction, we are possibly fooled into accepting untruths and prejudice. So my main question is how much should we deconstruct every statement?
How much do we need to zoom in on a point? Depends on the point obviously, the bigger the point, the broader the original statement the closer we can examine it. For example, the statement ‘Women are oppressed by men’ is a very broad statement and would, in reality, need a very focused and detailed examination to fully understand what it means before I can accept it. When I dissect this statement I find little or no truth in it. What I find is oppression is much wider than simply sex-based. Poverty and education are greater indicators of privilege than sex.
I find evidence of male sacrifice for female gain in the workplace death statistics. 97% of accidents resulting in death at work are men, usually men working dangerous jobs to support women and children. In bringing this fact to the attention of those seeking to prove male oppression I am told that it is irrelevant, unimportant or worse still as evidence for the patriarchal control of men too.
Feminism is a postmodern ideology, this means feminism doesn’t exist in the Magical, Tribal, Mythic or Modern worldviews. Feminism is an evolution of those worldviews undoubtedly but has it gone far enough? Or too far? Feminism should be subject to as much scrutiny as any other powerful force in our culture. I find a clear lack of examination of the points of feminism so I ask questions. Sadly in this age of inquisition, the act of questioning the doctrine is seen as heresy and questioners are denounced as non-believers or in the case of questioning feminism, misogynists.
Questions I ask
What are the measures of equality? How do we know when we have achieved equality? Do we close the wage gap by paying men and women the same, regardless of qualifications, hours worked or time in the job? Or do we continue to reward excellence without regard to sex? How far do we go to open up traditionally male areas of expertise to women? Do we do the same to open up areas of female expertise to men? Why are there differences in the intakes of engineering or nursing degrees? Is it all down to social pressures or are there natural, biological and psychological factors at play too? What might those factors be?
Fairness might be a better aim than equality. Equality means the same and as previously discussed men and women are not the same. Do we want a 50/;50 split in workplace deaths? Should firefighters be 50% female? Or nursery school teachers be 50% men regardless of the attitudes and life skills?
I met a female firefighter the other day and what a truly great woman she was. I asked her if she found any sexism in the fire service? She said she had a little at first. But what the other firefighters really want to know is this. When the shit hits the fan can she carry them and there breathing apparatus out of a burning building? She could, and would and this is what matters, can you do the job? As we break down our cultural demands for caring women and strong men, will we see more women take on traditionally male jobs? Maybe but only if they are up to it. Similarly we don’t want big brutish men as kindergarten carers, just to fill a quota.
I am not a feminist and never will be. I am a humanist working for the understanding of the human position in the world.