Quiet, the men are talking about misogyny

30 May

I’m not going to add to the torrent of think pieces about the Isla Vista attacks. That’s been done by people far better placed to do so. What I am going to do is talk about the dialogue this and #YesAllWomen has opened up between men, and how they engage on the subject.

For nearly a week now, I’ve watched men talk about violence towards women on a scale unlike that I’ve seen before. I’ve seen them use terms like “culture of misogyny” and “normalisation of violence”. It’s awesome. And long fucking overdue. Getting men to have this discussion has been the M.O. of feminism since Mary Wollstonecraft first shouted on a London street corner.

There’s a reason that a lot of the conversations I’ve seen on Facebook lately have been dominated by men — women already know this stuff. We haven’t been trying to convince each other there’s a culture of misogyny. I haven’t seen a single pair of women look for an explanation for what happened. We know, we live the explanation every day.

As I’ve explained over and over online this week, women have been having this conversation for centuries. Thank you for finally joining us.

It’s been heart warming and infuriating to watch man after man on my friends list post “Woah. Misogyny”. Some of them make the noble claim that they don’t fantasise about killing women. Some of them make a racist comment about America, or a broad statement about the film industry. Inevitably, a bunch of male friends jump in and say “yeah but Rodgers (sic) was mentally ill,” as though Kellogg’s Corn Flakes distributed doctorates in criminal psychology to everyone the day before the shooting. The overwhelming trend is towards men hoping to explain away Isla Vista to disassociate themselves from Rodger (not all men, etc).Meme: a man says 'I'm proud to be a feminist. These galls need strong male leadership.'

There was the guy who said that an article arguing against the mental illness explanation was the first article on the subject that resonated with him. Because obviously everything we write should be writen with middle class Australian boys in mind.

There was the FCKH8.com moderator who told me that if I’m afraid of street harrassment I should just stay indoors.

There was the guy who asked me to “keep it civil” after I told someone “unless you have a degree in psychology please STFU”.

There was the guy who called me “aggressive” and “hostile” after I pulled up a guy for explaining to me (a professional feminist writer and holder of an honours degree in media and cultural theory) how cultural change works.

Men love to have academic discussions about what the world might look like if there were a dominant culture of misogyny. But once a woman tries to tell them about her experience they shut her down as though she were intruding on the conversation.

According to these Good Guys, this international discussion about violence against women can only happen if it’s on their terms. Any digression or inference of male culpability and the female participant is shut down, insulted, dismissed or patronised.

There’s no point identifying that Isla Vista happened within a broader culture of entitlement to women as objects if you then use that to excuse men from personal responsibility.

There’s no point saying men have to learn to see women as equals if you say that while cutting a woman off.

There’s no point talking about how tragic this all is if you tell a woman to calm down while she’s reacting to it.

You’ve read up on the theory. Now try the practice.


Recommended reading:


One Response to “Quiet, the men are talking about misogyny”


  1. 73rd Down Under Feminist Carnival! | The Conversationalist - January 1, 2015

    […] Quiet, the men are talking about misogyny Liza of Fix It, Dear Henry talks about the difference between men and women’s reactions to […]

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