The eternal protestations

Thursday, March 20, 2014

There’s a part of me that hates myself for writing this post, because it feels like sweating the small stuff. But then I thought about how ‘small’ this issue really is, and it doesn’t seem quite that insignificant. What prompted this post is, on its own, insignificant: one of our morning show television presenters here in Australia wrote an article arguing there is a war on the menz, and blah, blah, blah, I can’t be bothered repeating the nonsense.

Look, there will be a huge number of blog posts and articles in response to her in which they will dissect her comments. As it should be. But I really don’t want to speak about her specifically. This is why I won’t name her, this is why I won’t link her article. In the grand scheme of things, her personal opinions are quite irrelevant. I don’t want to examine them in relation to her personally, but, in relation to a trend I’m watching before my eyes.

This is a trend a friend of mine and I have termed ‘the eternal protestations’. It’s our own quick way of referring to opinion articles written by privileged women telling the rest of us women to stop complaining. In these articles, some, or all of the following ‘arguments’ are made:

1. There is a war on the menz (Kill me now.)
2. Life is a meritocracy and so is the workplace, what are you complaining about? (I.e. I have no understanding of the concept of structural inequality and I can’t be bothered thinking beyond the most basic and simplistic of terms about life, therefore, neither should you.)
3. I did well in my career, so every other woman can! We’re all the same! (No, no, no.)
4. Feminists have won and they are going too far (Noooooooo.)
5. My personal life experience should be used to justify shutting down debate about wider political, economic, social and cultural inequalities (Back to the simplistic thinking.)
6. I love men, why don’t you!!! (Kill me again.)

Let me just get my frustration out and react to these ‘arguments’ with the following:

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Okay, that’s out of my system now.

My friend and I call these lines of argument ‘the eternal protestations’ because they are essentially made by women who go out of their way to show men how very much they love them by trampling on other women. They’re articles arguing the same point, repeatedly: ‘But I protest, I love men!’ It’s annoying when you read one of them, but you can usually let that one article slide. The thing is, it’s not just one article, it’s a constant cycle of the same article, over and over again, written and published by privileged women who have an enviable public persona and media platform.

The very things that were fought for by previous generations of women on their behalf are thrown back in the faces of other women today. This is harmful. When women go out of their way to protest that gender inequality doesn’t exist, either out of sheer cluelessness or out of some misguided attempt to join a patriarchal club, they are doing harm to women everywhere. Just think what media presenters could do if they used their public platform to champion the rights of women as often as they use it to protest, over and over again, that inequality doesn’t exist.

I’m pretty sure I love my father, and my brother, and my male friends, and any boyfriends I’ve had. I’m pretty sure they are all smart enough to realise that when I critique gender inequality it is not a personal attack against them as individual men, but against a wider patriarchal system. Please, give men more credit than this. If you really love them, stop with the eternal protestations.

3 comments:

Amelia said...

The Homer gif is what I feel on a daily basis.

I think 'eternal protestations' expression is the perfect way to summarize the phenomenon. Will use it from now on :)

Rambling Tart said...

In the crazy world I was a part of, it behooved the older women to tell the younger ones how wrong they were to want anything more than servanthood. They quashed personality and dreams for education and careers and independent thought. For a long time I couldn't understand why, and then I understood that in a world where women were nothing, women could gain a semblance of power by suppressing the women under them. I thought that existed only in that crazy world. Apparently not. And that saddens me. The denial of reality to maintain power over others is a shocking thing.

Hila said...

Oh Amelia, same here. The world is a strange and confusing place.

Krista: You're right, there is probably an element of power dynamics at play here. It saddens me too, but at the same time, it angers me more.