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How do we help men be sympathetic to feminism? (#metoo backlash, that kind of thing)

(72 Posts)
QuentinSummers Fri 10-Nov-17 11:38:57

First of all, I post here loads, very feminist, not interested in getting mansplained about how to coddle men.

Recently I've talked to a few very decent, feminist sympathetic men who are feeling very alienated by the current discourse about diversity and how different groups are disadvantaged. I've heard them say they don't want to listen any more, they aren't like that and they feel like they are being blamed. They are buying into the trial by media/witch hunt narrative of #metoo and feeling scared and guilty by association.

So far so familiar, what is bothering me is these are men who have previously been very sympathetic to the cause.

How do I frame a conversation with them so they can understand this isn't about them, it's about us? And that women talking about what happens to them shouldn't be threatening to men who dont do these things?

Or should I not even bother and let them figure it out for themselves? Am I running the risk here of doing emotional work for men?

Very interested in opinions, have fire retardant clothes on

NoLoveofMine Fri 10-Nov-17 11:48:45

In my opinion if men who purported to be sympathetic previously "don't want to listen anymore" when increasing numbers of women and girls (and some men and boys) start speaking up about their experiences then they probably weren't as sympathetic as they claimed. Sympathetic until there's actually a bit more of a challenge to the culture which allows this to happen with impunity isn't very supportive.

NoLoveofMine Fri 10-Nov-17 11:49:21

I also appreciate it's easy for me to just say that but doesn't help you as these are men you know Quentin. It is a difficult and frustrating situation.

Ekphrasis Fri 10-Nov-17 11:56:00

Really mulling over this, I’m inclined to agree with Nolove.

It’s possible they’re becoming overwhelmed with quite how much there is going on out there as perhaps they thought the knew but really didn’t.

I take a poor view of someone who decides to stop listening to those who’ve been marginalised just because there’s a lot of them. (If that’s what you’re say no they are doing).

QuentinSummers Fri 10-Nov-17 14:41:04

I take a poor view of someone who decides to stop listening to those who’ve been marginalised just because there’s a lot of them
No I don't think it is that. It's more like disconnecting through feeling guilt/persecuted for being a white man, because of the volume of coverage at the moment.
I don't fully understand it. I guess it could be these guys are more sexist than I thought. Or it could be that men just can't fully understand what we are going through.
Ah fukkit. May be i will stop thinking about it and let them figure it out themselves grin

FurryGiraffe Fri 10-Nov-17 15:04:34

This is interesting. My DH has had the opposite reaction to your friends: the more comes out the angrier he is with other men.

Have your friends got (female) partners and children? Because I know for my DH, having kids really opened his eyes to how sexist society is and how significant the power imbalance is at a societal level. Is it possible that your friends haven't really accepted that patriachy as a system oppresses women as a class? That this isn't about the behaviour of individuals, but of men as a class?

MrsTerryPratchett Fri 10-Nov-17 15:23:29

My DH who doesn't call himself a feminist, because "I actually know what that means", isn't worried or scared about #metoo. He always knew how fucking awful a lot of men were and are. He assumes this doesn't apply to him because he is a stickler for consent.

I think a lot of 'feminist' men were doing it for the pat on the back (and often it gets them laid) and were great with that as long as it didn't cost them one tiny iota of their privilege.

LeCroissant Fri 10-Nov-17 15:53:08

I agree with MrsP. IME men are feminists as long as it makes them look good and doesn't inconvenience them in any way. As soon it makes them in any way uncomfortable or costs them anything personally they're not interested any more.

deydododatdodontdeydo Fri 10-Nov-17 15:54:18

DH said (without prompting from me) that he was delighted all these sex pest men are finally getting called to account for their behaviour.
Although, I don't suppose he's had anyone being confrontational with him about it. That kind of thing can make people defensive and withdraw maybe?

DJBaggySmalls Fri 10-Nov-17 16:38:36

I lost patience and said 'if you find it challenging and overwhelming and arent sure how to move forwards, then now you can see how it is from our side of the fence. How do you suggest women get society to make real change? Talking about it less didn't work either'' They cant really argue with that.
IDK if they'll just stop 'discussing' it with me now though. Its not really a discussion unless they are saying ''what can we do'', is it? Its them saying how hard done by they are. They really need to stop taking it personally and feeling like they are the victims of anything.
I dont feel tarred by Myra Hindley.

thedancingbear Fri 10-Nov-17 16:46:04

What can we (I mean men) do then, DJBaggySmalls?

I mean, apart from not being sexist dicks ourselves, and calling misogyny out when it's reasonable and safe to do so?

Lots of us recognise its a problem. I feel it's a valid question.

MrsTerryPratchett Fri 10-Nov-17 16:51:04

I’ve been sexually harassed, catcalled, touched and treated poorly repeatedly since I was 11 years old. Very frequently in public. I can count the number of times men have helped me on one hand. I remember those men, every one of them.

Be that man.

DasPepe Fri 10-Nov-17 16:53:17

The more I hear about men I thought might be ok, I'm beginning to think that most men just don't care. And that there is a connection between that and the general sexists suppression of women in general plus the way men think in such a selfish and aggressive way.

All these stories of how women are made to feel, belittled, pushed out of workplace unappreciated at home. All these stories about partners not considering your birthdays, imporrant things etc

I'm just beginning to think that he gender wars have been going on all this time and we've thought it was truce :/

MrsTerryPratchett Fri 10-Nov-17 17:08:21

Louis CK and Joss Wheedon shocked me but I will be less shocked next time. And less and less.

vesuvia Fri 10-Nov-17 17:48:34

thedancingbear wrote - "calling misogyny out when it's reasonable and safe to do so"

I can think of some situations when it could be unsafe to call out misogyny, but can you give some examples of when you think it would be unreasonable to call out misogyny?

DasPepe Fri 10-Nov-17 18:09:44

Oh. Joss Wheedon? !


I think the only people left now I'd be shocked are my brother and my DH

thedancingbear Fri 10-Nov-17 18:11:44

vesuvia, seeing as you've asked, I'll give you a real-world example, that I've given people in other contexts in the past.

New boss in a new job - I'm still junior, and still in my probation. She's from the 'old school', to put it charitably, and decides to go on a bit of a rant about political correctness and in particular the fact that you can't call a convenience store owned by asian people a 'paki shop' any more. It's good enough natured (to the extent that a casually racist monologue ever can be). Do I (a) challenge said arsehole over her comments, and risk not being kept on (bearing in mind that I've recently taken on a big mortgage at this point) or (b) let dickhead rant and mark her card for future reference?

I dunno, maybe unreasonable's the wrong word, and I'd qualify the above by saying that I've intervened at least once in a situation where it was obviously physically unsafe to do so (and got gobbed on for my efforts) so it's not for lack of willing. I do think it's a case of picking your battles, and living in the real world, I don't think health and safety can be the sole consideration wrt when to engage.

thedancingbear Fri 10-Nov-17 18:14:03

Sorry, needless to say, the above relates to casual racism not misogyny, and it should be clear from the context that i went for option (b).

HerOtherHalf Fri 10-Nov-17 18:22:53

You could try showing them the statististics that demonstrate just how bad the situation is WRT sexual assault, rape, domestic abuse/violence. Too many people think it's a much smaller problem than it is when in reality it's an epidemic. Maybe NAMALT but FTMAELT (far too many are exactly like that).

Ereshkigal Fri 10-Nov-17 18:24:06

Yes, I get where you're coming from, but it's not actually "unreasonable" is it? I can understand why you wouldn't, but there are circumstances for us all where it would be morally wrong and make us complicit to keep quiet.

Ttbb Fri 10-Nov-17 18:31:06

Maybe call out the all men are potential rapists who uphold the patriarchy through their mere existence so women should get loads of positive discrimination and men should just shut up and most definitely never question a woman about anything she says faction of feminists.

thedancingbear Fri 10-Nov-17 18:31:20

And I've recognised that 'unreasonable' might be the wrong word?

What do you think I should've done in the circumstance I've described, Ereshkigal? God knows I don't claim to be perfect, and I ask the question genuinely. I was faintly appalled by the whole business, and would've have honestly preferred to have done or said something. It was a small company (law office, if anyone cares) so going to HR not an option.

thedancingbear Fri 10-Nov-17 18:33:15

Buzz off Ttbb, the grown ups are talking. Can you see anyone shutting me down right now? It's because I'm not acting like an entitled bellend.

Ereshkigal Fri 10-Nov-17 18:34:02

I didn't say that you should have done anything differently necessarily. I was just agreeing that unreasonable isn't the right word. And sometimes it would be unreasonable not to say something to someone.

BertrandRussell Fri 10-Nov-17 18:35:13

"Maybe call out the all men are potential rapists who uphold the patriarchy through their mere existence so women should get loads of positive discrimination and men should just shut up and most definitely never question a woman about anything she says faction of feminists."

That's a good idea-they sound like idiots. Let me at 'em!

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