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Feminists - how do you feel about being friends with misogynists / anti-feminists?

(49 Posts)
magicmallow Sun 09-Aug-20 11:42:54

A close friends absolutely hates feminism and rants on about it being cultural marxism, denying inequality exists between the sexes, a lot of other what I consider scary views, and generally denying or disagreeing with my experience as a woman (despite being a man).

As he's an old friend that has only fairly recently expressed these opinions I'm struggling a bit. I don't want to live in an echo chamber but also I do find some of his opinions actually scarily misogynist so am wondering if I can put this to one side and maintain a friendship when he clearly has so much of a problem with women (even if he does not recognise this).

I'm really struggling with it!

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Sun 09-Aug-20 11:48:59

What does he say when you say ‘Blimey John, what website have you been on to come up with this stuff?’

People don’t come up with bullshit like this by themselves so maybe if you know where it’s coming from you can decide how to tackle? (Which may well be ‘John, you appear to hate women these days so I’m going to disappear as I don’t deserve to be your punching bag’)

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Sun 09-Aug-20 11:53:12

I think it depends on the level of misogyny. For some people, calling your partner a fucking cow in the middle of an argument makes that person a raving misogynist who should be dumped immediately. I personally would have no issue being friends with someone who did that. Someone who thinks women should stay at home like a 50s' housewife, not so much.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Sun 09-Aug-20 11:55:56

Pressed post by mistake!

For some reason I would have no problem being friends with a woman who had views like your friend as her experiences are as valid as mine, but I'd struggle with being friends with a man.

Scout2016 Sun 09-Aug-20 11:56:59

I would drop a friend like that to be honest. Is he taking it as a personal attack on him, as a man, and getting irrationally defensive? I don't expect all my friends to agree with me on everything but there are some things that are deal breakers. Willful misogyny and anti-feminist rhetoric are deal breakers. I would also struggle not to see it as indicative of a lack of respect for me.
I will be honest though, I haven't asked some of my friends their thoughts on the GR act because I'm worried they might have views I can't stomach.

Coyoacan Sun 09-Aug-20 11:57:36

I always wonder at this accusation of cultural marxism that is flung around. Have people actually read any cultural marxism?

SetYourselfOnFire Sun 09-Aug-20 14:17:11

Nah, it'll be based on a youtube video about the Frankfurt School. It's all hopelessly out of date and been replaced by Critical Theory decades ago anyway. They never talk about specific feminists anymore either. So lazy. When I was a young, they at least used to quote mine Dworkin.

PumbaasCucumbas Sun 09-Aug-20 14:24:46

Is there a back story to his views (issues with previous partner, access to children, problem at work etc?)

Goosefoot Sun 09-Aug-20 14:34:00

If this was sudden I'd think something had brought it on.

But I would also say that lots of otherwise positive movements, including feminism, have been influenced in recent years by id politics, which is what I'd name what he is calling cultural marxism. I also don't consider that to be a positive thing.

I would have a lot more concern for how someone treats actual individuals. I've worked in a male dominated area where the men were generally very far from woke - lots of manly men, some with very traditional ideas about women. In the concrete they were as likely to be good people who treated women well as any other sort of man, and usually they just took people as they came. In fact, although it seems surprising, they often seemed less likely to hang weird bullshit on me as a woman - if I seemed like an odd women to them, they weren't put out by it.

I would also say - lots of nice enough people are not systematic clear thinkers about ideas like cultural marxism, or philosophical questions, or anything like that. People come up with some pretty odd ideas sometimes because of this. I don't think it reflects on them much as people, really.

So - apart from the rhetoric, what's this person like? How does he treat others?

Dervel Sun 09-Aug-20 14:44:26

Yeah I think I’ve been the guy in that equation before to some degree. Not to the point that I fear cultural Marxists around every corner, but I had certainly been critical of the left, and that didn’t go down well in certain sections of my friendship groups.

However I would never dream of approaching anything close to an anti-feminist position as I think feminism itself has produced incredibly valuable things both in terms of ideas and thinkers.

There is one particular ex female friend who essentially had me ejected from a friendship group and endeavoured to destroy my reputation in terms of others, as I had heard back from one other friend that I had apparently become a die hard Daily Mail reader.

The final issue between us was I had questioned her Lib fem trans inclusionary position, and she is the one of us with the science background and biological sciences at that, so I would usually defer to her but in this instance I did not and I paid for my dissent.

NearlyGranny Sun 09-Aug-20 14:56:59

I'd be asking, "What brought this on, John? Is everything alright at home? All this hate is really just not like you. Can I help at all? If you need to talk, I'm always here for you."

He's probably found a slew of nasty MRA or InCel sites and been dragged into a dark place. He needs to spend more time in the sunshine interacting with real friends who are women, I reckon.

If it continues, you might have to lessen or even stop contact to protect yourself, but do tell him why, calmly and clearly. As in, perhaps,

"John, I'm finding your attitudes and conversation a bit much lately. If we met now, I wouldn't make friends with you. You seem to have grown quite extreme and unpleasant in your views and as a woman I just can't respect myself if I smile and suck it all up from you. I don't want to argue and debate this stuff over and over again either. It makes me too sad and weary. I need friends who respect and value me and so do you, so until you get this out of your system and remember who I actually am, I think it's best we spend a lot less time together.

DidoLamenting Sun 09-Aug-20 15:10:39

I've worked in a male dominated area where the men were generally very far from woke - lots of manly men, some with very traditional ideas about women. In the concrete they were as likely to be good people who treated women well as any other sort of man, and usually they just took people as they came

My experience as well. I'm thinking of one group of conservative and Conservative men but who in reality were much nicer tolerant and fair than the likes of OJ.

I'm not sure the man being described here is in that league however.

Lettera Sun 09-Aug-20 19:59:13

To answer your initial question OP - I'm not friends with any misogynists or anti-feminists and couldn't be.

With regard to this man, I'd tell him I found his views abhorrent and sadly they had killed the friendship.

BlingLoving Sun 09-Aug-20 20:08:53

For me, it depends on how blatant it is, and how willing he is to listen.

eg, I've had male friends who blithely say things without even realising the deep seated misogyny. When I challenge them or point out the issues, they may or may not agree, but they'll listen. And I feel like that's a step in the right direction an easy example: man says there's no inequality in the workplace and women aren't discriminated against etc. I point out that there are still more men called John as CEO in FTSE 250 or whatever, than there are women. I ask them to consider if this is just coincidence? Often, they still don't think it's about inequality/discrimination, but the first step is getting them to realise that there is a problem here.

HOw they respond is key.

AvocadoBathroom Sun 09-Aug-20 22:13:06

I tend to always call it out. If someone continues that level of sexism (I had a work colleague like this) I'll report them of its a professional relationship. On Facebook when High Hefner died there were a few of my make friends saying stuff like "he lived in heaven on earth" to which I would post stories about how he treated the women and also his connections with Bill Cosby etc. I always call it out. Generally men don't like it at first but then start to listen. I would drop anyone who carried on with it. The worse friend I have is a Green Party candidate who is constantly referring to TERFS and pro porn. I don't know what to do about that person.

lady69 Sun 09-Aug-20 22:13:21

Tell him you are a feminist and look him in the eyes as you do it.

AvocadoBathroom Sun 09-Aug-20 22:13:45

My spelling above is atrocious because I am tired!

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 09-Aug-20 22:22:08

I have an uncle like this. He hasn't made misogynist/racist/sectarian statements around me for years as I repeatedly took the piss out of him and laughed at him when he pulled that bullshit around me.

It only took me to do this 3 or 4 times before he knew to stop when I gave him "the look".grin

Thelnebriati Sun 09-Aug-20 22:41:49

Tell him you aren't interested in those views, and ask him to stop. That allows him to keep his views and sets a reasonable boundary.
If he can't respect you have different views, the friendship is finished.

TehBewilderness Sun 09-Aug-20 22:52:20

It is very risky to continue a friendship with a man who expresses hatred toward women.

SonEtLumiere Sun 09-Aug-20 22:59:49

I think what nearlyGranny has posted would be a great way forward.

After that it would be “So how far back are we going John? No women in the workplace, or no vote or have the InCels made you think the scolds bridle is due a comeback?”.

Alternatively, “John when I hear you talk like an InCel, do you think I have more or less respect for you?”

AntiSocialInjusticePacifist Mon 10-Aug-20 00:19:48

@BlingLoving

"man says there's no inequality in the workplace and women aren't discriminated against etc. I point out that there are still more men called John as CEO in FTSE 250 or whatever, than there are women. I ask them to consider if this is just coincidence? Often, they still don't think it's about inequality/discrimination, but the first step is getting them to realise that there is a problem here."

You have a logical fallacy there, and that maybe why you are failing to get your point across. You have made an assumption that because there are more CEO's called John than there are women there must be therefore discrimination. You may be right about the discrimination, but that statement on it's own doesn't establish that in any way. It's circular reasoning unfortunately and needs more.

Maybe there is discrimination, and maybe there is enough of it that that accounts for the discrepancy. However there are other reasons that could account for it, like for example the male greater variance hypothesis. Maybe women make different life choices, and fewer women for whatever reason do not pursue life trajectories that would land them in a CEO's chair. Maybe little girls are socialised differently to little boys, and the problem lies much further upstream in women's lives. Perhaps it's a combination of ALL those factors, plus more that haven't occurred to me.

Now I know it might be tempting to read all that and see that as my inferring that discrimination doesn't exist, or that I'm minimising it far from it. I entirely accept sexist and bigoted people exist and I'm not opposed to the idea that some of those individuals may gatekeep women out of positions of power in corporate structures I am sure it happens. However I make no statement or claim that is or is not the primary cause of the disparities you bring up.

The reason I bring it up, is that it's incredibly important that you diagnose the correct cause of a problem, otherwise you end up spending energy trying to solve the wrong problem, and sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. If it turned out that women's choices was the biggest factor, enforcing choices on women would be too much of an infringement on their individual liberties, as you would have to make one hell of a dictatorial intervention to correct for that.

I'll end on a positive note though, fortune 500 companies that have a higher representation of women on the boards of directors tend to outperform those that don't, and if you find there are financial incentives over the time the market will correct for that by itself: www.thebalance.com/do-companies-with-female-executives-perform-better-4586443
Companies that don't have a more diverse board will be replaced with those that do in these circumstances, and inevitably you'll start to see more female CEOs as part of that equation.

Wanderingstars4238 Mon 10-Aug-20 00:55:21

It comes down to what you're willing to put up with. Personally I can deal with some benevolent sexism in men (Friends only).

I can't stand a blatant misogynist, like those men who carry a grudge against women. Or who thinks it's ok to harm women because of all the harm women do to men, or any of that angry attitude.
Disrespect of women is also unbearable, like thinking men are smarter, superior, etc.

FrogspawnSmoothie Mon 10-Aug-20 01:24:51

Over 90% of women don't want to identify as feminists, despite 75% being for equality. So I don't think you can avoid all anti feminists. But then I'd argue that not supporting feminism doesn't = misogyny as many people seem to support equality but find feminism divisive.

FrogspawnSmoothie Mon 10-Aug-20 01:31:40

Maybe there is discrimination, and maybe there is enough of it that that accounts for the discrepancy. However there are other reasons that could account for it, like for example the male greater variance hypothesis. Maybe women make different life choices, and fewer women for whatever reason do not pursue life trajectories that would land them in a CEO's chair. Maybe little girls are socialised differently to little boys, and the problem lies much further upstream in women's lives. Perhaps it's a combination of ALL those factors, plus more that haven't occurred to me.

I often reflect that a big factor is likely the fact that these men worked their way up to CEO over a couple of decades, starting out in more sexist times. I think it'll take time for women to gain that advantage as most recent graduates won't step straight into CEO roles. The biggest factor for me is perhaps that is motherhood. How do we stop this damaging a woman's career?

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