Sunday, February 05, 2006

No one should have to dance backward all of their lives

Title: Quotation from Jill Ruckelshaus, formerly Commissioner with the US Commission on Civil Rights. She is currently a director of Costco Wholesale Corp.

Alternate Title: Why I Don't Take Dr. Mike Adams Seriously

If my wife wasn't a feminist, I'd be asking her why not. To me it makes no sense for any woman to accept any form of subjugation based solely on her sex. And to have to live in a world where artificial limitations are imposed on a segment of society because they possess female reproductive organs is beyond reason. To me the feminist cause is not only just, it is essential if society is to thrive.

Of course, having those beliefs means having to fly through the flak put up by those, almost exclusively men, who label themselves anti-feminist. Interesting label since what they really are is male supremacists who have acquired their status through artificial social constructs. They bloviate and bluster that feminists are out to destroy society. What they really mean is that feminists, as they make progress against social inequality, will dilute the myth of male dominance and anti-feminists will be exposed for what they really are: cowards, unable to fulfill a social demand and unable to adapt to a more equal social norm.

Male supremacy, or the Patriarchy if you like, is the result of a form of evolution. Not human genetic evolution, but a warped religious evolution dating from a time when certain religious dogma and social politics were indistinguishable. Male supremacists, whether they recognize it or not, fear a return to a time when gender had significantly lesser importance in the wider human community. They would like the clock turned back alright, but only as far as the pilot episode of Leave It To Beaver.

Where a male supremacist loses out is in the quality of a relationship with a woman. A man who assumes a mantle of supremacy based solely on his genitals lives in a fragile world. When the only qualification for dominion over women is the possession of a penis, all other attributes are subject to challenge. If men were possessed of superior intelligence, a greater sense of ambition or a greater ability to overcome adversity they might enjoy some security in a dominant role. But they don't. Generally speaking men and women are equally capable in those areas, and where inequalities exist, there is an equal chance that the woman is superior. The myth of male superiority crumbles the moment a woman starts to demand that her intelligence, ambition and durability be recognized and that she be allowed to fully explore the limits of her capability. The response of some males is to construct artificial barriers in an attempt to prevent that development. In extreme cases some men resort to the only form of dominant behaviour they can muster: violence. Once the divine right of male dominance is removed and priviledge is bestowed through various forms of merit, regardless of gender, such men find themselves unable to maintain a status which was once supported through a system of belief; not merit.

If a woman pushes the outer edge of her personal envelope she gains authority. With authority she acquires responsibility. In a couples relationship any thinking male would view that as an advantage. Where the short-lived 1950s family model by default placed total responsibility for financing the family's needs on the man and the care of home, children and domestic chores on the woman, an equal relationship defines those roles through negotiation. The responsibility for every aspect of providing for family, home and a couple's general welfare is shared. Some might describe that as a 50-50 arrangement. I don't. It's actually a 100-100 percent deal. Instead of invigilating the other person to ensure compliance with a socially pre-ordained role, there is a shared responsibility to see that goals are met, no matter who is meeting them. Some men might consider this emasculating when in actual fact, it is liberating. As opposed to carrying the total burden of responsibility in separate quantifiable aspects of a family relationship, both halves of the couple assume total responsibility and delegate to each other. Neither partner is necessarily dominant in any area of the relationship, and where there are significant areas of superiority there is no expectation of permanence since both people, out of mutual respect share the responsibility for maintenance and growth in the family. In other words, providing the financial needs of the family are being met, it doesn't matter whether it is the man, the woman or both carrying that burden. And for what it's worth, a man's penis will not shrivel up if he finds himself behind a vacuum cleaner while his wife is out earning the household income.

Male supremacists have a tendency to respond to my views with ad hominem attacks suggesting that pro-feminist men are "vaginified" "wimps" or, to quote Mike Adams in his series Why I don't take feminists seriously, a "pansy". That only serves to demonstrate the abominable lack of intelligence and poor vocabulary on the part of the attacker. They seem unable to make a distinction between feminist and feminine. In agreeing with the cause of feminists a man is quite simply promoting equality. How that is translated into the suggestion that a man has become "feminine" is incomprehensible. Male supremacists view support of feminism by males as some form of surrender or an act of treason. The common moniker tossed around is "pussy-whipped". They issue such base titles without acknowledging that the only way to produce a world in which they would feel comfortable is to ensure that women are "penis-whipped".

Adams, in issuing his declaration of "pansy" uses two extreme and unsubstantiated examples: One in which he accuses the husband of a vocal campus feminist supporting his wife's position as "ass-kissing" in order to prevent a divorce, and another in which the husband of a different campus feminist condones her illicit affair with one of Adams' colleagues. While I doubt the veracity of the Adams' examples and believe he is simply projecting his own behaviour, his purpose is to suggest that husbands who support their feminist wives have either abrogated their right to a happy marriage or are at risk of having to live submissive lives while the wives go out and express their feminist power by screwing those who have not yet succumbed to the feminist demon. What Adams neither understands nor acknowledges is that the support of equality is not restricted to the husbands of feminists and, for what it's worth, a part of the story line we never saw on Leave It To Beaver was whether June Cleaver was doing the milkman and whether Ward knew about and accepted it.

Adams' assertions are ludicrous. In an equal relationship the conditions are more likely to be very clear. Being in support of feminism does not change the fact that in almost all relationships sexual infidelity, physical violence and abusive behaviour are deal breakers. A relationship in which both parties enjoy equality requires ongoing and effective communications to keep it alive. Where the woman's dependence on the man for support is reduced or removed the atmosphere of mutual respect is strengthened; not weakened. The occasion for any of the deal breakers to be triggered is less than that which would be experienced in a relationship where the man exercises strict dominion. Or does Adams seriously expect us to believe that a woman would rather spend time with someone who treats her as a subordinate as opposed to someone who treats her with equal respect?

While I'm on the subject of sex, one of the greatest fears of male supremacists is the awakening of female sexuality. Adams, in his anti-feminist rants, complains of campus feminists organizing a "masturbation workshop". Why this would be of concern to him is curious. However, a male supremacist finds such things extremely threatening. It exposes the fact that women not only enjoy sex, but that they intend to engage in it and they have certain expectations. It is no stretch of logic to presume that once women have experimented sexually with different partners that they will make comparisons. Sexual male dominance vanishes with the concept that females have established standards of sexual behaviour and performance and that women can take a dominant and aggressive sexual role. Where the mythical male supremacy prohibited criticism of sexual performance by a female sexual partner, some men now fear they cannot meet a woman's sexual expectations or are unwilling to learn how. Some men suffer critical damage to their ego when a woman provides explicit sexual direction.

The restrictions on female sexuality may have some foundation in the risk of pregnancy but that is, or should be, a long dead issue. The male supremacist requirement that women remain virgins until marriage is based on a single line of reasoning: female sexual isolation. In other words, if she doesn't know there is something else, she won't expect anything more.

Male supremacists, in their demand for virginal brides, see their power slipping away when women reject the notion that success is measured by the man they marry, his income and the number of children she bears. When women pursue a career and either delay or avoid marriage while still enjoying an active and satisfying sex life, the male supremacist is quite properly shut out. Does that mean that feminists will negatively affect the birth rate or see an end to permanent relationships? Hardly. I see it as positive. Women who feel no pressure to enter into marriage early will probably be much more selective about who they decide to share a life with and perhaps have children with. Hell, it could clean up the gene pool.

When I support and promote my wife's feminist stand, I do so on my own behalf with my own motivation. I expect her and all women to have the same opportunities, face the same challenges, enjoy the same rewards and carry the same burden of responsibility as any man. When the male supremacists choose to heap insults on me for those beliefs, I usually find it pretty easy to ignore them. Mike Adam's, a self-annointed alpha-male, seems to miss entirely that a woman could do his job, write his column and probably handle his rifle with more skill, without the need to overcompensate for personal inadequacies with hyperbolic macho rhetoric.

Readers' choice: I would link to Dr. Mike Adam's tirade but I noticed that my keyboard started to type "bullshit" everytime I went there. You can either take my word that I have quoted him properly or you may check it out yourself by going to, clicking on "all columnists" clicking on Mike Adam's link and then selecting "Archives". Your choice.

No comments: