Wanderer's post belongs on the cover of Salon proper. Please comment on his blog, not on Mary Wollstonecraft.
Normally I steer clear of anything more controversial than wearing socks with sandals (sometimes it makes practical sense, but not fashion sense). I have seen too many posts on either topic that emote the raw emotions that usually are more of a response to one’s own personal experience than it has to do with a larger issue of gender equality. Many may/will argue with me, but this topic is firmly rooted in the social sciences. One of the most enlightened educators (not that it matters in my view, but it was a he) I have ever had the blessings to learn from summed it up best, “Social sciences can tell you a lot about a group of people, but usually tell you nothing about an individual.” Each has had their own experiences and thus it shapes their views on the topic.
I have had my experiences with short sighted feminism, sure. I think every man or boy could think of one or more examples. I have also seen my wife, sisters, mother and other women who hold an important place in my life, experience misogyny. People are people. Some are incorrigible pricks, bitches, assholes, oppressors, rapist, femi nazis, he-(wo)man (wo)man haters, etc. So the open call was to provide some examples I have of misandry. (which is so underused a word it doesn’t appear in my spell checker) I am not trying to start any kind of comment war of any kind and those who know me would be the first to tell you I am anything but a misogynist.
Let me start by saying I am family man who is very proud of his 4 year old daughter. I try to teach her to be aggressive when the situation calls for it and diplomatic when a calmer approach may be more effective. I really don’t care if she opts for a GI Joe versus a Barbie (although she usually goes for a Barbie). My wife and I intend to raise her to be independent, so she can pick a partner if she so chooses, but will not depend on one to get through life. I also do my utmost to treat my wife with respect and love so my daughter can grow up with an example of what a real man is and how a real man treats women he cares about. My example also entails doing my share of the work around the house. I cook every meal for the family (and often clean up afterwards). I do my share of laundry, clean the tub when it gets hard water stains, clean floors, etc. You know things generally attributed to,” female,” household duties. I also take care of my share of the other chores generally assigned to my gender. My wife does plenty too, we share household duties because we both work, and we are in partnership that requires us to be just that, partners in everything we do. You know two halves who make a whole, yin-yang . . . you get the idea.
In college I had my share of short sighted feminism. Being a large male who played collegiate sports made me sort of a target of feminists who were looking for a scapegoat to vent their rage at others who had maligned them. My most shocking example during this time in my life occurred in my sophomore year. As a political science major I was required to take electives that gave me insights to varying demographic groups who make up the voting population. What did I elect to take for one of them? You guessed it, Modern Feminism. Ok, you might say I was asking for it, but to be honest I was curious. The first class went well despite being the only male in the room and the dirty looks the professor shot me throughout the hour. At the end of the class the professor asked me why I had picked this class. I said I thought it would provide me an element to my education that otherwise my own life experiences couldn’t grant me. In so many words I was told I should drop the class because there was no chance I would pass. It appears the consummate short sighted feminist professor only though it was a suitable subject for female students. I later confirmed this with other male peers who attempted to take the class. I went to my advisor to complain, he suggested I take a history of the third world instead. Not wanting to make any waves, I dropped the class. I found out later from one of my good female friends who continued with the class, I was used as an example of the typical male patriarchy who was blamed for a lot of women’s oppression. Judging people based on gender before you know them seems, I don’t know? Sexist? I clearly was responsible for all the male oppression that occurred before I was born. Personal lesson learned: People who are working against prejudice sometimes use this as a guise to propagate it. You can’t always change people’s opinion.
A few weeks ago I brought my daughter to a weekly dance class. Since the all girl class was young, the teacher suggested that a scrunchie (not sure of the spelling) be put on their right hand so they could tell right foot from left, etc. At the end of the class she said “Moms, make sure to bring a scrunchie next class,” while looking directly at me. Obviously I was the only parent without at least on of said hair devices. All of the mothers shot me a look of equal parts pity and confusion. On top of that the teacher came up to me after and handed me a coupon to famous retail store where she works which also sells men’s clothes and said, ” Please give this to your wife for the next time she goes shopping.” Lesson learned: Never attend a dance class without a scrunchie and Some women don’t know how to deal with fathers in typical female dominated areas, so they pretend you are a Mom. Also don’t shop at said famous retail store.
Whenever I pick up my daughter from daycare, her teacher completely ignores me and other dads. Yesterday there were 3 Dads standing there getting their children bundled up to brave the winter ride home. As soon as a Mom walked in, she nearly trampled one poor boy that was playing with blocks to come to talk to her about her daughters day, how she was, what she did and did eat for lunch. I could barely contain my insulted expression. If you think it is a fluke thing, it isn’t. Similar events have happened with many iterations of different parents. I have also had similar experiences at the pediatrician’s office. Make sure to tell your wife, speaking to my wife completely ignoring my questions and input I offer. Lesson learned: Child centric places place lower expectations on fathers and give them less attention than Moms receive. They also assume Dads are clueless when it comes to child rearing, thus end up avoiding communicating with them whenever they can as to not waste their precious time.
In summation I am sure that are thousands of women out there who have stories like these, but instead of dance class, it is little league or instead of daycare it is an auto mechanic. Bottom line is that men and women are different. Let us embrace the differences, not highlight them. Let the “mystique” be the attraction.
We shouldn’t have to emulate the opposite sex to gain acceptance from either. We should be praised for expanding ourselves into the roles traditionally reserved for the opposite sex. We also should be praised for attempting to learn about the opposite sex’s trials and tribulations to gain insights valuable to teach the next generation how to avoid these pitfalls. Lastly, gloriously proselytizing the virtues of the opposite sex at the expense of your own gender does not make you enlightened, it makes you sexist.