Last night I posted a response to some offensive statements made by Gary Francione regarding the presumptuousness of his feeling entitled to define feminism and include himself as a feminist. I received quite a bit of positive feedback from many women, and I appreciate that. However, I was also on the receiving end of a lot of nasty comments--primarily from men. Most of these men are disgruntled at the fact that they cannot be considered feminists (I wonder perhaps, being that they are all white, if they feel equally disgruntled that they could never be considered a black nationalist?). The comments are so crude, so demeaning, and so sexist, I thought it important to share them here. Put simply, when I began writing on the problem of sexism in the Nonhuman Animal rights movement half a year ago, I knew it was bad...but I didn't realize the extent until this morning.
From my Facebook page:
I find this incredible off-putting, hostile to rationality due to the insistence on 'unique experience' instead of rational thinking as a basis of activist decisions, and generally incoherent. Of course what I say (even if it were carefully argued) doesn't matter at all because as a man I'm automatically guilty of 'mansplaining' (as long as you don't agree with what I'm saying), and I have no right in the first place to interfere with your feminism. How comfortable (albeit, in my view too, completely sexist and irrational).
But you know what? As far as I'm concerned you can have your word, your definition and your women-only discourse and movement. I can do without calling myself a feminist, talking about feminism, or indeed trying to do ANYTHING related to feminism. Will just concentrate on speciesism, and leave everything feminism-related to you. One less problem in my life, I guess. Cheers.
(Please, don't try to contact me in the future.)
Oh, don't worry, I wouldn't contact you with a 30 foot clown pole. I wonder if he even read my article, because I clearly stated that men can be allies--indeed, I considered Gábor a very important ally. He was planning on including a section on sexism/feminism on his Hungarian site and had been in contact with me about that. Now, I'm not sure I would even consider him an ally given his blatantly sexist comments (1. Behaving like a typical entitled man who feels the need to reassert his dominance over the feminist space; 2. Calling feminism "irrational"). A little background, Gábor is associated with the group VeganUK, with whom I regularly collaborated until I had a falling out with their leader who espouses the very same problematic viewpoints and has declared me (he has zero scientific training, mind you) unfit to understand the workings of the scientific method. *Makes paper airplane out of my degree in science* They've even removed my most recent articles from their webzine The Abolitionist...I guess because I must be a feminazi, and according to them, sociology isn't a real science. Gee golly, boys, I sure learned my lesson!
From my blog:
What about empathy? I don't need to be a woman to be affected by female inequality. I don't need to be a direct victim in order to be opposed to it (veganism, for example, wouldn't exist if that was the case).Again, I don't think this person actually read my blog, because an important caveat to my criticism of men and feminism is that men can absolutely be allies. Regardless, his insults and sense of entitlement make it absolutely clear that this person has no business being an ally, much less a feminist.
"Men who become disgruntled with this definition and demand inclusion only underscore the ubiquitousness of male privilege"
I find that comment offensive, and childish.
It is not a very strategic move to separate people who are opposed to patriarchy into feminists and "another word" men, becoming a larger movement will help to end patriarchy easily. Are you really opposed to patriarchy or you are playing the "that word belong to us, and only us" game?
What? "A man can´t be a feminist"? That´s one of the most absurd thing I´ve ever heard.
It that reasoning is correct, then a human cannot be a vegan, because veganism is a rejection of speciesist opprression over nonhumans, but a human cannot be discriminated and oppressed due to he´s not human. Obviously.
If a man cannot be a femnist because he can´t be a victim of patriarchal oppresion, therefore a human cannot be a vegan because he (or she) can´t be victim of anthropocentric oppresion against nonhumans.
It´s true that Fracione rejects aggressively all criticism about his opinions, but Corey Lee Wreen (and many other people against Francione) responds to rational criticisms in the same way: blocking critics from her page, or calling different opinions with depreciative names.
Okay, woah, what? What? Here's the truth--we are allies for the animals. We are animals ourselves, but we are not experiencing what Nonhumans are experiencing, we can only act on their behalf as allies. Other movements also relied heavily on allies, like the anti-slavery movement of the 18th and 19th centuries and the Civil Rights movement of the 20th century. For instance, take the freedom buses. African Americans and whites rode those buses through the South in the face of life-threatening danger. Those white activists were allies, very important allies, but they could not claim for themselves the same space in social justice that African Americans had carved out for themselves. Can you imagine if the Freedom Bus organizers had asked white activists to stand aside, and those white activists responded by berating the African American riders with insults, demands to be included, and labeled them racist? REALLY, think about that.
|The Freedom Bus project: Whites were invited to join as allies, the key words here being "invited" and "allies."|
The analogy with veganism doesn't work. Animals can't speak for themselves; they need humans to speak for them.
Women, on the other hand, can speak for themselves; we don't need men to speak for us. In fact, it's quite condescending for men to speak on our behalf and lead our liberation movement for us.
I think that men can and should participate in the feminist movement, but I also think it's perfectly reasonable to lead women lead the way and define our own experiences. The way that Francione talks about feminism is EXTREMELY condescending, which leads me to think that he doesn't really believe in feminism or equality, but is simply using feminism to gain respect in a movement (animal rights) that has many women.Brilliant, well said.
And from the Great Francione himself:
There have apparently been a number of comments from people who believe that men cannot be feminists. Those comments have been deleted by my admins as we don't tolerate discrimination on this page. I am not sure why you thought I would be interested in such ignorant comment but I am not. So don't waste your time. The admins delete them before I see most of them. Life is too short to read hate speech.There you have it folks, our opinions constitute discrimination, ignorance, and hate speech. Says the man to the feminists who insists on having complete control over the feminist space. Despicable. If anyone ever hears anyone speak of Francione as a social justice leader ever again, please, please, remind them of what a flagrant sexist he is. These comments are just unreal. Seriously, that men could ever be the victims of hate speech is truly laughable. Does he even know what hate speech is? He's a lawyer right? Thanks to everyone who took his sexism to task on his webpage, by the way!
From one of his admins:
Apparently some "radical feminists" also think there is no such thing as reverse sexism, that it's simply an impossibility. This is a breathtakingly appalling justification of bigotry and misandry. I have deleted these ignorant and offensive comments.
Ah, I knew it was only a matter of time before we were called bigots and misandrists! These types of "reverse sexism" comments are sexism at their highest level--yes, even if coming from a woman. You see, even women are indoctrinated with the normalcy of sexism in our society. We are taught to hate ourselves, worship men, obey men, doubt our own experiences and voices, and basically suck up to men to receive their good graces and hope that their social status might drip down on us and validate our pitiful existence.
Let me remind you, anyone who uses the "reverse" racist, sexist, etc. card is attempting to silence the discourse, plain and simple. I'm no misandrist, of course, defending myself from that insult would be a ridiculous waste of time. They're banking on labeling us female KKK riders so that no one can look through to the sexism that they regularly engage...and actively celebrate, it seems.
Incidentally, I don't consider myself a "radical" feminist, I consider myself just a plain old feminist. By labeling me "radical," Francione and his admins are attempting to undermine my position as somehow marginalized and irrelevant. Wanting control over my own experiences, my own space, and my own activism without the interference of paternalistic domineering men who demand full access and unadulterated power is Feminism 101, nothing radical about that.
From this point, Francione goes on to explain what feminism is all about, blahblahblah, thank you great Mansplainer (visit his Facebook page for full effect). He then pulls the inevitable: "See, look, this woman (McKenzie) agrees with me!" Which is the equivalent to saying "Hey, I'm not racist, one of my best friends is black!" Yawn. Also, are these people active Men's Rights Advocates? Because that's what they're starting to sound like. I shudder at the thought.
OK. So, what's the take home message here?
Women, be grateful to these highly rational and intelligent men who have figured out feminism for us and so kindly explain it to us over and over. Just be quiet and follow their lead, otherwise, you are a bigoted, ignorant, misandrist. Remember, men lead this movement comprised of 80% women, men define feminism, and if you find that odd, you're simply a sexist.
Now for the real take home message:
Men, LISTEN AND LEARN. SPEAK LESS, LISTEN MORE. Listen to our experiences, stop shoving your entitlement down our throats. Read some more. Subscribe to some feminist-focused blogs like Bitch, Feminspire, Feminist Current, Manboobz (written by a man), Skepchick, and Jezebel. Better yet, take a gender class if you are a student...or simply check out some books on feminism. This movement is 80% women, and we're suffering. Do your duty to make this space safe for women. Because while we suffer, Nonhuman Animals languish...and we need to be strong and focused for them.
On that note, where are the male allies? Where are you? I don't hear you? I don't see you, either. If you consider yourself an ally and you are remaining silent in the face of this sexist backlash, you're not doing your job right.
Again, thank you for those of you who have offered your support. I will continue to monitor this incident--if only because it makes for an excellent sociological experiment. Furthermore, many feminists have said the following, and it absolutely holds true here:
The proof for the need of feminism lies in the comments section of any article on feminism.