What this is really about is men accusing feminists of sexism and hypocrisy unless they can prove that they spend exactly half of their time, energy, and resources on campaigning on behalf of men. What this is really about is that if feminism only improves the lives of women, it has no value or importance. What this is really about is that feminism only has value if it works on behalf of men and improves the lives of men. What this is really about is anti-feminist men being threatened by women working for women. What they’re really saying is that to talk about women, to focus on women, to point out that something affects women badly; all of this is of no importance or value. It’s classic, really - because men are not always the focus of attention of feminism, these anti-feminists can’t stand it.
What this is about is that some men can’t stand not being the centre of attention.
I’m sick to the back teeth, sick and tired, of feminists being accused of sexism and hypocrisy unless we spend exactly half of our time and resources pointing out every instance of how ‘patriarchy hurts men too’. Gay rights activists aren’t expected to spend half their time campaigning for heterosexuals. Anti-racism activists aren’t expected to spend ages campaigning on behalf of white people. Yet it’s a different story with feminism, isn’t it? The most infuriating thing about this is that - as regular readers will know - I do think that feminism is important for men as well as women and I encourage both men and women to critique mainstream masculinity as well as femininity. But that doesn’t mean that I think that every single instance of feminist activism has to be prefaced with a disclaimer about how this also benefits men. Frankly, I’m getting a little bored of it. I believe it strongly, but there’s only so many times I am forced to repeat it before it gets a little wearing and I start to wonder why I have to keep doing it in the first place.
Yet sadly, this “improving women’s lives is sexist” attitude reflects part of the wider mainstream fear of feminism. It’s why people say things like ‘I’m not a feminist, I’m a humanist’ or ‘I’m not a feminist, I’m in favour of human rights’. It’s because there is a stigma attached to any activism that unashamedly benefits women, as a social group. It’s not seen as worthy enough, and fighting on behalf of women as a group is embarassing somehow. I’m just talking about plain, uncontroversial activism that improves the lives of women.