Friday, August 15, 2008

The United States of Feminists (by Suzie)

         Feminists are not a state authority. We don’t have an army, police, courts, judges or executioners. We rarely, if ever, commit violence against our political opponents.
         I just wanted to clear that up, after last Friday’s lengthy arguments. One argument was that feminists who cannot imagine forgiving an alleged ally who abused a woman were akin to Stalinists who held trials with no chance of acquittal. If I choose not to forgive a man, he can still have a fine life. I have restricted him only in his dealings with me. I haven’t executed him or sent him to Siberia.
         This argument is related to the use of “feminazis,” in which we're compared to Nazis because we’re … what? extreme and militant? Not militant in the sense of being violent, of course, but too aggressive. In case anyone is confused, feminist armies have not invaded other countries, nor are we committing genocide against men.
        Some feminists talk of a war on women, or women living in occupied territory. If it’s false to compare feminists to the state, isn’t it equally wrong to compare men to the state? I don’t think so because men predominate in the top rungs of the government, military, media, religion, etc. Men do have much more control over state policy and actions.
        Another argument from last week's post was that some feminists presume men to be guilty until proven innocent, which flies in the face of our jurisprudence. False. The presumption of innocence is a right in U.S. criminal trials, but it doesn’t apply throughout the criminal justice system. If police presumed everyone to be innocent, they’d never make any arrests.
        A related argument is that feminists are stereotyping men if they distrust a man until he proves to be OK. Although I’m sure they exist, I can’t name a feminist who thinks all men are intrinsically bad. We understand some men are great, but we know men disproportionately commit crimes against women, and we cannot always predict who will do what. We have a right to try to lessen our personal risk. 
       Of course, this isn't just feminists. A conservative woman might not open the door to a man she doesn't know.
        Our society sends mixed messages. Some men are hurt and angry if they aren’t trusted. On the other hand, women can be blamed if they trust a man who then abuses them. People may ask: "Why did you go over to his house if you hardly knew him?" "Why did you get in his car?" “Why did you open your door?” These attitudes have a long history in which women are expected to guard themselves from men, or to allow other men, such as their fathers or husbands, to guard them.
        Another argument is that women are gender profiling, like racial profiling. But we're not the police, pulling over drivers, or transportation officials, keeping people from boarding planes, just because they're men. By not opening my front door, or by locking my car door, or by meeting a man I don’t know in a public place, I’m not curtailing anyone’s rights. I'm a person in a less-powerful group protecting myself against the group with more privileges.      
        The bottom line on all of these arguments is that men’s feelings are more important than women’s rights.