The feared and the fearful

This article was originally published on the Deep Green Resistance News Service and was reprinted with permission from the author.

Seven years ago, I was headed out to do my laundry. It was early, before dawn, and the laundromat was across the street. Entering the building, I saw a young woman gasp, before crouching behind a washer with a look of pure terror on her face. My immediate response was to be dumbfounded, and it took the woman only a few seconds to realize that I was there to wash my clothes. She apologized, and went back to watching her laundry. I said nothing to her. Feeling frazzled, I loaded a washer, and then walked back to my apartment, still trying to process what had happened.

The woman had evaluated me as a sexual predator. The woman had evaluated me as a monster. Should I have felt indignant? After all, didn’t my overflowing basket of clothes indicate my intentions in entering the building? And why should I, simply because I was born a son and not a daughter, have been seen as a threat?

But I did not feel indignant. I felt ashamed, and I felt embarrassed. I found myself crying for some time. But I don’t want to give the impression that I felt that I was the victim in this situation. People’s actions reflect their experiences, and whatever led the woman to experience me with such fear must have been terrible.

I can hear some male readers trying to interject here. Is it really fair for a woman to judge all men based on a few “bad apples”? Isn’t it irrational for a woman to treat men as a homogenous bloc of potential abusers and rapists?

First of all, let’s try reversing these questions. Was it fair for men to do such damage to a woman that she cannot help but see us as a danger? Is it rational for a woman who has experienced this violence to deny its likelihood?

Second, these questions suggest a sort of postmodern thinking, in which gender equality is accomplished not by working to dismantle the basis for this power disequilibrium (i.e, patriarchy), but rather by simply blinding ourselves to these entrenched gender differences, and seeing men and women as “just people”. In effect, this strategy boils down to eliminating inequality by denying the possibility of its existence. Because such an approach denies the existence of power, it necessarily benefits those whose power is already entrenched. Beyond that, it allows the privileged classes to dismiss any real movement for equality as “sexist,” “racist,” or “class warfare”.

Finally, we should remember how male dominance affects the lives of women. The most recent study suggests that men rape an estimated 1.3 million women every year. Nearly one in five women in the United States have experienced sexual assault, while one in four have been beaten by a partner. [1] To put these numbers in perspective, consider that of the 2,709,918 soldiers who served the US military during the Vietnam War, 363,590, or about 13%, were injured or killed. [2] [3] To live in the United States as a woman is to live in the midst of a warzone. And so long as that war continues, so long as the male class makes war against the female class, it is absurd to suggest that women should default towards seeing us as a neutral party.

Beyond shame and embarrassment, another feeling rose within me on that laundry day seven years ago. I felt rage. Rage first of all to those whose inhuman actions did such damage to the young woman in the laundromat, and millions of other women every year. I felt enraged also that beyond destroying women, these men are destroying the possibility for men and women to co-exist peacefully. Finally I was enraged about men’s lack of response to this violence against women and against peaceful human relations.

Men can talk all they like about how rapists and abusers are a small minority. We can talk all we like about how we personally love and respect women. But until we act in solidarity with women, until we become allies against sexual violence, until we start doing the work necessary to stop those perpetrating it, we are only talking. If we want to stop being seen as a class of monsters, we are first going to have to work with women to dismantle this terroristic patriarchy.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/health/nearly-1-in-5-women-in-us-survey-report-sexual-assault.html
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War_casualties
[3] http://www.uswings.com/vietnamfacts.asp
Owen Lloyd is the founding editor of the Deep Green Resistance News Service. He holds a BA in sociology from Oregon State University and a BA in cultural anthropology from the University of Oregon. He currently lives in Eugene, Oregon with his wife Sarah and his cat, Skitty.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • What exactly are you advocating here? You talk about acting in solidarity with women, but “women” is an incredibly diverse group, encompassing over half the human species, with a broad range of views.

    And you want to “dismantle this terroristic patriarchy”? Great, I want to too. So does virtually every feminist, including both women and men. But what does that mean?

    I want to look a little more about your remark about how you felt rage directed at men. What’s the origin of this? Just like I remarked about women above, I want to ask: are men a monolithic entity? Men span the full range from people who have actually raped women, to people who have dedicated their whole lives to ending and preventing rape and helping the victims of rape. And most men fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

    I don’t think it’s healthy thinking to generalize about all men, or all women, or all members of any group. I don’t even think it’s healthy to generalize about ONE person, because people are so complex, every person has good and bad qualities. Just as victim blaming is a highly dangerous way of thinking that can lead to self-destructive thinking, I think generalizations about whole groups of people lead to self-destructive thinking. That’s the very essence of the patriachal hegemony–it’s based on generalizations about women. The other side of this coin, also part of the same system, are generalizations about men–for every statement or belief about women there is a counterpart in beliefs or cultural views of men.

    I think we overcome this system ultimately through a new way of thinking, through seeing each person as an individual, and through seeing them as complex. And through shedding our judgment and our anger. And through a value system that stops making generalizations about groups of people…stops blaming women for anything on the basis of how they act or dress, and stops blaming men for what they do or don’t do. Blame is not the same as taking responsibility…and blame does not encourage anyone to take responsibility.

    What I want is to encourage men to take responsibility, for the things under their control, for their actions, their words. Blame is an entirely non-consensual activity: it places responsibility on a person without their consent, often in ways that are inappropriate (i.e. blaming a woman for rape when it was the man who actually commited rape, or blaming all men for promoting rape culture, regardless of their actions). A culture overcomes rape and sexual assault through promoting consent, through making all sexual activity consensual. So how about promoting consent in responsibility taking and responsibility placing, and how about encouraging men to take responsibility of their own initiative, rather than forcing it on them?

    This is leading by example, and it is, in my opinion, the only way to truly promote consent. Responsibility cannot be forced on people. They must take it of their own initiative!

    • womononajourney (@womononajourney)

      @Alex
      “I think we overcome this system ultimately through a new way of thinking, through seeing each person as an individual, and through seeing them as complex.”

      When men stopping raping women as a group (or caste), maybe then we’ll start to see people as unique individuals. It is simply not in women’s survival interests to look at every person as “individual” and “complex” when males are by and large the ones who assault us.

    • womononajourney (@womononajourney)

      “The individual woman is a fiction–as is her will–since individuality is precisely what women are denied when they are defined and used as a sex class.” –Andrea Dworkin, Right Wing Women

  • stephen m

    @Alex

    This is a feminist blog. Please do a little research about participating as a male on a feminist blog to avoid this kind of cliched male response. Thanks

  • Courgette Avenger

    Oh Alex, oh Alex…you really don’t get it at all, do you?

  • Rusty

    Women, traumatized or not, cannot pomo-think their way out of being scared of men in situations like this. It’s basic survival instinct. The notion that simply appreciating the complexity and individuality of men will override that instinct is preposterous.

  • Pingback: Moron Mansplaining/Women’s Perspective is Wrong « femonade()

  • anne

    Her fear and your apparent solidarity with women didn’t prompt you to leave the laundromat did they though? Instead you smugly note that she apologised to you, because obviously you felt you were the one deserving of an apology. You need to think harder about yourself and your actions which terrified this young women, rather than those nameless men you want to pin her terror on. She was frightened of *you*, not anybody else.

    • Thank you. That is one of my main concerns with that post…..

    • Owen

      Hi Anne. Thank you for this critique. I don’t want to suggest that I deserved the apology. I didn’t. But at the time I’m sure I felt like I did. I’m sure I felt like I deserved more than that. And I certainly did not consider apologizing to her under those circumstances. And it’s true that I did not consider leaving, either. In retrospect these would have been good actions to take.

      But the reality is that I’m trained to act like any other man. My initial reaction was to feel shaken and hurt, rather than to empathize with her position or try to understand her experience of the situation. That was something I had to reflect on afterwards. That’s something I’ve been reflecting on for years. That’s something I still don’t feel like I can totally understand, because I am a privileged man and terror is not something that I am forced to experience.

      • anne

        No, you make choices. You’re an adult. You made a choice to stay and frighten her. A normal person would have walked out when they saw the effect they were having – you didn’t. Instead you stayed to frighten her and then cried crocodile tears afterwards.

        Also you do experience that terror. If you’d been in that laundromat before dawn, and three burly dodgy looking men walked in, I’m sure you’d have felt exactly the same as she did. Terror isn’t a female-only experience, however much misogynistic men would like to hold on to that comforting thought for themselves.

        So don’t talk to me about your reality. Your reality is that you scared the hell out of a woman and now you get to write articles about it in attempt to show what a good guy you are. You’re not. You’re exactly the same as all those other men you’re blaming for this.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Like you, anne, or rather, if it were me, I would have likely been angry that a man I felt intimidated by didn’t just leave. It’s like when you walk down the street at night and you hear someone coming up behind you. If that someone turns out to be a man I usually react with anger, wondering why the man didn’t simply cross the street. Why send me into a panic unnecessarily? But I think that’s kind of the point. It wouldn’t occur to many men to do this. Some might feel indignant – ‘why should I have to cross the street? I’m not a predator.’ Others might just not think of it – they’ve never been in our shoes – they don’t know the fear of rape women feel throughout their lives. But to me, that’s what Owen’s post was getting at. He didn’t get it. He’s getting it. I didn’t take this piece as an attempt to show what a great guy he is but rather the opposite. Owen’s lived with and benefitted from male privilege and is working to address it.

          • Areo

            “I would have likely been angry that a man I felt intimidated by didn’t just leave.”

            —–

            Holy … friggin’ … crap. I’m not going to “just leave” if you have some negative feeling for me when I just want to wash my clothes.

            I have negative feelings for you right now, so get the fuck off this Web site.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Thanks for stopping by!

        • Owen

          I’m a monster, Anne. I was trained to be a monster. And it shouldn’t be any surprise that I acted like a monster. I can’t “choose away” being a monster, any more than a woman can choose away being oppressed. What I can do is try to recognize the ways that I benefit from being a monster. And I can also try to act in solidarity with women to fight a system that creates monsters.

          • anne

            A good piece of advice for women is that when a man tells you what he is, listen to him. You’ve just told us you’re a monster, Owen. Thanks.

            Just for anybody who might be taken in by your rationalisations, men’s behaviour towards women is a *choice*, it’s not imposed on them like oppression is. So yes they can choose to behave differently, they just choose not to more often than not. They can choose to walk out of the laundromat when they’ve scared a woman, they can choose not to write self-serving articles about it afterwards. Equating women’s oppression with your terroristic behaviour to a woman is highly offensive although completely consistent with the attitudes you’ve demonstrated here.

            As for solidarity. You’ve told us what you are, we can see it for ourselves, solidarity isn’t something we need from you.

            Meghan he doesn’t get it or rather he chooses not to. He refuses accept any responsibility whatsoever for his behaviour. It’s actually quite creepy with his “I’m a monster” talk. What exactly was the woman in the laundromat scared of?

          • Owen

            I’m not saying men are forced to oppress women. I’m saying that men are socialized towards privilege and the denial that oppression even exists. That’s what privilege is. And so it should be totally unsurprising that my initial understanding of a situation like this is one of confusion and embarrassment. I hadn’t, at the time of this incident, thought for a second about my privilege or entitlement. For sure, that’s not an excuse. And absolutely I would handle a situation much differently now. That’s really the point of the essay. Until men are able to acknowledge and come to terms with their own entitlements they are not going to be capable of responding to oppression in an appropriate way.

          • anne

            Actually you did state that men are forced to oppress women. You likened men’s oppression of women (being “monsters”) to women being oppressed by men, as if men, and in particular you, had no more choices than a woman being harmed and destroyed by men, who *choose* every time they commit their acts of woman-hatred.

            You’re doing lots of backtracking here, but it’s right there in your words. There is no self-questioning about your behaviour in your article. Nowhere do you say, “I should have walked out when I realised I was frightening her, but I like to get my own way so I stayed”. Because that’s the truth, not the rationalisations that you’ve come up with.

            I’ll repeat, this isn’t about entitlements or privilege, it’s about behaviour and choices. Blaming your “male privilege” for your decision to stay and terrorise a woman is a cop-out. Privilege just means you’re given the opportunity to behave in that manner with no consequences, privilege doesn’t force you into that behaviour, you still have moral responsiblity for your own harmful actions. Similarly blaming other men (which you did) for the fear that *you* engendered in a woman, is just another way of excusing yourself. Nowhere in your piece do you say that you should have behaved differently or that you were the source of the woman’s fear. Instead you try to pin it on every other man apart from yourself.

            I guess you’ve been given the platform here, and you get the last word, but I think it’s pretty sickening that you’re being held up as a man who gets it, when obviously the opposite is true.

  • Dennis

    Imagine someone walks up to you on the street one day and starts yelling at you. At first you can’t get what they’re saying but before long it becomes obvious that they’re pissed at you because they’re a refugee who had to wait for five years in an offshore processing camp, packed into miserable quarters, half starved, abused by racist guards and not even allowed to go outside. As this person is screaming at you, tears are rolling down their cheeks. They describe conditions as terrible as any concentration camp and you feel awful, because you’re government has allowed this to happen. You start crying as well, and you go to give them a hug. But as you stretch out your arms they push you away, because they don’t want your pity. They hate you, because you represent a system that enacted unbelievable horrors on them and their family.

    And so you try to explain- because what else can you do? You are deeply sympathetic to the cause- you even volunteered at a refugee rights rally, but that doesn’t matter to them. They continue screaming at you, still crying, and you start to feel really bad, wishing they weren’t there because you can’t do anything right now to help them. You know that their anger is totally justified but in a way you start to feel resentment because you’ve tried your best to stop this exact thing from happening, and they just don’t get it- that not everyone is against them, that if they had asked for your help you would have given it willingly.

    You eventually run away, and they scream at you as they get smaller and smaller until finally they’re gone. You go home and you feel terrible for the rest of the day, hoping that you’ll never run into them again because no one wants to feel like that. And sure, you can donate a huge amount of money to a charity to help refugees like the one you met that day, but you still feel awful, because you know that the system still exists despite your best efforts. So from then on you do your best to avoid that street, and you recoil, unavoidably, whenever anyone starts discussing refugee rights.

    This is how a lot of males feel, including myself, when we are confronted with feminism. I’m not saying it’s right, and I hope I’ve gotten across that I am deeply sympathetic and supportive of the cause, even if I can never truly understand how difficult it is to be a female in our world. My hope though, with this, is to explain why so many guys post and say things like Alex. Posts like Courgette’s (cool name) make me particularly sad because they demonstrate a failure to understand and explain- instead falling into the terrible practice of condescension so commonly exhibited by males when confronted with feminism. I should point out that I do not at all feel like all feminists do this- I don’t even think that a majority or a particularly large minority do. But when a person talks, of either sex, talks about attempting to remove power from patriarchy and give it to women, or to make war on the male sex (thankfully this doesn’t come up too much!), they oversimplify an issue of extreme importance and extreme complexity, and often alienate the very people they are attempting to persuade. It isn’t right, it isn’t fair, but it is an unfortunate truth of the world we live in.

    I’m probably going to get an awful lot of hate mail now…

  • Dennis

    I’d like to retract the last sentence- that’s me making an assumption and generalising, not really acceptable when I’m criticising that very thing… Sorry about that all.

  • Cheryl

    All you “nice” doods (and everyone else) should go up to the Moron Mansplaining link above, and read there.

    And Owen: ” I don’t want to suggest that I deserved the apology. I didn’t. But at the time I’m sure I felt like I did. I’m sure I felt like I deserved more than that.” What exactly does that mean? What *more* did you feel you deserved from her?

    How ironic that entitlement comes oozing through, even in a comment on a post about, in part, rejecting entitlement.

    Also, Dennis: You have heard of tone arguments, and not to make them, esp. on feminist blogs? Or maybe not. Well, now you have. We’ll speak as we wish.

    • Meghan Murphy

      My assumption was that Owen was talking about his male privilege/sense of entitlement — that that was why he, at the time, felt like he deserved an apology but then, looking back realized that was about his sense of entitlement, which is acquired via male privilege?

      • Owen

        Thank you Meghan. That was what I was trying to get across. I’m male. I’m entitled. And my perspective on any event is going to reflect that entitlement. I’m not trying to deny that entitlement. And I can’t discard my patriarchal entitlement any more than a woman can discard her experience of patriarchal oppression. So long as this patriarchal system exists, I’m going to benefit from it, and women are going to suffer from it. Nothing I change about myself is going to affect that. The point (as I understand it) isn’t for men to try and somehow throw off our privilege, the point is for men to own up to that privilege and also to work with women to radically confront the systems that perpetuate it.

      • Cheryl

        He said he felt he deserved “more than that.” More than an apology. That’s what I was addressing. What more did he expect?

        Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but these are his own words.

        • Owen

          Looking back, I probably expected some sort of full pardon, something to keep me from feeling like I was a monster. Maybe I hoped she would defuse the situation, laugh the whole thing off as a silly mistake.

      • Xiao Mao

        And now he wrote this hackneyed article and wants some ego-stroking for it. And, you’re giving it to him. Because he’s “sorry” (hint: he ISN’T.). I’m sure that poor woman in the laundromat feels tons better knowing that this self-centered, ego-wank article was posted. Typical male Narcissism.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I don’t think he wrote the article because he wants ‘ego-stroking’. I think he wrote the article to educate dudes.

  • just a chick

    DENNIS thinks that not being able to help refugees have better lives is the same as not helping women to not be assaulted, women that you are likely to see every day, that diddnt come to the country illegaly on boats.

    also i dont think i spelled illegaly right.

  • Swiz

    dennis, why is it that your entire life is 100% feminism-free, and the only time you engage with it is when “confronted” with it? If you want to understand feminism, truly try to understand it. Don’t act like you’ve given a real effort to understand it but just can’t because [insert tone argument here]. You haven’t made a real effort. in fact you’ve done the bare minimum. Would you expect to understand calculus if the extent of your engagement with it was to grimace and criticize it for not being immediately understandable (and of course, you know, for making you feel bad) any time a calculus question popped up in your life? You would then walk away, of course. And not think about it again… ever, if you had it your way.

  • yep

    Thank GOD that woman apologized for her horrible, horrible transgression. Maybe next time she’ll be smart, and put her personal safety and emotional well-being on the line for a stranger. Shame on her!!!
    From now on, I’ll be doubly sure to not try to get away from all the men who corner me in public spaces, or yell at me from their cars, on a daily basis. What if they are super cool feminists and have feelings???? It is totally worth my time, effort, and safety to make sure they never ever feel bad about themselves. Man, being made to feel ‘bad’ must suck real real bad!!! :'( I mean, WOW, somebody cried?????? Surely, this is the worst pain a human being has ever been made to feel. I know I sure haven’t been emotionally gutted or bodily harmed many times over. Sir, you are an American hero for putting this woman in her place and making her perform the emotional labor of making you feel better when she feared for her life.

  • Vouchsafer

    This conversation made me feel sad. I feel like Owen tried (perhaps less than successfully, but he tried) to offer out an olive branch to womanity and say “Okay, ladies, here’s something that happened to me and here, after much thought, are my reflections on it” and instead of welcoming his comments as an opening gambit towards true discourse on the subject, people opened fire on him.

    Maybe he didn’t ‘get it’ right off the hop. But if he isn’t even allowed to venture a guess at how this incident might be best used as fodder for discussion without being cut off and made to feel as though he shouldn’t have even opened his mouth then how is any progress towards equality going to be made? I think what Owen was trying to do was to start a discourse that would hopefully lead to his own continued enlightenment and perhaps that of others.

    What do people expect? for him to suddenly pop up with the ‘correct’ take on this experience on his first post?

    Owen, I give you an A for effort and a B- for content. Good start. At least you’re thinking about what happened and trying to use it as an opportunity for improving yourself.

  • Dan

    Is this seriously the way you treat someone who recognizes his own privilege and is genuinely sympathetic towards what women have to endure? I took a couple of Women’s Studies classes in college (I’m not looking for a pat on the back, these sorts of classes really are one of the few avenues for men to be exposed to this information) and one of the main points the course tried to get across was that for the women’s movement to be thoroughly successful, men need to show support and fight for women’s rights as well.

    Owen is clearly in support of the Women’s movement and what does he get? People calling him misogynistic, a mansplaining moron, and an oppressor.

    I myself am fully in support of equal rights and treatment for women (given by the fact that I am visiting this website in the first place), but after seeing how Owen was absolutely chastised for showing his support can you imagine I would be very willing to do the same?

    Can you not understand that if you belittle and name call someone who shows you support you’re making it very unlikely that others will support you as well?

    You are antagonizing the very people whose support would be beneficial. It’s like trying to sell ice cream to someone by calling them a fat, ugly, douchebag. It makes no sense whatsoever.

    Basically, you are shooting yourselves in the foot, you are harming the Women’s movement more than you are helping it.

    Before you attack me as well, please take a second and think about what your response would be if I posted it under a female name.

    • Hollister

      DAN, what you are doing is classic tone policing – arguing more about how women present themselves, instead of what they have to say. You don’t have to agree with it, but you can’t possibly sit there and tell someone with a 1 in 3 chance of being raped that they can’t express their anger at a guy who wants a good boy cookie for acting like a human being on one single occasion!

      • Dan

        I think that it is something that seriously needs to be addressed and it’s irresponsible to simply write it off as “tone policing”. No one here is asking for a good boy cookie, he was trying to show support and got wrongly chewed out because of it.

        You realize that men are human beings too, not just cartoonishly evil sadistic rape-monsters, right? Your insinuation that he acted “like a human being on one single occasion” is so unbelievably insulting. You know nothing about the guy but you automatically assume he’s a terrible person simply because he’s a man. There are plenty of good men out there and you’re steadily losing their support with this kind of treatment.

        • NitroGirl

          No, no one would lose support from men who do not think they are entitled to be treated like children seeking cookies for being decent human beings by believing that women are people,too.

          The men who threaten to “abandon”,or leave Feminism alone because a few women didn’t bat their eyelashes, salivate,and let them motorboat them for saying what women have been saying all along (but are IGNORED because of their sex), were never Feminist-esq to begin with .

          You can be an ally ,but allies are not immune from criticism. If you expect that then you are going to have a hard time.

          • Dan

            There is no point in arguing extremes. No one asked you to bat your eyelashes or salivate (Isn’t feminism against using feminine traits like that as a crutch?) and no one is threatening to abandon feminism. I was simply pointing out that people tend not to agree with a cause that does not make them feel welcome and responds to valid criticism with hostility.

            You can take my advice or leave it. I am honestly just trying to help.

            Again, think about how you would respond to me if I posted as Danielle instead of Dan.

          • NitroGirl

            I have no real problem as to what the OP in particular has said,for the record. Maybe reading through some of these comments I may find an understanding. What I’m trying to say is, that men,or any allies in particular,might have to go through a few things such as harsh criticism (minus the insults),or you may perceive things as being insulted. I’m saying, allies are not infallible. And they should not receive special treatment because they have a basic understanding of what the people they claim to want to protect go through. If anything, I feel we should be harder on allies because those are the ones who claim to care about us. I see it as somewhat familial discipline, in a way that says “hey,what you’re saying could be wrong,or hurtful ,or problematic to the relatives,fam”.

            I’m just giving out a warning-that when we go easy on people who quote a little Bell Hooks, or whoever-that we start to create these allies who might be considered untouchable when it comes to criticism. When that happens it seems as though,from my observation as a lurker of the feminist blogosphere, they have both men and women supporting their male privilege-the ability to compartmentalize which women they want to listen to because they aren’t being too “difficult” for them. This is how it starts, by blindly praising and never critiquing male thought just because they finally caught up with half the population of the planet that we also human beings. You don’t have to believe these women are right —but you won’t be criticism free from any female,regardless of their tone.

            And tone is nothing compared to years of oppression. If you can colonize,dehumanize,objectify,and petrify,then you can handle a little snark.There are women out here who wish all they had to deal with in life is “tone”.

            And to be honest,if you were Danielle I would tell you the same thing. As a WOC,I don’t particularly favor tone policing women,either.

            You seem to barely want to even listen to the women here,just chastise them for their tone-so how is this helping?

          • Owen

            Thanks for this. I think that as an ally criticism from feminist women is really essential. And even though I think that some comments here crossed the line from criticism into outright hostility, that’s really not so horrible either. It takes men down a notch and keeps us in check.

    • KittyGalore

      Dan, absolutely right. I am a 30-something female and a feminist, and am shocked at the way other posters have spoken of Owen! He did absolutely nothing wrong by going into the public laudrette to wash his clothes, and he did reflect on why the woman may have responded that way with understanding. Why should he be made to feel like a rapist for simply wanting to do his laundry? And why should he leave the laudrette any more than the woman should have left the laundrette? It is a public space and he was doing absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever.

      Women, you do not seem to want solidarity from either men, or any women who do not agree with your extremist and defeatist views 100%. The group turns the ‘love’ inwards and pushes everyone else out, so on the whole you are only talking amongst yourselves and are changing nothing, because you will not engage with other views and automatically seethe with rage when anything to do with males is mentioned (for they are all rapists of course). And of course, your approach is surely the path to educating and changing views, eh (please note: very strong irony intended in that line).

  • The article was originally written for a multi-cultural global assistance news service site, not a feminist website. My impression is that Meghan chose to republish it here because of the men-educating-men theme of the piece, a theme she has explored and discussed herself many times. And sometimes she’s been the subject of criticism for it. (How radfems can attack other radfems is beyond me, but it’s not really for me to say.)

    It is vital for feminism and the equality movement that this work be encouraged versus dismissed. Unless the stance is that men need to ONLY learn to alter their views and behavior from women. Is that what some people think? It’s not the representative view I read from feminists (women or men).

    I read through the article and comments from the Femonade site and found it mostly to be accusations and assumptions based on…nothing really. I enjoy, promote and value good feminist/culture critique, but that wasn’t it. There is some good analysis in the comments here asking the author to further examine his motives, but it’s only helpful to the discussion if he feels safe to share them.

    It was actually suggested that the author sexually assaulted the woman in the laundry-mat and is using this piece to somehow cover it up (or something, it made no sense).

    The author wrote an article based on personal experience from which he learned about male culture’s influence on himself. He is using that to attempt to raise the consciousness of other men. This is what feminists from the entire spectrum repeatedly say is missing from the larger discourse. Why in this case was it made out to be a bad thing?

    • mythandry

      ” I enjoy, promote and value good feminist/culture critique, but that wasn’t it.”

      Remember, only the men get to decide what is good feminist culture and what isn’t.

  • marv

    Guys, please be more cognizant of the fact that there is a World War taking place against women and has been for centuries. Women are embattled and under seige by male supremacy. Let’s not focus on finding fault with their criticisms of us but on learning from them. Then we won’t further divide feminists or bring them more sorrow than they already have.

  • Rachael

    How fitting that a bunch of men have taken it upon themselves to come here and prove the point of the article. Feminist women are, and should be, skeptical of men – even and especially our so-called allies. As soon as we abandon our critical thinking and skepticism, we are sending our movement out to sea. If you can’t handle that then you can show yourselves out.

    I think this is a useful article and I would hope that men would write more things like this and less forced-perspective crap like what we’re seeing in the comments.

    • MCM

      Skeptical of men or skeptical of authority? These are not quite the same thing.

      Even though men are largely in positions of power, the political and economic power structure itself is supported by women the same way certain ideologies are supported by those most injured by those ideologies. In order to gain power, someone surrenders it or has it taken. To go past a man’s writing to attack him personally is neither fair nor feminist and it doesn’t gain anyone any power, it just creates an oxygen consuming firestorm.

      What people imagine they’ll do is rarely related to what they actually do, so judging from the anonymous electronic distance is way too easy and allows comments to become harsh. This, too, is a study in how power corrupts, the very thing that feminism addresses when it examines why women’s work was attributed to anonymous or to male pseudonyms. Feminism isn’t the province of women; it is a perspective on power that like all analysis of power must include everyone.

      To the article itself: I’m not sure what it’s about. Mr. Lloyd uses an example of inadvertently frightening a woman to examine the context of male privilege. It is odd that other responses to her fear like asking, “Are you OK?” or “What’s happened?” didn’t occur to him. Reaching through fear with concern might have eased some of the woman’s distress, which would have, I think, provoked a slightly different essay, perhaps one about how much fear women have to live with every day, how rape is not a joke, how awful it is to know that fellow citizens have elected an openly misogynist man with no understanding about basic biology to a congressional committee on science.

      • Rachael

        Skeptical of men.