Let’s Talk About Feminism: Can Women Really Blame Everything on Men?
Revelations of male misuse of power, blatant sexism and sexual abuse dominated the headlines throughout 2020. Harvey Weinstein, one-time film producer, was found guilty of having sexually abused and manipulated several actresses. For many, his actions highlighted a culture of toxic masculinity and sparked the worldwide #MeToo movement, leading many women to share their harrowing experiences of abuse.
The backlash against toxic masculinity has been well documented with many famous people, including Harry Styles, wading into the debate. Indeed, Styles famously dressed as a woman to destroy what he saw as an outdated, and narrow, concept of masculinity.
But the backlash against obvious male indiscretions has some wondering whether the anti-male movement has gone too far?
The anti-feminist feminist
One such voice is that of Camille Paglia, sometimes referred to as the “anti-feminist feminist”. She has reasoned for years that the blame culture that has developed against men is not a helpful product of the feminist movement. She does not ignore or overlook the obvious inequality that exists between the sexes but nor does she see it as an opportunity to try and belittle men and view them as irrelevant in society. Controversially she has stated that “women will never know who they are until they let men be men.”
Her philosophy is that men and women need each other and that rather than rejecting men, and minimizing their masculinity, the sexes need to find a way to co-exist. In response to accusations that she is ignoring the plight of sexual attacks on women and bullying in the workplace, Paglia has said that she believes individual women are responsible for “how people treat them”. Rather than being at odds with the feminist movement, she sees her position as harking back to a golden era of feminism which began in the 1960s. She views her role as prophetic, and believes that whilst many will criticize her today, in the future her predictions will be shown to be true.
Returning feminine to women and masculine to men
Paglia is not the only modern voice calling for greater harmony between the sexes. Baba Richard and Sri Namaste, known as the Infinite Couple, are industry experts on relationships and have been preaching a message of interdependence for many years. They view feminism as having weakened the power of both sexes and believe that there is “power in the polarity” of the sexes. To quote the couple, “We return the feminine to women, the masculine to men and men and women to each other. Neutrality is impotence, polarity is power”. They feel the modern world is trying to get men and women to meet at some center point; women becoming more masculine and men becoming more feminine. However, they believe that this is the wrong direction for society and that, in fact, each sex should focus on retaining and reveling in its unique attributes.
Do women suffer more than men?
Whilst no one can eradicate the harm that has been done by men, and the inequalities that exist for women, an inaccurate picture persists of just how ‘easy’ life is for men. This phenomenon is actually an inherent bias and has been studied by researchers. Most people are surprised to learn that whilst women do have their struggles, men struggle more so in many areas. Men are much more likely to end up addicted to alcohol and drugs, homeless, and committing suicide. Men tend to get longer prison sentences for the same misdemeanors as women.
The Infinite Couple adds, “While men and women have always been different, it is a commonly held, but untrue, belief that these distinctions have harmed women. In fact, cultures where there is a great deal of difference between the sexes often have a high degree of honoring of women. In addition many of the western societal issues that are painted with the brush of being examples of harm to women are actually examples of the opposite. Take domestic violence which is almost always painted as something men do to women – yet over half of all cases of domestic violence are mutual and 70% of those are initiated by women.
In studies, investigators set up false scenarios that involved bullying at work. In every case, even where the sex of the bully had not been revealed, more people assumed that the man was the bully and the woman was the victim. A similar experiment involved the telling of rude jokes. Again, the man was assumed to be the perpetrator. Finally, when it comes to firing employees, researchers discovered that men bear a disproportionate amount of blame and are also perceived as suffering much less than females. This moral typecasting essentially ignores the fact that men also suffer, and that they suffer significantly more than women, in many cases.
Does this mean that we should let men off the hook and stop blaming them for their obvious wrongs? No, obviously not. However, it does highlight the cognitive biases that exist. Racism is a bias. Nationalism is a form of bias. If we no longer tolerate other forms of prejudice, why would we allow excessive bias against men? The Infinite Couple comments, “…the necessity for diversity is known…men and women are needed in order for us to have wholeness and fulfillment as individuals and as a collective society. Both have contributed to the current battle of the sexes, and both must choose to put down their swords and shields…It’s time for more than a ceasefire – it’s time for peace. Any hope for the future will rest in our willingness to rise together.