So, today I was on Reddit. Normally I try to steer myself to the positive and informative discussions and avoid the anger inducing idiocies that the internet is so adept at brining out. Today though, I stumbled into a sub that was making fun of the feminist campaign of ‘I need feminism because.’ Not only did the sub commandeer the name of the movement but it was extremely misleading unless you read the sidebar. The funny thing about it was that it wasn’t the posts that were so bad but the description of the sub itself. The posts seemed to reflect valid interpretations of the subject matter which is why it took me so long to realize that the sub was actually a group of people rallying around emotionally hurting feminists.
The sidebar reflected a common internet troll (I know everyone hates that word now). It was clearly written by a person who had been slighted in some way by the movement. Someone who is defensive because he/she has only been exposed to the darker sides of feminism. Let’s be clear, feminism has a dark side. Every movement has a side that is comprised of people who have just been through too much or feel too much and therefore take it too far. It’s those people that create the people who created r/mensrights. I’m not saying that these extremists aren’t valid and that they don’t have a right to be angry but when you go about asserting your anger badly you are going to create your own downfall. Much like King Arthur created Mordred, we create our own worst enemies.
So when I finally figured out that I had stumbled upon a vitriolic reaction to one of my favorite campaigns I naturally became angry. It’s always hard to have people telling you that your experiences and emotions aren’t valid or are too intense. I hate seeing people blatantly deny that the things that I go through on a daily basis actually happen. And it’s funny because before I figured out their agenda I was agreeing with a lot of posts.
They’re right sometimes. There are other reasons that women make less money than men. A lot of the pain women experience is often inflicted by other women. Men also experience discrimination and it can be even more overlooked. And most importantly, most men are pretty great. We let our experiences with the terrible 30% of the male population affect the way that we treat the other 70% and that’s not fair. The problem with all of this is that what that other 30% does is just so deplorable that we build up this shield to defend ourselves from them and the other 70% suffer by default.
The thing is, we don’t need that other 70% creating subreddits that undermine our cause and devalue our feelings. We need them to stand up for us, admit there is something wrong and do their best to stop it when it happens. We don’t need a knight in shining armor to save us. We need every man to stand beside us and to tell that 30% that what they’re doing is not okay. It makes me so sad to see instead that they’ve decided to let their bad experiences overwhelm their judgement. That they will continue to be so defensive that they feel the need to belittle and undermine people who are trying to express how they feel. It also makes me sad how many women will engage with their behavior and lend it credibility.
That’s when I asked myself ‘why?’. Why do we automatically jump on the defensive and why don’t we bother to ask these people why they have reacted that way? If we are ever in a situation where we are faced with, say, a man mocking another man for loving My Little Pony, why don’t we ever bother to ask them why it bothers them? There’s a pretty good chance that they’ve never thought about why either.
This can be said for a lot of actions. We go through the daily motions and through most of it we never bother to think about why we are doing it. I am well aware that some people are just assholes. There all all sorts of people in the world. The assholes can rarely be helped but those people who respond with such vitriol just want to be understood. They want someone to listen for once to why they feel these feelings.
I think we could all benefit from stepping back and asking why. No judgement. No anger. Just a simple why. Maybe if we tried to do that, even just once a week, we’d have a lot less hate.