Day 16. 42 pages, 19,041 words.
I have been struggling with this one for a while.
As you may have noticed, there’s been a strong preachy element to my blog rants lately, and I really am sort of sorry about that. While I definitely still feel that I am on the right side of these issues, nobody likes a soap boxer and there are so many sides to this thing we all might as well just have our own soap boxes and … well, to paraphrase Syndrome, when everybody has a soap box, nobody does.
Part of the reason for my ranting and over-pushing of my viewpoint – aside from the fact that fuck you, this is my blog – was that I was trying to make sense of the whole thing myself. Which is never going to happen, because there’s too much rich, fruity insanity in this cake.
But here’s a thought.
A while ago, the rant-subject of the week was feminism. And the #NotAllMen concept.
This can get pretty heavy, so I will be lightening things up with a bit of questionable-taste humour.
Now, for perhaps obvious reasons and on general principle, I disagree with quite a lot about this concept.
First and foremost, yes, I disagree with the guys who stand up indignantly and say “not all men are [rapists / douchebags / violent / holding women back].” Because they shouldn’t need to say it. It’s self-evident. Yes, it’s a nice feeling to stop in the middle of a big ol’ man-blaming debate and obligate an assortment of the people involved to soothingly tell you that yes, you’re a nice guy, they’re not talking about you in particular, you’re fine. But that’s missing the point of the debate. It’s not about you, guys. It’s about a problem that maybe you can help with, even if you are a nice fellow. In fact, probably especially if you’re a nice fellow.
 It’s also – and I say this as a guy who has been guilty of this a few times in the past – a teensy weensy bit passive-aggressive needy, isn’t it? Come on, son, grow a pair.
Secondly, I disagree that the very mention that not all men are [rapists / douchebags / violent / holding women back] is harmful to the greater cause of feminism. It’s just a fact. If you allow this fact to derail your discussion, then your discussion must have had a pretty shaky foundation in the first place. Saying that all men have this potential in them – that it’s maleness that is to blame, rather than any number of more practically-addressable factors – is not productive at all.
 And this, feminist debaters often say, is not the intention of the position. But that’s sort of how it comes across sometimes, when “not all men” is shut down in these conversations. You’re ignoring something with potential, in order to focus on something which can have no positive or practical outcome.
Possibly one of the only times I have ever agreed with Richard Dawkins. And even now, I don’t want to.
Yes. There’s some benefit in reminding men that even if they’re not actually part of the problem, they can still be part of the solution. But there’s no real benefit in putting men on the defensive and making them feel alienated and hated, like they’re being universally categorised into a single, evil group. That can only result in a negative reinforcement loop.
So I disagree that there’s never a good time to use this cliché, and I disagree that it is really needed in the first place. Okay. Nothing much about the whole thing that I agree with, actually. Nobody comes out of it looking good. I don’t even really like the hashtag but I guess they’re here to stay.
And if you realised at some point here that I’m no longer just talking about #NotAllMen, then well done. You shall have a cookie. Because yes, it also applies to #NotAllMuslims.
The Muslim version of Misleading Janne. Added to cut through the heavy.
Again, there’s this clear problem: fuckers are murdering people. The cases that make the biggest news stories in western countries are “Islamist extremists” murdering innocents for utterly bug-fuck insane reasons. Clear problem.
And there is a clear result, which is massive suspicion, hatred and fear creating a backlash against all Muslims, everywhere. Including the ones who actually lost loved ones that day. Including the ones who actually helped save lives. Ignoring the fact that overwhelmingly the biggest demographic group of victims of extremist violence is the innocent Muslim majority. Even when the victims are non-Muslims, Muslims are collateral victims.
And again, there are some people standing up and saying “not all Muslims” (and again, I do this a lot, sorry), and others who are saying that all Muslims need to … I don’t know, be way more vehement about proving that it’s not all Muslims, or stop being Muslims, or something. I have no idea, idiots confuse the fuck out of me sometimes.
And again, my personal objections are much the same. Yes, it should be a self-evident fact that it’s not all Muslims, so saying it should be unnecessary. No, saying “not all Muslims” is not doing harm to the overall idea of peace between Muslim and non-Muslim. No, making all Muslims everywhere feel like they need to defend themselves from the accusation of passive involvement in these awful crimes is not going to achieve anything positive.
But there is a distinction between the two outwardly-similar cases, in my opinion. And that’s when it comes to who benefits.
This one’s not really funny. But it’s true anyway. Sorry about that. Bow ties are cool.
Yes, males benefit from a misogynistic culture. Even the nice males. In the same way, white people benefit from an institutionalised-racist culture. Even the nice white people. It doesn’t make white people or males automatically demons, and it doesn’t mean we need to feel guilty and apologise … but it’s a fact, and it affects what we can constructively hope to do about the situation. And saying “it’s not my fault” is kind of pointless. Just as pointless as people telling you not to say it’s not your fault.
Of course it’s not your fault. Let’s move on.
Of course it’s not all Muslims. That’s just a fact. I think we would have noticed if close to a quarter of the planet’s population were car-bombin’, village-slaughterin’ howler monkeys in cut-price ninja clothes. And saying “not all Muslims” is pointless, because the people who already believe it will go on believing it and the people who don’t believe it will go on not believing it. And telling Muslim people they need to say it is pointless for the same reason.
One difference is, you don’t seem to get the same crowd of people telling Muslims not to say this. Telling them that it’s harmful to the overall cause. Telling them “of course it’s not, but you saying so is a way of excusing yourself and ignoring the actual issue, which you could still help with.” Well, okay, some people might say that, but they really should be saying it to everyone, shouldn’t they?
 And they’re probably right. It’s not helping matters to say “but these one-and-a-half billion people are nice enough”. Of course they’re nice enough. Saying so is basically a way of excusing them, and by proxy ourselves, anyone who’s not a car-bombin’, village-slaughterin’ howler monkey in cut-price ninja clothes, from the whole situation. “Not to blame” is not the same as “unable to do anything to help”. Just like with feminism. So the victims of violence have allies among the ostensible perpetrators? Don’t alienate them. Embrace them! So sure – this is a note to myself that I might otherwise have neglected, so I’m already glad I wrote this all out. It’s not helping anyone much to protest the innocence of the innocent. Although … again, in the case of Islam, it’s a bit more difficult. When men are blamed for feminism’s failure, nothing much happens to men. They might get told off for sitting with their legs apart on a train. When Muslims are blamed for the breakdown of Muslim / non-Muslim relations, they get their shit firebombed. So yeah, excuse me if I think their innocence is a bit more of a hot-button issue.
Another difference is, who benefits from the existence and actions of extremist murderers? I’m having a hard time seeing that Muslims do, although this is what some full-on Islamophobes would like us to think. That the agenda is to scare the western world into giving in to all the kooky demands these murderers make, and something something, sharia law. Again, I don’t know. Idiots are confusing.
Equally, there are conspiracy theorists who would have us believe that the big western governments benefit from it, in the endless fabrication of wars and convenient distractions from domestic legal and human rights violations. It’s compelling, but I can’t really see something that huge being orchestrated. Taken advantage of? Certainly. But you know who takes advantage of human fears and prejudices in order to gain power?
Everyone who has ever been powerful, ever.
If you’ve still read this far, kudos to you. You shall have another cookie. I’m really just rambling here, and trying to get my thoughts into order. There’s something deeply strange and disturbing happening in our culture’s developing attitude, and I find myself just wishing that everyone over the age of about twenty could be teleported off the planet so the next generation could have a chance not to fuck it all up. That’s where I’m at right now.