“At first I thought this was a parody.”
When these words appear in the comments section on some internet feminist post or other, it’s a sort of mutant variant of Godwin’s Law. You know it’s time to stop, dash off a snarly rejoinder that no one will read, and get the hell out. The “parody” put-down — a sort of variant of Godwin’s Law in that it signifies the implosion of the discourse — is a mainstay of disingenuous liberal dudes who are so insulted by feminazis that they can’t resist trying to reduce feminism to a hilarious dudejoke.
The parody put-down naturally showed up in the comments section of this article. My snarly rejoinder got rejected because I don’t have a Facebook account, so I had no choice but to just post it here on this blog.
Blogging. What a great idea. I should try that.
Anyway, the article, written by one J.A McCarroll and appearing in HuffPo, sort of touches on something the author calls “dude feminism”. I’m out of the loop; is the term “dude feminism” a thing? Whatever you call it, the practice itself is as old as the gender binary. I allude to the feminist compulsion to appease potential dude supporters by whatever means necessary in a misguided effort to appear solicitous and un-manhatey.
In the article, J.A. McCarroll identifies as problematic the current fad for masculinity-affirming feministical slogans such as “real men don’t rape.”
J.A. McCarroll, it turns out, is a dude, but for now (and I’ll probably regret this) let’s ignore that detail, despite the statistical probability that he is posting feminist shit on the internet in order to get laid.
The problem with “real men don’t rape” is, as J.A. McCarroll correctly surmises, that it subverts women’s interests into a kind of timid, solicitous affirmation of masculinity, which, according to the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women, is the world’s predominant benevolent force and moral authority.
Common to all these messages is that men CAN rape, hurt, buy women, catcall or what-have-you, but they SHOULDN’T. Men, we are told, shouldn’t hurt women, not because of any intrinsic rights women may have, but because other men might do it to THEIR women, and that would be awful.[...] It looks as if men are given a privileged place in the feminist movement, one where they are praised for simply not being terrible and their much-vaunted power remains intact.
Rather than attempt to dismantle the “real man” construct — a construct of the hypermasculine that requires a weaker feminine sidekick to give itself meaning — “real men don’t rape” initiatives reaffirm the status quo. This status quo is one in which dudes soldier on as the default humans, beneficently refraining from raping and pillaging as a sort of exercise in noblesse oblige. “Real men don’t rape,” in fact, is merely an advertisement for chivalry. And chivalry, the feminist will recall with a curled lip, is that dudely codification of women and children as frail, defenseless, somewhat degraded versions of men, incapable of survival without gallant male protection. Or, to put it another way, chivalric code enabled medieval dudes to disguise their bellicosity as honor and to justify guarding their women as chattel. Chivalry was a big ad campaign promoting the licentiousness of masculinity at the expense of enforced femininity.
“But Twisty, why so harsh on the anti-rape campaign? At least they’re trying!”
Yes. By way of fulfilling the tiresome internet feminist requirement that I relax my critical standards in order to give an A for Effort, I acknowledge that any “real men don’t rape” campaign is marginally preferable to no anti-rape campaign at all, or to the universal and uncritical embrace of rape culture that appears to be the only mainstream alternative.
But see here. Chivalry didn’t work as a path to women’s liberation the first time around, and it’s not gonna work this time, either. That’s because chivalry loves masculinity, and masculinity is just a way to justify misogyny. Wrapping masculinity in some lofty code of honor still leaves women with no recourse beyond compliance with femininity, resulting in continued dependence on the magnanimity of oppressor.
Defining women’s liberation in terms of male interests is always gonna be an imperfect revolutionary technique. If we continue, like damsels poised to collapse on our fainting couches, to reassure anxious hetero cisgender dudes that their complicity is forgiven if they merely refrain from behaving like barbarians, we are supplicants. “We embrace your masculinity, but please, if it’s not too inconvenient, don’t rape us, Real Man!”
The comments on the dude’s article were unsurprising, largely composed of offended men who are insulted by the absurd insinuation that all men profit from women’s oppression. And dudes who claim to view “their wives” as “equals” but worry that any attack on masculinity — wherein is safeguarded the dudely right to prong whatever it likes — will bring about a dreaded “matriarchy.”
O the irony. Anybody who dreads a matriarchy obviously has a pretty good idea of how crummy patriarchy is. Yet somehow, when the price of fixing it turns out to be human rights for women, waste no time in heading to the comments section at HuffPo to explain what a bad idea that is.
To get rid of rape you gotta get rid of masculinity. Suck it, Parody Boy.