Along with millions of other Youtube viewers I enjoyed Emma Watson’s speech on feminism at the UN. It was a very wise speech, successfully arguing that for feminism to reach its goals it needs to be a movement for men too. The genius of the speech was in showing that feminism is a benefit, not a threat, to men.
Anyway, within the same week as this great speech, we have seen too many examples of how much work is still to be done. Not only has Emma Watson faced pathetic trolls threatening to publish nude photos of her, but Youtube blogger Sam Pepper has filmed a prank of himself groping women while asking for directions, and a mall in the Phillipines has been selling T-shirts advocating rape.
This is sad. And rather stupid. And lowers us all. We need to remind sexist people exactly why they are their own worst enemy.
1. Feminism is really equalism. It means humans have equal rights to be themselves and live freely, without harassment or stigma or unfair treatment.
2. Feminism is good for men. More than three times as many men kill themselves as women. In part, this is down to values which make men feel they have to be tough and never admit weakness.
3. Your rape jokes aren’t funny. A mall in the Phillipines has been selling a T-shirt describing the violent crime of rape as ‘a snuggle with a struggle’. The humour here is the humour of hate. For a society where most rape victims are reluctant to speak out, that T-shirt is actually incitement. It tells women their trauma is insignificant. It is an act of violence in itself. The point of humour is to defuse things, to find relief in things that are uncomfortable. You can joke about anything. It’s not the subject, it’s the intention. Rape should not be defused any more than paedophilia or race crimes should be. It should be stopped.
4. Feminism is about equality. It isn’t about girls v men. It’s about everyone being able to be the full human they are. It’s about creating a caring, safer, more advanced world.
5. Empathy. That is the secret to a successful life. To be able to understand that other humans are exactly as complex as you are, with the same wants and needs and hopes and failures, will make life so much easier and pleasant for you. Try it.
5. One day you might have a daughter. Your sexism is shrinking the world she will live in.
6. You are a sexist. That is one of the bad -ists. You believe men are the stronger sex. Yet you troll and bully out of weakness, a sense of inferiority. You defeat your own misguided belief system every time you speak.
7. Groping is wrong. It is not a prank. It is trespassing. Humans are not fruit. If you need to grope, go back to your cave and vigorously grope yourself over your X-Box.
8. Porn does not reflect sexual reality any more than The Expendables 3 reflects the reality of growing old.
9. You are on the wrong side of history. You know those bad guys in historical movies? The ones who are on the side of slavery, or who belong to the KKK, or who supported fascism? Well, you will be those historical bad guys. Hell, you already are. (Quick, change sides.)
10. Humans are amazing. And it isn’t our brawn but our brains that make us so. We might not be as good at flying as an albatross, or as good at smelling as a dog, or as brilliant at hearing as a bat, or as strong as a gorilla, and our digging skills would be laughed at by most aardvarks, but wow, look at our brains. Our brains are equally impressive, whether we are male or female. They can create books, art, music. They can calculate and muse and dream. Our unique beauty, as a species, rests in our ability and desire to do things and create things and enjoy things that aren’t directly essential to our survival. We not only live, but have discovered there is a point to living beyond simple reproduction and staying alive. To belittle and demean fifty per cent of our species, simply because of some really incidental physiological differences, is to miss the point of life itself and to lower the joy of being human. If you are a mysoginist, or even a plain old sexist pig snuffling about in your own prejudice, it really is your loss. The air really is better up here.