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We need to be smarter about campus feminism

If feminism is ever going to achieve its aims, men have to be part of the conversation

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'A leader,' wrote Rosalynn Carter, 'takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be.' This captures the essence of the thing. It also helps explain why the feminist cause at York - in whatever forms it currently operates - needs to change its public profile.

Now, let me be very clear from the outset: this is not intended - although it will no doubt be read in some quarters - as an attack on the people and persons who have come to publicly embody feminism at York. In some ways I admire them. It requires courage, for instance, to continue to fight passionately for a cause when you know your every utterance will be met by a wave of ill-informed vitriol. And, like them or not, the York feminists have caught your attention this year. You may not agree with what they say, but you at least know they exist. That itself is not an entirely empty achievement.

This, however, is also part of the problem. Fairly or unfairly, the feminist cause at York has come to be tied - in the mind of the average student - with certain vocal personalities. As a result, the success of feminism rises and falls according to the popularity of its perceived leaders.

Over the course of this year the York feminists have made a lot of enemies and have alienated a lot of people. They are perceived to be aggressive, radical, and desirous of laying the blame for all society's ills at the feet of men. Their unpopularity is such that many will now go against something just because it has their name on it. The merits of the idea be damned. (See: 'YUSU should stop selling The Sun'.)

In some circumstances, leadership of the Bulldozer variety can work, but here such an approach is unwarranted. The style of leadership needs to be softer and more subtle, for if the feminist agenda is going to be advanced then public opinion needs to be with it, not acting against it. The place feminism needs to occupy cannot be reached by the current leadership. For it is not women, by and large, who need convincing. It is men.

In private most men, in my experience, tend towards fairness. The outdated gender ideas can sometimes be traced among a few in the more conservative circles, but generally when men are alone they will cede that equality is surely a given.

But when these groups grow larger, those private professions of parity often give way to a desire to impress the fellow male. Men make vulgar jokes in the hope of a cheap laugh or a slap on the back. If they are not the ones looking for laughs, then they are the ones grinning along or, perhaps worse, staying silent. It takes considerable courage in these situations - courage that I will openly admit has too often failed me - to stand up and say that your rape joke was not funny, or that treating a girl like dirt is not big or cool, but puerile and pathetic.

For it is our silence on these matters that helps make them more permissible. It contributes to a wider mentality that helps normalise these things; not completely, but more than they ever should be. One day we could be confronted with a situation when a relative, or a friend, or a lover, has to endure the foul attentions of a man whom no one ever stood up to. We would be infuriated then, but perhaps tinged too with guilt that our lamentable lack of courage in the past has facilitated some in society to believe that this sort of behaviour remains acceptable.

Men have to be part of the solution to feminism's problem. But the current feminist approach makes this very challenging because it makes it too easy to dismiss. The York feminists are perceived by many at the university - men and women - to not represent their views. Their passion is caricatured as man-hating. And ridiculous though it may seem in a society in which men still dominate, men can and do feel threatened by the overly aggressive feminist. When they do, they throw up a defensive shield of lazy stereotypes and seek reassurance in their fellow males. Primeval but true. And so we achieve nothing.

If men - particularly that important sub-group of men, the 'lads', who, like it or not, hold considerable influence over their less alpha-male peers - are going to start playing a role in this important agenda, they are going to need to have their hand held. Shouting at them - however cathartic and justified - will achieve nothing. They need to be coaxed, carefully, almost without them knowing it, to where their heads truly lie, but to where the faltering courage in their hearts sometimes stops them getting. Men do not necessarily need to lead, but they do need to be involved.

This is why the public face of the feminist cause needs to change. The F-word, in its current guise, carries too much baggage. The merits of the arguments no longer matter because they are no longer listened to; people think they know what is going to be said before anyone has spoken a word. It may be completely unfair but that's the way it is. Politics - and, make no mistake, this is politics - is a cruel mistress.

This article is not intended to offer a new manifesto, but a new direction. The current leadership may not like it, but the best thing they can do for their cause right now is quietly slip off the stage and help push to the fore a more inclusive voice who can lead the people to where they ought to be.

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31 Comments

Helena Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

But you're a man, and therefore have no right to speak about feminism.

Articles like this are just another way by which the patriarchy attempts to undermine the feminist movement.

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Sam Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

I normally hate comment articles and often find the ones in the campus media to be terribly written, but this was an outstanding article in my personal opinion.

Well done, Oliver.

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Alex Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

I have to say, Helena, if that is in fact your real identity, that you completely and utterly miss the point of feminism. This is an excellent article, and the author's sex shouldn't even come into this. Everyone has a 'right' to speak about feminism, regardless of gender. It's a real shame that you can't look beyond your own gender-based prejudices to appreciate the real value of such an article.

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Alex Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

This is brilliantly written article, but I knew before I reached the bottom there would be someone saying 'But you're a man, therefore you can't comment about feminism.'

This is ridiculous - he is talking about the leadership and perception of feminism, not the goals of feminism. It is completely different. If a Tory voter were to comment on how labour could improve their leadership or their campaign, labour could still appreciate his advice. A Man City supporter and a Man Utd. supporter could sit down and rationally debate the coaching tactics of their respective coaches, without one saying to the other 'You can't say that, you don't support my team.'

Humans have this emotion called 'empathy;' it allows people who are not in the same position understand the other. It as if the 'Check your privilege' brigade do not possess any.

He has not dictated the goals of feminism or debated the problems feminists face etc. he has suggested ways in which the feminist leadership and direction could be improved. It is supposedly inclusionary, but are men supposed to sit down and shut up even if a woman is wrong (this can happen), by virtue that they possess a penis? That is equally as bigoted.

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

This poor brainwashed boy needs some serious schooling. I suggest a dose of GirlWritesWhat or Mike Buchanan (Justice for Men and Boys). He does need to be a LOT smarter about feminism which is a hysterical hate movement that attacks the very core of male/masculine identity. NO ONE ought to be led in the direction of bigoted, reverse-sexist, female supremacist tyranny...and particularly not men led by other men.

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WOMAN Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

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Amused Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

I am almost 100% sure that the comment by 'Helena' was a joke. Give the poor girl a break! This is a really well written piece by the way. Feminists are not man-haters, they're people lovers and I don't want anyone to mistake us because it has become a dirty word these days. The term 'feminist' comes purely as a discursive effort to re-insert women back into political/historical discussion which was historically dominated only by men. Perhaps the use of the term is a little bit outdated and is one of the reasons that the movement gets billed as a reverse-sexist hate movement. Perhaps it is because some people have no idea when to pick their battles so every time they open their mouths people immediately roll their eyes. Rape jokes: not cool; accidental use of the word 'mankind' instead of 'humankind,' or another preferable gender-neutral term: sometimes you just have to take a breath and let that stuff go, or when you have something to say about a real issue that concerns everybody, nobody will want to listen to you. Good work on the article.

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WOMAN 2 Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Amused,

The reason the hate movement gets labeled (correctly) as a bigoted, reverse sexist , female supremacist tyranny is thanks to both the ideology and the behavior that mainstream feminists use to spread said hard hate. The ideology of mainstream feminism is an amalgam of bankrupt ideologies recycled from the trash heap of histories. The intent of feminism ideology is to destroy male/masculine identities at their core. For the fascist 'Brown Blouse' behavior all one needs to do is to listen to prominent feminist bigots like Harriet Harman or Julia Guillard. If those misandrist political monkeys are too subtle, there's always the hateful saga at the U of Toronto to turn to. Feminists are indeed man-haters, people haters, and very filthy liars to boot. It's way past time to send these Animal Farm pigs to the packing plant for dog food fixins.

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Fuck Grammar Nazis Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Rename Feminism to LADinism and everything will probably be sorted out in a fortnight.

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Hannah Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Feminism existed way before a feminist society was created at York, it was stigmatised way before York "feminist leaders" appeared to be "aggressive, radical and man-hating". These are stereotypes that have been following the movement for decades. So where do you get the idea that York students feel that they do not identitfy to feminism or "Yok feminism" because of York leaders? Maybe it is just related to the fact that feminism has always had a bad image among people who do not understand what the movement is about. There are many shades of feminism and many different types, and within one type, different point of views. Some are radical some are more liberal. But they're still part of the movement, and won't be dismissed because some opinions do not please everyone.
I have to disagree with the argument that men more than women need convincing as a minority of women in the UK and in most anglophone countries identify to feminism. The percentage peaks at around 25% of women. So when we get our own gender to understand how feminism should be important in their lives, maybe we can make it a priority to "integrate" men. However, men are already integrated in lots of feminist organisations. The York feminist society has quite a lot of male participants.
I find this article also very theoretical. In what ways exactly do you think "lads" should be included in the debate, what can lads bring to feminism exactly, and how exactly should feminist integrate them? It is not women's/feminists' job to educate men on oppression. If you want to be part of a movement that tries to deconstruct patriarchy and sexism you have to do your own research, you have to understand in the first place what sexism is and be able to recognise it in everyday life (like some men have in the York Feminist society). Feminism does not need to include men more, men need to make the effort to understand what sexism is and to call out their friends when it's needed. Men's participation is more than anywhere else needed in practice. And if you're only going to be a "good guy" if feminists or women are "nice" to you then you're not a good guy and you don't deserve to identify to the feminist movement.

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Yuh Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Good thing we've got our priorities straight, eh? Let's engage in personality politics and deal with our baggage, because without winning over the 'alpha-males' there's pretty much no point in opposing massive inequality.

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L.Penny Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Ahem!

Check your privilege, you misogynist !

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

"There are many shades of feminism and many different types, and within one type, different point of views. Some are radical some are more liberal. But they're still part of the movement, and won't be dismissed because some opinions do not please everyone."

The mainstream (read officially coddled) form of this tyrannical hate movement is known as 'gender'-feminism. It is an evil ideology which is responsible for incalcable harm to men, to boys, to girls, and yes to women as well. Since gender feminism is based on an asinine ('anti-patriarchal oppression') ideology, since it's members lie, cheat and steal with near perfect impunity, and since it is fascist the core...the gig is almost up given that feminists no longer can silence anti-feminists or the Men's Human Rights movement. Young women who hope to be adored and desired know better than than to buy the Big Lie. The 'F' word is finally beginning to be seen as the obscenity it always was.

Men need to be very bad guys by the feminist definition. We need to actively participate in anti-feminist, free speech protection, and MHRM activities so as to destroy the evil Orwellian tyranny that is feminism as soon as possible. The whole idea that ANY decent person, male or female, would even consider identifying with the feminist misandry movement is absurd.

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

L. Penny

Ahem!

Check your privilege, you bigoted, reverse-sexist, female supremacist misandrist ! No one can touch you in your Orwellian world because free speech is policed by the gender goons in your hate movement. Now that's some real privilege rather than the imagined privileges you so ironically attribute to the Disposable Sex. However, I'm sure you are beginning to notice that anti-feminists, free speechers (hilariously including even feminists who suffer from feminist totalitarian tyranny) and MHRM's are beginning to break through your oppression. Won't be long before you and your ilk are tossed back onto the very trash heap from which your evil ideology came.

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Rape jokes just as cool as any other jokes. This is particularly the case since 60% of woman are said to have rape fantasies by one of the two books dissing the goods on female sexuality....don't remember which one. Now of course as a masculist who believes that false feminist 'rape culture' bigots' free speech should be silenced(NOT), its really FALSE rape jokes which aren't cool (NOT) given false rape causes far more serious damage than does the average (real) rape...from which recovery occurs in an average of 2-4 months.

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

But you're a woman, and therefore have no right to speak about the patriarchy.

Articles like this are just another way by which feminist bigots, (male no less) attempt to bite the hand (patriarchy) that feeds em.

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Helena (the real one!) Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Hey! I know this is probably obvious but the comment above wasn't me! This article is good. So well written! & I know that people perceive me & the cause at York to be 'radical' and 'aggressive' but we aren't at all. I think that it is partly the way that we (and I) come across but you have to understand that any woman who stands up for feminism is labelled as such and any woman who stands up publicly for feminism gets abuse because the cause is so stigmatised. It's not about who leads it, it's about society's failure to accept feminism- and women! I really, truly, passionately care about the cause and will do anything in my power to further it and it is sad that people think that I am a man hating killjoy because I stand up for and fight for something that I believe in.

I believe that man can and should be part of the feminist cause- patriarchy and the gender binary hurts men too. That is one of the reasons that I fought to ratify FemSoc because men couldn't be part of the WomCom committee. Alienating half of the population isn't very sensible if you want to further your cause! Thanks for writing this, though because it is important to get the message out to York that feminism is an important, and political, cause that needs attention (of the positive kind!) x

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Paul Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

John - have you read www.timecube.com?

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FEJ Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Interesting, empathic and sensible opinion on the subject.

As stated many current stereotypes and ways of going about fighting inequality and prejudice are outdated and irrelevant to the majority opinion. Feminism is not a burden purely carried by women anymore; collective social awareness is required to ameliorate problems with gender inequalities.

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The Truth Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

It is often suggested the feminist movement is not progressing or its being ignored, but it becomes quite clear why when you list the reasons for its modern day existence in the west. Firstly, women are not oppressed in western society, they have the same rights and opportunities in life as men.

The feminist movement often complains about the sexualisation of women, but then, it's well known from a marketing perspective that sex sells. If feminists spoke on behalf of all women then no women would get involved in it. Women in our society are completely free to do what they want, if some want to be page 3 girls in the Sun or bikini models or porn stars, then so be it. A lot of these women are proud to show off their bodies in the same way some men are on the front of men's health etc. showing off their "muscular" and "ripped" physiques.

Next, we have "LAD culture" which for starters is not representative of most men, then couple that with the fact it's not a one way street and women also mistreat men and you realise it's certainly not a form of oppression or something the wider society should take more seriously than other 'real' issues in life.

A quick point on rape jokes, jokes can be disgusting in many ways, you can just about find a joke on any issue if you looked, particularly on disabled people, whilst I am not justifying them, at the same time it can't be seen as an issue isolated to women. Finally, rape is a disgusting crime and is known to be wrong by most people in society. It's not some tool used to oppress women, even though they make up the majority of the victims. Blaming men on this issue is analogous to blaming Muslims as a whole for a few participating in terrorism, when it's quite clear the wider community does not support these actions and most highly condemn them.

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Hannah Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

"Rape jokes just as cool as any other jokes. This is particularly the case since 60% of woman are said to have rape fantasies by one of the two books dissing the goods on female sexuality....don't remember which one. Now of course as a masculist who believes that false feminist 'rape culture' bigots' free speech should be silenced(NOT), its really FALSE rape jokes which aren't cool (NOT) given false rape causes far more serious damage than does the average (real) rape...from which recovery occurs in an average of 2-4 months."

John,
I'd really like to know where you get your information from? I work in a Crisis centre for victims' of child abuse and rape, I've done reserach on victims/survivors of rape and read many personal narratives and I have never met or read about someone (male or female) who took less than a year to "recover". Recovery being a very subjective concept, particularly when people who state that they have healed or recovered still at times have flashbacks of the assault when something triggers it.
60% person of women fantasise about rape? Again where did you get this information from? And even if this was true, there is a HUGE difference between a fantasy where you are in control insofar as you decide who you are fantasising about and the conditions of the fantasy. And more than anything else, you are never physically harmed by a fantasy. In real life, you decide nothing and you are very likely to endure physical and moral damage.
And if you're that educated on the topic of sexual violence, you would certainly know that false rape accusations are extremely rare and that because of the complexity of the system regarding proving rape and sexual assault forensics, accused men (or women) are rarely prosecuted/punished for their crime.

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@Hannah Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Nicely put.

Although my take on "John's" comment is that it is so ridiculous that it is somebody's, bizarre to the point of being quite worrying, idea of a troll. He's a 'masculinist', really? I think someone is trying to disrupt the thread.

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Helena,

What is sad that you think that you are a man-loving freedom fighter because you stand up for and fight for a mean spirited man-hating movement that you believe in. Don't believe that feminism is totalitarian hatred? Watch your Twisted Sisters in action at the U of Toronto recently, google 'Earl Silverman' or listen to GirlWritesWhat's speech to the New York Libertarians.

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

"Although my take on "John's" comment is that it is so ridiculous that it is somebody's, bizarre to the point of being quite worrying, idea of a troll. He's a 'masculinist', really? I think someone is trying to disrupt the thread."

Actually, in my heart of hearts I, an anti-feminist. That's because I hate bigoted, reverse-sexist, female supremacist tyrants who troll whole civilizations. What I'm trying to do is to help to destroy this evil hate movement. But I'm not trying to destroy the thread but to open some very brainwashed minds....including that of the white knight traitor who wrote an article which backs a bigoted anti-male hate movement.

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Hannah,

The rape recovery research comes from Moxon's survey of the science in The Woman Racket. You'll find lots of other research there that shatters the bigoted feminist propaganda about rape....for instance the fact that women are a small minority of rape survivors as compared to men. Subjectivity, while the very definition of feminist 'scholarship' should never be allowed to get in the way of objective science.

The 60% rape fantasy number comes from the two new books on female sexual desire which are all the rage in the news now. One is What do Women Want. The other is Unmastered. Haven't read em yet but have pulled the 60% number from some magazine article about em.

Also agree that fantasy rape is very different thing from real rape. BUT given that so many women have rape fantasies while at the same time feminist 'rape culture' bigots hyperventilate so hysterically about mostly false rape statistics, there huge fodder for rape jokes therein. What's really not cool is how feminist gender goons try to shut down free speech and humor to subjugate the whole world to their 'free speech for me but never for thee' terms.

False rape accusations are routine because just like feminists use false ideological charges to falsely accuse men so do many women on a personal basis. False rape is a huge problem which appears regularly in the papers. Recently, a college girl actually put an ad on Craiglist to hire a man to beat and 'rape' her so that she could cry rape. False domestic violence and child abuse charges are a cottage industry which women use to 'clean house' during divorce or separation. Very evil, very common, and very damaging but the woman almost always gets away scott free for ruining a man's entire life.

In addition, sexual 'violence' is self-serving feminist 'rape culture' stupidity. Rape is not about violence at all. It's a S-E-X crime which is primarily about robbing sex from the unwilling victim. More on that in The Woman Racket too.

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Paul-have you watched: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhliqceyoL8, bothered to read Nathanson and Young's trilogy on feminist-inspired misandry, or listened to Big Red and her sisters in action at the U of Toronto recently?

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John Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

You all might enjoy Cathy Young's The Feminist Campus as Anti-woman opinion piece in the Boston Globe back on June 2. As a Russian from the former USSR, Cathy Young is very familiar with the kind of totalitarianism which feminist bigots call 'equality' or 'justice. She's also one of those rare women who actually uses her head in a holistic, balanced and non-partisan fashion.

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Suren Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

I am sick of hearing about feminism articles.

Just ignore these feminist (the so called oppressed majority) , they just morn for attention from men, it is the only way some of these women ever get some form of attention from men.

Please no more articles about feminism.

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TL;DR Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Campus feminism is far too radical at the moment.

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pfft Posted on Friday 7 Aug 2020

Anyone gonna call up idiot John on his interesting use of the terminology reverse-sexist? Sexism should only be directed at women, according to him...

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