Many thanks to Difficult Lemon, who you can find on Twitter, for this guest post. She was inspired to pen this by recent local events and the Twitter feed of Melissa McEwan.
[This is the conversation] I have had literally hundreds of times with various (white, heterosexual, cis) men who want to claim the label feminist by standing on a hill and pointing and saying 'there be sexism' 'there be racism' but resist any and all efforts to challenge individual incidents of sexism, ESPECIALLY if they themselves are being criticised.
1. ARE YOU SAYING MEN CAN’T BE FEMINIST?
Stop projecting your anxieties onto me. You’re a white male. You can do pretty much whatever you want. It’s a sweet deal.
2. WHY ARE YOU NOT A HUMANIST?
As long as there are men (and women, who are subject to the same negative socialisation), who would ostensibly be part of the "humanist" movement, yet retain a visceral and violent reaction to the feminine, there is no foundation for a sexless, "humanist" movement. This cross applies to anyone who tries to argue that the Pakeha party and the Maori party are moral equivalents and we should all just join the ‘equality party’. Bleurgh.
3. WHY ARE YOU OVERSENSITIVE ABOUT RAPE JOKES?
Rape culture is real. You are not sensitive enough. These jokes are everywhere, unfortunately, and trying to keep my spaces clear of them is very important. The real thought police are those who made you think this kind of behaviour is normal, not the other way around.
4. WHY ARE ALL THE ACTIVISTS SO CRAZY, LOOKING FOR REASONS TO BE ANGRY?
People are angry for a reason. Try and listen to what they are telling you, fight through the defensiveness. This applies to white feminists like me too, our movement is pretty racist, we need to own that.
5. WHY ARE YOU ATTACKING ME?
Calling criticism attack is an age old de-railing strategy, so a conversation that should centre the life experiences of women comes back to you, and your hurt feelings. If you are a man and go into feminist spaces and make the discussion be all about you, this is a hugely damaging practice. Stop.