The Catherine MacKinnon quotation ("In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent." -- Catherine MacKinnon) doesn't seem man-hating at all. She is saying that because women were second-class citizens, they were essentially coerced into sexual relationships. (If your whole cultural worth is based on marriage, and your job opportunities are limited by your sex, then you have little choice but to marry and therefore little choice but to have sex with your husbands. You may or may not be enthusiastic about it but you never had a meaningful choice.) It's not an argument that I buy at all, but it is not a man-hating argument. It is a critique of the system both men and women lived in. She is not saying that men wanted to be rapists, but rather that the system was such that meaningful consent was not possible even between the best-intentioned couple. Again, I think she overstates her case, but I don't see it as a man-hating argument.Your statement that women were second class citizens is something of a disconnect. Men and women were the same class. If it’s true that women had little choice but to marry and therefore little choice but to have sex with their husbands, it’s just as true that men had little choice but to marry and therefore little choice but to work at whatever employment they could find to support their wife and children. More often than not, this meant hard labor.
You can say that men could choose not to marry, and this is certainly true. But if a man didn’t want to die alone, and very few human beings do, there wasn’t a whole lot else. Likewise, a woman didn’t have to marry if she wanted to support herself, but how many made that choice? Not too damn many.
As for MacKinnon’s statement not being man-hating, that may be true if she had stated the whole case, but she didn’t. And in the half she chose to address, she portrayed the woman as a helpless victim, unable to give meaningful consent, whatever that is, and the man as a beast. Was her husband able to give meaningful consent about whether he wanted to work in a coal mine? If he had no education, and most people didn’t, then no, he didn’t. If he did have an education and was able to earn enough to be wealthy, was his wife not benefiting from that wealth? She made her choice when she agreed to marry him. If you follow MacKinnon’s logic, all marriage should be sexless, and therefore childless. So she’s either advocating the end of marriage, or the end of the human race, neither one of which is a viable option in my opinion.
Marriage was, and remains, a give and take. No one gets out of this life without making a few sacrifices. If that means having sex when you’re not enthusiastically in the mood, or going to work when you don’t feel well, or coloring your own hair instead of having it done because you have to pay for little Suzy’s braces, then that’s what you do. You don’t complain about it and think you’re somehow oppressed because life isn’t treating you like a princess. You do what you have to do, and you move on.
Same with the Susan Brownmiller one, which is a class critique not a critique of men as individuals. ("Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear" - Susan Brownmiller)Again, I have to disagree with you here. Give Brownmiller some credit for having command of the English language. When she says “conscious process”, “all men”, and “all women”, that’s precisely what she means. She’s saying very clearly that all men rape, or threaten to rape, all women in order to keep them afraid and in line. In other words, every human being with a penis is constantly fighting the urge to sexually assault any human being with a vagina. It doesn’t get much more hateful than that.
The Gloria Steinem quotation is not man-hating either, but rather is illustrating the absurdity of anti-woman stereotypes by turning them around. (“If women are supposed to be less rational and more emotional at the beginning of our menstrual cycle when the female hormone is at its lowest level, then why isn't it logical to say that, in those few days, women behave the most like the way men behave all month long?” – Gloria Steinem)
Ok, I agree with you that this one is not man-hating. I can even go along that she is trying to illustrate the absurdity of a stereotype. But in doing so, she’s showing her complete disdain for half the human race.
You don’t make a point by taking a potshot at someone. In fact, I’d say that Ms. Steinem was letting her emotions affect her rationality by even making the statement. There are a great many women who do become less rational and more emotional at the beginning of their menstrual cycle. I’ve done it myself. If it doesn’t happen, then why do we have medically documented disorders like PMS and PMDD? It’s not a stereotype if it’s true.
The fish without a bicycle one always makes me laugh as an example. This was grafitti on a women's room wall that kind of took off and became popular as a bumper sticker or button about a million years ago -- early 70s I think. This was an era when women were still told they needed a man to have any kind of worth, or status, or happiness. But in many ways men and women are not well-matched, and relationships with men often cause women terrible problems. So there is an irony in the old idea of "needing" a man. It's kind of a rueful equivalent of a man saying -- "Women: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em." The fact is that most of us probably do need a man like a fish needs a bicycle, but we want and love and pursue men anyway! That's why it's a funny saying.
This is what you were told that women were told. I was a little girl then. I was told that I could be anything I set my mind to. Not because of some esoteric women’s movement that finally freed my sex from slavery, but because I was smart. And if I applied myself, and worked hard, I could do anything. I was told this by my parents, by my teachers, by society. No one said anything at all about being a girl. It simply didn’t figure into it. It was the same thing they told the boys. “You want to accomplish something? Get off your ass and get it done!” There was none of this entitlement mentality that is so prevalent today.
When Steinem made that quote famous, she may have been trying to make a point that women do not need a man to accomplish anything, but the message she wound up sending was that women don’t need men for anything at all. And that’s just not true. Humans need human companionship. And those of us who are heterosexual, which is most of us, are drawn to the opposite sex. It’s biology. There’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t make us weak. It makes us human.
I do get why you think it’s a funny saying, but you perceive it that way because you have some mistaken beliefs about things that happened – or didn’t happen – before you were born. Also, it’s because you perceive only half of what’s going on. You say that relationships with men often cause women terrible problems. I don’t know about often, but I freely acknowledge that it does happen. But by the same token, relationships with women have been known to cause men terrible problems – and it happens at least as often as the other way around.
I appreciate that you do acknowledge that some of those quotes no one could have an excuse for. There are extreme people on both sides of this thing. But the difference is this: when you see a man advocating violence and revenge, the main force of the movement speaks out against it and condemns those members. They are kicked off of sites, and we distance ourselves from them.
I haven’t seen the main force of feminism speaking out against Solanis or Greer or Comins or any of them. Perhaps a few members do, but the main force do not. In fact, people like Lorena Bobbitt or Mary Winkler are presented not only in a sympathetic light, but as examples of empowerment. That’s just sick.
There was a reason that I put so many different quotes by so many different prominent feminists. It was to make the point that these aren’t just a few fringe kooks, but are representative of at least a sizable number of feminists. If they weren’t, they would be shouted down, just as men are when they say something feminists don’t agree with.
I see more "man hating" among women of my mother's generation and traditional women than in Gen X and younger feminists. Older women had to put with a lot of men who took it for granted that they should be top-dog in the marriage or at work because that was the cultural expectation of the era. So a lot of older woman and traditionalist women have gotten frustrated with men in general in ways that we younger feminists never did. We younger feminists expect men to work with us on an equal basis as partners, and have faith that men are willing and able to do so.
Yes, but what does this mean, Margaret? Does it mean that they have to defer to you on everything? Does it mean that they have to change the exact same amount of diapers, and you have to change the exact same amount of oil? Feminism gets so caught up in making sure everything is “equal” that it winds up whining like a child.
Personally, if I accomplish something, I want to be on an equal playing field, not have a leg up because I’m physically weaker than a man. If I can’t out-lift a man, or carry a victim out of a burning building, or beat him in a race without a head start or assistance, that’s ok. I don’t have to. If I had to cheat to get there, it doesn’t mean anything except that they let me win. And to me, that’s nothing to brag about.