1. If you want to see real oppression, go to the Middle East.
The problems here are threefold. First, it implies women in the west should be grateful for the benevolence of their natural overlords. Who cares if 1 in 3 of you will experience sexual assault in your lifetime, while also enjoying the privilege of lower pay than your male counterparts and the symbolic annihilation of yourselves in literature and film? In case you didn’t know, women in Afghanistan are being stoned to death. So why don’t you just go ahead and submit your complaint to the STFU file known as my PENIS?
Second is the accusatory tone. Now, I’m no statistician, but I’d estimate that 98.76% of people outraged over feminism’s ‘failure’ to ‘protect’ their brown sisters from the oppression of their Muslim Male Masters (because let’s not forget, this is about racism too) are doing exactly zero to agitate for women’s liberation anywhere, let alone in the Middle East. But even though they hate feminism and all who dwell therein, they still think they know how to do it better than you do. This is because misogynists see themselves as Upper Management – which is precisely why we need to get more women into executive roles.
Finally, liberation and change aren’t beholden to hierarchies of need. It’s possible to seek the liberation of oppressed groups everywhere, at the same time! Asking comparativelyprivileged women (many of whom also live in the Middle East – it is not a vacuum) to be satisfied with ‘good enough’ just reinforces the patriarchal hierarchy of power that needs to be dismantled.
Besides, I don’t hear anyone accusing working families of selfishness for complaining about their rising electricity bills just because some slum dwellers in India don’t even HAVE working Playstations.
I wrote the above as part of an article for Fairfax’s Daily Life. I should clarify that I don’t think only men can be misogynists, and women are just as guilty of using these arguments. These are the kinds of arguments people use when they also use the argument, ‘Everyone’s equal now, so shut up’. It’s important to remember that misogyny isn’t JUST about virulent woman-hating. Sometimes, it’s also just about subtly thinking women are different and weird and not as good - but because you don’t want to address the privilege that thinking this gives you, you try and pretend that it’s normal and there are other problems in the world that are more important, and besides, women bring it on themselves.
So follow the link to read the top five arguments I encounter repetitively from people who find the idea of women’s liberation too hard, too threatening and too challenging to their own power, but who don’t want to say that, because it makes them sound like dicks.