Thanks, but no thanks. Yesterday, Jezebel posted an article by resident man feminist Hugo Schwyzer (who, full disclosure, contributed to The Frisky in 2010-2011 ), exalting five ways men are fighting sexism these days. Titled “Thanks, Guys: Five Ways Men Are Fighting Sexism,” Schwyzer, who teaches women’s studies classes at Pasadena City College, notes that men are undoing sexism, really! He includes the following examples: A rant video from Jay Smooth, calling out men who were bullying videogame blogger Anita Sarkeesian; the creation of a Tumblr called MenAgainstAssholesAndMisogyny; the work of performance artist Carlos Andres Gomez, who wrote a love poem called “You Are Everything,” full of ’80s references; an article in The Atlantic calling for an end to “violent masculinity”; and the movement to end the “bro hug.” While I laud any man who recognizes his internal privilege and wants to address the social and historical oppression of women, this is not what I had in mind.
First off, BRO HUGS? You’re talking about how men are fighting sexism by trying to HUG differently? Really, is this the best you can come up with? Should we really give men a pat on the back for hugging and writing a shitty performance art poem? No. Fucking. Way. How about we congratulate men when there’s something to actually cheer about? Like, when there is no more rape, or when women get an equal shot in the workplace? Or when domestic violence isn’t a thing anymore. You don’t get credit for “fighting” sexism when half of the examples you’ve named are simply self-promotional personal projects. I’m not saying that these things aren’t all good, in some small way — but they certainly don’t deserve a ticker tape parade.
Since the beginning of time, men have been telling women we should lap up any small concession made on our behalf. And yes, I understand that male privilege, and particularly white male privilege, is a pre-existing cultural condition, with thousands of years under its belt. But I don’t believe that men should be lauded for simply doing the right thing. If you understand that male privilege is a construction then you should also understand, Mr. Schwyzer, that I don’t need to pat any man on the back for behaving in a respectful, civil way. It’s what I — and every woman on the planet — actually deserve.
Oh, but that’s not all. All this self-congratulation does come with one caveat. Curiously, Schwyzer actually diagnoses his own dilemma at the end of his piece:
…The danger remains that Nice Guys –- predatory at worst, self-serving at best –- will co-op the rhetoric of the new masculinity as a sexual strategy… The more “man cred” that the New Masculinity movement seems to carry, the greater the risk that Nice Guys looking for a new angle will cluster round.
What!? A man using his connection to the feminist cause as social and sexual cache with women? I wonder where you came up with that brilliant idea? As Jezebel commenter butiliketheactorsilikeem notes, referring to criticism that Schwyzer has done the same thing, “Omg, Hugo Schwyzer berating the ‘Nice Guys’ for coopting feminism for personal gain. That’s fucking rich.” And also? User LemonShapedRock writes, “It sure is nice to see men finally getting some acknowledgment and praise. Could we also get some coverage of the heroic efforts of white people in the fight against racism?”
There is no doubt that men need to be a part of the discussion to end sexism. Women need men to be our allies, but this piece smacks of Schwyzer giving his bros a pat on the back (but not a bro hug, of course) for treating women the way they should be anyway. Congratulating men for trying to eradicate the “bro hug” and swooning over a guy who writes a horrible slam poem about his girlfriend does not valuable discourse make. [Jezebel]