I’m writing this in response to Suzanne Moore’s column in The Guardian today. I enjoy Suzanne’s writing but sometimes I get to the end of a piece and think was there actually a point to that? Today’s column is a good example. Suzanne demonstrates the phenomenon I don’t understand in some ‘Feminists’: the blanket dislike and suspicion of men. Their entry position seems to be that men have something to apologise for: to be born a man is a form of original sin.
Suzanne says “But yes, the truth is I do see lots of guys doing their bit. More and more. They don’t make a huge song and dance about it. When my eldest was little, in the early 1990s, a man at the school gates was rare; with my youngest, you cannot move for guys being “great dads” or, if I want to be sour, simply doing what women have always done.”
Perhaps the reason we do it more and more is nothing to do with a change in attitudes but a shift in working patterns, with greater flexibility afforded by homeworking and the Internet. Yes, women have always done the majority of the childcare but that was because in a family with young children where one parent had to work, it was normally the man who did so. I would have enjoyed being at home with my children, I think, but not at the expense of their mother being away from them. My impression is that the mother has the stronger bond with a small child. But whatever the reason, in the partnership between the father and mother, typically it will be the man who continues working.
Suzanne moves on to the new man, a media invention if ever there was one, but, again, there is a suspicion about motives. If men try to ‘improve’ in the way she wants, they’re doing in for the wrong reasons. How do men prove themselves? According to Suzanne, it seems we can’t: “The self-help industry […] also promises the equally implausible notion that men and women can live in harmony.” Implausible? Really? I have friends, relations and children who are girls and women. My relationships with them don’t seem any less harmonious than with my male friends.
Suzanne goes on to give some extreme examples of men trying to demonstrate their support of women – still misguidedly it seems – but is willing to say “At least these guys spoke up”. In contrast, she goes on to cite some extreme male views against women, none of which I have any sympathy with. But this is where the irony strikes: for whichever is the chicken and which the egg, we have women hating men for hating them. This is as retarded as black vs white and, indeed, Lancastrians versus Yorkshiremen. The debate needs to change, needs to become a conversation.
To finish, presumably with a deadline bearing down on her, Suzanne provides a short list of feminist men and what an odd selection she makes. From Kurt Cobain (characterised by @quietriot_girl as “a self-hating masochist”) to David Steele, from Bill Bailey to Barak Obama. The article I would have enjoyed reading is the one where Suzanne tells us why these men are excused from the brush that has been used to tar most men. What are the qualities these men have that she believes the rest lack?
Incidentally, if Suzanne wants to know what a male feminist looks like, she doesn’t need to look to celebrities and public figures, she could look to those men who go out to work so their partners can stay at home with children, to those men who want the best for their daughters, or their sisters or their mothers or their friends.