He doesn’t hate women.
Above and beyond everything else, he wants you to know this: he does not hate women.
He has two daughters, for god’s sake, and a wife that he adores beyond anything else, and a sister that he texts every day and a mother who is the strongest person that he’s ever known – yes, stronger than any of the men he’s met. So don’t think that this is because he hates women.
If anything, his real problem is loving women too much.
See, he just wants his daughters to grow up safe and happy. And to be honest, some of the things that you’re saying – that these feminists are saying – are troubling to him.
He just wants to have a sort of academic chat. Peer to peer. Grownup to grownup. That’s all. He’s not saying you’re wrong – not by a long shot! He just wants you to explain a few things. He’s a reasonable, logical man, and he’s only asking for what any reasonable, logical person would want: proof.
After all, if you’re going to call yourself a feminist, you should be willing to back that belief up with facts, right?
And if you’ve got all the facts, it should be easy enough to convince him, shouldn’t it?
And after all, how is he supposed to understand anything if you won’t educate him?
He just wants so badly to understand.
If you don’t mind, could you start by providing him with some kind empirical data that women continue to suffer from systematic oppression? He doesn’t care about the past, and doesn’t want a history lesson. He wants to talk about the here and now. And from what he can see in the here and now, women are doing pretty well. Just look at you! Smart, well-educated, pretty. What about your gender could you possibly imagine has ever held you back? If anything, it’s probably done you a few favours!
He wonders if, for instance, you knew that there are now more women in post-secondary institutions than men? Gee, it sure seems like being a woman has benefited you in that regard!
He wonders if knew that more men were killed on the job than women, or that more men died violent deaths than women.
He wonders if you were aware that the rate of suicide was higher for men than for women.
He wonders if you even care about men, the way that he cares so much about women.
When you bring up the wage gap, he tells you that women make less because they work, on average, fewer hours. He tells you that men receive bonuses for doing more hazardous work, which skews the numbers. He tells you that the wage gap isn’t based on discrimination, but rather on mitigating factors that you obviously haven’t taken into consideration.
When you bring up rape and domestic violence statistics, he tells you that of course he’s sympathetic to female victims, but then asks why you didn’t mention male victims. He ponders aloud how interesting it is, the fact that you focus so much on women and seem to care so little about men. Don’t you think that men are victims of rape and domestic violence too? Have you ever thought about the fact that men’s numbers might be so much lower because stigma prevents so many victims from reporting their attacks? When a woman is raped or beaten, she’s treated with kindness and pity, but if it happens to a man, well, you can only imagine the comments about his masculinity and sexuality. And there are no men’s shelters for male victims of domestic abuse, there are no workshops for men to learn how to defend themselves against rapists. So wouldn’t you say that men actually have it worse with regards to these issues?
He doesn’t like the term “victim-blaming,” because, well, he finds that people use it when they want to escape the consequences of their actions. The thing is, if you’re a young girl out drinking and partying with the boys, he’s sure we all know that certain things might happen. Of course any rapist is a terrible person and deserves to be punished, but. Well. Women need to practice risk management, don’t they? If we know that rapists exist (and we do), then logically why would women make certain choices that would increase their risk of being raped? Rapists are monsters and we can’t change that, but women can certainly do their part to make sure that they stay safe.
After all, if someone’s house is robbed because they didn’t lock their door, we acknowledge that locking the door could have prevented the crime, don’t we? We don’t hold the person whose house was robbed to be completely blameless just because in a perfect world crimes would never be committed, do we?
Or to put it another way, when we drive cars, we wear seat belts, not because we think that we are bad drivers, but because we can’t control what other people on the road might do.
He wants his daughters to dress and behave modestly because although he trusts them, he can’t trust other people. That’s not victim-blaming, that’s just common sense.
He asks if you think that his daughters should serve as collateral damage for some point you are trying to prove.
He asks why it’s fine to put his daughter’ lives at risk for your so-called feminist principles.
He asks why you would want his daughters to dress and act like sluts – wouldn’t you rather they attract boys with their brains and character rather than their looks?
You see, it’s not that he hates women – not at all. He cares a great deal – obviously more than you do – about their health and safety. He wants his daughters to marry men who treat them well – men who hold open doors, men who pull out chairs, men who treat women as the exalted creatures that they are. He tells you that women – all women – deserve nothing less than this, because they are better, kinder, sweeter people than men. Women are stronger than men, he says – how else could they endure childbirth? Women are more nurturing and loving than men, he says – that’s why for thousands of years they’ve stayed home with the children while the men were out providing for the family.
Why would you want to deny his daughters all these wonderful qualities of womanhood and femininity?
Why would you want his daughters to be more like men, who are so obviously the lesser sex in so many regards?
You bring up the way that we as a society perpetuate and reinforce traditional gender roles; he counters with anecdotes about little boys being naturally interested in trucks, while little girls gravitate towards dolls and cooking sets.
You bring up the extreme beauty standards that women are held up to; he scoffs and asks if you’ve noticed how attractive the men in Hollywood are. He wonders if you think that women are alone when it comes to having body image issues – do you truly believe that men don’t face the same pressure that women do?
You bring up abortion; he bemoans the fact that men have no say over whether their child, their own flesh and blood, is born.
He uses the term “logical fallacy.”
He uses the term “straw man argument.”
He uses the term “ad hominem attack.”
When you tell him that he is not using any of these terms correctly, he calls that an ad hominem attack.
When you try to end the discussion, he accuses you of being too emotional about this. After all, here he is being all calm and rational, while you seem very, very upset. Here he has sat politely listening to you, presenting some very valid arguments, treating you exactly as he would treat a man, but you can’t seem to handle it. He humbly suggests that, if you cannot have a calm, rational discussion with him, perhaps women are not as equal as you imagine.
He asks why you so enjoy the role of the victim.
He asks why you would want to reduce his smart, competent daughters to victims.
He asks why you want to think of his mother, his brave, strong mother who raised him all on her own, as a victim.
He would never think of women as victims because, unlike you, he does not hate women.