There are many ways to skin a cat, and just as many ways to re-educate a misogynist, writes Jack Kilbride.
I am a man and I am a feminist.
I wholeheartedly condemn the actions of the men who have threatened and abused feminist writer Clementine Ford. I also commend the decision of one particular boss who opted to terminate the contract of Mathew Nolan after his embarrassing and disgusting remarks. However, while Clementine Ford is a great advocate of the feminist movement in this country, her strategy may be doing more harm than good.
We obviously need people like Clementine, breaking down walls on the front line in the push for equality. Illuminating the dark, misogynistic corners of our society so that women can walk the streets without the fear of assault and abuse.
These people are important, but slapping one man on the wrist so publicly has inevitably isolated thousands more.
Scores of men are posting across social media, infuriated by the whole situation. In their eyes, crazy Clementine is just a whiney girl with daddy issues that despises all men. While their hatred may arguably prove that Ford’s writing is doing its job, it has also highlighted the continued divide between sexists and feminists in Australian society.
A gap we need to close.
The problem with writers like Clementine Ford is although their sentiment is justified, their vitriolic writing style means that people will always get offended. Unfortunately, those getting offended are usually the ones who need to read it the most.
If we are to give our young girls a more safe and equal society to grow up in, we need everyone on our side. The people who are abusing Clementine are the problem and reinforcing the battle lines between feminist and bigot is not going to help them change. And, if they don’t change, then nothing will.
Think of it this way. There are men, like myself, who are feminists and believers that true equality for women is paramount to our future.
We are not the people that need convincing. We are not the people assaulting our women in the streets, scoffing at calls for equal pay, or abusing writers on the Internet. We are already on your side.
Then there are the other men.
The men catcalling you on your way to the shops. The men groping and assaulting you in the nightclubs. The boss telling you they didn’t give you a promotion because they didn’t think you could handle it. The men who make you scared to walk home at night for fear of being raped. The men telling you that maybe you should dress more appropriately to avoid the unwanted stares and slurs. The men abusing Clementine across social media.
The mission of feminism is to make these men change and starting fights with them is only making that mission harder. We need a way to bring them in and luckily we may already have one.
On the 20th of September last year, beloved actress Emma Watson stood in front of the United Nations and produced one of the strongest and most well received feminist speeches in decades.
“Men think it’s a women’s word and it’s only for women, but really it just means you stand for equality,” Watson said in launching the HeforShe movement. “If you stand for equality, you are a feminist.”
“I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”
Watson’s words were plastered throughout the media, presenting feminism as a way to improve society as a whole, not just the lives of women. It was a positive push for change; a fresh approach to the shouting and shaming that feminism has sadly become associated with.
If we want to actually change our world we need to stop trying to knock down the wall and instead, start helping people climb over.
Watson showed us a better path; it would be nice if we started to walk it.