My solution for feminist fatigue: make men do it

 

By Amy Gray 

I’m not tired of feminism, but man, feminism can be tiring.

When you’re a feminist, especially one whose work is centered around the protection and elevation of women, the world can feel battering. Every viral moment feels like a drain as you read more stories of degradation and destruction. Or to see the names of people you know in the Red Heart campaign’s list of murdered women. Every outrage drags at you, a silent accusation you haven’t individually or collectively solved an issue.  That’s when feminism feels like a todo list where nothing ever gets ticked off.

This is without even counting the personal things that happen – like finding yourself featured among friends and colleagues on a misogynistic twitter account, your photos stolen from your Facebook pages. Hours get spent helping others, letting people know, filing complaints and listening to others as they work through all the feelings and actual experiences it dredges up.

Because here’s the thing – the world utterly relies upon women’s unpaid labour. We do more work at home, we get paid less and we’re expected to do more. Then we watch others sail by with less work or ability but are told their elevation is due to merit than a murky combination of gender, race, medical or physical privilege.

For women, our liberation is entwined with our unpaid labour. If we do enough for free we’re told maybe one day we’ll get equal rights. It becomes a line we never see – just work harder, we’re told, network and work hard and jump through all these hoops and ignore those attacks you face daily just because you exist and maybe then you’ll find some glimmer of equality.

For many this is an understandable transaction because the result would be enough, because we imagine quality will clear all the paths and we can make up time to win some imagined race. Perhaps this is true, but it begs the question will we turn up ready to win or turn up barely able to take a breath because we’re so damn tired from all the energy involved in fighting for our rights?

So I have a new plan, one I’ve cribbed from my days in offices where consultants told us to delegate because we needed to work smarter, not harder. And maybe my favourite Onion article.

I make men do the work.

No really.

If men are going to tell me all the ways my feminism is wrong, I will welcome them with open arms…and then make them do the work.  Who better to take on feminism’s work than the people who have extensively trained for this moment with common sense and years of playing devil’s advocate?

Is someone insulting me on social media in increasingly violent or aggressive ways?
Find a mutual male friend – tell him to deal with him.

Is one of your male friends watching you with glee, waiting for you to address some random dude spouting vile misogyny? Say “you’re meant to be an ally: you deal with it”. Then walk away so he can concentrate on the task without an audience.

Got a man sending you screencaps of some aggro tripe or wanting to gossip about some other man who is not like them, a woke feminist? Tell them to deal with them and ignore their updates.

This becomes a real test when you ask male friends to challenge – not reject or isolate or blame but question – their friend’s treatment of women. Women are questioned every day  (often by the men they’re now challenging) so why can’t men do the same?

Given how much sexist behavior is condoned or exonerated through the NGN (nice guy network), men have direct experience using their relationships and privilege to negotiate and overcome resistance. They have no worries then – so why not use it for women? Their reluctance is a fascinating illustration of how men demand zero challenge, while women have to constantly navigate this.

Naturally, you will get blowback. These men may refuse or they may try and commiserate that they aren’t listened to either. Ignore this – these are basic attempts to do the work because they rely on women’s unpaid labour, just like the men they claim to not be.

In either case, delegating to men is a useful tool. If they do the work, you’ve got one less stress. If they don’t do the work? Well, you have one less dude to worry about.

 

 

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Amy Gray is a Melbourne writer whose work focuses on feminism, culture and parenting. She tweets via @_amygray_

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