No, There's No Such Thing as Reverse Sexism

They tell you that, “If you’re a rEaL feminist, you HAVE to focus on equality.” And with that equality, comes a gender instruction manual of can’t do this, and can’t do that. Feminism can’t be man-hating. Feminism can’t be degrading to men. Feminism can’t objectify or penis shame male bodies. And feminism certainly cannot be the pursuit of a matriarchial society, where women dominate men or enjoy the benefits of greater power. Feminism, much like anything else, must accommodate the male interest. We must cut feminism into bite-sized pieces that the patriarchy can chew. We must appeal the audience of men who say, “I believe women and men should be equal, but I don’t identify as a feminist.”

But this focus on “equality” is dangerous, whether want to accept that or not. Having to constantly reframe and rephrase feminist theory in a way that equally distributes its attention to men and women’s lives is not only unproductive, but destructive to the feminist movement. We need to devote our limited energy to empowering women. I don’t claim the title of “feminist,” so that I can wake up every day and repair men’s lives, or bolster male power. Of course part of platform involves encouraging emotional vulnerability and sensitivity in men, but selfishly, it’s not for their benefit, but for my safety as a woman. Because if I don’t work to tame male aggression, I could become one of thousands of rape victims, in the United States alone. So, I personally feel no shame in rejecting illusions of equality.

 

In fact, misogyny disguised as equality is perhaps the most dangerous bandit, creeping through the night, and taking the physical form of men who use feminism as sexual currency. Yet, most threatening of all are the anti-feminists, who are supposedly dedicated to egalitarian ideals, but continue to rely on the boring narratives of “If a woman slapped man’s ass in public, people wouldn’t give it a second thought. But if a man were to slap a woman’s ass without consent, it would be a sexual harassment case waiting to happen.” Or my personal favorite, “if a woman can hit a man, why can’t a man hit a woman?” After all, if these pesky feminist really wanted equality, they would welcome random acts of physical violence…right?

You see the thing is, much like racism, sexism involves a system of power. Without the power behind your fist and your gender, hitting a man cannot and will not have the same effect as hitting a woman. Reverse sexism is just reverse racism’s cuter, less offensive cousin, but the same logic still applies. The harsh reality is that women couldn’t objectify men in the same way that men objectify women, even if they tried. Notice that while women are raised to value men, and respect men, and worry about their well-being, these same men, on the other hand, are encouraged to ridicule and objectify women; and this is absolutely a strategic objectification. Because when men reduce women to a pair of tits and an ass, it becomes the perfect ploy in the pursuit of power, subordinating female bodies one ass grab at a time. In this way, acts of objectification like snapping a bra strap becomes a rite of passage, a discovery of masculinity’s secret code: “don’t act like a girl, but make sure you sleep with one.”

 

But can these mechanics be replicated by female bodies? Can men ever be victims of objectification? And the answer is no. Not a maybe. Not a sometimes. But a clear-cut no. Because, put simply, men can use their systemic power as a protective shield against any gestures like butt slaps or playful sexual comments. While women, on the other hand, are degraded and disempowered with every “look at those tits” or “nice ass.”  Sadly, the objectification of women always has the intention of subordination, just like the sexual harassment of women rarely has innocent intentions. But men could be objectified and sexually harassed all day long, and it would have little to no effect on their ability to earn societal power, in the workplace, in the home, in our government, or otherwise.  

But sexual objectification is only one form of sexism that exclusively victimizes women. Though the “Menninists” of the world claim that man-hating feminists are inherently sexist, much like I mentioned before, men will never feel the pang of sexism like women do. Sure, men are hindered in the stigmatization of male vulnerability and sensitivity, but men will never have their merit or scholarship questioned. They will never be called “bitchy” when they assert themselves in a work meeting. Men will never be reduced to their sexuality. Men will never understand the pain and shame of being publicly catcalled. And because cis men operate in a system where the ultimate reward is capital gain, and have greatest access to said capital, the offhanded comments of “men are trash” will, overall, have very little effect on their lives. Similarly seemingly “sexist” stereotypes of men being disorganized, or reckless, or negligent will undeniably pale in comparison to the way women are discriminated against in the workplace or sexually objectified in their romantic relationships.

And while it may be a controversial stance, at times, I consciously and intentionally objectify men as means of education. Because what better way to teach men of their violent perpetuation than to replicate the abuse and harassment women experience every single day. With this in mind, behavior like penis shaming men is just a reversal of power. It’s a reminder that a woman’s value constantly derived from the size of her breasts, and the width of their waist, and a number on a scale, so then it’s nothing more than refreshing change that a man, too, might be unwillingly defined by his body. But I understand this is controversial stance, and I certainly don’t expect everyone to adopt this strategy in combating the objectification of female bodies. All I can hope for is that we become aware of the sexism women suffer from every day, just as I hope we can fight against voices and rhetoric that work to devalue sexism by desperately trying to applying these same injustices to male bodies, male bodies that don’t actually suffer from any real form of sexist behavior. Women are the victims in the sexism game, just as black bodies are the only real victims of racism. Anything else is just a petty attempt at false victim hood.

 

Photo Source: 1, 2, 3