Friday, March 22, 2013

For the Men Who Still Don't Get It




The current state of feminism has occupied my mind lately, not the least because a poem I wrote 20 years ago, essentially a feminist manifesto, has gone viral. I never posted it, as it was written before the rise of the Internet, but it’s in Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which won the National Book Award in 1994 and is still in print. The good news (for those older women who have lamented what they perceive as a lack of feminist fire in the younger generation) is that it’s young women who are posting it. The bad news is that it indicates that women’s experience has barely changed in 20 years.  In this case, it's not fun to have written a poem that stands the test of time.

I wrote it after my fellow poet, Denise Duhamel, and I were two of four judges in a poetry slam at the Nuyorican. A couple of very young guys had just performed a piece that referenced women’s genitals in a derogatory way, and Denise and I caused a ruckus because we insisted on abstaining from voting; we felt our job was to rate the quality of the poem, not the content, but in this case the content was, to us, unacceptable. For the Men Who Still Don’t Get It, which I performed the next week, was an attempt to get them to see the world from our point of view. And, some of them told me afterward, it worked.

For the Men Who Still Don’t Get It  (Carol Diehl)

What if
all women were bigger and stronger than you
and thought they were smarter

What if
women were the ones who started wars

What if
too many of your friends had been raped by women wielding giant dildos
and no K-Y Jelly

What if
the state trooper
who pulled you over on the New Jersey Turnpike
was a woman
and carried a gun

What if
the ability to menstruate
was the prerequisite for most high-paying jobs

What if
your attractiveness to women depended
on the size of your penis

What if
every time women saw you
they'd hoot and make jerking motions with their hands

What if
women were always making jokes
about how ugly penises are
and how bad sperm tastes

What if
you had to explain what's wrong with your car
to big sweaty women with greasy hands
who stared at your crotch
in a garage where you are surrounded
by posters of naked men with hard-ons

What if
men's magazines featured cover photos
of 14-year-old boys
with socks
tucked into the front of their jeans
and articles like:
"How to tell if your wife is unfaithful"
or
"What your doctor won't tell you about your prostate"
or
"The truth about impotence"

What if
the doctor who examined your prostate
was a woman
and called you "Honey"

What if
you had to inhale your boss's stale cigar breath
as she insisted that sleeping with her
was part of the job

What if
you couldn't get away because
the company dress code required
you wear shoes
designed to keep you from running

And what if
after all that
women still wanted you
to love them.

74 comments:

Eric Behrenfeld said...

Do you get it?

GET REAL! I think 1970 was a long time ago, those issues are nowhere near as common today and men are way more aware of misogyny and sexual harassment. AND, there are so many people now pushing for sexual harassment law suits now you can't even wink at a woman these days! So, then why is a Misandrist agenda being promoted so heavily these days to keep an out of touch Feminist movement going? How about being a single parent father that can't get child care? How about being a battered husband who can't get help because there are no shelters for men? How about a man who was raped by an older woman as a child? How about an over perfumed 350 pound woman who won't leave you alone at a bar? How about a married woman who unless you have sex with her, you can't get a job because she works in human resources? How about the nursing industry that is controlled by women? How about a pre-school educational system completely dominated by women because we have been brainwashed into believing that men should not be left alone with young children? How about women that won't work manual labor jobs because women don't work at car washes, they just have their car washed? How about not being able to see your child that was conceived because a woman lied about being on birth control just to have a baby? How about virtually every TV sitcom made since 1970 shows single/divorced men raising children as bumbling bafoons? How about most straight women will have Gay guy friends, but Lesbian women don't want to hang around with straight guys?

www.mensrights.com/index.php/Articles/Legalizing-Misandry-How-It-s-Becoming-Institutionalized.html

www.youtube.com/watch?v=flZoMLZgdUo

Eric said...

Do you get it?

The statistical data doesn't lie, the media stories are slanted positively towards women, but negatively towards men, and the laws are also in their favor almost in every situation regarding child care. AS a single parent father myself, I have continually been treated by women who don't know me as if I don't know what I am doing to raise a child. It is always assumed I am divorced, when actually I am a widower, and, for the last 10 years not one single parent woman will have playdates with me and my son, or, trade babysitting nights. The fact is, the childcare groups, businesses, and associations are completely dominated by women. Men are intentionally kept out of these industries. There is virtually no answers or information for where men can go to socialize and network, at least here in Chicago, to get support since men are not allowed, or at least invited into these "Mother Oriented" social cliques. Complaints about women bosses preying on men have doubled since 1990. What’s going on out there?

www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/relationship-issues/women-harassing-men-1

www.examiner.com/article/the-silent-discrimination-single-father-families

www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZAuqkqxk9A

www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence

Anonymous said...

Sorry those situations are far and few between. Hate to place a hierarchy on "unfairness" or play the "who has it worse" game... until these said statistics are 50/50 between males and females... you get real.

Anonymous said...

Excellent points! But based on these comments, they still don't get it. Google "male privilege," dudes. Because you seriously have no clue. :/

Anonymous said...

For Eric: #Steubenville.

Your argument is invalid.

Anonymous said...

Ha well as a young woman I'd like to say thank you for that poem. :-) These things are are good way of sharing perspective. I find it amusing how quick others are to dismiss it! I want the best for both sexes but I don't see how ignoring the obvious will help.

Anonymous said...

Modern feminism is not misandrist. It aims to eliminate ALL gender biases, therefore it would also eliminate the problems you are speaking of for males. The perception that men are 'not as good' at childcare is a product of patriarchy which assigns men to 'traditional masculine' roles and qualities in the same breath it assigns women to 'traditional feminine' roles. Eliminate patriarchy and allow self-determination of gender and both sexes will be more equal and have more opportunities and security. New forms of feminism recognise women AND 'feminized others' (those who are victimised based on gender)as being biologically male OR female. The discrimination is still a result of patriarchy whether the victim is a woman or a man.

Stephen said...

Feminism is a hate group against everything masculine. Everything about this poem just sickens me as a human being. Over generalizing and feelings are apparently fact now. How can a movement be about eliminating gender stereotypes when it praises one? This does not make any bit of sense to me. It's not like women judge men, no that never happens. Come back to reality feminists and stop playing the victim card. The reality is there are problems on both sides and we should not be one-sided on issues.

Anonymous said...

As a man, this makes me sad, hurt and angry. It makes me think that women automatically hate me, and that I deserve to be hated.

It makes me associate feminism with feeling like shit.

Anonymous said...

What if a man could effectively end your career with a mere accusation? What if a boy went up to you on the playground and hit you, but you weren't allowed to hit him back? What if you got blamed for every bad thing every woman has ever done? What if men had total say over whether or not you could be a mother? What if whenever you complained about things going wrong in your life, people told you to "shut up and take it like a woman"? What if your husband filed for a divorce and the court ignored all your rights to due process and locked you away on pedophilia charges based on absolutely nothing but his word? What if men got lighter sentences than you for committing the same crimes? What if showing a woman getting beaten by her husband was considered not only acceptable, but comedic gold? What if women were considered to be part of an "exploitation culture" and told that they should always be watching to make sure they don't become gold-diggers? What if women were considered sexist for enjoying watching guys make out? What if the general public considered every woman with an interest in child care to be a pedophile? What if the focus of every Presidential address on Mothers' Day were about abusive mothers? What if girls in classrooms were given drugs to make them "better students"? What if women had to worry about being falsely accused of rape prior to every sexual encounter they had? What if women were the victims of 80% of violent crimes? What if 80% of suicides were women? What if girls only made up 40% of college students? What if all-women colleges were slammed as sexist institutions, but all-male colleges held up as paragons of progress? What if most high-school dropouts were girls?

Anonymous said...

You're right. Men have it so hard, they can't even wear whatever they want or walk alone at night, anywhere. They can't control when women politicians say they should have children, or regulate condom use and sale. If they do or do not have sex, people will judge them as prudes/sluts.

Your accusations and role reversals are a product of patriarchy. Feminism believes that men are MORE than that. This is how ingrained the system has been to you-you think feminism says these things, but it doesn't. Feminism wants males to be seen as feeling, thinking human beings, not automatons that have no other gender expression than professional wrestler or garbage man. There are few and far between real examples of feminism in media-which is why you find these examples and straw feminism that doesn't really exist-the patriarchy is scared and telling you to shut up and take it, or fight something because they said so.

Anonymous said...

I think we found the fedora wearing neckbeards!

Anonymous said...

You say feminists are fighting on behalf of men. What, exactly, are they doing? And please give something more than "Fighting patriarchy".

Anonymous said...

OH, and please stop using the term "Straw Feminist". It's a very real portrayal:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvYyGTmcP80

Anonymous said...

"A List of "Men's Rights" Issues That Feminism Is Already Working On:

Feminists do not want you to lose custody of your children. The assumption that women are naturally better caregivers is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not like commercials in which bumbling dads mess up the laundry and competent wives have to bustle in and fix it. The assumption that women are naturally better housekeepers is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to have to make alimony payments. Alimony is set up to combat the fact that women have been historically expected to prioritize domestic duties over professional goals, thus minimizing their earning potential if their "traditional" marriages end. The assumption that wives should make babies instead of money is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want anyone to get raped in prison. Permissiveness and jokes about prison rape are part of rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want anyone to be falsely accused of rape. False rape accusations discredit rape victims, which reinforces rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to be lonely and we do not hate "nice guys." The idea that certain people are inherently more valuable than other people because of superficial physical attributes is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to have to pay for dinner. We want the opportunity to achieve financial success on par with men in any field we choose (and are qualified for), and the fact that we currently don't is part of patriarchy. The idea that men should coddle and provide for women, and/or purchase their affections in romantic contexts, is condescending and damaging and part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to be maimed or killed in industrial accidents, or toil in coal mines while we do cushy secretarial work and various yarn-themed activities. The fact that women have long been shut out of dangerous industrial jobs (by men, by the way) is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to commit suicide. Any pressures and expectations that lower the quality of life of any gender are part of patriarchy. The fact that depression is characterized as an effeminate weakness, making men less likely to seek treatment, is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to be viewed with suspicion when you take your child to the park (men frequently insist that this is a serious issue, so I will take them at their word). The assumption that men are insatiable sexual animals, combined with the idea that it's unnatural for men to care for children, is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want you to be drafted and then die in a war while we stay home and iron stuff. The idea that women are too weak to fight or too delicate to function in a military setting is part of patriarchy.

Feminists do not want women to escape prosecution on legitimate domestic violence charges, nor do we want men to be ridiculed for being raped or abused. The idea that women are naturally gentle and compliant and that victimhood is inherently feminine is part of patriarchy.

Feminists hate patriarchy. We do not hate you.

If you really care about those issues as passionately as you say you do, you should be thanking feminists, because feminism is a social movement actively dedicated to dismantling every single one of them. The fact that you blame feminists—your allies—for problems against which they have been struggling for decades suggests that supporting men isn't nearly as important to you as resenting women. We care about your problems a lot. Could you try caring about ours?"

http://jezebel.com/5992479/if-i-admit-that-hating-men-is-a-thing-will-you-stop-turning-it-into-a-self+fulfilling-prophecy

Ragged-wings said...

To all the men complaining ... This is why you need feminism.

Anonymous said...

You're right. That is sexist. But read the poem and realize women go through this their entire lives and it's been going on for centuries.

Anonymous said...

Essentially, it is just fighting patriarchy. Most of the roles set for men and women are rooted in patriarchy.

Anonymous said...

'Eric Behrenfeld said...

Do you get it?

GET REAL! I think 1970 was a long time ago, those issues are nowhere near as common today and men are way more aware of misogyny and sexual harassment. AND, there are so many people now pushing for sexual harassment law suits now you can't even wink at a woman these days! So, then why is a Misandrist agenda being promoted so heavily these days to keep an out of touch Feminist movement going? How about being a single parent father that can't get child care? How about being a battered husband who can't get help because there are no shelters for men? How about a man who was raped by an older woman as a child? How about an over perfumed 350 pound woman who won't leave you alone at a bar? How about a married woman who unless you have sex with her, you can't get a job because she works in human resources? How about the nursing industry that is controlled by women? How about a pre-school educational system completely dominated by women because we have been brainwashed into believing that men should not be left alone with young children? How about women that won't work manual labor jobs because women don't work at car washes, they just have their car washed? How about not being able to see your child that was conceived because a woman lied about being on birth control just to have a baby? How about virtually every TV sitcom made since 1970 shows single/divorced men raising children as bumbling bafoons? How about most straight women will have Gay guy friends, but Lesbian women don't want to hang around with straight guys?'

Eric. Most of the 'male discriminations' you talk about there come about from patriarchy in the first place, which is the exact thing Feminism is trying to fight against. If you really wanted more men in education, more rights to children, more careers in healthcare, you should be fighting with the feminists, not against them. I believe it's the patriarchial society that dictates that females are better care givers, better with children, and are the 'stay at home mums' so you can blame patriarchy for the reason why men are so pushed out of these settings, NOT the feminists!
If you grew a brain and looked around you, you'd realise sexism is still VERY prevalent. I believe there has only ever been 1 female prime minister in the UK, and she had to act like a male to get in power. There may be more women in healthcare settings and educational settings but the ones running these settings are men, who get paid the same monthly wage of about 5 or 6 nurses put together!
If you REALLY think that feminism and sexism is an issue resolved in the 1970's then you, sir, are blind.

Anonymous said...

yep. feminism is essential to all humans.

Vagina News said...

Sounds like you have some work to do re: taking responsibility for your own feelings, understanding that feelings are not fact, recognizing the validity and importance of perspectives other than your own, and learning about the nature of male privilege.

Anonymous said...

I get the poem, because it is basically identifying "privileges." However, as a woman, I don't prescribe to victimhood feminism. While I recognize the privilege, I am not a scared woman. I do not hate men. I don't sleep with them or touch them, and they can't touch me, but I kinda know deep down inside that nature favors me, and so therefore feel sorry for most of them. I dare a fool to try and harm me, and I dare a fool to get in the way of me walking alone at night. I dare a fool to talk down at me, fire me, or infringe on my life. They take nothing from me unless I give it to them. And while I would fight in arms with my sister to have these privileges mentioned here equalized, I do not fear men. If they can't behave, then so be it they will face their own consequences eventually. It won't take anything from my life, because I won't let it. It's amazing, I think, to see what happens when they no longer become the center of one's victimhood. Go ahead and call me a bitch, because I love that word. I dare you to act like little whiny babies and call me that because I post that I don't need you nor care for you nor fear your false powers. Men are scared and want power because they ultimately know in their DNA that nature does not favor them in any way, really, other than to help women keep populations going, and even now nature gives us the science that we don't even need them to do that. This is why they behave like idiots, and try to claim entitlement and overpower with war and their silly, trite little games to grasp for straws in a time clock that says, we will no longer need you (you just pollinate). Ha.

Deb said...

Great Poem. Pity it is still so relevant 20 years on. Greater pity that so many male commenters here have their MRA blinkers on, will not entertain anything other than the idea that feminists exist purely to make their lives difficult and are still la la la-ing and "how abouting" and using the logical fallacy of "you can't be ill because my foot is sore". Eric and co-do you seriously think women caused all this in an all-powerful feminine wiles manipulation conspiracy? Be off with you! All the way to Self-Pity Island. No, Eric and co-YOU STILL DON'T GET IT. Has it occurred to you that women don't want playdates with you because you are a complainiac who can't even see his male privilege? Do you think women want to spend time with you so you can spend the entire conversation bitching about how awful women are? Get real.

Anonymous said...

As a man, the tone of the poem makes me feel like the author is blaming me for these inequities. Just because I have a penis doesn't mean I'm on trial as a member of the "patriarchy". It's a natural defense mechanism to point out that men are not the only ones allowing its persistence. I appreciate your efforts to stamp out inequality, but even your name for that inequality, the dreaded "patriarchy", sets up an uneven field of discourse where men feel like the bad guy from the beginning. I recommend a few Warren Farrell youtube videos for a more refined male perspective on gender issues.

Unknown said...

To the Anon @ July 21, 2013 at 10:46 AM , you and many others are what's wrong with feminism. You hypocritically claim to a privilege mindset, a fallacy so you can both put down men while uprising your sexist agenda. You're everything that's wrong with feminism, and you should be put down like the animals you are. It's a disgrace for the many millions of women who are actually suffering, and not suffering due to self-prophetic stereotypes. You should be ashamed.

Unknown said...

To the Anon @ July 21, 2013 at 10:46 AM , you and many others are what's wrong with feminism. You hypocritically claim to a privilege mindset, a fallacy so you can both put down men while uprising your sexist agenda. You're everything that's wrong with feminism, and you should be put down like the animals you are. It's a disgrace for the many millions of women who are actually suffering, and not suffering due to self-prophetic stereotypes. You should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

You're not mad at men, you're mad at society. Societies consist of both men and women. Some men are assholes while some women, also, are assholes; together these combined create what you hate. We do not live in a patriarchy nor a matriarchy, we live in a society overrun by assholes. The more men and women work together WITHOUT SEXISM and other misguided notions, the better society will become - equality will be had for all.

Enjoy your time.

Carol Diehl said...

I agree that the more men and women work together without sexism, however how is our society not patriarchal when the government and most corporations and institutions are run by men?

Anonymous said...

Carol Diehl said...

"I agree that the more men and women work together without sexism, however how is our society not patriarchal when the government and most corporations and institutions are run by men?"

Because people within the government are elected democratically, and people within corporations and institutions are hired mainly (nay, almost completely) on experience and merit, and have almost certainly earned their position (this goes for both men and women).

Anonymous said...

"Because people within the government are elected democratically, and people within corporations and institutions are hired mainly (nay, almost completely) on experience and merit, and have almost certainly earned their position (this goes for both men and women)."

Democratically or not, society will not vote women into office. Everything in our society is fair in terms of gender, it is the people and their views that make feminism necessary. There is no way you can honestly say that men just happen to deserve and earn the position more often than women, it's obvious men have a bigger influence.

Leslie said...

It's all part of the victim complex that a lot of feminists have, learn to take trivial matters on the chin like men seem to do and stop crying when you think something looks at you funny.

Carol Diehl said...

Yes, Leslie, I will try to take rape on the chin.

Sam said...

Okay. It's a great poem, but the comments are even more interesting. Do you seriously want to start a war here?

Anonymous said...

I wasn't born when this poem was written(20 years old), but paused to read it when I saw it being passed around the internet. There are fundamental differences between men and women, and for thousands of years men have had the upper hand in most everything. This is changing slowly, but it is both men and women that are holding equality back.

Does anyone here remember being taught they needed to shave their legs for gym class by their female teacher at the age of 11? Or the months worth of hunched shoulders after discovering you were developing breasts? The absolute gut dropping fear when you find out you've gotten your period for the first time and you're terrified what terrible rumors your classmates will spread about you? Do you remember talking in hushed voices about how gross the girl who was growing armpit hair was behind her back? Or calling the girl who had no interest in boys a lesbian as an insult? That's the reality of what the school system was like for most of us who are 20 today.We were taught to be ashamed of how our bodies developed. "It's normal to get a period, but you don't want to talk about it, it's gross and it makes people disgusted."

I'm quite certain that boy's elementary school years didn't degrade them so much for being normal boys, and they were not taught to give two thoughts to their appearances.

If we want to have a society where both men and women are equal I think we need to start with teaching children that it's okay to not follow society's norms of how they think you should behave, and that just because someone chooses to do something different with their body does not make them disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, the hate this is getting is ridiculous. The purpose of the poem was to show how any circumstance can be viewed differently based on the person. This poem was made in retaliation to a grotesque comment in order to open the eyes of the commenter. It made him as well as other men think twice before objectifing women. How about we appreciate it's purpose rather than turning this comments page into a pity party and a battle of the sexes?

Anonymous said...

women fear men. have you ever thought maybe that is why they won't treat you equally? you over power them. so of course they will assume the worst. I'm sorry but i would, i fear men.

Sophie Gardner said...

So I saw this poem on tumblr about a week ago, and it's been on my mind ever since. In response to Ms. Diehl's comment about how feminism is still thriving among women, I'd like to add that I've seen a whole wave of new, confident, intelligent young women come out of the woodwork recently and start not only to bring awareness to some of the world's problems, but to solve them as well.

I'm a high school senior, and I've always considered myself a feminist. For many years, I've been put down and harassed for labeling myself that way, and many people give feminism a bad rap. So I stopped spending time with certain people and I joined this site called tumblr, and I'm surrounded by more positivity and equality right now than I've ever been. There's a whole generation of teenagers who are waking up and beginning to realize that we're the ones who have to solve the world's problems. They advocate for rights among every gender, race, and sexual orientation, and it's so uplifting to see.

This poem was such an inspiration, it absolutely took my breath away, and the fact that nearly 100,000 other people saw it and liked it was inspiring as well. I love that this is something that was written 20 years ago, but intelligent teenagers are just now finding it and realizing its significance.

Maybe I'm speaking for myself, but I think the kids are alright.

Sophie Gardner said...

So I saw this poem on tumblr about a week ago, and it's been on my mind ever since. In response to Ms. Diehl's comment about how feminism is still thriving among women, I'd like to add that I've seen a whole wave of new, confident, intelligent young women come out of the woodwork recently and start not only to bring awareness to some of the world's problems, but to solve them as well.

I'm a high school senior, and I've always considered myself a feminist. For many years, I've been put down and harassed for labeling myself that way, and many people give feminism a bad rap. So I stopped spending time with certain people and I joined this site called tumblr, and I'm surrounded by more positivity and equality right now than I've ever been. There's a whole generation of teenagers who are waking up and beginning to realize that we're the ones who have to solve the world's problems. They advocate for rights among every gender, race, and sexual orientation, and it's so uplifting to see.

This poem was such an inspiration, it absolutely took my breath away, and the fact that nearly 100,000 other people saw it and liked it was inspiring as well. I love that this is something that was written 20 years ago, but intelligent teenagers are just now finding it and realizing its significance.

Maybe I'm speaking for myself, but I think the kids are alright.

Carol Diehl said...

Thank you, Sophie, for your comment. I'm inspired by your awareness and optimism. Please keep me posted!

Anonymous said...

well yes, men don't have it so great either, women have always been treated lesser. not just by men. by other women too. Women are constantly told by the media that they are too fat too skinny ugly everything. there are tv shows, red carpets... you don't here people telling the men their suit makes them look fat. rape can happen to everyone but if it was as big as youre making it seem for men, we'd here about it along with stuebenville. im sorry but until there isn't such a strong bias on well she asked for it or well she was drunk, there is no equality

Anonymous said...

The thing that no one seems to get is that feminism(despite the name) is not a movement just about women. Feminists(which can be men, contrary to popular belief) just want men and women to be EQUAL. Do you know what that term means? We are old enough to be past "Boys are stronger and better than girls" which isn't always true. Men should also be able to fill female gender roles without feeling ashamed or being mocked. So when you argue against feminism saying that women have better experiences in some cases,you are arguing for feminism. Do your research.

Anonymous said...

Wow this poem was amazing.

Anonymous said...

http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Lewis'_Law

Lewis' law was first articulated by Helen Lewis on Twitter in August 2012: "Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism."

Caitlin said...

Wow, with all these other comments (from men, mainly) I feel the need to comment. This poem is reversing some of the issues women face in life to throw them back at men so they can understand our perspective. I don't get why men read something like this, or anything feminism-related, and think that it's attacking or minimizing men's issues. It's not. It's merely to show you what women deal with all the time. Yes, men face gender discrimination (just as pervasive as discrimination against women), but this is not a poem commenting on that. There is no reason to attack feminism or this poem because you feel defensive. (Actually, I'd encourage you to write something like this showing what it's like for men, so we women can understand. I'd love it!)

That said, I found this poem to be very powerful. It describes things that are so ubiquitous in a woman's life that I barely even notice that it's an issue. It's horrible, but when I think of women's issues I usually think about rape statistics or domestic abuse. The things mentioned in the poem are so common and so ingrained in our society that they can be sometimes overlooked.

Everyone has a lot of work to do to make everyone equal. Hopefully with poems (and resources) like this we can be more mindful to fight for equality in all areas of life.

Anonymous said...

Most feminists, are, in fact, looking for equal treatment for all genders, for the end of racism, for the end of homophobic laws. it's not just a bunch of women saying they want to be better then men; it's saying women want to be equal to men. as a sixteen year old girl, I find it repulsive that my friend has called me a slut for almost sleeping with my boyfriend, while she was messaging him congratulations at the same time. I find it terrifying that I am afraid to walk home after school at 6, because I can't see who's walking around me. I find it disgusting that if I was raped, the world would tell me, it's your own fault, why we're you there, why we're you wearing that if you didn't want to be raped? even though I don't even own any revealing clothes. an I find it riduculous, that I am never expected to go into a well paying, corporate career, simply because I do not have a penis. however, I repeat: feminists are looking for equal treatment of all races, genders, gender identities, and sexual orientation. not simply to have women be better then everyone else.

Anonymous said...

"Any pressures and expectations that lower the quality of life of any gender are part of patriarchy"

So, having women automatically assume I'm a hooting asshole who only cares about her breasts is the fault of the patriarchy.

So, it's my fault that I'm hated.

Holy shit. Let me just go kill myself so y'all can have your matriarchy.

moon said...

Ai ya...

This has long since left the realm of discussion and degenerated into that most ancient and honoured of human traditions - the two opposing camps sitting glaring at each other going "no u!"

Guess what? People in power have a bad history of trying to marginilize absolutely anyone who is in any way different from them - it helps to secure the status quo. It's also deeply enough ingrained into what humans are that it's unlikely to go away any time soon, even if you were to replace the current system with a newer, better system.

People are shockingly good at failing to treat other people as people.

If you want to honestly talk about an issue, make sure you're talking only to the people who are likely to listen, because I can assure you that no matter how much noise you make, you're not going to get through to someone who already thinks you're full of the meaphorical bovine leavings.

If you want to actually change things, however... well, that's easier and more difficult than you could ever imagine. But you could certainly do worse than actually listening to what other people are saying and giving a moment's thought to why /they/ say the things they do. (Hint: "The System" isn't the right answer. Never has been)

Anonymous said...

thanks for this poem
it's sad to see from the comments that they still don't get it :/

Joanne Mattera said...

The women/men discussion is like the black/white or the gay/straight discussion. Acknowledge that the aggrieved gender, race or sexual orientation has been treated wrongly for centuries, and then work together to make the change.

Equality for woman is not a plot to enslave men any more than equality for people of color is a plot to create Black Power. Acknowledge the inequalities and then work together for equality.

If you're pissed off, gentlemen, and feeling aggrieved, you don't get it. If you're white and feeling aggrieved, you don't get it. If you're straight and pissed off that gay people are ruining your marriage, you don't get it.

You are outnumbered and your sexist/racist/homophobic days are numbered. A younger generation gets a good deal more than you do. But not all. Wait until the young/old discussion takes place. You'll have another battle to fight--and this time, you'll really be on the aggrieved side.

Liz said...

The moment that made me a feminist was when I was at a party, my friend was too drunk to stand, a guy she had hooked up with before but was not dating keep trying to take her into the bedroom, and wouldn't listen to me when I repeatedly told him "Too drunk to stand is too drunk to give consent, let me take care of my friend" and not one male at the party came to my aid saying "it was non of their business" or "they had already hooked up, what was the bug deal?" instead. None of the guys a this party were "evil" or even "bad guys", they were just normal guys raised in a society that portrays women as sex objects, men as hyper sexual animals who can't say no, and that hooking up with a drunk girl was normal, and previous encounters were the same as consent. It was fucking terrifying because he was physically stronger than me and the since the only help I was getting was from two of my friends who are quiet petite, if it had turned physical I don't think i would have been able to help my very drunk friend.

I need feminism because right now we don't view each other with empathy (if we did their would be less rape and consent would be a bigger issue), we protect those in power instead of victims (calling a girl who is raped a slut or implying that a boy is gay is he says he was raped by a woman), and most people accept this as normal and don't see a problem with this.

One of the hardest things someone can do is to admit they are wrong or part of a group that is in the wrong, but even after this comments section I still have to hold out hope that people will act like adults, come together, and admit that, if nothing else, a poem like this can be written and people can relate to it so strongly twenty years later, then we have a problem, and we need to put aside the blame and defensive attitudes to fix it.

Anonymous said...

For a live demonstration of what happens when the male privilege to do everything the poem talks about is questioned refer to the comments.

Megan said...

I'd grown up in fear of men, due to the lack of a father - my own father abused my mother, brother and I - and no other males around me were exactly comforting to be around. I developed quite early and had to quickly grow used to GROWN men, maybe even fathers themselves, ogling me as a 13 year old. I'm not used to it still, it's fucking terrifying. I get sworn at if I don't respond to them in a positive manner (like they sort of expect me to screw them on the spot?) and once I even got chased despite my protests (I'm considered outgoing, I wasn't being quiet about my protests), but he stopped when I met my older brother, probably respecting him more than me.

As we've grown up, I've had to watch my brothers regard women with less and less respect despite being raised by my mother alone and that's really depressing. My mother and I have done our best to make sure my brothers respect women. My older brother does. He's seen a lot more in his life (like my mother completely destroyed due to my father fucking her up) than my little brother and he doesn't use the computer like my little brother does. The internet is good and bad. I hear my little brother (he's 15) making rape jokes and sexual slurs, and he's my brother. He was raised in my family by a strong woman and he should know better.

Males who I considered my friends have suddenly turned round and started sexually harassing me before like it's perfectly okay, but I was the one who got in trouble at school for breaking one of their fingers. The school said nothing to them about their sexual harassment.

It's absolutely bloody terrifying and it's also frustrating as hell that I feel like I can't walk home at night alone due to having to help my friends fix themselves after they've been raped or attacked because they did just that. My mother also doesn't like me to walk home alone because of that reason.

I'm scared to live in a society like this - and all because I'm a female. To those idiots (especially the female ones) who condemn feminism and me because I consider myself a feminist, you really don't get it. Feminism for me is hope, because women are finally fighting back, and this is excellent.

This poem spoke to me, because the majority of men really do not seem to understand what it's like.

xEmoxStrangerx said...

As a woman, I want to say how ironic some of the guys' comments are. I want to say: how long ago was it that men trapped woman into these childcare and teaching positions, and now they complain that we don't let them in? But at the same time the world doesn't work an eye for an eye.

If I'm going to be rational, I should say that woman don't have it fair. But neither do men. Sure, men can cheat and rape and be prejudiced and do some pretty horrible things. But that doesn't mean that every man should be glared at and distrusted and locked out and spit at. Woman have it bad, but now so do men. I don't see how we can make everything 50/50, perfectly fair for both men and woman. There's too many exceptions for that.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that everything in this argument get's so hideously over generalized to the point where it's meaningless.

It is reasonably correct to say that a majority of politicans and CEOs are men. But it's wrong to pull all men into those groups. That's a tiny subset of the general populace, and the decisions they make are generally to preserve there monopoly on money and power. They don't want anyone regardless of gender to take that from them.

It is correct to say that men commit the majority of domestic violence and rapes, but it's just completely wrong to suggest that all men are violent or rapists.

It is right to say that some feminists hate men and are following a genuinely sexist agenda that seeks to place women above men, but it's a million miles away from true to say that all feminists, and certainly all women, are doing so.

The truth of the matter is that labels turn everything into a bloodbath of tribalism and hatred. We do not need to know the gender of the person before we are shocked that someone was the victim of a horrible violent crime. The gender doesn't matter. If you only care about one gender group, and don't care about bad things that happen to another, then that does make you sexist.

What we need to be talking about is people. Not men and women. Just people. If you take all of the things in the poem and make it gender neutral (in my country ANYONE with a gun stopping your car and interrogating you would be a genuinely terrifying experience - we aren't that keen on guns outside the US) then all of those things are still just as scary.

No-one should be treated as better than another in any respect. There is fault on both sides here, and rather than arguing about who is the bigger victim, as has been happening for about a decade now, why can't we just talk about fairness between people, where gender is irrelevant?

Tom said...

I love this poem. I wish I'd read it years ago.

Anonymous said...

The only solution for this problem: kill all men. I'm NOT even joking, I'm done with it all.

I'm a feminist and I'm fucking tired of arguing with these dumb ass men. They just DON'T get it and they never will. No matter how many patient explanations you give them, how much rationality and logic you use, no matter how cordially you tell them, these misogynistic bastards won't understand it. They'll just play the victims and deny that sexism exists or ever existed.

Yup, forget female genital mutilation. Forget sexual harassment in the workplace, forget the wage gap. Forget bride-burning, forget dowries and forced marriages. Forget domestic abuse. Forget the times when women weren't allowed to vote or get an education. Forget all the crude jokes and comments on womens' appearances. Forget the sexualization and objectification of women in the media. Forget slut shaming and name calling. Forget the lack of women in power, forget the subjugation and oppression of our gender. Pretend it doesn't exist, pretend that it never did. All of our pain and suffering isn't real to these fucking assholes, it's just a big fat joke to them. I just want to wipe every last slimy man off of this planet and I can't help but feeling this way. It really makes me sick, all of it.

Ed McKeogh said...

Ms. Diehl, the gender inequality and destructive patriarchy that your poem highlights are undeniable. To argue against the situation, or the indiscriminate toxicity of the prevailing culture and the glacial pace at which change is occurring, is like wielding a butter knife at a gunfight. Your poem makes the horror of it all very visceral, perhaps even too real for people on the cusp of having their consciousness raised. But your powerful work is, I feel, undermined by the final stanza. To suggest that someone is unworthy of being loved because of his gender; that an entire gender is somehow disposable; that all men--and only men--are born guilt or defective is shaming and destructive and runs counter to the stated principles of feminism. We cannot be equals if only one side of the equation gets to exist. Our fates are linked through our genders, and we'll move forward either together or never. The poem speaks to the time and conditions of its creation. Would you end it the same way today?

K.K. said...

Ed, I think you misunderstand the final stanza of this poem. The author isn't saying that men are undeserving of love. Actually, your comment is a perfect example of what she is saying, men have done all of these things yet men expect you to just love them. We aren't supposed to be wary of men, afraid to get into the car with them, or go home alone at night, we're supposed to just trust you guys. But the thing is, all of the bad men she describes in this poem? They look the same as the good ones. I can't tell by looking at you that you are a creep, hell, I've been fooled. I've been very, very, wrong about men before, men who I should have trusted.

Another way to put this would probably be a better analogy. Say you're afraid of dogs because your neighbor used to have all these mean little beasts who would bark and snap at your heels when you went past or you had a dog that was really really big that knocked you down and you couldn't get up. Sure, you survived these things, but the next time a dog comes around, you might be wary of it, especially if that dog is bigger than you and you don't know where it came from. I love dogs. But I've had some really scary experiences with dogs when I was a kid and I'm always wary around dogs until I've known them for a while. And dogs can't lie to you or drug you. Not all men are evil, but the fact is 1 of six of us women have been raped or molested by men (Real statistic, check rainn.org) and we are wary of you because of it. Even if we have made it through we all know somebody that got caught.

K.K. said...

Ed, I think you misunderstand the final stanza of this poem. The author isn't saying that men are undeserving of love. Actually, your comment is a perfect example of what she is saying, men have done all of these things yet men expect you to just love them. We aren't supposed to be wary of men, afraid to get into the car with them, or go home alone at night, we're supposed to just trust you guys. But the thing is, all of the bad men she describes in this poem? They look the same as the good ones. I can't tell by looking at you that you are a creep, hell, I've been fooled. I've been very, very, wrong about men before, men who I should have trusted.

Another way to put this would probably be a better analogy. Say you're afraid of dogs because your neighbor used to have all these mean little beasts who would bark and snap at your heels when you went past or you had a dog that was really really big that knocked you down and you couldn't get up. Sure, you survived these things, but the next time a dog comes around, you might be wary of it, especially if that dog is bigger than you and you don't know where it came from. I love dogs. But I've had some really scary experiences with dogs when I was a kid and I'm always wary around dogs until I've known them for a while. And dogs can't lie to you or drug you.

The fact is, 1 in six of us have met with bad men (real statistic, check Rainn.org) and if we haven't met with a rapist we know someone who has. We are wary because this is reality for us. I know it makes you uncomfortable, but if you don't like it, keep your eyes open for creeps at parties, make you sure you get a constant reaffirmed yes from your partner, and don't follow girls or harass them on the street.

Gareth said...

Not commenting on the relevance of the poem, as I am male I do not see the problems that women face first hand. What I would like to comment about is that Feminism has changed over the years to become an Anti-Male Attack Group. The most outspoken feminists are more hate farmers then equal rights motivators. That is the group that the younger women are being attracted to, the loudest portion of the current Feminist movement, not the actual movement or what it started out as. When comments like "Dumb ass men" and "look up male privilege" are more common than mentioning equal rights, and just as common as men defending themselves. For the "Women Who Still don't Get It" Feminism is about equality, not the domination of the men by women, for the "Men Who Still Don't Get It" complaining about how the balances are still not balanced will only make matters worse. Hell, I will probably be told my points are wrong as well...

Anonymous said...

And that's why you need feminism. To end all that shit I mean you act like woman put all that shit upon you ? A patriarch society did obviously. And if you don't think so then you must be on shrooms

Lawrence Alan Winans said...

Carol, I am a guy, hopefully one who gets it, and I liked your posting. It was well thought out, and very relevant today. I hope that it is OK to post it on my blog with attribution. You can take a look at it along with my comment at winansanity.wordpress.com If you disapprove, I can delete it.

- LAWRENCE ALAN

Anonymous said...

Really perfect poem but was it necessary to note the ethnicity of the young men who were being derogatory? just gives creed to the idea that brown men are more likely to be sleazy?

Iris André said...

What's your point? Some of that may be true but what has that to do with this poem? Are you so obsessed with yourself that you can't read this poem without starting about problems men have?

Klyn said...

So what about this, i'm a 19 yr old female, who can do all manual labor a man can, and when I asked my boss if I could work friend he told me that women belonged in the front of the store so people saw pretty faces when they came in, and women cant do freight their women, while nudging our male co-worker and scoffing at me. What about being told I need to grow up pretty, loose the chubby face and marry a rich man so I can have a good life. What if I told you I have walked down main street in my tiny town of 21,000 and have been sexually grabbed every time. What if I told you I was dragged to an alley, and had it not been for the ONLY FEMALE POLICEWOMEN in our town, I would have been raped and probably killed. What if I told you, men come into my work grab my ass and tell me "don't you worry you'll get a nice tip" what if I told you, that out of the 71 mass murders in the us in the past 33 years, 70 of them were men and they all had something in common, men who felt they had been denied something they were entitled to. What if I told you, I cant go out and about wearing shorts and a tank top without getting hollered at and that when I do, I get sexually harassed every time. What if I told you my biggest fear is being abused and sexually harassed by men, because that's what social media tells me to see. What if I told you, women are forced to have dress codes at school and if you ask a superior why, they'll tell you, "for your own safety" and so you don't ryle up the boys. And what if I told you, that every day in gym class, when I wanted to play dodge ball or basketball or football I was told to walk the track because I couldn't handle it. Men do have things they have to over come, and powerful ones at that. But when your body has literally been used for every advertising scheme, from beer to cars, and your literally seen as an object to pursue and not a soul to hold onto, you feel like shit. You feel like everything you were raised to believe about being a strong women and standing up for yourself isn't something that applies in the real world. And when jokes about rape are acceptable in nearly every bar scene, but a joke about a mans penis can get you clocked by said man, and although hell get retribution for your actions, hell still call you a slut and a whore on his way out in handcuffs. What if our generations biggest insult to women today is calling them a slut and a whore and then turns around and she truly becomes one and wonders why. I'm not saying women have it worse, but I feel like we have a lot more to over come on a Day to day basis. Rape in the US for women happens 50× more often then men. That every second a women is being abused by a man, when every 12 seconds a man is being abused by a women. And instead of coming on here and bitching about not having shelters for men, why don't you stand up and fight it. Make it happen, create those shelters, give battered men a place to go and people to open up to. I'm not saying we don't both have it bad, but how bad we have it is definitely not equal..

Klyn said...

Also, here's 10 male dominated industries. WRITTEN BY MEN. Sure theres female dominated industries, but it goes both ways eric. http://www.askmen.com/top_10/entertainment/top-10-male-dominated-industries.html

Anonymous said...

I'm bisexual and I'm a feminist. I like when a girl is pretty masculine so you can't say feminists hate everything masculine. There are some people that hate men but you can't lump every woman who trys to defend herself into that category. I find it disscusting when women shame men for having a penis. Those people don't want equality but men don't seem to want it either if any woman who trys to say it isn't fair gets shot down. If you think we call the victim card then u don't know what its like to know more women than you can count on your hands that were sexually assaulted or raped.

Anonymous said...

Its not like we don't see the problems men have but you don't understand what its like to have a man pull up next to you in their car when you're walking down the street to ask if you are "working" just because you are wearing shorts and a T-shirt. You obviously haven't known so many women that have been sexually assaulted or raped that you can't count them on your hands. Stop acting like you are special.

Anonymous said...

Thats the other side to the same coin; as a young woman people ask me all the time about /when/ I want kids, I'm told that I'll change my mind when I'm older, and I know that my gender will influence interviewers for jobs-they'll assume I'm going to need maternity leabet, and might even quit to raise my child. Hilary Clinton was asked about choosing between running for president and being a grandmother, because she would have to be so involved with her o both! So in the same way that men are pushed out of childcare, women are pushed into it, and that, both sides of that, is an issue that feminism addresses. We may focus more on how it affects women, but don't think for one moment that getting rid of one social norm will not help to throw the other one out too.

Elise said...

I'm sorry but to all the people commenting about how sexism isn't alive anymore. You're wrong. Girls are sent home from school because what they wear is to revealing yet if a girl complains that a boy is being distracted they are told to pay attention and stop focusing on others. We are telling girls that boys having a distraction free environment is more important than the girls education. There is a problem if a fourth year old man with two kids feels "uncomfortable" when a girl wears a tank top and it's 104 degrees. And it isn't the girls fault. Boobs are secondary sex organs and girls are told to cover them up. But an Adam's apple is also a secondary sex organ and no one cares. And to the all men aren't like this defense. If your offered a cookie and told that a few cookies have laxatives and one has cyanide but the rest are fine. Your still not going to eat any cookie because you value you life. This isn't just about sexism. It's about the fact that when I was 9 a ton of college boys started yelling at me and making sexual motions. This poem is about how women are repressed and yes. We are. You either believe women are equal to men or they are not. I believe they are. So stop trying to destroy male oppression. It does not exists. But female oppression. Being turned down for jobs because your a girl. Being told you can't do something because your a girl. Being considered less than men because you don't have a Y chromosome. That does exist.

Anonymous said...

I'm completely amazed at the amount of people--predominantly men in these comments, who still don't get it and think today sexism has been dissolved. You know, there's a huge difference between a man being bullied and made fun of for not being "manly enough" versus a woman physically getting raped, beaten, or murdered because of sexism. Yes, men have hate crimes placed on them by women, but it's MUCH less common and by no means happens on a daily basis.

Honestly, I hear on a daily basis from my friends and classmates who are women stories of how they were upset by street harassment, physical abuse, etc. because of boyfriends, coworkers, and men in public. We just don't make a big deal of it usually and you don't hear about it because it's so common that you get used to it--which does not make it okay by any means.

No woman should be afraid of being harmed or attacked physically or verbally because of how she dresses, what time of day or night she's out at, or because she was tipsy. Never have I ever heard a man shift his entire day schedule because of when the sun sets, but trust me, every single college-aged girl is going to try to be indoors or with a group of friends by dark.

Anonymous said...

Most people know that not all men are evil monsters out to get you. We should be able to discuss these issues without being overly worried about people's knee-jerk reactions. The discussion is always derailed and it ends up being some strange contest about oppression. Unless the writer is hateful maniac who writes "all men are bad!" they are not talking about you.

Patty Kirsche said...

That's an amazing poem! Would you give me permission to translate it to Portuguese?

Carol Diehl said...

Patty, yes! If you promise to post a copy!!!