In Which I Complain About Adorable Children (and Myself) for IWD

by jillst

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A few weeks ago I wrote a post for this blog.

The content of the post was, as I intended it: Christians and gay people are fighting again. We should probably stop being mean to each other but Christians should probably stop it more.

A friend of mine reached out to me a few hours after it went up. I need to mention for context that she is a lesbian, I just didn’t want to say “a lesbian friend of mine” because that sounds like her sexuality is the reason we are friends – it is not, we are friends because she is great. She said the post was offensive and a bit gross, and told me why in exacting detail, which is something she did not have to do, because minorities do not exist to educate you about why you are a dickhead, they exist to live their own lives and you are just in their way. She asked me to pull it down and I did.*

I tell this story for three reasons:

  1. I like to begin all my blogs with a rambling personal anecdote because I AM OBSESSED WITH MY OWN LIFE
  2. Even if you think you are doing a nice thing, or at least making a point in a respectful and nice way, it is possible you are not
  3. I am still here. I tried to do what I thought was a good thing, I learned that it was at best problematic, I felt sad for a moment, and then I felt angry that I could not say what I wanted, and then I felt angry that I was dumb and inconsiderate and I had upset people, and then I felt angry that society is not better and is fucked, and then time went by and I forgot about it and felt sad and angry about lots of unrelated things.**

The other reason I tell this story is because I’m about to roast some people for doing exactly what I did, and I sort of have mixed feelings about it but sort of don’t.

The subject of my roast is obviously, adorable children from Sydney Boys. They are not really children, they are young adults, it’s just that school uniforms make everyone look 12.

Today, these young adults – young adult prefects, I should clarify, as they did – made a video. In it, they face the camera, and repeat statements about why we need feminism. They do not, as I initially thought, make statements about why they as men need feminism – and feminism does have a lot to offer men and boys, apart from the chance to be outraged. They simply repeated statements made by their female friends and relatives about why they need feminism.

And people liked it you guys, they really liked it.

It’s been in my Facebook feed all day, and shared by everyone from major media outlets to loads of regular and kickass women.

Well, I freaking hate it.

Boooo adorable children and future hot guys raising awareness about feminism.

Boooo.

Ok. Don’t get me wrong. Obviously, I do not hate the message. I don’t even hate the messenger. These boys tried hard to do a good thing and I reckon they learned stuff. They potentially weren’t aware they would become an internet sensation, and even if they were, the net effect of what they have done is still good. People are listening to them in a way they won’t to me or any other woman.

I just hate it.

I hate that these women’s stories, some of which are frankly pretty traumatic, still garner more respect, are still praised more for their bravery, are still shared more widely, are still more palatable to society, and are still heralded as more feminist in this form than when ACTUAL WOMEN TELL THEM.

You want videos in which women talk about why they need feminism, or articles in which women talk about why they need feminism, or freaking tweets in which women talk about why they need feminism? You want women telling their own stories of rape or being overlooked in the workplace or literally most other things that have ever happened to us? Those are all out there! In fact, they are all everywhere! They are so ubiquitous I couldn’t possibly link to them all. I, as someone who loves to trawl the feminist web, am frankly kind of sick of reading them sometimes.

The difference is that the privileged men that the boys in this video will grow into do not read them. They need to hear them out of the mouth of someone like themselves. A man.

They need this video of adorable children “sticking up for their mothers and sisters and future wives and daughters,” or whatever whatever.

And that. That. THIS is why we still need International Women’s Day. We need it because women are still beaten with the crazy stick when we tell stories men are praised for telling. We need it because male feminists still expect a cookie and some nice attention for trying to help. We need it because the same media outlets who days ago were crying foul over the ABC’s decision to take male voices off the air for one single day have suddenly come around to the feminist message because a white man said a thing.

Perhaps, like me, it’s time men spend some time listening.

*Reasons I pulled it down include: I dislike making my friends sad, nobody paid me to put it up so who cares if it is now not there, knowing my luck somebody would pick it up and roast it on Twitter which is not something I need in my life, I do not want to be a jerk who contributes to LGBT suicide rates, and etc.

**I don’t think I’m fundamentally a jerk for writing that post. I don’t think I’m fundamentally a good person for fixing my mistake. I think I’m a huge mess like everyone else in the whole world who learned literally one single lesson.

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