If you asked most people who voted for Trump they’d say feminism is cancer and feminism is anti-men. I think it all comes down to an inability to conceive another worldview. Men often seem to perceive anything that’s good for women as bad for men. I think there’s always a backlash from people who have power not wanting to give up power and not realising that power isn’t always the best thing to have. Because we live in a world that values power above all else, it’s very hard to see any loss of it as anything other than a bad thing. The structure of society requires one person to be up and another person to be down.
"Feminism isn’t about hatred of men. It’s an attempt to deconstruct masculinity and femininity: these two boxes that we put men and women into and which don’t represent anyone."
Feminism isn’t about the hatred of men. It’s an attempt to deconstruct masculinity and femininity: these two boxes that we put men and women into and which don’t represent anyone. Trying to conceptualise a world outside of patriarchy is really hard. If we stay in exactly the same world, then men might have to be paid a little bit less so women are paid a little bit more. But you could see it as give and take. Men might end up having a lower suicide rate, or get to spend more time with their children, or live in a world less driven by corporate greed. You need to look at it in the round. If men could access the feminine values that we currently ascribe to women while women were allowed to access masculine ones, then we’d have a better way of doing things.
Men have it bad in many ways. I don’t know what it feels like to be brought up being told you have to always be strong and provide for your family. So men are much better placed to say to other men: Do we actually like this? Do we enjoy this pressure? Are we performing masculinity? I think feminism allows men to have those conversations. People can only be on board with feminism if they don’t think dominating people is the only model of success. Men and women aren’t different species. We all have emotions. None of us are as purely rational as we expect men to be. We socialise men to be inhuman in a way which is deeply unhealthy and, I would imagine, unpleasant. Feminists want to talk about male violence and that’s not to demonise men. It’s to say: ‘Why does this happen?’ Men aren’t born violent. A true feminism understands that the way we’re socialised can and should be changed.
Feminism is the explosion of norms and structures that are hurtful to everyone. It doesn’t just want to raise women up. It wants to change all of society so that everyone is ultimately liberated. It isn’t a zero-sum game.
Caroline Criado-Perez is the author of Do It Like A Woman