The comments in this Facebook event really irritated me. I decided to write a short letter to the men of UBC.
Dear men of UBC:
Please stop telling women how to be feminists.
Stop telling them how they should respond to this spate of sexual assaults. Is now the time for you to instruct woman on the proper tone, rhetoric, or strategy of their political organizing?
Please stop offering women unsolicited warnings about alienating the mainstream. They are not waiting for you to approve of their tactics. And why do you suddenly sound like a Saul Alinsky-thumping professional organizer?
Please stop telling women that you support them, but words like “patriarchy” or “rape culture” make you feel uncomfortable. The fragility of your support reads like a veiled threat of its removal. If women go a bit too far for your taste, does that mean you’ll abandon feminism and return to good-ol-fashion misogyny?
Most of all, please stop proclaiming how great you and your friends are. This isn’t about you. Women have to endure the terror of walking home while a predator is on the loose, why also make them endure your insufferable posturing as an ally?
Men of UBC, I’m not entirely sure what we’re supposed to do, but I think I know the first step: we need to shut up and listen, as blogger Mia McKenzie pointed out.
We’re fucking this up. From rape chants to this, we should all feel ashamed of ourselves. Sure, maybe you’re not the one assaulting people. You’re in a better moral position than that guy, but you’re not in the position to be telling women how to respond to the problem that we (read: men) have created.
I have one sensible proposal. The next time you feel the urge to tell a woman how to be better feminist, talk to a man about how to be a better man. Instead posting long-winded Facebook comments about how women are squandering an opportunity to have meaningful dialogue with men on campus, have your own meaningful dialogue with men on campus.
Talk to them about what we (read: men) should be doing to make this a safe place. Ask them what their female friends are saying, and tell them what your female friends are saying. Evaluate whether your shared environments (classes, locker rooms, frat houses, board rooms, and so on) are really all that friendly to women. Think about the strange phrases you use (like “I raped that exam”), and ask yourself why you are using them. Brainstorm ways to engage your younger brothers, and misogynist friends.
I don’t know, these are just some ideas. I’m not here to tell you what conversation to have. But we need to have one, and I’m afraid that we’re not having the right one.