I know, I know, this is supposed to be a day of me writing stories of the woods. But... it isn't.
A while ago now, on a political forum, I was arguing in favour of Feminism and, I think as a consequence (and by having a gender neutral handle) I was mistaken for a woman and treated differently to my normal experiences online. Since this time I have sought out such things, that is - sexism online. And... well, the avalanche of stuff and ridiculous opinions, the horrors and the out-and-out ignorance! I am shocked. I know I shouldn't be, I know, but I am. And I feel like apologising for my entire gender except for the fact that there are women out there who can be as bad as the men. Also, it wouldn't make any difference.
Would you like to know more?
So, I read this entry on a blog and found, as a consequence, this rather scary thing and also this. But these are mainly racist and strange opinions, rather than sexist, and come from a range of people that are being voted for instead of the Conservatives. If you'll permit me to be a little political, I do not agree with a majority of the Conservative manifesto but, at the end of the day, I recognise the historical value done to the political system by the party that still bears the name and so can't hate any of their MPs or members nor even the party. I simply find that I disagree. However, I do acknowledge that they are misogynistic and border-line racist in places, especially where the polemic against immigration comes into play. I ought to point out that Labour are no better, though they ought to be, and the Lib Dems are also stymied by the same bizarre political myopia that reduces all elected officials to screaming versions of the uneducated fools that offer vox pops without any real understanding of the issues or the stats.
I digress, my point is this: if people are choosing to vote UKIP over Conservatives then we are in serious trouble. I thought it was bad when educated and clever people I know voted Conservative on the grounds of some of their less robust and more knee-jerk policy suggestions regarding immigration, international aid and welfare but if people are genuinely deciding to vote UKIP because they are harsher on these points and more misogynistic then, well, we have a problem.
It cannot have escaped notice that I am Christian. This means, to me, I don't get to judge all that much. Or rather, if I do, I must expect to be judged the same way or more harshly. So, I get that people have concerns that they refuse to be educated about - they use the concerns to explain to themselves what appears to be unexplainable. For example, why it is that their families work hard for little pay and then get tarred as benefit cheats and scroungers. Surely, they think, these people must actually exist somewhere and we have been mistaken for them! Also, they must look at the lack of women in high profile positions and the state of wage equality (hint: there is none) and wonder if there is an actual reason for this. In other words, they seek to explain the world around them in ways that make sense to them. But to see that exploited, deliberately, and to see information withheld, misinformation fed to them, by people that ought to know better... I judge that.
I am no paragon of perfection, far from it, but being married as I am to an educated, erudite woman who was reluctant to describe herself as a Feminist for many years, she didn't like the word because it was a label with connotations, but is now capable of saying that she is in principle and being the father to a daughter that very much knows her own mind and a son who is similar means that... Well, I am upset by such opinions as those linked above, I am scared and angry about stuff like this that seems to promote the kind of behaviour that repulses me. I read sites like this and this that are stocked full of scary stories. I observe daily behaviour online that makes me almost ashamed of my virility and that, ladies and gentlemen, is not healthy.
In short, I find myself adding Feminism, yes with a capital, to my list of labels in an effort to define my political outlook and behaviour. I find myself changing how I operate in daily life to try and account for that, I am planning an "Only you can prevent rape!" day for boys, for example, and adapt my day job to take into consideration the domination of the media by views that do not chime with what I feel humanity is all about. Quite apart from the fact that I think christianity ought to be at the forefront of movements such as anarchy, socialism and feminism, I think that these issues are very much the driving force of the main conflicts in Western society.
My children perhaps embody this best. On a recent trip out the Boy wore a girls' hat all day because he wanted to, no other reason, and looked a little like someone you see with no hair on the news while the Girlie was simultaneously a ballet-dancer, a mother and someone who would 'fight the monsters' as a superhero with her friend - whilst wearing a dress and zipping down a zip line with the kind of abandon that I really miss having. My Boy likes watching birds, enjoys the colours and then will happily be 'boisterous', just like the Girlie. I would have it no other way.
PS some git beat me to it! http://aidanmoher.com/blog/featured-article/2013/05/we-have-always-fought-challenging-the-women-cattle-and-slaves-narrative-by-kameron-hurley/