Why I am no longer educating men on feminism.
You know the one where you state your feminist views online and suddenly a flock of angry men come guns blazing, ready to attack you for hating men, and insisting that your outcry on patriarchal systems is a ploy to reform them as ‘beta men’. I struggle to understand how we really got here, but I won’t put anything past certain persons at this point.
If you don’t know, you’ll at least remember the most recent social media storm in the hip-hop world where your favorite rapper, Jermaine (J. Cole) penned a ill-timed saucy dig titled “Snow in the Bluff” addressing Chicago rapper, No Name. She’s the threat for having read herself out of gender and racial disparity, become a communist and dedicated her platform to fighting for black lives and black trans lives.
You definitely know this one.
He takes digs at her for seeming “way smarter than [him]” and deduces that her knowledge must be as a result of her privileged upbringing where she was groomed to be aware of structural racism and armed with the tools to dismantle it. He also asks her to refrain from talking down on people who aren’t as knowledgeable as she is, and instead treat them like toddlers and guide them to the information. Asking her to soften her voice so that it doesn’t bruise his fragile ego further, because he’ll be damned if he’s seen as personally responsible for his shortcomings.
What J Cole missed out is the fact that No Name’s journey to enlightenment was not bestowed upon her at birth but came about after she was widely criticised for her i’ll-informed statements on capitalism. Since then, No Name began to read and research for herself and even started a book club to “highlight progressive work from writers of Color and writers within the LGBTQ community.”
Part of the backlash was due to the fact that J.Cole has previously used his platform to speak on similar issues (see: Be Free) but this time under the guise of speaking his ‘truth’, he weaponizes his male insecurity and fragile ego when there are literal black lives being lost. Black lives are under attack. Black women are under attack. Black trans lives are under attack. But your favorite rapper would rather silence the voice of a woman who learnt shit for herself.
And of course, he was egged on by stans justifying his indirect jabs at at a black woman in the middle of a racial struggle and during a week in which black women’s abuse on a worldwide scale has been glaringly obvious. I’m glad No Name sent in her response by way of “Song 33”: ‘I saw a demon on my shoulder, it’s looking like patriarchy’ and I hate that she had to apologise for responding when her message was super important.
It reminded me of one of Rihanna’s most legendary tweets, ‘Never underestimate the ability of a man to blame you for his mistakes’. Truer words have not been spoke, as we’re constantly seeing instances where men blame women for their ignorance. We’re still seeing this today as black women are made to bear the brunt of salvation for the black man; made to take on the task of uplifting and fighting for them when it is clear to see that we are not extended the same care and protection.
Rest in Peace Oluwatoyin Salau.
I’ve since come to find that cisgender heterosexual men don’t really want to be taught about feminism or sexism or even their inherent privilege and misogyny. They don’t want you trying to change them because they are comfortable with the misogyny and detest the world order changing. But I’m here to say there will be no coddling of any man during this revolution.
From a young age, we’re taught that as a rule anything associated with girls or women is by definition lower in value than things associated with boys or men. We assume, without question, that whatever men are doing or thinking is what we all should be aiming for. The male archetype is the standard and anyone that deviates from the norm is ‘starting the gender wars’.
But screw that. Not every aspect of the feminist movement needs to be about acquiescing to male egos, because frankly no one cares any longer about appeasing the man and marginalised groups are rising up and becoming irreverently louder as silence and complacency will no longer cut it.
I’ve realised that many of our problems with male entitlement, misogyny and toxic behavior is the unwillingness among men to apologize, or even realise that they have anything to apologize for. Just yesterday, I detailed a conversation with avid feminist, Ozzy Etomi and the founder of a male empowerment programme, Temidayo Seriki about educating men in our society about their performative allyship. Rather than take this as a moment for self reflection and change, men flocked in the comments section making fun of the exercise and labelling it yet another feminist agenda.
Well, quite frankly, it is a feminist agenda because men just aren’t openly listening to women’s issues and learning how they can adapt. Instead our loud voices offend and hurt them because they aren’t willing to do better. To be more considerate. To reflect and listen and apologize where necessary. To aim for cooperation rather than blowhard defiance and arrogance. It would be a challenge for sure, but it is not impossible as seen from the men in society who actually listen and learn from women in their communities and those fighting for equality on the frontlines and online.
I, myself, am constantly unlearning and relearning everyday. There is always room for accountability and growth if you are truly willing to set your ego aside and question these harmful structures the patriarchy has put in place.
No one is born with all the answers, it requires a willingness to learn, to make mistakes, relearn and get uncomfortable with the truth. But do that in your own time. Black women are not here to constantly teach willingly obtuse cisgender men about sexism or rape culture when we learnt for ourselves. The resources are readily available but it’s really the wanton lack of care that propels your complacency in misogyny and entitlement.
Keep that shit far away from me.
For further reading:
This is in no way a definitive list and you are free to conduct your research and find literature you would like read on this topic.