Fuck the Man

By Jessica Englund

While browsing Feministing this morning, I came across a post by Jessica who linked an article from The Harvard Crimson. The article was “No Need to ‘Fuck the Man'” written by Justine Lescroart. She also wrote the article “Beyond a Women’s Center”. Both of these articles illustrate the beginnings of a feminist attitude, however, some of her sentiments and statements fall a little short. Within “No Need to ‘Fuck the Man,'” she discusses an invitation she recieved to a ‘Fuck the Man’ party hosted by feminists. The invitation states that it is not an anti-male slogan and that ‘the Man,’ as the author clarifies, is simply a group or individual who had power and oppresses others through that power. What upset me was the authors statement:

Of course, a slogan is just a slogan, but it does represent something about certain aspects of modern feminism that doesn’t quite sit well. After all, in portraying a feminist party as opposed to “the Man,” the slogan, like many strands of feminism, seemed to promote a sense women’s “otherness”—a feel-good approach to feminism that ultimately hurts women more than it helps us.

I don’t quite understand how the understanding of the ‘otherness’ of women is harmful. I have studied Simone de Beauvoir’s work and her views on the woman as the ‘inessential’ or the ‘other.’ By recognizing the ‘otherness’ and oppression of half of the population, one can begin to move forward and try to change the the societal norms. Through simple recognition of difference and the treatment of ‘others’, change can be made or seen possible. Moving forward in the article, Justine states:

…many women accept secondary, passive roles all the time, asking a man to decide things for her, to fix things for her, to tell her who she is. Doing so is often easy because it relieves a woman of the otherwise inevitable weight of making wrong decisions, of not fixing things, of not always being sure of who she is or what she believes in. While that was understandable a hundred years ago (and still is in many less developed parts of the world), modern women have little excuse. We voice awareness of male-female equality, but nonetheless act in ways that perpetuate the conception of a man as “the norm” and a woman as an aberration.

There are two parts to this statement. The first that I want to take issue with is that she suggests that women ‘inevitably’ make wrong decisions without the help of a man. I surely hope that that isn’t the way she meant that statement. I also do not quite understand why she added the unnecessary ‘(and still is in many less developed parts of the world).’ Oppression and ‘otherness’ as the societal norm is not strictly in ‘less developed’ countries. It is present in many of the more powerful countries as well.
In the second article I mention that Justine wrote, she proposes that Harvard ought to hire a woman president. Although I agree wholeheartedly that it is time for more women leaders, I do not with some of her supporting arguments. Most specifically,

Candidates for any job should always be considered as individuals, and to deny that a person’s sex is a central part of who he or she is would be blatantly false. A 2005 study in the journal Social Behavior & Personality found “a gender bias in hiring and firing decisions…at the final-choice stage.” In today’s gender-conscious world, intentionally or not, an applicant’s gender will be a factor in the hiring process. Why not admit this—and admit that the sex of our president is going to have some obvious side effects?

I do not support using sex or gender as a means to hire someone. Rather than using discrimination in a reverse fashion, why not target those who believe discriminatory behavior is okay? Or, why not try to educate persons of proper behavior during a hiring process? I know that I am probably sounding naive at the moment, but that statement did not sit well with me. I believe that there are better means to accomplish goals. Thoughts?

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3 thoughts on “Fuck the Man

  1. What are these “Obvious side effects” that the author speaks of? Is being female now a medical condition (paging Dr. Freud… Dr. Freud)?
    To your earlier point, which will eventually lead to your last point, I think that “otherness” is an essential concept for any aware woman to recognize. I personally think that the stronger position in terms of equality with men is not to attempt to erase difference, but to embrace, accept and learn from difference. Men and women are different, in the home, in the work place, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, in life and in death. They are different. The challenge is in remembering that neither one is better or worse, just different. Woman have strengths that men don’t have. Men have strengths that women don’t have (of course speaking in sweeping generalities).
    Why is this statement intellectual kindling to the feminist movement? It’s fact, biological and social, and I think the time we waste arguing against our “otherness”, like the author does, is time better spent learning to negotiate those differences in a productive and egalitarian manner. Why should I have to negate my femininity to succeed in this world? OR, conversely, why should I have to be seen only through the male gaze? Why can’t I be both powerful and feminine, and why does it have to be explained, like a novelty?
    This I think is the counter argumentative point the author of the article was trying to make at the end- why deny the differences that a female president would bring to Harvard or *gasp* the United States? What I don’t get is why she was making it after she argued against herself in the first cutting… perhaps I need to read the whole thing.

  2. Definently check out the articles. It becomes a little murkier. She continues to contradict herself and, in turn, make less sense. As I was reading and trying desperately to understand her thought process, I volleyed from being impressed and disappointed with not only her style, but her ideas. I think that she is trying really hard to understand and support feminism, but she just isn’t there yet.

  3. I don’t know, I read the one on “Fuck the man” and it took me a few moments of blinding rage to get past the “less developed parts of the world” bit. hehe. But now that I am composed, I can somehow see what she was “trying” to say. But her whole demeanor, to me, felt like someone who is trying to please both parties while pushing an agenda of their own…if that makes sense.
    “…many women accept secondary, passive roles all the time, asking a man to decide things for her, to fix things for her, to tell her who she is. Doing so is often easy because it relieves a woman of the otherwise inevitable weight of making wrong decisions, of not fixing things, of not always being sure of who she is or what she believes in. While that was understandable a hundred years ago (and still is in many less developed parts of the world), modern women have little excuse. We voice awareness of male-female equality, but nonetheless act in ways that perpetuate the conception of a man as “the normâ€? and a woman as an aberration.”
    This struck me as irritating basically because of the sweeping generalization that she makes without blinking. I mean this is a pretty iffy thing to say without backing it up with more explanation or maybe even attach a tiny disclaimer about how not all women are like that (don’t get me started on the less developed parts of the world comment…). In her quick need to make a point, she fails to mention factors that might cause women to “support the patriarchyâ€? (that’s basically what the statement implies). She does not mention how women are conditioned to act a certain way in a patriarchal society through the means of culture, religion, societal expectations…what have you. That statement irritates me. The complexities of a woman’s position in a patriarchal society and how it effects her thought process and actions are lost in these statements. Yes, women do have the choice to break out and act in ways that would make them equal partners to men, however it takes a change in mind set through ideology and then having the means to come about change. Sexism is so ingrained in some of us that it’s a constant uphill battle. That’s why sometimes when I tell people that feminism to me, sometimes is a lifestyle, though half joking…I tend to realize all too well how much truth it holds.
    As for what Hala Furst said:
    “To your earlier point, which will eventually lead to your last point, I think that “otherness” is an essential concept for any aware woman to recognize. I personally think that the stronger position in terms of equality with men is not to attempt to erase difference, but to embrace, accept and learn from difference. Men and women are different, in the home, in the work place, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, in life and in death. They are different. The challenge is in remembering that neither one is better or worse, just different. Woman have strengths that men don’t have. Men have strengths that women don’t have (of course speaking in sweeping generalities).â€?
    I agree with this, however, I think what some feminists have issue with is the fact that our differences as women from men become the focal point of our “weaknessâ€? in men’s eyes…instead of strength. So in their need to be seen as equals, some feminists attempt to remove those differences, focus on it too much, play them down or use them as a point of superiority over men (leading to anti-men sentiments)…I hope I made sense. I spent most of my life attempting to prove that I am just as capable as any male, but my differences as a woman has always been used as a “weaknessâ€? point.

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