But Some Feminists Emasculate Men!

Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 29 October 2014

This weekend I had a rather depressing conversation about GamerGate. During that conversation, someone made an equivalence between feminism and GamerGate. The argument went something like this:

Person A: Get a new tag.
Person B: Find a new term for feminism.
Person C: But feminism is a field of academic study with decades of research.
Person B: But some feminists emasculate men!
Person A: What are you talking about?
Person B: ::Provides a link to a book of satire with a woman with scissors on the cover::
Person B ::Brings up the one segment on The View where they joked about a woman cutting off her husband's penis.::

While I'd love to talk about all of this, in particular, I want to talk about how messed up the claim that feminists emasculate men is.

First, let's explore definitions. The literal and archaic definition refers to castrating a man. There are also the metaphorical meanings.

make (a person, idea, or piece of legislation) weaker or less effective
deprive (a man) of his male role or identity

Think on this a bit. If a person weakens the argument of another, one can argue that the person making the argument has been emasculated. Or, if society says that male gender roles revolve around "being in charge," a woman who is not submissive is then emasculating the man. In this world view, there is no place for gender equality and actually, there's not much place for debate because challenging the idea can be seen as challenging the masculinity of the person presenting the idea.

Until we fix this worldview, one where making an idea seem weaker or less effective is a metaphorical castration, we're going to see these same toxic discussions happen again and again. Until we fix the view that men have a particular role or identity and that depriving them of that is akin to mutilating their genitalia, we cannot have equality. I cannot safely present my point of view and argue the same way men do if it's seen as an attack on their manhood. It's just not possible. It will continue to be seen as an attack rather than as a discussion.

Combine this with the frequent messages of "don't let a girl beat you!" If a woman bests someone who is male in an argument, a person who buys into this word and its worldview is likely to feel not only emasculated by the argument but also by the fact they were defeated by a woman. And rather than attacking the world view (which often feels overwhelming and impossible to change), the rage and anger will be focused at the woman. I see this again and again. It's part of the reason why women's words are received differently by men, the bit truth behind the quote from Margaret Atwood that, "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."

We need to call this out. We need to talk about this.

Photo by ralphbijker https://www.flickr.com/photos/17258892@N05/2588342742/in/photostream/

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