This is a really interesting piece that was posted on the UQ Women’s Collective blog today. Charlotte has some excellent discussion of the accusations often thrown at feminists, mainly the infamous “what about teh menz?” challenge, pointing out that
Although these issues hurt men, they are not oppressed by them. Being oppressed depends on your personal power being taken away by the acceptance and affirmation of a system which inflicts mistreatment on a group. From laws to social beliefs, oppression serves to justify this treatment and invalidate the experiences of people who are oppressed. Even though the issues which affect men are important, what is vital to note is that despite these experiences, men can feel safe in knowing that their personal power will remain intact.
So, reverse-sexism doesn’t exist because men cannot experience oppression. What does exist is a sexist society which oppresses women that can also have a negative effect on men.
Charlotte also talks a lot about how even today, men are encouraged to be active in the public sphere and the system “wants, expects, affirms and praises men for being in power of their financial independence [and] in power of the legal system” – to which I’d add politics, sex and education, just to name a few. I think the historical view of women’s space as the private domain and men’s space as the public domain still has a significant influence on this very issue in the present. The public domain is still valued much higher than the private domain, and women who move between these two spaces are still far underrepresented and experience far more challenges and sacrifices in order to do so successfully.
The conclusion is very good as well:
Women experience their lives differently because they are women, and there should be space for them to speak about how this has affected them without being criticised for neglecting men’s problems. Because patriarchy promotes male domination in almost every (mostly powerful) societal facet, the idea of women commanding their own domain of experiencing oppression really goes against the grain, especially as this notion can be extremely powerful! People fighting to insert men as victims of sexism are perpetrators of sexism itself, as insisting that men dominate every part of society only serves to sustain patriarchy.