It’s strange to see what happens when someone who styles themselves as a male feminist and a supporter of women actually runs into real one. I had this happen recently on my Facebook and let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty. Self-identifying male feminist will be called Damon for the rest of this blog. Actual male feminist will be called Dan. This incident left me with a very bad taste in my mouth about people who identify themselves as an ally of something that they don’t really understand and won’t admit to not understanding.
It started off innocently enough. I shared a link to an article about the “friendzone”. Something that I feel very strongly about and disagree even exists in a real sense. Women do not owe men sex and men are not relegated to this imaginary zone if they do not achieve sex. After I posted this, I went to sleep and took a three hour nap. I awoke to find a flame war going on between Damon, Dan and another male that I’m not going to discuss in this blog. I didn’t read through the entire thread, but I did see where it all devolved into childish name calling. I decided to delete it.
From what I grasped, Damon had been attempting to explain to me how the friendzone is real and women put men in it all the time. When Dan alerted him to the reality of the situation that it’s not and they don’t, Damon did not take this new information very lightly. I was later contacted by Damon and the other man via PM once they realized that I had deleted the thread. I told them that I didn’t want to deal with the situation, whatever it had been, and that due to my mental health problems and the fact that my new job was fucking wearing me out, I didn’t give a shit what any of them had to say. Both of them backed down.
At least, for a while. Later that night, Damon called me. He was drunk and ranting. I tried to talk to him, but it was no use. He was too far gone to listen to me or even care about how much a drunk person shouting at me over something I wasn’t even responsible for was upsetting me. He swore and complained about Dan and how Dan was a bad person for not recognizing that Damon’s wife liked Damon, therefore, he was a feminist. He told me that he’s been to rallies for women’s rights. RALLIES. Therefore, everything that he ever had to say about women was valid and deserving of respect.
I asked him what he wanted me to do about this situation, after explaining that I knew Dan in real life, and not from one Facebook conversation and I was not about to cut off contact with him because of Damon’s drunk rantings. While Damon told me that he respected my relationship with Dan and accepted that I knew far more about the man than he did, he did not stop insulting and belittling Dan and his opinions. I made an excuse and got off the phone.
A few days later, I posted a video of myself singing. Damon commented on it by stating, “The feminist in me thinks that those lips could be put to better use.” Damon, of course, was always making completely sexually comments about me and other women. That was all part of his “charm” and “personality”. Often, I have had to delete his comments about my female friends for fear of them seeing it and really ripping him a new asshole. A few minutes later, Dan replied with, “You keep using that word and I don’t think it means what you think it means.” As soon as I saw it, I realized that this was going to kick off into another argument. And that was the last thing I wanted. I wanted people to comment on my singing, goddamn it!
I unfriended Damon. I didn’t have to think about it. Firstly, I agreed with Dan that Damon was not a feminist and he didn’t understand what feminism was. I was getting bored with Damon’s constant, unending sexual comments about myself and my body. When I deleted him, all I felt was a sense of relief that I wouldn’t have to be turned into a sexual object on my own Facebook page multiple times a day.
Damon messaged me a few days later, probably when he realized that I had unfriended him, and asked me if I was serious. I didn’t respond. I didn’t need to. Whether he had meant it or not, the night he called me, he forced me to make a choice between him and Dan. And I didn’t choose him.
The problem is that Damon, for all of his boasting, still considers himself a feminist and Dan a horrible person. He still doesn’t know what a feminist is. Going to a rally doesn’t make you a feminist anymore than going to the grocery store makes you a vegetable. Part of supporting a disadvantaged group is shutting the fuck up and listening to what they have to say about issues and he was not willing to do either of those things. He insisted on telling me what to think about the friendzone and on telling Dan what to think.
My attempts to reason with him over the phone were met by him telling me what kind of person Dan was and what I should think about Dan. He did not provide me a chance to explain what I thought about the article or why I disagreed with him. He did not care. He knew what he knew and he knew what women wanted. Even though this woman didn’t. That’s the problem.
Being an ally is humbling and involves the realization that you do not understand an issue the same way as someone else does because you lack the lived experience. Allyship involves waiting to be called to help, asking what you can do in your limited position to affect that change, and constantly learning how to better serve the group that you are attempting to advocate for. Male feminists have done great things for women and feminism, but the last thing feminism needs is men claiming to be on our side while acting in ways that continue to oppress us.
In the final analysis, I do not miss Damon as a Facebook friend. I feel much more comfortable on my Facebook without him being present and ready to inject his sexuality into any post, no matter its content. I’m also a little more cautious about the people that call themselves allies for people that they don’t even understand.