In response to my entry Male entitlement at work…, Broadsnark posted a reply entitled Beware of Strange Men on Airplanes. The entry tries to frame the issue as a battle between the view that most rapists are strangers and the view that most rapists are known to the victims. I agree that most rapists are known to the victims (although the definition of “known” is quite debatable), but it’s not really relevant to the topic. More on that at the end.
Most importantly, Broadsnark accuses us of gender essentialism:
Gender essentialism is our enemy. It is not o.k. to base policies on gender essentialist notions, regardless of who is negatively affected…
We can’t end sexism by being gender essentialist.
My reaction to this was, what the fuck? Neither me nor Meghan Murphy expressed any gender essentialism in our entries. The motives for the Virgin Australia policy, if it is statistical as Murphy and Broadsnark suggest, are also not gender essentialist.
It seems to me that Broadsnark is serious about ending gender roles, but accusing other people of being gender essentialists when they’re not is just a bizarre way of going at it. Attacking people who are gender essentialists, on the other hand, would be a good strategy.
I could be wrong on this, but the implicit argument seems to be that by pointing out male privilege (in one particular dude’s case), we’re attacking all men everywhere personally for what they do. So again we come back to the whole “I take your apersonal, systemic analysis personally!” bullshit. It seems we need to repeat over and over that attacking the Patriarchy is not the same as attacking all men. If Broadsnark wants to understand feminist theory, ey needs to understand at least that much.
I mean, I am well aware that I have male privilege, but I am not attacking myself when I point out that some dude freaked out when he was confronted with that fact, nor do I believe his freaking out was specifically caused by male biology. I think it was caused by his sense of entitlement, which is not biological. If I was asked to change seats on an airplane for the sake of children present, I would do so gladly. To whine and bitch about it is just plain perverse, and I don’t think reasonable men would do that (of course I think of myself as reasonable).
Yes, obviously I agree that parents should be the first suspects, that parents are often violent and abusive, and that they get away with it because of the hierarchical structure of parenting. But unless Broadsnark is ready to take an anti-parenting stance (which I very much doubt), this is a disingenuous response. Why even bring it up, except to divert attention?