In the comments on the Feministe thread about sexism in Saudi Arabia and in the United States, a man’s comment that “to say we have even a remotely similar patriarchal culture is an insult to America” earns him this response:
You don’t suffer this kind of s**t, Talldave, so f**k off. You don’t get to tell women what culture we have, what we endure, and what we live through. If you want to find out, try shutting up and listening.
This is a common attitude, albeit usually expressed in somewhat less obnoxious and less potty-mouthed fashion: women are the sole authority on sexism, and for a man to question their perception of the oppression of women in this culture is insensitive, chauvinistic, and indeed the mark of an oppressor.
There is, of course, the minor fact that not all women see themselves as part of the radical feminist “we.” In my experience, the world described by some of the posters at Feministe — a world in which male physical and sexual violence toward women is as common as the common cold, and is condoned by most men except for a few enlightened specimens — bears little resemblance to reality. Of course, on the same thread, a woman who says that she works with domestic violence victims and does not accept the radical feminist view is dismissed as a liar, a wannabe man, or perhaps a man posing as a woman.
But that aside, what’s wrong with listening to the male perspective? If men tell us that they don’t see themselves as particularly powerful, or as having been granted full license to use and abuse women as they please, why isn’t their side of the story worth hearing?
Crazy idea, I know.