Guerrilla Feminism

By Abe Onche It’s not easy being a feminist. I can hear the collective hiss and mumble about this one who doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about. From the men who only needed this admission to confirm I’ve been neutered or from the women who disqualify my experiences because I have a penis. Yes, yes…I’ve heard it all before…either I’m stupid or grossly ignorant, and by no means are those mutually exclusive. Yet when all is said and done, I stand my ground in this little church of passive aggression. It would appear, for those of us who see nothing wrong with gender equality and the emancipation of our womenfolk, a philosophy that involves sitting on this sexist fence requires a great deal of discouragement. But it is a hard path, and not for a few reasons. In the spirit of satire, there are men and then there are gorillas. Now if the staff at Cincinnati Zoo would kindly hold their fire, I will explain. David Barash, an evolutionary biologist commented on the possible inspirations of monotheistic religion in the “harem-keeping alpha male” leaders of gorilla families. In maintaining order, the big powerful male gorilla must remain BIG, POWERFUL and MALE (particularly the last one). Insubordination is tantamount to a collapse of his jungle empire and therefore, with a great deal of posturing, excessive flexing of pectorals and consistent veneration of his physically stronger position, he lords it over everyone else. Stop looking at your dad. Yes, you. But as primates we share more than just most of our genes with gorillas. We similarly exhibit sexual dimorphism (when opposite sexes in a species are physically dissimilar beyond sex organs). In order to survive, like the gorillas, our children are taught fear from a young age. Fear of God, fear of the dark, fear of grandma who is probably a witch, fear of our neighbors and the like. We become attuned to fear, a fear without reason. Fear because we are told to. We aren’t really afraid of the object, just of the cataclysmic assault on our rear ends for daring to go near that which we should fear. Perhaps the most evoking might be “daddy”. Daddy is coming! Everyone act like you are useful! Mop the sink! Sweep the ceiling! Stand on one leg and don’t move, maybe he won’t see you! Like the T-Rex, modern times have ushered in furry new principles but the backbone of our society’s major definitions remain deeply rooted in patriarchy; fossil deep. And while some things have been shed for the love of common sense, there are still many more “values” that make for a decidedly more difficult journey to progress. Patriarchy for the most part, like Alzheimers, Tay Sachs and certain cancer factors is hereditary. It’s one of the reasons it’s been around for so long. It’s also, funny enough, contagious. Men are often also victims of patriarchy. Yes, that came out right and no, please do not throw that at me. But for the men who are not gorillas, it is more than an inconvenience. By very existence, he is not a “man”. He is not “manly”. Therefore he endures some maltreatment of his own. That is not to say being a man can be as rough as being a woman. Heck…at least as a man, the gorillas will ignore you. Most of them anyway. Imagine however, explaining to your father and his people, that your fiancée is keeping her name and you are all for it. Sounds reasonable to you? You are lucky. I’ve heard of weddings boycotted for less (More food for me, frankly so I’m good with that. But I’ve been told this is not a decent position to maintain). Yet in that brief moment when the spirit of your ancestors descends on your father, he will descend on your mother for feeding you too many eggs when you were a child. (I don’t know why eggs get such a bad rap. Folklore?) After all, this was not why he sent you overseas; to learn “from the white people” about women’s rights, emancipation, governance and ethno-religious tolerance, self-management and entrepreneurship. They’ve only ever brought us trouble, he says. (More on that later). And your mother in true character will appeal to you not to become a “woman-wrapper” like all the people she has seen around today. She fears her grandchildren will become homos and the like (because this is usually how it starts. No? NO??). For those of you who don’t know, a “woman-wrapper” is a particularly effeminate man. Other definitions include momma’s boy, pansy, skirt hugger. My father has written to Cambridge University press about installing my picture next to this word in the dictionary. Fortunately they’ve reserved their comments. And between your mother’s sobs do you dare seek a murmur of approval for recognizing in your own beloved fiancée, something which your mother has burned for her own husband to see? A legacy of her own making? Okay perhaps I’m taking it too far. After all, what is in a name? But, what IS in a name? And why are they so important? What is it about the patriarchy and the need to keep women anonymous? Does it link back to the idea of ownership? The idea of inheritance? The idea that women cannot have possession that aren’t linked to a man? In that sense, they cannot do without men? Except they do, don’t they? But it isn’t easy being a feminist. Some people call me a “male feminist”. Fine, be as categorical/exclusionist as you like. Some people ask me if I’m a feminist because it helps me get laid more often. Erm…no. Frankly, “nice guys” still finish last when you think of it. But I see that the battle of the sexes has become an all-out war. Women are on the offensive and pretty soon, things will get better. At least for us nice guys. Which is why I believe we should

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