A writer is in hot water for declaring that he’ll never date a feminist — and then gives some ridiculous reasons why. Dave Hon, a columnist for Josephine magazine in St. Joseph, Mo., recently wrote the baffling essay.
“If you look for a reason to hate men, chances are you’re going to find it,” Hon began his column, citing a common — and incorrect — assumption that all feminists hate men and that feminism is about something other than equality. He then outlined what he believes are the ridiculous untruths peddled by feminists, from rape culture and the wage gap to the overall existence of, y’know, male privilege that touches basically every aspect of life, such as economics, social psychology, politics, and fashion.
But no, insists Hon, these systemic historical factors that result in a world that is inherently, intrinsically shaped by the gendering of self and others isn’t real, but rather just the smack talk of angry women who have had “a previous bad experience” when it comes to men.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts. Hon disagrees that rape culture exists — and yet the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that one in five women will be raped at some point in her life and one in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner. Here’s another sobering statistic: 91 percent of all victims of rape and sexual assault are female. And one in five women will be sexually assaulted while in college — and more than 90 percent of all victims on college campuses do not report it. Why might that be? Well, false reporting accounts for only 2 to 10 percent of all sexual assault reports — so there goes the commonly held myth that if a woman says she’s been sexually assaulted, she’s probably just lying or trying to get attention. And therein lies the problem. The vicious cycle of campus sexual assault is continually perpetuated by a distrust of women’s words when it comes to their allegations that nonconsensual sex has occurred.
As for the wage gap, not only is it very real for women — and especially women of color — but, as the Center for American Progress reported earlier this summer, women also face long-term setbacks to their lifetime earnings as a result of taking time off from work to care for their children, a position that is increasingly an economic necessity for many households, given the rising costs of childcare and (you guessed it) the lower wages already incurred by women. The group found that a 26-year-old woman working full-time and earning $30,253 — the median annual salary for younger full-time, full-year workers in 2014 — who takes five years off from being a part of the workforce to care for children will face a loss of $467,000 during her working career, reducing her lifetime earnings by 19 percent.
And while Hon says begrudgingly that mothers are assigned custody in divorce cases more often than fathers, he leaves out the context: As suggested in the 2015 American Time Use Survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on an average day in households with children under the age of 6, women spend one hour providing physical care, such as bathing and feeding, for their children, compared with 25 minutes by men. And men tend to believe it’s better this way, with 65 percent of them — and 69 percent of fathers with children younger than 18 — agreeing that their children are better off with one parent staying at home. Taking into account the lower wages earned by women, it is usually the mother who stays home with children when such a decision is made by a family. Yet a 2012 Pew Research Center survey found that a plurality of working and stay-at-home mothers said that their ideal situation would be to work part-time. Only 36% of stay-at-home moms said that not working at all would be the best situation for them.
So when women — and some men — speak up and call attention to these issues, it’s not the result of being a little grouchy because they’ve had a “bad experience” with men.
Feminism, to paraphrase from a wide cross-section of the pop-culture lexicon, isn’t about hating men, but rather about identifying that systemic injustice exists: for women, for people of color, for gender-nonconforming individuals, for anyone who is marginalized in any way by being labeled as “other” by the dominant cultural voice, which continues to be that of white men. So, yes, feminists speak out — because they don’t think suppression, repression, or inequality is a good look for anyone, male or female.
But rest assured, while it may be easy for Hon to quickly reject the economic and sociological challenges faced by women — and thus easy to dismiss those women who insist on calling attention to such realities as those he would rather not date — some of the feminists he derides have been just as quick to offer replies of their own to his allegations.
As author and comedian Sara Benincasa joked on Twitter Thursday night, “I’m dating the guy who wrote the Op-Ed about never dating a feminist and yes we’re deeply unhappy but at least it’s real.”
Benincasa tells Yahoo Style, “I don’t know this guy, but I imagine that he will either be extremely proud or extremely embarrassed with regard to this essay eventually. He may be a very nice man on a day-to-day basis, but unfortunately, in the big wide world of the Internet most of us are going to judge him based on this article alone. It’s a really stupid article. He gives voice to some stupid opinions that unfortunately are not isolated to him.”
She adds: “If you characterize yourself as a feminist, you are probably a woman who voices her opinion. I’m sure this guy knew this and knew that he would be widely criticized. But regardless, just as it is not the job of people of color to hold the hand of a white person like myself and patiently explain intersectional feminism, it isn’t the job of women to hold the hands of men or even other women who don’t understand why feminism is vital and important.”
Man: I’ll never date a feminist
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) September 8, 2016