“Sure, most men might not be bad. You’re probably not bad. But it takes more than ‘not being bad’ to be ‘actually good.'” – Clementine Ford (pg. 226)
Ms. Ford also outlines some types that are often hailed as “decent blokes” or, at least, as “not all men” commentators (pg. 161-162 paraphrased):
- The Super Right-On Male Feminist Ally … rather than schooling other men on their behavior, he is focused on getting women to acknowledge their male allies.
- The Feminism Is Dangerous and That’s Why It’s Dying Whiplash Prophet … he’s deeply aggrieved about feminists unfairly stereotyping men and determined to prove only unattractive angry women remain feminists.
- The Fuck All Feminazis Guy … Blames women for not wanting anything to do with him and is determined to blame his lack of female companionship on feminist rhetoric and the existing matriarchy.
In the end, she asks a supremely meaningful question: “Are these men really ‘good’? Or is their supposed decency constructed entirely around the fact that they’ve never beaten a woman and they won’t let anyone say anything nasty about their mothers?”
In my opinion, women do not need to reward men for their lack of negative action rather than their actual actions in support of women. Decency really isn’t based on the failure to act in ways we know we could get away with. It has to be based on real support. Am I NOT a racist because I don’t attend KKK meetings or use hate speech? Even if I listen to racist jokes or ignore racist comments?
Ms. Ford goes on to outline two lessons that are vital for getting past an unreasonable concern around ensuring men’s feelings aren’t hurt:
- “First, we are under no obligation to reward men for being basically okay.”
- “Secondly, we have to start being okay with saying that. I know it’s difficult, but men aren’t children or dogs. They don’t get a cookie because they did the right thing.”
Ms. Ford: “We have to resist the urge to respond to basic decency by treating it as if it’s some kind of enormously magnanimous gesture. It isn’t. There shouldn’t be anything astonishing about a man who doesn’t degrade women, hurt them or treat them as somehow less than him.”
This is an insidious viewpoint and social conditioning is subtle. When I was first married, my husband worked and I didn’t. I was looking for work and handling all the household matters in the meantime. Yet I felt guilty spending “his” money on things for myself. I found myself thanking him for the household chores that he took on, yet I didn’t expect to be thanked for all the things that I did. And, at the end of our marital relationship, I was so conditioned by his constant demand to justify my actions that I nearly apologized for locking the front door when I knew he be coming home near dawn laden with field gear. But I caught myself and asked, “Would you be okay sleeping alone overnight in an unlocked house?” And that made him pause because the conditioning had worked on him too.