Blame and Shame to Control
By Rod Van Mechelen
When the going gets tough, many women loudly blame others -- the boss, coworkers, politicians. - Women Vs. Women: The Uncivil Business War, Tara Roth Madden
1992 Bellevue, Wash. - For all the ills ever to befall women, pop-feminists blame men. Not just some men, but all men individually: "Personally, I feel men have a great deal of responsibility for what other men do, ..." (Why women are mad as hell, Jon Tevlin, Glamour, March 1992, p 208) This, despite that most men care very much for the safety and well-being of women. But many women reject men's attitude of caring as "paternalistic" and patronizing. A typical Catch-22, where men are damned for caring too little at the same time they are damned for caring too much.
With equal justification, we might turn this around, blaming women for making men into "success objects."
Most men work at mind-numbing, bone-breaking, life-sapping, high-risk jobs for one reason: to attract women with the money and status they earn. All women who are not-sexual with men who do not have money or status perpetuate this system. By pop feminist logic, that makes women guilty of brutalizing men.
Were we like the pop feminists, we could go even further to say "women have a great deal of responsibility for the child-abuse other women do," because most child-abusers are women. (Handbook of Family Violence, Suzanne K. Steinmetz and Joseph S. Lucca, p 241) We would hope, however, that most men are too reasonable to indulge such sexist generalizations. Unfortunately, many women are not.
As Carol Gilligan notes in her analysis of the logic by which young women confront unwanted pregnancy and the option of abortion, they tend to blame others by looking at life through what Gilligan calls the lens of "reverse responsibility." (In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, Carol Gilligan, p 82) A lens that allows them to project responsibility onto others. A victim ethos that victimizes us all.
Not all women indulge the ethos of the victim. Still, it seems very easy for them to lay blame on men with their plaintive "plea of victimization." (In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development, Carol Gilligan, p 86) This casts their behaviors in a pragmatic and unprincipled ethic. An ethic that extends even to the halls of academia, where female researchers do not hold women responsible for their own decisions and actions, but blame men and institutions for, among other things, the career choices women make. (Science, Vol. 252, 17 May 1991, Myra Marx Ferree, p 990, review of Educated In Romance: Women, Achievement, and College Culture, by Dorothy C. Holland & Margaret A. Eisenhart)
Power of the Pointed Finger
We should hold women responsible for their own decisions. Blaming others only makes matters worse. But the ethos of the victim compels them to seek an oppressor. Hence, utterly rejecting responsibility, they perpetuate a vicious cycle of blame.
Attacking men disempowers everybody. Every time we hold others responsible for our own problems, we reinforce our victim status and thereby give ourselves permission to do bad things to others: If we are victims, then "they" must be victimizing us, so it's okay to victimize them back. Even pop feminists know that when women use their victim power -- the "power of the pointed finger" -- to victimize men, eventually those men will pass that victimization back to women: "(E)verything one of us does has an impact on women we never saw and who never saw us." (Women and Love: A Cultural Revolution in Progress, St. Martin's Press mass market edition, 1989, Shere Hite, p 674)
Every man brutalized by a woman is another woman brutalized by a man. Every act of spite, every invalidation of masculinity, every false accusation is one more nail in the coffin of another rape or murder victim, just as each victim is another reason women find to imprison, execute, murder, maul and emasculate men. In this way, we are all to blame. We all share responsibility.
In every way that counts, women and men create and sustain the cycle of sexism together. Blame belongs to both. For all that is wrong, and for what it will take to fix things, we are all equally responsible.
Rod Van Mechelen
Rod Van Mechelen is the author of What Everyone Should Know about Feminist Issues: The Male-Positive Perspective (the page now includes several articles by other authors), and the publisher of The Backlash! @ Backlash.com. He is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and served for 9-1/2 years on the Cowlitz Indian Tribal Council.