When It Comes To Feminism Even Liberal Dudes Mansplain To Me On Facebook… WTH?!?!

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By Lori Day – How do I restore my sanity? It is currently tethered to a ventilator. It took me years to cull my Facebook friends so that my virtual living room contains no more misogynistic buffoons sprawled out on sofas, bloviating until I unfriend or block them. I am left with only a handful of friends from high school and college—the ones who are not racist, sexist, or homophobic.

That’s what happens when you were raised and educated in the deep south in the ‘60s and ‘70s. If you become an adult who has fled the bigotry, you look back on that toxic waste dump that previously constituted your social circle and you realize these people are now stalking you online and explaining why the Confederate flag is a treasured part of our history. So you unfriend them one by one. Problem solved. Or is it?

I can only speak to my own experience. Because I am white, I experience neither overt nor subtle racism in daily life or online. Among my Facebook friends I see people with white privilege, which I also have because all white people have it, but I mainly see white allies who speak out fervently against racism and don’t excuse it. The same goes for LGBT rights, and the rights of other marginalized people.

It is rare that I encounter anyone in my socially engineered, entirely liberal set of Facebook friends who explain why something roundly considered racist is actually not racist, or why something roundly considered homophobic is not homophobic. On the rare occasions I observe this behavior, I call the person out on it. And I am utterly unapologetic—and will remain so despite any negative comments—about the political homogeneity of my Facebook friends. I get plenty of exposure to conservative viewpoints in what I read and in comment sections all over the Internet. My newsfeed is a place where I want to have companionship and intelligent discussion without rancor and foolishness. It is my living room after all, and I get to decide who comes into my house versus who remains on the curb.

It’s a funny thing, though, the way, when it comes to feminism, they wear the badge proudly while not listening to actual women. #NotAllMen, but lots of them.

But I have a problem in my house, and I don’t know what to do about it. I can hardly post an article or make a status update about misogyny without at least one liberal male friend mansplaining to me the errors in my position or logic. I am told why it is “sexist” of me to believe that having our first female president is important, because gender shouldn’t matter, only qualification for the office. I am educated about the transcendent artistic value of a Hollywood blockbuster that has over 50 male actors and only two females (one of whom is raped; the other slaughtered), and I am scolded for obsessing over the lack of female representation or the formulaic and disposable roles for women in that movie.

Most of the time, these men are champions. They are tireless advocates for the poor, screaming over the lead poisoning in Michigan…they are Black Lives Matter protesters and change.org petitioners….they are guys who will unfriend you if you eat at Chick-fil-A.

It’s a funny thing, though, the way, when it comes to feminism, they wear the badge proudly while not listening to actual women. #NotAllMen, but lots of them.

Lately I’ve been joining more and more feminist Groups on Facebook so that when I want a safe space, free of this particular aggravation, I can seek refuge there. I can know that any men in the Group will not explain feminism to me because if they do, they will be kicked out. Is this what it’s come to? I am ducking into FB Groups to discuss issues that nice, liberal men among my own Facebook friends cannot grasp or refuse to acknowledge. They appear to work so hard not to do this to people of color or of different sexual orientations or gender identities, but with women, they have blinders on that blot out the sun. They refuse to look in a mirror if you hold one up. They know that women are being emotional or taking things too personally, so they help us out by sharing with us the superior musings of their male brains. When I ask men like this to pull up a chair and listen—as I try to do for anyone without my privilege, who has life experiences different than my own—I am often gaslighted.

So I am left with a choice, and I may be sliding toward the wrong one. I can continue challenging the mansplaining, knowing that I am fighting the good fight, or I can skip it and be happier. Where is the balance between leading a meaningful life and a happy one? It’s a common conversation, and I lean toward the former, but the latter is a siren call when I’ve stomached too much liberal dude-ism for one day.

Liberal guys, we need you. But mostly, we need you to listen.


About The Author

Lori Day headshotLori Day is an educational psychologist, consultant and parenting coach with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA. She is the author of Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, and speaks on the topic of raising confident girls in a disempowering marketing and media culture. You can connect with Lori on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

  • Genevieve

    I understand your frustration. I find that my male friends who claim to be feminists make some of the most infuriating comments on my FB page and in my news feed. These are the people who will tell you how important female representation is, but then staunchly defend the racist, sexist, classist NFL. Or they can’t see how so many of the loudest Bernie Sanders supporters are blatantly misogynistic, because it pokes holes in their highly curated worldviews.

  • Kingros

    Does it have to be one or the other? I have different responses every day, depending on who I am talking to, what the issue is, how I am feeling, etc etc. It often comes down to how much good I think it will do. You say that your facebook is your safe space, so that will influence it too – it is okay not to come out with all guns blazing all the time.

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