As anyone who’s been reading my posts will know (unless you’re paying even less attention than most of the people I debate with), I dislike double standards. The most irritating of these double standards is the way that the feminist movement trumpets all of the preferential treatment women get in our culture as “oppression.” I actually have a term for this: ”Reframing the issue.”
Specifically, reframing the issue is when oppression against one set of people is redefined as being oppression against another set of people who are far less adversely affected. For instance, describing women as the ”real victims of war” (in the case described it was WWI or II) despite men being the ones who primarily suffered and died. In fact, the complaint was that ”women lost fathers, husbands and sons.” Clearly her loss of these men in her life is so much worse than their being gassed, blown up, shot in the face and then left to die in a ditch, lying in a pool of their own blood. Another example would be ”women and children first” being reframed as oppression by claiming that it portrays women as weak, despite the clear victims being the men forced to stay behind. Did you notice that men dying is a theme here? It’s not even just ignoring, it’s literally mocking the suffering of men.
For another example, feminists often refer to chivalry as “oppressive.” They’re absolutely right. It’s oppressive to men. Unfortunately, they tend to reframe the issue, stating that the portrayal of women as “weak and incompetent” is somehow worse. Interestingly, for all their claims that men are interested in perpetuating chivalry to “keep women down,” I have yet to meet more men than I can count on my fingers (no thumbs) who actually believe in chivalry. Every other man I’ve known who behaves in a “chivalrous” manner has done so because of the societal consequences of refusal. That is to say, they were bullied into it. Taking this case into account, reframing could be more precisely defined as:
Any time someone ignores, minimizes or disregards the suffering of one group by describing it as purely the side effect of the suffering of another group, especially when the harm to the former is clearly greater than the harm to the latter.
Other supposedly “oppressive against women” phenomena include the pressure on men to pay for dates. Most feminists follow it to the first misogynist conclusion, even though from another perspective it’s not the most obvious one. Certainly, one could draw the conclusion that it’s about women “not being capable,” but another equally sensible conclusion would be that it’s a result of what’s termed “sexual economy.” That is, the fundamental concept within our society that female sexuality has value and male sexuality doesn’t, and thus that women “give” sex, men “get” sex and then owe women something in return. (The equally problematic corollary being that if a man does something for a woman she owes him sexually.) Taken to the logical conclusion, this implies that a man owes a woman in exchange for her company.
It seems sensible to conclude that the situation is primarily harming the men, for the simple reason that a direct financial burden would appear a worse injury than an at best theoretical demeaning position which doesn’t seem to be causing direct harm….and in fact is arguably benefiting the person concerned. See the point?
This term, however, must be used with care. Simply stating that a group suffers as well is not reframing. For example, the widows of WWI most certainly suffered, there’s no doubt about that. It’s not reframing to say “but don’t forget about the widows, they suffered too.” Elevating their suffering as more important and worse than the suffering of their husbands, though, is. This term is not a tool to be used to ignore anyone but the “primary” victims. That would in essence be “oppression olympics,” something I’m equally unfond of. Nonetheless, used with care and consideration this term can help to educate the people engaging in this behavior.
The reframing needs to stop. Hopefully this will help people to call it what it is.
(Further information on reframing the issue can be found here and here.)