Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Men Can Have Opinions Too

Years ago, I hesitated to define myself as a feminist, for there is a sect of feminism giving us all a bad name.  More recently, however, I have refused to let that stop me.  There's always going to be someone out there, ruining things for everyone.  Whether it's coworkers out and about, giving your profession a bad name, or members of one's religion, stirring the pot and sullying the otherwise good name of Christians.  This is the unfortunate something I've come to accept with feminism and I have embraced what I am.

This past weekend, I became embroiled in another one of my classic Facebook comment battles.  And since I'm having a hard time getting over it, I'm laying it out here to get it off my mind.

It was the strangest topic for me to participate in, given my childless state, but apparently Jamie Oliver made a general comment about breastfeeding. (tl;dr: Breastfeeding is mostly free, also generally easy and convenient and more people should do it.)  Scary Mommy picked this up and ran screaming into the night, with their pitchforks, rallying the angry mothers around their battle cry, "MANSPLAINING"!  How dare he tell us how to raise our children?  How dare he shame people who have difficulty bf'ng (which apparently means breastfeeding, and is not a verb having to do with your boyfriend)?!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but to me, it seems like carrying around bottles and formula is far LESS easy and INconvenient than if I could breastfeed successfully a hypothetical newborn.  No?  Ok, let's hear from Adele:

Adele got on board with this rage and added her own comment back, (tl;dr: Go fuck yourself, Jamie Oliver) and OF COURSE everyone agrees with Adele.  Because even though she's super whatev, no one seems to have realized that yet and her opinion on all things still matters.


Cue the angry mommy commenters:

So Ashley is agreeing with him that it is easy and convenient, but then hating him because he is a man.  And Wendy: Pretty sure no one is bullying you.  Not yet, anyway...

Now, what's troubling here isn't the sheer volume of unsexy nipple discussion, although I could do without most of that.  What's really upsetting is the number of comments I could readily find where women were not only dismissing Jamie's opinion simply because of his GENDER, but went so far as to say that no man should dare even having an opinion on any female-relevant topic.

Now, fun fact, Jamie Oliver is father to FOUR children, and they would quickly dismiss him for his thoughts on breastfeeding.  Meanwhile, I can post a million opinions on it, and I have NO children but I am female so they are legitimate opinions.  Something is wrong here.

Does this mean your doctor, if he is male, should not give his opinion on birth control, abortion, child bearing, breastfeeding, menstruation issues, etc etc?  Is this really what people think?  Parenting advice from fathers who have helped and supported their wives through early years of raising children do not have useful opinions on such topics?  Beyond that, is no one allowed to speak GENERALLY anymore??  Why must everything be taken so personally?  Sorry you couldn't breastfeed successfully, random internet mother, I'm sure Jamie Oliver was not trying to SHAME you for it.  But still, this simple comment from a public figure has caused all these keyboard warriors to trap themselves in an echo chamber of offended whining, while they all validate each other's hostility and scheme how to take down such an evil man as Jamie Oliver.

The point of this post isn't really breastfeeding, it's the constant chatter on social media, disallowing people from having an opinion on a topic.  People can have an opinion on whatever they want.  You don't have to agree with it, or take it into account in your everyday life.  You don't even have to find it relevant or useful.  I'm not even saying all opinions should be weighed on equal ground: some people are ignorant and uninformed, and their opinions don't matter to me.  I try not to pay attention to them.  Yes, it's frustrating when people spread misinformation, and those people are assholes.  And today, Jamie Oliver isn't one of them.  But under no circumstances should we be rallying around in groups advocating to block people from the right to an opinion at all.  That is very dangerous ground to be walking on.

And this is where I feel like a true feminist:

Take this debate, change the topic, and tell women they have no right to an opinion on it?  That is clearly wrong and everyone would agree.  Why do Scary Mommies get to have it the other way around?