Man Hatred OK At
University Of New Hampshire

By Shannon O'Neil
The New Hampshire (University Newspaper)

Feminism and controversy surged throughout campus on March 10. Black and white flyers depicted a drawing of a woman grasping onto a hammer with "FEMINISM" on the handle. In the middle of the female symbol fists were clenched and space above the woman read: "If I had a hammer...I'd SMASH Patriarchy." A bubble by her face said, "I FOUND IT!"
UNH students found it, too.
Approximately 40 people attended the Patriarchy Slam organized by the Feminist Action League (FAL). ..The event, featuring poetry readings, skits, monologues and an open microphone, was designed to give women a space to share their experiences of oppression in a comfortable setting, Megan Smith, a member of the FAL, said.
"[The event was designed to] encourage women to confront the perpetrators who are men," Smith said. "Ninety-nine percent of sexual perpetrators are men. They are the root cause of the rape and oppression against women."
The FAL's hatred of the patriarchy, a male-ruled society, was decoratively affirmed with 10 hanging balloons, each displaying a letter of the word "patriarchy." Each was dramatically popped throughout the event, symbolizing the eradication of the patriarchy.
"This is a place where women can feel empowered," Smith said. "There aren't many places in the world where women can speak out against those who have oppressed us, beat us and raped us."
The name of the event mimics the aggression that men exert, Smith said.
"'Slam' is an aggressive word, but slamming is the classic way men respond," she said. "They feel threatened and shape it as hate. It's an aggressive word, but it shouldn't get in the way of our message."
...Monologues by members of the FAL poked fun at feminist stereotypes and set the tone of an evening of sarcasm and wit.
"Hello, my name is Mary Man-Hating-Is-Fun," one participant said. "I am 23 years old, and I am what a feminist looks like. Ever since I learned to embrace my feminist nature, I found great joy in threatening men's lives, flicking off frat brothers and plotting the patriarchy's death. I hate men because they are men, because I see them for what they are: misogynistic, sexist, oppressive and absurdly pathetic beings who only serve to pollute and contaminate this world with war, abuse, oppression and rape."
Members of the FAL wore scissors around their necks, as members of the audience lightheartedly sang a song about castration.
One woman told tales of five of her friends who have been raped, one, tragically, by a stepfather. Another talked about being ridiculed for her virginity, another of being discriminated against for a lesbian relationship, and another of witnessing her mother's boyfriend sexually abuse her.
Others spoke of oppression and sexual assault here on campus. Through passionate and at times tear-choked words, the MUB became a sexist battle zone at lunch hour, and bulletin boards in dorms became canvasses for chauvinistic, offensive graffiti.
The issue of men's entitlement to women's bodies for sexual pleasure was raised by one woman. She claimed that she's been told by men that dancing provocatively at clubs is "just asking" for rape.
"Why does my dancing have to be about pleasing them? Why can't it just be about me?" she asked.
Women's magazines were also targeted as FAL members denounced the sex expert of a popular publication. The experts, they said, encourage women to give in to men's sexual fantasies, even if they don't feel comfortable or even have a medical condition that would make the acts painful.
"Thanks for reminding me that the purpose of sex is male pleasure and entitlement!" one FAL member sarcastically exclaimed.
"This is what women get for advice when they don't like it or feel uncomfortable or have an illness! This is rape!" Smith stated.
The connection between rape and pornography was also explored.
Whitney Williams read quotes from pornography sites, one of which described giving women vodka and then having sex with them.
"What does it sound like? Rape!" she exclaimed.
"We're told porn is sexually arousing to women, but porn looks a lot like rape to us," Smith said. "It's encouraging a rape culture."
A skit about a controversial Socratic Society meeting asserted that women who watch pornography are traitors to women.
"Women who use porn are being complicit in the oppression of women," one woman said. "They are legitimizing an industry that enslaves women and they are traitors to their gender."
But not every woman in the audience agreed.
One woman walked onto the stage and nervously stated that she'd been contemplating speaking for a long time. ..."I like porn. And guess what? I've been raped," she said. "I'm not a gender traitor. I take control of my sexuality, and rape isn't always as clearly cut as we think. Some women like sex. You're fighting yourself if you turn on women who like porn."
The woman walked out of the room and left a stunned and silent audience behind.
A member of the FAL then spoke in rebuttal, stating, "If you like porn, you're ignoring the fact that many women are sexually trafficked into this industry." She continued that 30 percent of all pornography is made against the women's will and that 75 percent of women were raped or sexually abused before they were porn stars.
But just as the FAL is infuriated with our society's obsession with pornography, some people, like David Huffman, a contributor for UNH's conservative publication "Common Sense," were offended by the event's messages. Huffman also was the only audience member who was asked to leave during open microphone. The reason: women would feel uncomfortable with him there, members of the FAL said.
"It was advertised as a public event, nowhere did the posters say 'Women Only,'" Huffman said. "They excluded me from a public event based upon my gender. There were a few other men there who were allowed to stay, but I was singled out in particular. Excluding one person from a public event is almost impossible to justify unless they are disruptive, which I was not. This is discrimination."
"[This] was an evening of man hating. This is no different than any other extremist organization that...promotes stereotypes," Huffman said.
He found the subject of castration particularly offensive.
"The poems that talked about castrating men were threatening, along with the scissors the girls wore around their necks," he said. "Ms. Smith read a poem where she said that she was proud to hate men. How is this any different than hating African-Americans or Jews?
"What I heard last night was not feminism; it was a hate rally," he continued. "I went there with an open mind, thinking the patriarchy was only that group of sexist, chauvinists that discriminate against women. Ms. Smith said that all men are the enemy. This is clear cut sexism and blind hatred."
But Rob Wolff, a member of the Men Against Patriarchy, an organization that is considered an ally to the FAL, thinks that the event's messages were justified.
"Women have to face threats from men everyday all their lives in subtle and obvious ways," Wolff said. "I hope men are confronted. That's what it's going to take. Events like this are the beginning of a women's revolution."
And this women's revolution, he argued, is not initiated by a sexist organization.
"That view is fundamentally misguided," Wolff said. "Sexism is a weapon against the chronically disempowered. Men are empowered by society and anyone who claims the FAL is sexist is missing the point."
Although Huffman may have been outnumbered at the Patriarchy Slam, he certainly isn't alone on campus: Williams' columns have sparked a flood of angry op-ed responses, showing that the members of the FAL aren't the only ones on campus using words to slam.
First published March 25, 2005



This Site Served by TheHostPros