So I began my last post by saying that, unusually for me, I had bought a women’s magazine. Well, the reason I bought it was for the cover story: “BEYONCÉ MARRIAGE MELTDOWN!” I’ve been intrigued by the press and public reactions to the recent story of Beyoncé’s sister attacking the former’s husband, Jay-Z, a video of which was captured on CCTV and subsequently leaked. I was interested enough in the press reaction to buy the magazine, but found myself feeling somewhat short changed. There was no new information, just ‘speculation’, ‘allegations’ and ‘rumours’. Fortunately, other articles have provided more debate and interest.
In turns the response to the attack has been to laugh it off as a “playground fight” or to hold it up as a prime example of double standards and feminist hypocrisy. Many people commenting on articles written about the event have recognised the inherent double standards in the reporting.
I found myself inhaling very deeply and steeling myself as one person declared that “Feminism denies that there is any kind of problem anywhere with female on male domestic violence”. Er, really? FEMINISM denies it? Well, I’d better go and have a word with this ‘Feminism’. I thought we were friends, but now I’m not so sure.
Someone else had it in for poor old Feminism too. “I can see that the usual feminist suspects aren’t here jumping up and down telling us how men need to be reprogrammed to reduce violence. They’ve probably all conveniently gone on holiday at the same time.” I was initially outraged by all these feminist-bashing comments.
As a self-defining feminist, I’m in favour of improving the lot of women. Sure, domestic violence against men is terrible, but it’s not my fight. There are billions of men in the world who could campaign against woman-on-man domestic violence. I’ve got other things to fight for that are more important to me personally.
Then I had a chat with the boyfriend, who suggested that, if what Feminism wants is equality, then perhaps feminists should think about sticking up for men as well as women. It got me thinking. I’ve always known that Feminism has an image problem. That’s why I have to use a word like “unashamedly” to prefix my feminist status. I wouldn’t have to if there wasn’t an implicit suggestion that there is some kind of shame associated with being a feminist.
I’ve often thought about my role in the feminist movement. And I’ve often come to the conclusion that, whilst women’s rights are something I feel very strongly about, it’s not my job to persuade the rest of the world to feel the same way. But perhaps I should acknowledge a bit more responsibility.
Looking through the comments below the article again, I found myself nodding with some. “Double standard innit” one writer noted, “Imagine if he had been a white man and attacked his sibling’s partner. There’d be Guardian-sponsored pitchfork mobs.” One commenter thought it “Shocking treatment of a male domestic abuse victim”.
I do believe it is true that if this was a man-on-woman attack (irrespective of skin colour) there would have been a different reaction. Less lol-ing, more disgust.
Following the #EverydaySexism feed on Twitter, I know that the overwhelming majority of reports of sexism come from women. But there is the odd comment from men, too, and it’s important that these don’t get lost or dismissed. As one woman put it, “Behind every great man … there’s probably nobody, he COULD just be awesome. #everydaysexism”.
Unlikely as it may sound, Beyoncé’s sister beating up her brother-in-law has changed my approach to Feminism somewhat. From now on I’m going to be more aware of the issues facing men as well as women. From a personal position, the progress of women’s status in society must be my priority. But I recognise that the situation is not perfect for men either, and when I see injustice – to men or to women – on account of gender, I will make it my mission to challenge it.