Throughout the feminist movement, and others in the politically correct world, they claim that if you are not a member of their group, whether it be race, gender, sexuality, etc… then you have no right to comment on the issues they face. Their argument is that since you cannot experience their issues through the lens they can, any opposition to their views is done from ignorance and “privilege”. This often comes up when men try to criticize liberal feminism, and debate women’s issues. While it is true that an outsider cannot experience the same things people in the group can exactly the same way, such as men and women having different experiences only they can, I argue this does not exclude the outsiders from making valid critiques and insights.
Within the context of the women’s movement, issues such as sexual assault, anything having to do with women’s bodies whatsoever, and what women think of men, are all examples of topics declared “off limits” to men. Any man who speaks his opinion on the issue is labeled as a “misogynist” and bigoted. If a man dare speak about abortion, if he is pro-life, is labeled as wanting to control women’s bodies, and his actual reasons are ignored. If a man speak up about accountability on women’s part in how they conduct themselves with men, it is heresy! Women in the workplace? Off limits too… These women argue that since a man has not experienced their struggles, he has no right to speak. However, this silences any dissent, since the only permissible opinion-holders come from women who agree with liberal feminism! While like I noted, it is true that men do not experience the world as a woman, many of the arguments made in the women’s movement for various issues by women are not so specific that they can only be critiqued by one gender! While the experience of certain issues are gender specific, arguments made for various positions transcend gender. No one can argue that certain women don’t feel a certain way about something in their personal experience, but factual evidence concluding that problems must be handled this way or that is open for anyone to debate. My view is, if the evidence is not gender-specific, then neither is the argument! Men who hold opinions about abortion, for instance, will never experience an unwanted pregnancy, however, arguments for or against abortion are often from an ethical standpoint involving the woman’s right to her own interests, and her unborn child’s as well, and can be argued by everyone. One does not need to have direct experience of an issue to argue a point.
Conversely, there is a double standard where women can criticize men’s issues and men albeit never having the same experiences of a man. Women do not know as a man would, the immense pressures of being a man in a world where traditional manhood is demonized as being sexist and misogynistic. They do not know the newfound pressures for every decent man who respects women to have to walk on eggshells to not offend women over innocuous words and comments. Women also do not know, as a man, the pressures to be “the man”, a heroic ideal of courage and physical strength that no man actually possesses. women are allowed to be vulnerable and emotional in ways men still cannot. While women have many issues they face in this life as women, we forget the many issues men face as well in society. With the politically correct logic in mind that one cannot argue a point outside of their direct experience, women should not be able to say anything about what men feel are issues for them in life!
Another thing of important note too, is that often arguments from personal experience are inherently biased, and mostly are just anecdotes to play on emotion, rather than the facts of the matter. No one can argue you do or don’t feel a certain way, or the validity of one’s inner emotions. Telling your own story of what happened to you personally, appeals to one’s emotions and sympathies, not one’s sense of reason and logic. A woman who shares an experience of being wronged by a man will gain sympathy, and many will not contradict her out of fear of being rude and insensitive, and “agree” to be sympathetic. Quantitative evidence, such as hard statistics speak better to validating a claim. One college student saying she was hurt at a party does nothing overall to the validity of the amount of danger of sexual assault on college campuses, for an example, but if she cited a source for that alleged “1 in 5” statistic, she might have a more solid foundation for arguing that claim. “I was victimized” is not an argument, it’s an appeal to emotion. Saying “1 in 5 women experience sexual assault, and here are my sources a, b and c…” is a valid form of evidence. Using appeals to emotion to silence others from making objective arguments with objective evidence, such as men, is flawed on many levels.
Having others critique your position, outside your own narrow group, adds new perspectives on issues. The problem is, is that it’s threatening, as now you are exposed to critique and criticism that was never brought up before, but for an intellectually democratic society, it must be done. Men commenting on women’s issues have the same right to an opinion on the topic as those who are affected by it. Indeed, everyone on all sides are affected in some way, men are quite affected by the new liberal feminist movement. Ladies, don’t dismiss an opinion just because it came from a man, or anyone else who doesn’t experience your issues directly. Arguments for a position can be made by anyone, as evidence is truly indiscriminate. It sees no gender, or race, or anything else. As factual evidence for any point is impartial in itself, in that valid evidence is not given a bias by someone, I argue anyone can use it! I will say this again: You don’t need direct experience to argue a point!
Lastly, I will say one thing from my personal experience, as while it does not validate my argument, I covered that above, it makes me feel strongly about this issue. Men like my own father, and others near and dear to me in my life, are often demonized by the radical feminists, for speaking their minds and are afraid to openly express their side of the story too. I argue to the politically correct people who think in these terms of silencing outsiders, you’re an outsider to my family. You do not know my male family members and close friends who have controversial opinions on a personal level. You claim they are bigoted, sexist, misogynist and have a contempt for women, but you yourself have no knowledge of their characters, and other dimensions to their personalities, and evidence from knowing them suggests, they indeed are not sexist and misogynistic human beings, but well reasoned and logical people. To say men like my father or uncle, or male friends are sexist for not being silent, offends me the same way they and I speaking our minds without knowing your issues personally may offend you. Ladies of Reason: Stand up for the men in your life. Let them have their voice too.
(“Nooo! You cannot have your own opinion, you sexist pig!!!”)