The Vagenda

The Penis Perspective: Thoughts From a Male Feminist

You don’t need to look at all the cars, guns and enormous phallic spires with bells on the end around the place to realise the world is pretty cock-heavy at the moment.

So much of the world today is made to fit male requirements and public debate seems to be mainly made among men. On top of this there is mounting pressure on everyone, especially women, to look flawless.

Many women are scared to poke their head over the parapet in serious debate lest they get shot down for wearing the wrong lipstick. Along with fluffing their chance there’s the worry they’ve now ruined it for any other woman to have a go. The men humour the silly dear and then get back to the ‘real decisions.’

Even putting old farty gender discrimination aside, should someone be attractive in order for us to listen to them? Let alone reasonable, is that even rational? If school taught me one thing, it was that the prettier the girl, the less you remember about what she said.

Much worse than making women feel undervalued, or even unvalued, the biggest crime in this imbalance is that we so often fail to benefit from women’s wisdom; the wisdom of stoicism, of oppression and the wisdom of maternity.

A remarkable woman, who manages to be a patient and generous mother to four people, dedicated and respected in her workplace as well as managing to find time to keep one step ahead of the mob in two of her passions; fashion and music; my mother, although she’d never feel like this, is a woman who somehow gets it right.

Although I’m sure it’s natural to believe that your mum is the greatest, she’s the most intelligent person I know.

That’s not to say that my father isn’t also an extremely canny, quick-witted and organised man but his realm is more facts and figures, science and geography. This was what I was always led to believe was a ‘masculine’ intelligence

There are many associations made about types of intelligence, if you can’t take apart a Rolls Royce Merlin engine and name every Premiership goalkeeper since 92 then you’re not a real man. Equally if you can’t feed ten from scratch while knitting jumpers for them all (looking effortlessly fuckable the whole time) then you’re not a proper woman. We pin unwieldy expectations on both sexes.

These assumptions are made based on outdated models of intelligence. Learning is not just remembering facts, as our archaic school system seems to dictate. The ‘emotional’ intelligence, which always seems to be portrayed as feminine and unsure, is very often lacking from our collective judgements.

Another great woman I know is constantly berating herself for changing her mind as if this makes her less intelligent. Being flexible and adapting is what proper intelligence is. There is nothing stupider than thinking that you know it all. Unwillingness to learn is the opposite of intelligence.

Even if we look at our biology there are further clues that we are not as clever as we think we are with men in the driving seat. The different ways that we have sex hold clues that a woman’s perspective might be worth considering a little deeper. Men traditionally always impart something whereas women take something on board, isn’t that interesting?

Fast isn’t always better than slow and getting there first won’t always make you a winner, eh lads?

Competition is great, indeed survival requires it, but I think we might be a little more evolved than settling for that. It isn’t everything.

Business is a big part of life, but it is not life, just like men aren’t the only humans. The capitalist model is based on this old-fashioned ‘masculine’ model. If more value was placed in the work that women do than they could perhaps gain better economical recognition and we would see more women in positions of power.

The off-the-shelf excuse for the disparity in how the sexes are treated in employment is always that women ‘go off and have babies.’ Indeed many do. I fear we might be looking at this the wrong way though.

Perhaps women aren’t ‘going off’ and having babies. Perhaps nurturing and educating people is the main event and all that other stuff is ‘going off’.

Perhaps if the bearing and upbringing of human beings was not seen as a distraction from the real work then our lives might be in a better place.

- Will Conway

8 thoughts on “The Penis Perspective: Thoughts From a Male Feminist

  1. Alright, this I take issue with, largely because it’s full of non sequiturs and other nonsense.

    “The different ways that we have sex hold clues that a woman’s perspective might be worth considering a little deeper. Men traditionally always impart something whereas women take something on board, isn’t that interesting?”

    How on earth does an accident of evolution (the way we have sex) have anything to do with any possible psychological differences between men and women? Quite apart from the fact that it isn’t even an accurate depiction of sex in all its varieties (women never penetrate? Really? Men are always “imparting” – really?) it’s about the lamest argument I ever heard for the value of a feminine perspective. Just where is the connection you’re trying to imply?

    “Learning is not just remembering facts, as our archaic school system seems to dictate. The ‘emotional’ intelligence, which always seems to be portrayed as feminine and unsure, is very often lacking from our collective judgements.”

    Do you have kids? Do they go to primary school? I think it’s your picture of schooling that’s archaic. Never the mind the fact that without some basis of facts, knowledge and wisdom are impossible to achieve.

    “the wisdom of stoicism, of oppression and the wisdom of maternity.”

    You can have the maternity one, but to suggest that the “wisdom of stoicism, of oppression” is uniquely female in any way at all is nonsense. Hopefully I don’t have to point out why.

    Overall, I think this full of rotten logic, even coming across at times as condescending. It strongly implies that “nurturing and educating” is something that women should and do have a near-monopoly on; that emotional intelligence, non-aggression and anything other than the most boorish alpha-male conduct are special feminine traits, and raising a family is the “work that woman do”.

    All of which is just not true, and simply puts women back in the same old sexist box that’s been used to keep women out of the workplace for generations. Y’know, the box labelled “caring, mothering, nurturing” that said women would never succeed in competition. And that’s just bull, as anyone would know if they looked around them for more than 5 seconds.

    Nor does this piece make anything faintly resembling a practical suggestion regarding workplace inequality. If you want a career in a chosen field you have to pay your dues, which isn’t unreasonable. Surely the most important thing is to make it as easy as possible for women who make that choice to do just that, and not run into any artificial obstacles or glass ceilings.

  2. Agreed.

    Can I also add that I was rather dismayed by the horrible implication that women are slow! (“Fast isn’t always better than slow and getting there first won’t always make you a winner, eh lads?”) What are you getting at here? That women are slow-witted (unlike your father)? That they are physically sloth-like? That they are not competitive? That they are lazy?

    If you are making an assertion about gender identity as based on physical difference I think you should tread very carefully. Believing that biology has a true impact is what got us the “caring, mother, nurturing” female stereotype mentioned in the comment above. It also got us the hysterical woman and the dark-and scary-disease-rinden-vaginal-cave, so key to misogyny, and on the other hand got us your hard and fast male cumming machine.

    Women ejaculate too!

  3. Dude, this is a piece about one guy’s personal thoughts on feminism. Thankfully, many guys we know have been brought up by feminist mums who have taught them to respect women, which can only be a good thing. I don’t think he is suggesting that nurturing is ‘women’s work’, but that raising children is often work that women do, which is an entirely different beast. I certainly know that my mum wishes that her efforts on the child and domestic front had been more recognised as an important contribution to society. Also you have to take it into account that, when people come to a movement, they often haven’t got it all figured out (hell, we know we haven’t). It’s a learning process. But picking apart an article that is meant kindly and which, we think, is rather sweet, isn’t exactly going to encourage more men to contribute to the debate.

  4. I think the piece makes the point – rather well – that there are many different kinds of intelligence and contribution to society and that we should be a little less rigid in our categorisations of what is “good” and “bad”, and “male” and “female”. If we are all going to manage to live together across cultures, races, genders on our globe, that is going to require more flexibility of thinking, more contributions from everybody of their unique skills and talents, not less. And much more important, that it is not all about who earns the money, which is our current societal measure of power and status.

    For the record, I am a 70′s raised feminist, with 2 born in the ’90′s daughters who assume they are equals with men. As one of the first girls to go to Magdalen College, Oxford, I had to contend with ‘there’s no point educating her, she’ll just have babies” and academics there who actively voted against the arrival of women. I hope my girls will not have to deal with the tyranny of “appearance” instead.

  5. I truly loved this piece as he had the perfect line “business is a big part of life, but it is not life. Just like men are not the only humans” I thought that was a really beautiful interpretation. I completely agree also with the fact that the “nurturing and education” of the future generation is a tad more important than the so called “real work” we apparently dismiss. The work of women should be celebrated and promoted, with no references to appearance. This of course is an idealistic theory but one certain people should definitely take into consideration. Thank you, Will, for your view I thought it was a thoughtful and interesting one that I happen to mostly agree with.

  6. “But picking apart an article that is meant kindly and which, we think, is rather sweet, isn’t exactly going to encourage more men to contribute to the debate.”

    oh so now the blokes are the delicate souls who have to be positively discriminated ? Per-lease! Robust criticism is always called for lest we lapse into blanket acceptance! Let’s not settle for “sweet” when we can hope for well-reasoned :)

  7. Bah, I liked this. Thanks Will!

    Though if we’re playing at pulling this apart, isn’t it interesting how we hero-worship our mothers and the type of women our mothers are seems to set the bar for success among other women we might meet?

  8. There are some good intentions here. However, there are definitely some male feminists who have a better grip on contemporary feminism (and who might be able to keep up with your standard humour levels) who could write a ‘penis perspective’ for you, Vagenda. I don’t think we (feminists) need to lower our standards!

    I’m kind of distressed that people keep saying “the work of women” etc in these comments like we shouldn’t call bullshit on that. Raising children is important and should be celebrated and valued alongside business, medicine, law etc. Why does that mean we should expect only one sex to do it??

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