Who’s Afraid of a Feminist? And Why?



Scary stuff, eh?

Placing these images on the Internet was only the third frightening thing that 17-year-old Jinan Younis did this year.

Here’s the first:

A group of men in a car started wolf-whistling and shouting sexual remarks at my friends and me. I asked the men if they thought it was appropriate for them to be abusing a group of 17-year-old girls. The response was furious. The men started swearing at me, called me a bitch and threw a cup of coffee over me.

In response to this and concerns about other ways girls suffer – eating disorders, abusive relationships, and pressure to put out – she started a feminist group. She didn’t anticipate how ominously boys in her peer group would find it:

They took to Twitter… One boy declared that “bitches should keep their bitchiness to their bitch-selves #BITCH” and another smugly quipped, “feminism doesn’t mean they don’t like the D, they just haven’t found one to satisfy them yet.” Any attempt we made to stick up for each other was aggressively shot down with “get in your lane before I [ridicule] you too,” or belittled with remarks like “cute, they got offended.”

Next, girls were photographed with white boards that completed the sentence “I need feminism because…” and posted on the Internet. The response?

We were told that our “militant vaginas” were “as dry as the Sahara desert,” girls who complained of sexual objectification in their photos were given ratings out of 10, details of the sex lives of some of the girls were posted beside their photos, and others were sent threatening messages warning them that things would soon “get personal.”

Luckily, most guys don’t act that way.

But why do these guys feel so threatened?

I suspect they are insecure in their manhood.

In a world that ranks men above women, many men feel under constant pressure to prove their manhood — that they deserve that high status. And any move toward equality threatens their higher ranking — along with their whole concept of manhood.

It all reminds me of a gang rape.

Gang rapes are usually perpetrated by gangs, fraternities and more macho sports teams like football and baseball. Why? These guys are trying to prove their manhood to each other, defined as: superior to women, dominating, aggressive, tough, violent. And by putting down women they uphold their rank as men.

Similarly, the young men’s vitriol spewed at Jinan Younis and friends likely created a sense of superiority while demonstrating to the other guys just how aggressive, violent and dominating they can be.

If they felt secure in their manhood they wouldn’t have to work so hard to “prove” it.

Little do they know that they are demonstrating the exact opposite of what they intend, trumpeting their insecurities.

For more of these terrifying images, go to Upworthy. And for more on Jinan Younis’ story, see The Guardian.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 23, 2013, in feminism, men, psychology, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Are men the only people hesitant to learn more about the true intentions of feminism? So many generalizations are made everyday about the issues that women go through on a daily basis and this apparent “fear” is not unique to only men. Women that I have talked to about feminist ideas are offended by some feminist statements they’ve heard about or read about. These days feminism has a greater outlet to spread awareness with the help of the internet, causing younger and younger audiences to be exposed to the importance of feminism in the lives of both men and women. It is surprising to see how reluctant people are to recognize the social obstacles that roughly half of the wold’s population deals with. You would think that in this day in age where there is so much acceptance, we still have a long way to go to reach equality.

  2. actually i don’t so agree when you said that men are always no 1 in everything and i feel weird if men feel insecure until rape a women (rape is bad anyway)

    but why sometimes i frustated by feminist because first my society only sexualize women body or believe that women body are more respected so if there’s a same case happen but to different gender there’s a double standard perception, like my experience where i saw a drunk women using bikini (which is forbid by my society law) people tend to help that women immidiately because they respect women but when situation reverse i saw a crazy mentally ill old men even already naked NOBODY care, society both men and women seen that naked men as a “prank” (this happened when i was kid even women laugh at that naked men)

    there’s other case my experience also that a female cleaning service can enter male toilet where many men still peeing i saw this several time and tolerated by my society, this Piss me off !! because when the situation where reverse men enter female toilet it will be labelled as disrespecting women or men are perveted but since female that enter male toilet its okay plus men bathroom have urinal place where men piss openly.

    we should not have a double standard either to men side or women side, that’s why i feel insecure about feminist

  3. overcoming depression

    I agree with your observation that “In a world that ranks men above women, many men feel under constant pressure to prove their manhood”. One might even think that this underleying fear is the root cause of a lot of atrocities. The stereotypes of “man” as well as “women” which is present and get propogated in the popular culture is harmful for both men as well as women. We can see that the the “steryotypical man” man of the popular culture is putting constant pressure on the ordinary men. It generates a lot of trobules including violance. By saying this,no way I am intending to say that these men are merely captivated in the social structure and are helpless. Nonetheless, we need to pay attention to the root causes of these troubles. We need to stop thinking of ‘man’ as a heroic, strong, adventerous, dominating, aggressive so on and so forth and ‘women’ as a tender, beautiful, calm, passive etc. We need to realise that we all are peole who are having different shades of theese charecterisitics. Men need not feel the pressure to be alike like the “steryotypical man” of herosims or “women” need not constatnly worry about becoming the “steryotypical women” of incredible beauty. We shuld not be fooled by the ultra masculine bodies and ultra feminine bodies seen in the films and advertisements.

    • So true. Both women and men need to reintegrate their whole humanity.

      • overcoming depression

        May be there is a lot of academic work is required which can show how these factors affects in various social groups. May be some concrete suggestion as to how t o tackle such issues are also to be thought about. May be kids should be made aware of such aspects of our society; may be primary education can do that task. any thought on that?

      • If you look at social patterns, both in the United States and cross culturally, what we know is that men who behave this way tend to feel insecure in their manhood, and threatened by women who claim equality to them. So you tend to get this sort of thing more among young men who are still trying to prove their masculinity here, as well as cultures in which women are rapidly increasing in power and status like India. Also Egypt where women are increasingly demanding that they need a role in government, too.

      • overcoming depression

        Yes; that makes sense.

  4. Yeah, I wonder what those guys would say or do if their remarks were only to be viewed by women and they were aware of this. Men seem to do these things for other men, which seems a bit homoerotic.

  5. Rohan 7 Things

    Great post Georgia, didn’t know about this until you shared it! Yeah, most violence and threat comes from feelings of insecurity, so I think you’re definitely onto something!

    Thanks for sharing.


  6. I hate reading things like this and hate it when women are treated as sex objects.

    I have 4 brothers and would die if I heard them talk like that. Thank goodness they don’t and nor do my 2 sons. The net can sometimes be very damaging for some people.

    I hope your having a great weekend. Hugs to you. Paula xxx

  7. Remarkable post .You have an impressive back ground .l like your message in life.l taught in the Arab Gulf States and in Iraq . A woman is still considered 1/2 man. Its a male ruled societies .No rights ,no freedom ,no equality yet for women.My writings about the atrocities committed against women forced me to leave that region.My regard for visiting my blog.jalal

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