Reaction or Overreaction?

Overeaction: To react with unnecessary or inappropriate force, emotional display, or violence.

There was a gif on social media last week that had a man laughing with the words, ‘for every male reaction there is a female overreaction.’ And yes, yes unsurprisingly this angered me. It was a man rolling his eyes at all women and branding us drama queens and emotional wrecks who flip at the smallest of things. And maybe in some way I proved him right by feeling annoyed by it, but the main thing I thought was, has nothing changed? Are women still viewed as these highly strung and hugely emotive, sensitive little souls?

And then I went to Blogfest16 and was proved very wrong. Women are not meek, they are not mild and as Shappi Khorsandi said, they ‘are running the world.’ There were amazingly engaging panels filled with inspirational women talking about issues in a measured and thought provoking way. The panel sessions discussed female presence on line, looked at campaigns strong women have led and are leading and talked about finding your voice when others want to silence you. And yes, by ‘others’ the speakers often meant men, because in their experience it always was white men who were trying to silence them. White men who send threatening tweets and attempt to make these women disappear through fear, by sending vile tweets or leaving hideous comments often attacking the women and their children. Miranda Sawyer described them as drunk men in a pub who should be left well alone, and I agree.

But I also agree that not all men are like this, and that sadly the many who are ruin it for the good ones. But yesterday the good ones joined in. They criticised a phenomenal event for not acknowledging them. They were upset by the ‘man bashing,’ and whilst I concur that bringing men down is never a way to thrust women up, the attacks weren’t personal. They were in context, they were real. Damn right Jess Phillips MP should get cross when asked if her husband is going to ‘babysit’ their children. And hell yes Sara Khan should bash the men who threatened to gang rape her in every orifice.

Mumsnet’s tagline is ‘parenting for parents’ and I know, I KNOW that means everyone – for there are many different people who come under that umbrella – but the event was headlined by big female names and many of the sessions were clearly focussed on women and were obviously going to have a strong feminist vibe. And if you were a man and you attended those sessions then I am not sure what else you expected. And it makes me angry that in an environment that should have been a safe space for women to come together and support each other and scream loud and clear about inequality (many of us technically working for free now until 2017 thanks to the delightful gender pay gap) and for me that was tarnished by the men who felt they weren’t acknowledged or catered for.

The friend I went with is running a blog for her business. She is not a mummy blogger and she knew full well that in some of the sessions she would have to work hard to take what she was listening to and adapt it for her purpose. She expected it to be pro female and strongly feminist, trusted the strong line up, and wasn’t disappointed.

Why couldn’t the male attendees do the same? Of course Mumsnet are going to target the majority of the audience and they do not need the men there, or indeed at home in their own little filter bubble, criticising the event for not meeting their expectations.

Every day women are made to feel vulnerable and repressed and out of place in their lives or not good enough. Women have jobs purely because companies need to tick a box and employ a certain number of females. Mothers are made to feel inadequate for staying at home and raising children. They are over looked for jobs they could be awesome at if there’s a man interviewing next to them. If they judge critically they are seen as moaners, if they are unhappy they will be criticised for saying so.

Sara Khan rightly said that there is ‘nothing more dangerous than a female with an opinion,’ and last night on Twitter she was proved right after I attempted to point out the hypocrisy of a tweet only to then be called a hypocrite myself, with my point being completely twisted and misinterpreted. I was not belittling daddy bloggers. I was not turning everyday sexism around and being sexist. I was not saying men were not welcome at Blogfest. I was trying to point out how this is how women feel ALL the bloody time and get shot down for fighting against it. That isn’t hypocritical. That is the exact opposite. Why the hell we can’t have an event for women about women without having a man complaining about it and trying to turn it into something it isn’t destined to be is enraging. We do not need men taking over everything. I think women would like to keep certain things just for themselves. And damn right they should to.

Blogfest16 for me was diverse, thought provoking and inspiring and I think women are even more wonderful now than I did this time yesterday.

And that is what I am going to hold on to. And I know I am not overreacting when I say that women, we really can rule the world.

4 thoughts on “Reaction or Overreaction?

  1. Thanks for this, I didn’t pattend but I read the tweets (I think) and my initial thought was ‘welcome to our world’

    I hate the idea that feminism is about hating and belittling men. I know there are some feminists like that but that’s not a problem with feminism it’s a problem with humanity.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Jen. It helps me understand your position. I feel you have misunderstood mine – it’s unfortunate that our first contact about this was on Twitter, which rarely helps.

    You seem to think that men – by which you mean me – want to take over Blogfest or that we expect the bunting to be put out for us. That could not be further for the truth. This was my second Blogfest. I knew what to expect. I had read the agenda. I am interested in many of the issues covered in the sessions, which was why I came. I didn’t expect to be specially catered for (although larger portions all around at lunchtime would have been nice!) but I did not expect to be reduced to little more than the butt of jokes. Davina showed that it is possible to talk about female empowerment while respecting the man in her life. I don’t think I’m asking for all that much.

    Some of the examples you mentioned such as Sara Khan’s story were horrific examples of what men (and, dare I say it, women) sometimes do. I hope you will accept that I was as horrified by stories like this as the women in the audience no doubt were.

    Like it or not, Mumsnet’s tagline is ‘by parents, for parents’ and while I’m happy with the women-focused content – which I quite like, as none of the other networks have this kind of focus – it is an event that is open to dads too. I would much rather Blogfest was a women-only event – I’d happily respect that if that’s what people want. But someone in one of the sessions made the jibe about presenting “data that even men can understand”. Well, here’s my data. When my Twitter timeline is flooded with messages of concern and support from other mums at the event, I begin to think it’s not just me being sensitive. When more mums come up to me and say they agree to me face to face, I know it’s not just me. Now I know many people such as yourself feel that it’s not an issue. And I don’t know what the true split between one camp and the other is. But there is a split – the data tells me that there is.

    You also seemed to think that I have something against Blogfest. The opposite is true. I think there should be an event like this that allows a focus on the kind of issues that were discussed yesterday. I applaud the content. I merely question the delivery. All I have been attempting to do is to explain why I have been out off coming back for a third Blogfest. All I seem to get in response is people – many of whom weren’t even there – telling me that how I feel is wrong. Sorry, but how I feel is how I feel – there is no right or wrong.

    Anyhow, sorry for the ramble. I am genuinely appreciative of the fact that you chose to disagree with me directly. As was said in the campaigning session, the only way to bridge a divide is to actually talk to the other party and seek to understand their position first. I wish you had sought to understand mine first, but it happens on social media with all its immediacy and brevity. Ruth Hunt talked very eloquently about the importance of understanding the other as a means of establishing some kind of common ground. It was a great piece of advice.

  3. I’m sorry that the Twitter thread escalated the way it did. Your point is much clearer here than with a character constraint. I think Tim’s reply was sound too. I never actually attended Blogfest so have no grounds for complaint about what was or wasn’t said there, but your defence of it was what irked me. My interpretation of your Twitter comments was that women have felt oppressed and belittled and vulnerable for so long that finally men have had a brief and minuscule experience of what they have had to put up with for ages. What did we expect. Saying that the men should have known better, undermines how they feel, and as Tim said there is no right or wrong to feelings, you feel it or you don’t. When you say that when women judge critically they are seen as moaners, or if they are unhappy they will be criticised for saying so, it struck me as hypocritical that you then go on to criticise men for judging critically. I appreciate that the worst kind of men have set an horrific precedent in their treatment towards women, but rather than being critical of those men that feel as vulnerable or undermined as you have in the past, why not empathise with them rather than criticise them? This is clearly a subject that you are blindly passionate about, and it appears as though we both have polar opposite interpretations of how the events should impact on us, so I wanted to apologise for any ill feeling or upset that was caused on Twitter by me offering my thoughts on the matter.

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