Friday, February 1, 2008

Feminist men

I feel a tension... both in
myself and in the movement about how men fit into Feminism.

The tension comes from various places/questions... some of which
are mine, others posed by others that have stayed with me... many of
which I honestly haven't yet fully identified. Questions like:

- How can I balance a sense of (my personal and other's)
responsibility to do personal work with that of dismantling
inequities? (See next point for better explanation)

- How can men be granted the space to explore (healthy) masculinities
and to break out of traditional roles while understanding the impact
and responsibility that comes with having the social power to
explore... and without taking away from the time I should be putting
into our supporting roles that I feel we owe the movement?

- How can men be effectively prepared for critique, resentment or open
disdain from men AND women... potentially those they care about?

- Where is the line between using patriarchal privilege as a tool for
"good" and when it is simply a tool of oppression?

- AND how can I/we make sure I/we stay on the "good" side?

- Where is the line between sexual attraction and objectification?

- How does a man in our culture learn to know exactly where that line
is if he desires to end sexist objectification and rape culture?

- What do we do when confronted with men who use the Feminist label
and Feminist-type arguments to inflate their own (patriarchal) egos or
agendas?

-AND is it forgivable if I sometimes am that guy? How do I know?

To prove to (mainly) myself and others that I'm not alone in these
questions... and perhaps to give a better discussion of related issues,

Three blogs of interest along this line:

http://girlbomb.typepad.com/blog/2006/01/feminist_men_ox.html

a male feminist response to questions raised regarding the above,
http://hugoboy.typepad.com/hugo_schwyzer/2006/05/someone_named_t.html

www.feministallies.blogspot.com

and:
http://trishwilson.typepad.com/blog/2004/08/feminist_issues.html


I think even participating in the conscious struggle is incredible. Let's discuss...

3 comments:

Nate said...

who wrote the list -- it looks like it was copy/pasted out of an e-mail or other source...

Kate said...

It's from a listserve on VAW. Would you like the bibliography in MLA or ASA?

Nate said...

MLA please....but seriously, I wanted to make sure I wasn't walking into the middle of an already-loaded discussion you'd had with someone. With that cleared up, here are my thoughts:

I think a lot of the issues mentioned, in particular points 2, 4, 6, & 9, are decisions which need to be made gradually over time by society as a whole. Pressing things like 3, 5, 7, & 8 into clear view to society as a whole will help develop the boundaries for both gender's roles in the future.

One of the most difficult places to begin will probably be preparing men for critique about their behavior. That, and getting men to make a conscious decision between sexist objectification and rape culture and opening our eyes to the behaviors of both options. We (men) have it pretty good right now, and it's going to be a struggle to make us see how much better things can be for everyone with less gender bias in society.

That said, I think the best place to begin is for women to be open with their loved ones about their feelings toward correcting gender bias and make them aware that behavioral observations and occasional corrections come with the relationship. Open discussion is obviously a must, but isn't this a basic building block for a healthy relationship anyway?

Why do women have to do the work here? Because men won't start the movement on our own - most of us barely notice the gender bias because it's so ubiquitous now. Specific daily examples need to be brought to our attention and discussed (like sexist advertisements!).

I also wouldn't solely confine this discussion to men. I would imagine there are women too who present matriarchal beliefs, so reaching a point where both genders can work together toward even standings in society is extremely critical. Obviously the whole point of Humanism currently is that our society is extremely male biased, but let's not forget that although unbalanced, there are two sides here.