Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Posted on the PreventConnect Listserv:
Q. You have stated that programs and campaigns involving men should be based on feminist principles. In a society that increasingly sees feminism as an 'F-word', how do you make these principles palatable for general consumption?

On this issue, I wrote the following in my report on violence prevention education in schools, now available here:

"Articulating an explicitly feminist understanding may be problematic among some audiences and stakeholders, as there is considerable ignorance of, and sometimes hostility to, feminism in the community. While the inclusion of feminist content on gender inequality and sexism is widely seen as necessary for effective programs, there is evidence of resistance among teachers and schools (and students themselves) to feminist approaches. As a result, some programs adopt gender-neutral content and offer individualistic frameworks that neglect social and structural factors sanctioning boys' and men's violence. However, a feminist conceptual framework is essential both to reflect scholarship on violence in relationships and families and to anchor the political commitments of the program."

Best wishes,

michael flood.

I totally agree - embracing the feminist framework is the way that prevention works. Feminism is best practice. But the question asked how. How do we explicitly operate in best practice feminist contexts without losing the participation of those we're trying to reach. How do we challenge the perceptions of feminism, integrate the import of feminist theory and contextualization into prevention education, and not shut down the people who most need to hear the messages (particularly when those are most likely the ones opposed to feminism and clinging to patriarchal privilege)? It's scary to leave the only structure you've know and been socialized to and step into a new world view. How do we move people along as gently and with as much love as possible, without hesitation?

Update: awesome thoughts from another commenter on the list
How do we develop sexual abuse prevention programs that do not
perpetuate the backlash against feminism, women? And why not question, why
is it that feminist principles have to do the work of making it palatable
while being attacked for being feminist? - Danica Anderson

Friday, December 11, 2009

Do Whatever Funky Shit

Here’s the self-improvement book I wanna see: Fuck the Dominant Paradigm: Stop Viewing Yourself in Terms of Dudes, Politics, Religion, Culture, Celebrities, Porn, and Internet Feminists, and Just Do Whatever Funky Shit You Like.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fighting oppressions

CrissLCox and I are having an interesting conversation on twitter that I thought I'd bring here to continue.

So far it's gone like this (used with permission):
DancingGrapes: Why do people think "feminist" means "screw everyone non-woman that's oppressed, we got our own problems"??? feminist=anti-oppression
CrissLCox: Our history is against us. Feminism started as white woman's movement, screw female minorities. We need to work to change it
CrissLCox: For example, in this health care debate, feminists are focused on abortion only. Where are trans women's health care issues?
CrissLCox:We need to make an effort to look outside cis women's needs & actively work for all oppressed groups; change our track record
DancingGrapes: I think feminists already are doing this work! We can always do more but shouldn't be misrepresented as not doing it at all.
CrissLCox: When you're part of the oppressed group, "some" is not good enough, esp when some fem leaders have actively excluded them

I can't (and wouldn't want to) speak for Criss, but I'd like to think through my thoughts out loud a bit and would love to hear more comments.

My general sense of activism has always been: I can't do all, but I can do some. To expound; there are a lot of issues important to feminism and fighting oppression, these all intersect and intertwine - oppressed also oppress, privileged comes and goes, and some are marginalized over and over again. I think all oppression comes from Patriarchy (some would argue that all oppression comes from Class. I think Class is a strategy of the Patriarchy). Therefore, some Feminists are concerned with the Environment, some with Abortion, some with Ability-rights, some with Class, some with Race, some with Orientation, some with Gender, some with Violence, some with ...

All of those are real and important and people really suffer because of the oppression associated with all our -isms (all of which I would argue support the Patriarchy). I recognize this, and support, admire, applaud feminists working against all these things.

But I can't do everything, I can do some things. I still have to live in this world, in this society. I still have to use gas to get to work, and can't always afford organic, and I can't go to every rally. But I spend my day job working against Gender Violence. Specifically Domestic and Sexual Violence. I work really hard against Gender Violence, and I spend a lot of time thinking and learning about it - but I still don't understand everything even in my little segment of the movement. And I know I know less about trans rights and disability and race and orientation. I've had varying exposure to each, but I feel like my role is to realize how little I know about each and to respect those who know more to lead the way.

I don't know much, for example, about Trans Rights (which I mention here, to be clear, because I understand it to be a part of feminism, deserving of advocacy, and trans-women as women). There are others who know FAR more, and know it from experience. It would be inauthentic, and not helpful for me to think my privileged allows me to comment. But I can read what these people are writing. I can support them in inclusion to Health Care Reform. I can feel the loss when someone is brutalized because of their body.

I think these things are all feminism, I think that we're all working towards the same end (of Patriarchy), but I know I can't do it on my own - so I'm looking to all my compatriots to help out, and I'll recognize where it's time to support others from the background rather than stand always on the stage.

What do you think? Is it really all or nothing? How do you negotiate your role(s) in the world? How do you navigate all the forms of oppression and all the struggles that need voice? What am I missing? I just know that we have to do this together, because sacrificing some for the benefit of others doesn't eliminate the problem, only by all working together can we come to an end that actually changes the world.

Update: GenderBitch wrote a post in response to this on specialization vs intersection. Read the post (and my comment). This ended up being surprisingly emotional for me. I'm thinking about it more so this definitely won't be the end of the conversation (I hope).