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15 February 2006 @ 12:31 pm
Men in Feminism?  
I’ve been asked for my pov on men in feminism. I can only respond with a personal perspective. Interaction and commentary from the community is invited and encouraged.

When we ask what feminism is grounded in, the first answer is, feminism is grounded in feminism. I know that sounds circular but let’s look at the alternative which is: feminism would be grounded in patriarchy because anything that isn’t feminism, is patriarchy. This is also why radical feminists question the ideologies of liberal feminism. Liberalism has central conceptual cardinals which are patriarchal. Having visited here, I turn and ask again, what is feminism grounded in? The answer is women’s experience.

I believe some of the most interesting differences (post-social in origin) between men and women are what men DO NOT SEE that women do see. Within feminism, this is understood as epistemological privilege. In other words, oppressed people are able to see differential outcomes that privileged people cannot and do not see. I think the things that men don’t see are truly remarkable.

There are more aspects of privilege that we often do not see. When you look at the work done, one of the things that women are invisibly charged with, is to do both the emotional work for men and to do the socially educate, guide and steer them. This is role related and is a universal tax placed upon women in relation to men. In a very real way, this often continues in feminism because of what feminism is. IF feminism is grounded in the material experiences of women – men have nothing to add, but still require educating, the traditional role. Feminisms rather mandates that men educate themselves and on of the primary roles for men in feminism is to educate other men. Feminism is a movement for women to obtain full access to socio-political rewards of society, and the only way we will ever do this will be to radically change society. It will be ours to unravel society down to the fundamental oppression which is gender. When we are finished a side product will be that men are liberated too. It must be remembered that the liberation of men is a side product of feminist pursuits. Feminism is not for the liberation of all people, but it will liberate all people because it is ours to eliminate the fundamental oppression. There is sort of a quandry or koan in all of this. As soon feminism is made about the liberation of all people, it becomes – NOT Feminism and cannot and will not accomplish it’s goals.

I am not an overall Daly fan because of her essentialism, but she has taught us many wonderful things. Men in feminist spaces generally divert the space. IF men say patriarchy hurts men too (PHMT), the proper feminist response is, “We’re really sorry. Go out there and change it.” What we don’t do is to enable patriarchy by making the traditional response, “Oh you poor baby.” You always have to look whether men are in feminism because the want to benefit women or themselves. Within feminism, we shouldn’t be hearing much from men. They should be out holding anti-rape seminars, repairing domestic violence clinics and working on their own issues, instead of making their issues – ours, yet another function of privilege.

I think there are other questions that I’ve always had. What happens when push comes to shove? (The only value in feminism for hypothetical is to illustrate). But suppose, suddenly feminist were in the verge of a major victory say of the magnitude of Roe. One has to remember that ROE didn’t cost men anything. What happens when a gain does cost men? Are they going to work against themselves? Did we not receive an answer to this in terms of the ERA? What I am positing is that relying on the support of men.

For all of these reasons, I question men being in feminism in any other capacity than I’ve described.

I have a married feminist friend and over the years, she has trained her husband (let’s not make that transparent) to the point that he is a pleasure to be around. I believe he does understand what feminists need from men and I believe that’s the proper question to ask.

There’s one more really unusual narrative. There was an ostensible man on a major feminist board and then a second, third and fouth. This individual had a masculine user name, but few took him to be male. Further more, the person over time showed clearly that they were woman-centered. I became friends with him. And we really, really curious at where this person was centered. “There is at least one good man”, I decided. But then other things began to really puzzle me. After really watching this person and how they approached the world and solved problems, I thought, “this person is not epistemologically male” and I watched other board members be absolutely astounded that this was a man even with the very male username. This person went through a period of avoiding me for months. When we did interact on MSN, there was ‘hint dropping and flight’. Finally it was shared, this person was changing class and would no longer be in class man but class woman. In a way, that was really disappointing. I have yet to find my one good man…….
 
 
 
fishyfem on February 16th, 2006 02:22 pm (UTC)
You bring up valid points...
Yet I think because women have been marginalized, we will stay marginalized as long as feminism remains just a womens' movement. And not only because we are women, but because we are half of society, and clearly, not even a substantial portion of that half is ready or willing to participate at this time.

Men often don't won't to be associated with feminism. Even women don't want to be, because we lose crediblity when we become women-identified, and proclaim that we want to be "just as good as" men.

I am interested in issues of race/ethnicity although I am Caucasian. I believe it is because I honestly care about those whom have suffered because of my, and my ancestors, greed. I certainly cannot speak FOR ethnic minorities, but I do care, and would like to learn more about the ways they have suffered because of what my own people have done to them. At the same time, I feel intimitaded; I do not want to turn Black Liberation into a White America issue.

I actually have more to say about men in feminism, but it is heading in a slightly different direction, so I will e-mail it to the list.

Take care.