Ask the Feminist: Feminist Men and Patriarchal Women

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GMP’s resident feminist, HeatherN, tackles more questions from our “Ask the Feminist” series. 

Welcome to the second instalment of my Ask the Feminist series. The first set of answers generated a lot of really interesting conversation, and I’m hoping this second set will do the same. If you’d like to ask a question, just go ahead and do so in the comments. Alternatively, you can e-mail me at [email protected].

John and Bay Area Guy both asked about how some feminists still adhere to old, traditional gender stereotypes. The answer is that living feminism is hard. Basically, feminism’s about defying social expectations and going against the grain. The problem, of course, is that going against the grain usually results in a lot of ridicule and mockery. Plus, it’s exhausting to be constantly aware of how your words and actions are either contributing to the status quo or defying it.

I’ll give you two examples. 1) When I was in high school I once got into an argument with a guy friend of mine who really wanted to pay for my movie ticket. He was trying to be polite; I was asserting my belief that chivalry should die. We argued; I may have yelled a bit, and eventually I convinced him to keep his money and let me pay for myself. 2) Sometimes when I’m on a crowded bus, a man will offer his seat so I can sit down. I will always refuse because, as I said, chivalry should basically die. Often, the man will ignore my refusal and stand up anyway, and then look at me expectantly. I end up sitting down because it feels rude not to.

So the first example is about me living my feminism. The second is about me giving into a patriarchal system, because it was easier and more polite. So, should I argue with the stranger next time he offers me his seat? It’d be more feminist, but it’d also be pretty rude. I could just ignore it when the guy stands up, but that ends up being awkward. Unfortunately, at the same time feminists are trying to change our society, we’re still living in it.

NotJustAGirl and J.A. Drew Diaz asked whether feminism excludes men, and Alastair asked what feminism contributes to a conversation about masculinity. Actually, quite a few questions touched on the issue of men in feminism. I could probably write an entire article about what feminism has done for men (but it turns out Justin Cacsio already has, here). But of course, I will provide my own answer too. I put the question to Twitter, and a friend of mine responded by saying his, “main selfish reason to support feminism,” was that feminism, “fleshed out multiple masculinities, allowing men to realise we can be men in different ways.” That, I think, is the big thing feminism offers men: the framework in which to think about “man” as a flexible social identity, and not the gender default.

Feminists talk a lot about what’s wrong with modern masculinity. The term “toxic masculinity” gets tossed around quite a bit, and I use it fairly often myself. What feminism is also about, though, is figuring out what sorts of masculinities can replace the toxic version. To be clear, on the whole, feminists don’t think that masculinity is inherently toxic; our society has just created one that is. So we need to re-think masculinity, and figure out what bits are positive and what bits are negative. Jackson Katz’s TEDx talk touches on this issue of rethinking what it means to be a man, specifically in terms of being bystanders to violence. He asks, “How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?” And that’s a very feminist sort of question. It’s precisely the sort of thing we’ve been asking about women in feminism, and now it’s something we’re asking about men too.

 

 

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About HeatherN

Heather N. is a Californian living in the United Kingdom. In order to survive, she has developed a keen appreciation for the color grey, rain, and sausage rolls. She spends far too much time reading, writing, blogging, and gaming. You can also find her saying witty things on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mike L says:

    Why isn’t it a problem that women, often acting in “women only” spaces are trying to define masculinity?

    I have heard feminists say that it’s important for feminism to prioritize female voices, and that a large problem with patriarchal society is that structures created and run by men often try and police the behavior of women.

    But how is this fundamentally different from women who self-identify as feminist talking in feminist spaces, which prioritize the voices of women (and in some instances are women-only), about how they would like to see masculinity defined? How is this fundamentally different from men determining how women should act? I’m having a hard time seeing a difference here?

    Even if it’s noble for feminists to try and create “new masculinities,” shouldn’t they be ceding leadership in such discussions to men, and taking on the “supporting role” that they advocate for male allies in discussions of women’s roles?

    It seems like feminism is awfully interested in getting men out of discussions on the status of women, but then also very interested in discussing the status of men without a lot of concern about the level of male input.

    But, I guess, even more fundamentally, why aren’t feminists concerned with asking women to “stand up” to women who enforce traditional masculinity? Why is Jezebel comfortable asking men to “stand up” to other men when it comes to the patriarchy, but then on he same day Jezebel is comfortable running an article that makes fun of erectile dysfunction? Isn’t making fun of erectile dysfunction part of enforcing traditional masculinity? Isn’t the demand that men “stand up” to patriarchy without simultaneously demanding the women stand up to “patriarchal women” a major problem?

    • So first, the question of whether feminists should “cede leadership in such discussions to men” kind of misses the part where I mentioned how a lot of men are feminists. You ask about male input: my Twitter friend I mentioned is male, that TEDx video is done by a man, Justin Cacsio is a man…a bunch of people I mentioned in the first set of answers are men. Hugo Schwartz just wrote a little blurb here about male feminists: http://www.hugoschwyzer.net/2013/05/08/ten-male-feminist-allies-you-should-know/ So, feminism definitely isn’t ignore men’s input. Feminism and men aren’t separate…well, I mean, they’re as separate as feminism and women. Feminism and gender studies are about examining gender…and “man” is also a gender.

      Now feminism does prioritise women’s voices, and the reason is precisely what you said: mainstream conversations prioritise men’s voices. Part of how you combat this is to give women a voice. The difference is the power these voices are given. Men’s voices are considered the default and the mainstream automatically gives men’s voices power. (A caveat, here, of course for issues of ethnicity, class, race, sexuality, etc. Intersectionality). Women’s voices, on the other hand, are not given the same weight…are not given the same power. So feminist spaces seek to give women’s voices power.

      • Mike L says:

        I don’t feel like my questions got answered.

        The base question was: “Why are feminists comfortable defining masculinity in spaces that often don’t include male voices?”

        The answer to this is not “There are some spaces where men speak about masculinity.” That answer doesn’t address those spaces where there aren’t male voices, which was the source of the question. In Law School we call that “fighting the hypothetical.”

        Even if there’s no real answer to the above question, the follow-up which looks something like “Shouldn’t leadership be ceded to men in discussions on masculinity?” is also not answered by saying “There are some men discussing masculinity.” This response does not address feminists who are unwilling to cede control of such discussions (perhaps by barricading doors and pulling fire alarms at the University of Toronto, to name one example).

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          I don’t know any feminists who define masculinity without male voices, do you, Heather?

          We have a TON of male feminist allies who join in our discussions about masculinity. I have truly never been in a situation of feminist discourse (and I have a degree in Women’s Studies from UCLA) where we every tried to define or even discuss masculinity without the input of men, texts by men, or other male input.

          If you’ve got a cite, send it.

          • Same, Joanna. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the discourse about masculinity within feminism is written by feminist men. Even something like bell hooks’ article “Understanding Patriarchy,” involves input from men. She uses the men in her family as examples, after all. And she’s actually the only woman gender theorist I can think of at the moment who specifically talks about defining masculinity. Everyone else who is coming to mind right now are men (Michel Foucault and William Pollack are the academics that come to mind, and Jamie Utt, Hugo Schwartz, Justin Cacsio, Jackson Katz, and Ill Doctrine are the bloggers and activists that come to mind). I just went through the course reader for my Gender & Sexuality Studies class from back in 2006, and every single author who wrote about masculinity was a man.

            Generally from what I’ve found, feminists are always trying to find new ways to get men MORE involved in talking about masculinity. That’s kind of the key to it all anyway…men rethinking their gender.

            • . That’s kind of the key to it all anyway…men rethinking their gender.

              _____________________________________-

              And that will never happen. At some point feminists must acknowledge that men will NEVER participate in the destruction of masculinity on a large scale. No one ever asks us. Our opinions are not required. Do you think we are fools? So of course you will end up talking to yourselves.

              Have you considered that we don’t WANT to be reinvented or re-imagined or re-educated?

              It is never clear if men are even welcome here (irony, indeed)

              That really does matter. If men don’t participate in this huge experiment that ends masculinity, how will you succeed? You can’t. All the women studies programs and government decrees and laws and textbooks and marches and demands cannot do it.

              There will always be a few exceptions who jump on the feminist bandwagon, but you already have them. There won’t be any more recruits coming.

              And the resistance is growing, especially among the young. The dramatic plunge in marriage among men is one example. That changes a culture. We are proud of our heritage of building civilizations and tired of being shamed. There is a point where we say “No” to the transformation. That has an effect on feminists – a large effect. Wee have to say “Yes” to you to allow you to turn us into what you want. So our opinion does matter.

              So what will you do? You are going to have admit that the war is won to a point, but your victory is incomplete. That is just reality. The attempt to pretend that reality doesn’t exist and it is all a social construct is a fantasy. Now we all have to pay the price.

            • Tim: Who needs socially constructed masculinaties anyways? Regardless of feminism or feminists, why are you defending modes of behaviour that a lot of men have no interest in adopting? I know I don’t. My masculinity is for me to define for myself. That is no one elses job but my own. In my experience, the most masculine of people are those who have defined their own masculinity, and rejected the old, out dated, mainstream one that others have tried to force onto them. And that can and should be done independently of feminism, as well as mainstream cultures and societies. The more independent we are in how we define our own masculinity, for ourselves, as individuals, independent of coercive social restrictions, and the expectations of feminists, the better it will be for ourselves, and for women, feminists included. In fact, if we don’t do this, and allow masculinity to evolve, then it will go extinct. That, Tim, is an unavoidable fact of life: all things must change, or perish. Perhaps instead of blaming the feminists, we, as men (cis gendered, etc) and those who identify as men, should take full responsibility for figuring out our own internal issues.

            • That, Tim, is an unavoidable fact of life: all things must change, or perish. __________________-_________________________________
              Certainly not. That is an assumption based on a materialist ideology, which I reject.

              It is not up to you to define your masculinity – it is the same as saying “I am going to redefine the sky”. Masculine and feminine are transcendent realities. We are the only society in history that has become so exhausted and decadent that we are trying to ignore it. The result is misery and dissatisfaction and a truly dreadful self-absorption and self-pity.

              As for the remarks about issues – never mind all that. Disagree with me in a straightforward way.

            • Tim: good luck with all that.

            • Tim, excellent strong posture, thank you. Feminism does not speak for all women either nor should it. Unfortunately Feminism claims to be a place for women’s voices, but it rarely allows a woman or a man from the silent majority to speak or stand firmly rooted in what they believe.

              It’s one thing to discuss equal rights in the political sphere, but it is truly another to redefine femininity, masculinity, marriage, parenting, or family. To a large extent, the extreme political left and Feminists have redefined those areas and to the detriment of heterosexual men and women in the silent majority.

              Take a look at the state of marriage and the dysfunctional family unit in the US. Feminists refuse to accept a traditional definition of marriage, family, parenting, or even accept a respectful courtesy of offering a seat on a bus. Yet those are primary areas that have failed in our society in the last 30-40 years. Heather said it herself, Feminism is about resistance, NOT acceptance or respect “…The answer is that living feminism is hard. Basically, feminism’s about defying social expectations and going against the grain.”

              I’ve yet to hear one self-proclaimed feminist on this site describe what makes a good wife, a good mother, a good grandmother, or how to show respect to men in leadership, how to respect a father, how to respect authority, or how to respect tradition. Modern feminism teaches women to resist those things and go against the grain.

            • Bay Area Guy says:

              This country needs more women like you, Joan.

            • Heather,

              You bring up Foucault as a “Feminist” and I think that’s a huge misconception amongst social justice who want to employ the theory without accepting the logical conclusions.

              Foucault is *de*scriptive, not *pre*scriptive. There exists no inherent moral/political judgement within Foucaultian theory that stands up to the stand theory. It’s people like Said, Hooks etc., who took Foucault and decided it lacked a moral compass thus they provided it for him, de facto. The theory works so damn well from a explanatory perspective that it’s hard to reject it. It also posits that discourse theory provides the true ideals of morality that we cling to as if inherent.

              We’re just replacing one discourse that is concerned with it’s own power with another discourse concerned for it’s own power. Feminism has fallen into this trap immensely by the 30 years of apologetics against the amoral Foucaultian framework. Feminism, within a Foucaultian framework, has become a meaningful discourse that can be seen as “dominant” within United States political movements (liberals, mostly). Yet it does as the same as any discourse in positioning itself for sympathy rather than empathy. Early discourses on sexuality in the Caribbean (straight from Foucault) acted as a victim-based sexual position in line with discourses on purity in so much as they provided the mainline with a defense against the “other”.

              And Feminism has created an amazing “other” out of men. We’re the “enemy” unless we cross the line. The fact that there exists a “line” of any sort is ludicrous because Feminism acts as a modern discourse on Middle-Class issues post collapse of 2007.

              It mean in short that we’re prioritizing, from an activist position, the human and normal suffering of white, middle-class women over individuals on the lower end of the economic spectrum

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              I don’t know any feminists in real life who think of men as the enemy. Even non-feminist men. If men (or women) were out to stunt our equality or harm us, sure. But I don’t need any men to swear to be feminists in order to consider them allies in equality. Most feminists I know in real life would agree.

            • Well said Joanna!

            • @Joanna: “I don’t know any feminists in real life who think of men as the enemy. ”

              “I’ve never seen any woman get sexually harrassed walking down the street, you women are crazy!”

              Do you think, maybe, that because you’re a woman and therefore not the target of the rhetoric, that you just don’t see it?

              Why is it so easy for you, and feminists, to believe that men are blind to sexism against women, but so bloody hard for you to understand that the same principle might also work in reverse?

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              Well, I DO see it online. I see feminists who are not kind to many men. Absolutely. I said “in real life”.

              Certainly the vast, vast, vast majority of feminists even online are very welcoming to men and even have men writing for them. Certainly they are not the men who are saying that feminists are like nazis or that feminists hate men (that type of statement is a good way to NOT have feminists invite you into the discussion).

              There are bad eggs. I have written about them publicly before. But that doesn’t define a movement, particularly a century-old movement that has helped everything from getting women the vote, to getting women equal pay (or trying), anti-discrimination across the board, AIDS activism, even helping people of color get the right vote.

              Feminism has done enormous good in this society, and cannot be represented by a few vile voices on the Internet.

            • Joanna,

              To what extent is online not “real life”?

              Just to address that bit, I think the assumption that online interactions aren’t just as valid (if different) than in-person interactions is a farce.

              I’d agree with you that most in-person interactions allow for a better view of the individuals. You get more humanity in person than via a computer screen. At the same time, I feel like it’s a cop out to make a statement that online interactions “don’t count”. That is because the majority of interaction we have now is, like it or not, online because of the sheer reach.

              And it isn’t as simple as that, even. Most Feminists are totally cool with men as long as they can say the right things and react the right way. As soon as you begin to criticize the parts of Feminist theory that truly demand criticism (Rape Culture, Patriarchy, etc.) you’re pushed out without a thought. We need a space where we can discuss this without a framework of zero-sum guilt, which is what the current atmosphere jumps toward.

            • The funny thing is, I never said anything about “online” You moved that particular goal post yourself.

              Again: You are a woman, therefore you are not the target of the rhetoric, therefore you probably don’t see it. (or if you do, you file it away as “not REAL feminism.”) Online or off.

            • Joanna

              I think its a mistake to define other peoples experience for them. The only men are that welcomed are ones that are “feminist allies” – ones that put women first and deny women’s agency in the cycle of violence, there are many rules and things that a man must not talk about and believe that simply aren’t true if they are to be accepted by on line feminists. For non conforming men – which is most of the men (and women) that do come into contact with on line feminists, the reality is much like that captured on film recently on Toronto.

            • I’ll just to what Joanna said for most of my reply. As for Foucault, I pointed out in the first response that he’s not a feminist, but rather that a lot of his ideas have been used in feminist theory.

              But really, that kind of proves the point. Feminists take ideas from non-feminist men as well and incorporate that into their ideology, so far as feminist ideology exists. You don’t have to take on the label of “feminist” in order for feminists to listen to what you’re saying.

            • Aaaand, I just now re-read the bit where I lumped Foucault in with other “feminist men,” which is my bad. I was being brief and ended up being a bit inaccurate.

            • Totally understandable! I think too many individuals with too little understanding want to lump Foucault into the “Feminist” camp. Hell, I know people with PHDs who still see Foucault as “Feminist” because of work that was done after his own death by other individuals.

              Perhaps the point isn’t a “Is he or isn’t he” but that Foucault is describing HOW groups gain and maintain power. The point remains that in a Foucaultian context “Feminism” is a discourse with a lot of power, which is contrary to the “oppression” discourse being presented.

              In fact, Foucault-by-framework would probably be very hesitant to support what Feminism has become over the last decade. He would see it as another discourse desiring to limit general discourse of sexuality. It acts to provide the same artificial “normal” which was latched onto as evidence of oppression in the first place.

          • Mr Supertypo says:

            im curious, why lot of feminist women, call male feminist for allies? Arent they (males) also feminist? so why dont just call them feminists?

            • Mr Supertypo says:

              ok my question until now remain unanswered, somebody who is willing know the answer?

            • Because to many, a man can’t be a feminist. It’s from the feminism is for women school of thought.

            • Mr Supertypo says:

              thanks Archy.

              But is there any feminist that can answer my question? HeatherN..Joanna?

              Joanna since you expressed the term ‘ male feminist allies’ can you please elaborate? But the question is not only specific to Joanna, any feminist can answer….

            • I suspect that there are schools of thought that believe men cannot be feminists and so call them allies. I am not of that school. I think you can be an ally to women and also be a male feminist.

              I am an ally to the LGBT community but as I am married to a man would not necessarily call myself queer.

              I’m white, so I do my best to be an ally to those people of color and communities of color, but I cannot say I am of color. That’s because of actual race or orientation issues. Feminism isn’t that, it’s more of an ideology or belief system so a man could be a feminist. Like I could be an MRA and an ally to men. I am an ally to men. I am not an MRA.

              I am also a feminist.

              That’s a lot of labels all in one post.

            • I believe you can be an ally to women and not be a feminist too. It just gets really complicated and labely at that point.

            • I believe you can be an ally to women and not be a feminist too.

              Can you be a feminist and/or ally to women if you reject the “Feminism 101″ kind of feminism that dominates the online discussion and practice of feminism? Rape Culture, Patriarchy, Privilege, the “male gaze”, Schroedinger’s Rapist…that sort of thing. I’ve come to reject how those things are understood and explained by a majoritiy of feminists I encounter online, whether they’re at Jezebel, Feministing, or right here at GMP by people like you, Joanna, and Heather. I reject them because I’ve read and thought about them a lot, not because I’m too lazy to challenge my own preconceptions. I reject those things without rejecting you and other feminists as people, and without thinking you all belong barefoot and in the kitchen ready as mere tools for satisfying men sexually. To my mind, those concepts so many feminists hold dear appeal to emotion rather than reason, but I don’t have to believe in Rape Culture (for example) to fully support women’s right to vote, equal work for equal pay, safe and legal abortions, and so on, just like I always have.

              My experience of *online feminism* is that my support of equality under the law and in regarding all people as humans of full worth and integrity regardless of gender don’t mean squat if I’m critical of Fem 101 dogma. I feel like what’s allowed is to buy into the dogma and opt not to use the label “feminist”, because that’s just a technicality. What’s not allowed is to reject Fem 101 theory and still call yourself a “feminist” or “ally”, because the Fem 101 treatment of such people is to dismiss such a person as “blinded by privilege”, or a “rape apologist”. I don’t have to go to a “radical” feminist site to feel that way. It happens right here.

            • Mr Supertypo says:

              Thanks Julie, thats also how I see it. Thats why I get surprised when I read ‘male feminist allies’. In the feminist movement there are plenty of men, therefore claiming (IMO) that feminist = woman is inaccurate. You can be a supporter/member or feminist person, the gender is secondary just like race or…haircut ;-). I like to postulate identifying a individual with gender and then adding the label feminist is divisive, binary and supportive of the patriarchy. In other words unfeminist. But I may be wrong since im not feminist and that means im not 100% familiar with the idea behind this reasoning.
              Please, as a final word my speculations should not be interpreted as a attack againt Joanna or feminism in general. Im just trying to understand better.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              Interestingly, I agree but many male allies do not. There are certain men (see Jeff Perera of White Ribbon in Canada) who are not comfortable calling themselves feminists.

            • Many MRA’s are infact allies of women from what I’ve seen. I think the majority of both the feminists and MRA’s are actually just egalitarians, but the ideology on how to bring equality differs a bit.

            • John Anderson says:

              @ Archy

              “but the ideology on how to bring equality differs a bit.”

              Also what equality actually looks like. Many feminists believe that infant male circumcision is not a violation of bodily autonomy. Although the modification is permanent and significant, they don’t believe it rises to the level of a violation.

              What makes this stranger is that most of these feminists would not circumcise their sons because they feel it’s a violation of bodily autonomy so it’s a serious enough violation for them to not do it, but not serious enough to ban someone else from doing it.

            • Because “allies” can fall under the premise of “different but almost” (Said’s “othering theory”). It’s a discursive technique to both allow a measure of participation while also maintaining structural limits to power.

              It allows Feminists to control the behavior (because they aren’t women and therefore they can’t *really* understand) while creating a self-imposed ideal of not-women (because the can only help, never be actually involved in the actual solution). It destroys agency while maintaining doctrine. It provides a nice, tidy reason why they’re not as important as the women in Feminism, while also providing a nice bone for them to chew on while they reflect on their own violent natures.

          • Joanna,

            In the most respectful way possible, I’d suggest that the definition of masculine as “toxic” is the most highly visible means of women defining men’s experience without the input of men. The recent TED talk from the founder of MVP (a program I was really involved with in 2000-era) it was “men are violent”; “men are the source of violence”; “men need to stand up to other men…” etc. that really turned me off from the talk, regardless of the good intent behind it.

            Feminists, via a populist standpoint, are really engaged in pigeonholing men within current Feminist thought into zero-sum categories of “Rapist”/”Not Rapist”. But the reality ends up that we’re teaching young women interested in Feminism (good thing there) to be irrationally fearful of men and to see men as some ridiculous hive-mind that is only concerned with keeping women in their place.

            It’s always a lot of really inflammatory rhetoric followed by “oh, but we’re not talking about *you*!”

            And we get so hung up over theoretical ideals that we cease to see each other as people, which is, to my understanding, a big point within Feminism that “people are equal”.

            • …to be irrationally fearful of men and to see men as some ridiculous hive-mind that is only concerned with keeping women in their place.
              And then defending that irrational fear with the thought that they shouldn’t be expected to challenge it or question it themselves but its the job of men to dispell that fear no matter how irrational it is.

        • Actually my question would by why are feminists bothered by men that want to rethink gender or just simply support themselves without women.

          We’ve seen examples of this happen where men try to do something without women and its treated in worst faith because it doesn’t include women.

          Why do women have always be a part of every single effort to rethink masculinity or to help men and why is it seen as something wrong, bad, or irresponsible whey they are not included?

          • It’s interesting to me tha while feminism is actively trying to include more men’s perspectives in discussions of gender, despite men being the privileged class, MRA groups are trying to exclude women’s voices, despite women being the unprivileged class.

            • OirishM says:

              No, they aren’t.

              Unless you mean “women’s voices” as in “feminist talking points”. What about “men’s perspectives”? Does “disagreeing with feminist claims” fall under that umbrella?

              AVFM has female contributors, certainly.

            • I’ve noticed that the attempt to “actively include more men’s perspectives” is usually in the form of using the ways in which the system supposedly helps men as cause to limit how men (and their surrounding issues) are brought up and addressed.

              Now as for “excluding women’s voices” I can’t speak for all MRA groups but I can say that from my perspective I’ve done that for the sake of recognizing that in the gender discourse the woman’s perspective is already quite commonplace in its own regard while the man’s perspecitive is usually presented in relation to the women’s perspective. (In short its okay to talk about women for their own sake but it seems to be no okay to talk about men for their own sake but instead must be done from the angle of bringing up a men’s perspective as it relates to women.)

              I see there’s seems to be no problem with recognizing (and defending) the exitence of women-only spaces but at the same time it seems men-only are taken in worst faith because of the exclusion of women. Why must women be included in all gender spaces?

              And I also notice that despite men trying to bring their own perspectives to the discussion they are limited by the concept of privilege. As in since men are privileged its okay to limit how much of their perspectives come to light.

            • Martin Nash says:

              Most blogs I see concerning men and men’s rights contain articles by, and members of, both sexes. You yourself have a series of posts on GMP.

              Which sites/grous exclude women please? I am very intrigued to see how they do this and how they justify it.

              Thanks.

            • “It’s interesting to me tha while feminism is actively trying to include more men’s perspectives in discussions of gender, despite men being the privileged class, MRA groups are trying to exclude women’s voices, despite women being the unprivileged class.”

              No they aren’t. AVFM has contributions from women like TyphonBlue, Erin Pizzey, GirlWritesWhat, NurdyDancing, WoolyBumblebee (there are more, but as I don’t really read AVFM that often, I’m going off of memory.)

              Meanwhile, you have feminist and women’s groups on college campuses who are *actively silencing* men’s groups and/or blocking their creation entirely.

              Stating “men are allowed to speak but only if they read the script we give them” isn’t really “actively including men’s perspectives on gender.”

              Quite the opposite, actually.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              This is my own curiosity. Genuinely seeking an answer. Why is it that out of all of those, there is only one who is presumably using her own name?

              I find that so curious.

            • “This is my own curiosity. Genuinely seeking an answer. Why is it that out of all of those, there is only one who is presumably using her own name?

              I find that so curious.”

              Because beign snarked online with your real name is annoying as hell, especially with the level of bigotry within the gender battle sphere on BOTH sides. Not all feminists behave properly, it’s part of the reason I don’t use my own name because I don’t want to have my “real life” trolled by bigots on either side.

            • I don’t know, you’d have to ask them, I suppose.

              Frankly, I sometimes think I’m the only one who remembers the old days of the internet where *no one* used real names at all, not even first.

            • Both Typhonblue and GirlWritesWhat writes under their full name on AVFM.

            • The quote you reference to was in reply specifically to Danny’s comment about MRAs wanting to create men’s only spaces. We could trade female MRAs and male feminist names back and forth, but that kind of misses the point.

              Feminist groups are actively seeking men’s voices. Whether you like what those men are saying is another matter, but they are actively seeking them. The people in charge of my university Feminist Society recently put forth the truly idiotic idea to not allow men to join. This went over like a lead balloon…the feminist members of that society basically protested against the leadership of the society, until the leadership gave in and allowed men to join. More and more feminist spaces are becoming about inclusion (with the exception of domestic violence spaces and counselling services which are sometimes separated by gender for obvious reasons).

              Meanwhile, what Danny was referring to was MRAs wanting male-only spaces.

            • Both sides have 1-gender spaces and both gender spaces too. I’ve been run out of feminist spaces which had some wanting men, and far more wanting men to stfu n leave. Some feminist spaces want men included, others don’t. Same with the MRM.

            • But see, Heather, that’s my point. Men should be allowed to form groups to speak about our own issues, without without feminists being allowed to have veto say on what we discuss (for example at many of the colleges who have tried to form men’s groups, the women’s groups demanded right to dictate what men were allowed to discuss)

              That doesn’t seem just a tad bit wrong to you?

              Whenever men try to discuss our own issues, one of two things seems to happen depending on where it occurs. if it’s in a feminist space, men are told “Not our problem, go solve it yourselves” Which most men agree is fair. Then: Men attempt to form our own spaces to discuss issues: Suddenly you have the University of Toronto protests. You have college student groups outright *banning* men’s groups, you have feminists saying “Dude, you don’t need that, we’ve got it covered!!”

              So which is it? Because after a few go-rounds of this cycle, it becomes increasingly difficult to take feminist cries of “feminism helps men too!” seriously.

            • Feminist groups are actively seeking men’s voices. Whether you like what those men are saying is another matter, but they are actively seeking them.

              That is not entirely true. Seeking men’s voices implies that one is interested all men’s voices, hence the lack of a qualifier. However, most feminist groups are not interested in non-feminist voices of either sex. They tend to only accept men who agree with feminist views. That is not seeking men’s voices, but seeking feminist voices. That does not really help the conversation, which is why feminist discussions about masculinity do not resonate with non-feminist men.

            • Mr Supertypo says:

              well Im not familiar with any MRA space for men only, I can be mistaken however.

              Anyways how about from now on, we identify MRA and Feminist as people and not by gender. There are plenty of female MRA and male feminist’s. So claiming that MRA are men, and only men. And feminists women and only women, is inaccurate. Both MRM and Feminism contain members of the same gender, perhaps not at the same number but they are. So if we have to be precise and accurate identifying them as MRM/Feminist members or people is the correct way to do.

            • “Under-privileged” is a rather broad statement that lacks a lot of substance in these contexts.

              We’re so concerning with assigning inherent and gender-based ideas that completely ignore the complexity of our culture that we end up falling back on “traditional” gender ideas and roles which provide buoyancy to our arguments.

              It often feels as if the only male voice most Feminists are willing to accept as “authentic” is a Patriarchal, abusive voice. We can have male allies, but that’s contingent on them condemning the rest of masculinity to the bonfire. I.e. that men’s voices are only accepted when they come from a place where there is inherent devaluation of masculinity. It’s the “Men are pigs!” cry followed by a man saying “Yes, all men are pigs! But I’m different because I know all men are pigs!”

              You can’t assume that men will support you when your rhetoric and speech insists that men are evil and that those who are accepted are the “few good ones”. Patriarchy theory, Rape Culture, etc., all act to reinforce traditional gender roles and divert the issues from addressing issues toward finding scapegoats that can provide a sense of revenge-based “justice”.

            • “It’s interesting to me tha while feminism is actively trying to include more men’s perspectives in discussions of gender, despite men being the privileged class, MRA groups are trying to exclude women’s voices, despite women being the unprivileged class.”
              Umm, AVfM has quite a few female contributors?

            • “It’s interesting to me tha while feminism is actively trying to include more men’s perspectives in discussions of gender, despite men being the privileged class, MRA groups are trying to exclude women’s voices, despite women being the unprivileged class.”

              Did you just strawman the MRA? You are positively generalizing that feminism is actively trying to include more male perspectives (Sign me up for the next radfem meeting, I am sure they appreciate anyone’s opinion who has a penis). Men’s groups have tried to be created at universities and Had FEMINISTS protest them. Not all feminists are inclusive of male voices on gender unless it’s done in a fashion that they desire (the feminist way in this case).

              Then you negatively generalize the MRM…Where is your proof MRA groups are trying to exclude women’s voices? AVfM has quite a few women such as Dr Tara P., typhonblue, GirlWritesWhat, Erin Prizzey just off the top of my head and I rarely read that site. I think GWW and TB use their name too but I wouldn’t blame them for not using it considering the doxxing that goes on and some people want to keep personal life separate from their activism, or maybe they’re like me and talk about quite serious shit that has a huge stigma (I talk about abuse of people I know and they’d know instantly who I am referring to if my name was used, big drama there) and aren’t ready to put their name out there.

              Not all feminists and feminist groups (especially online) welcome men, infact I’ve left groups because prominent posters in a group had a lot of bigotry (especially towards males) and very few people called them out for it, why would I want to be in a place where it’s more popular to hate on men? Then you get the areas that belittle male issues, pretty much any site that uses the terms “baww” “da poor menz” “menz” “whataboutthemenz” and any snark toward men is not a place I would want to be just as I’m sure many women don’t wanna listen to snark n shit towards their gender (I dislike it for both genders).

              So can I go around saying feminists are trying to exclude male voices?
              How about this test. Do women in feminist spaces discuss female privilege? If not then how can they actively include men when they are denying their own privilege? Privilege is invisible to those whom are privileged right so do these women even consider it’s existence? Then there is the issue that the MRA and feminist ideologies differ to some extent, eg privilege, so we could end up with feminists not acknowledging male voices from the MRA point of view, and MRA’s not acknowledging female voices from the feminist point of view. Who actually gets to define who’s movement is correct?

              Finally would you want to talk to people whom your previous experience showed them dismissing your opinion because they were male and had “privilege” if you were a male? Where shaming n silencing goes on because HeatherN this actually happens quite a lot online to many men, I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of males commenting right now have had the tactics used against them.

              It’s also extremely popular amongst feminist sites to use the term “MRA” as an insult, as a way to dismiss someones opinion as crackpot and usually in the article the feminist author will be crying out over being strawmanned by an MRA, saying stuff about the strawfeminist position yet hypocrisy abounds when that same author in the same article uses the same strawman arguments back at the MRA/MRM.

              My question is why is it so common for strawman’s amongst both feminist and MRA authors? You just used one yourself so I’d like to know the reasoning behind it.

            • Heather, I have to echo that:

              No, they aren’t.

              It’s ideological on both ends. Neither “movement” cares about your identity as long as you agree with them. Full stop.

              And I think you mistake individuals not agreeing with faulty theory for being hostile toward the other.

            • John T. says:

              @Heather

              Privileged, unprivileged. Isnt this technically what they call “Oppression Olympics” ?

            • Mark A. says:

              I thought it was a fundamental principle of feminism as a tool of critique and analysis that privilege is invisible to the privileged class. How can you state as a certainty that “men are privileged” and “women are unprivileged” if your own privilege would be invisible to you?

              It’s kind of a nice privilege that your nation can’t instate a mandatory conscription and stake a claim over your life and limb whether you acquiesce to this treatment or not. You’ll certainly never know the “privilege” of being drafted against your will into fighting a bloody war of attrition like tens of thousands of male Vietnam veterans.

              Insofar as women have been fetishized as “sex” or “domestic” objects throughout history, men have been fetishized as “violence” and “utility” objects; there are two sides to the gender dichotomy straitjacket, and, as a woman, you cannot fully appreciate how it harms a man insofar as I cannot appreciate on a deep and personal level how this social construct harms a woman; to speak plainly: I’ve never been a woman, and you’ve never been a man.

      • Mr Supertypo says:

        “Now feminism does prioritise women’s voices, and the reason is precisely what you said: mainstream conversations prioritise men’s voices. ”

        But the so-call male voices in the mainstream conversation, in the patriarchy, are not the real voices of men, they are just a script reading of culturally correct samples of a very limited model of men. Who doesent fit into the model is either a satyre or a sad case. In that light I like to postulate that the real voices of men are actually rare (GMP is one place where you can find them) and usually kept private, away from strangers eyes. So in other words the mainstream is closer to a role playing game than the real face of men. Its not so bad to day as it was back in the 80’s/90’s but the “script” its still prevalent.

        • Random_Stranger says:

          Here, here

          …one of the big problems with feminism is it believes “patriarchy” is a force of men, by men, for men. If feminism accepted that both genders tacitly endorse and succumb to the gender social code (aka patriarchy), it would be less apt to conclude that the main-stream reflects the free will of individual men.

      • First off, his name is Hugo Schwyzer, not Hugo Schwartz.
        Secondly I note that the link you provided says “ten male feminist allies</b", not "ten male feminists". Feminism and men are aparently somewhat more separate than feminism and women.

      • John Anderson says:

        @ HeatherN

        Two comments. First, I think many feminists including the male feminists have already equated masculine with bad. So they aren’t really defining a new masculinity rather than feminizing the masculinity that already exists. How can we make the masculine more like the feminine? Second, if men get to define masculinity rather than feminist men / feminists, would feminists accept a definition of masculinity they do not agree with?

        As an MRA I believe that masculinity is defined by each individual person. A gay man’s masculinity may be different from a trans man which may be different than a straight man’s. A CIS SAHD nay be different than a CIS corporate lawyer. The odd thing is when each person defines what masculinity means, there is no gender binary. Because masculinity and femininity are fluid, they can flow into each other.

    • As for feminist demands that women “stand up” to patriarchy…well they’re everywhere. I’m not talking about Jezebel specifically, because it’s a problematic website. In general, though, you get all sorts of arguments about whether women are being “feminist enough.” There are discussions about whether married women taking their husbands’ last name is reinforcing the patriarchy. There are all sorts of debates about whether female celebrities who show skin are objectifying themselves, or taking control of their sexuality. There are articles about stay-at-home mothers where they are all about asserting their feminism.

      The funny thing is, when feminism first popped up, it was critiqued heavily by traditionalists precisely because it calls for women to “stand up” to patriarchy.

      • Mike L says:

        It seems like your response is talking part my question.

        There’s a world of difference between “Have you generally stood up to patriarchy in some way?” and “Have you specifically called out your female friends in social situations when they made statements that supported traditional masculinity?’

        I will give you that feminism excels at the former statement, but try as I might I cannot seem to find examples of the latter.

        Indeed, following the Steubenville trial, prominent internet feminist Jessica Valenti tweeted “The worst a dude expects if he passes out drunk at a party is maybe a few dicks Sharpied on his face. But women should just anticipate rape?”

        This clearly maintains patriarchal stereotypes about how men can’t be victims, and rape is something that only happens to women. It even suggests that Levi Greenacres’ recent piece on GMP is somehow a “lie.”

        Yet the internet-feminist response to Jessica Valenti was to overwhelmingly retweet the statement, put it on blogs, and hold it up as a golden example of how the patriarchy ruins the lives of women – without a thought to the possibility that the statement itself was an example of how patriarchal attitudes hurt men.

        I have seen many examples of feminists “standing up to patriarchy” in many ways, but calling out other women for enforcing traditional ideas about masculinity never seems to be one of them.

        • So let’s see if I’ve got this right, you want me to provide proof of feminists calling out specific women for reinforcing traditional masculine gender roles? Well, for one thing that’s a very specific request that would require a heck of a lot of time to find examples that fit those criteria. But for another, it’s just not something I follow. I don’t follow the back and forth, call-out wars that happen online (whether within feminism or not). So I can’t really provide you with examples of anyone calling out anyone else, well with only a few really well known examples, I suppose.

          I can tell you that in personal conversations I see this sort of thing happen all the time. Women criticize each other far more than they do men…and actually that’s part of the problem (but that’s another topic). I can provide you with links to examples of feminists talking about the problems of traditional masculinity. I can provide you with links to feminists talking about how crucial it is that women don’t reinforce traditional gender norms. I don’t quite get why you’re so interested in examples of feminists taking down other women.

          • It’s not about taking down other women its about consistency in not reinforcing traditional gender roles and norms.

            When we see feminists that will in one breath take down say, Paul Elam, because something he said reinforces traditional norms/roles but in the next say absolutely nothing (if not agree) when say Jessica Valenti says something along the same line.

            It looks like the reasoning on which one to respond to isn’t about what they said being problematic but some other measure.

  2. Men’s voices are considered the default and the mainstream automatically gives men’s voices power.
    ______________________________________________________________-
    Precisely the opposite is true. If you are going to make a statement like this, you need an enormous amount of data and evidence to back it up. Please provide it here.

    • Hi Tim,

      So this article series is about explaining feminism, or at least, that’s my goal. Also, it’s providing short answers to what are actually rather complex issues. It’s meant to be a primer, of sorts and an introduction to feminist ideas. All that means that the “proofs” of these concepts aren’t really the point.

      Anyway, if you’d like to look a bit more into the idea of men as default, I suggest taking a gander at this article on the “male gaze.” The use of the “male gaze” is part of men being viewed as the default. Also, you can take a look at the following blog posts and articles which talk about it or demonstrate it in some way:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/is-smurfette-giving-it-awy_b_1011329.html
      http://katherinemcbridedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/advantages.jpg
      http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/02/16/male-as-the-neutral-default/
      http://cratesandribbons.com/2013/01/27/why-the-default-male-is-not-just-annoying-but-also-harmful/

      • I r I respectfully have to disagree,although most voices in government are men they are elected predominantly by women and speak on the behalf of women while ignoring the needs of men.VAWA was authorized by men,rape shield laws were established by men,funding to womens shelters were approved by men,we have a white house counsel for girls and women but not a white house counsel for boys and men.

        Billions of dollars are spent on combating female problems yet no money is spent on combating male problems.Run BY men doesn’t mean run FOR men.Earl silverman is a victim of this worldview;he committed suicide after the government wouldn’t have over a cent for male victims of domstic violence although 3 billion dollars was spent by women.

        If you want to create this image of masculine hegemony you need to show proof that the issues that effect men have always been front and centre.There are no programs for men and boys yet you somehow claim the issues of men are front and centre.

        I don’t want to get into an ideological scuffle,i’m simply challenging the idea that somehow men are elevating other men to the detriment of women

        • hand** on**

        • Melenas says:

          I agree. It is too simplistic to just look at who has the positions of power, see mostly men and conclude that we live in a patriarchy. You need to look at who benefits from that power and who controls where and how that power is used.

        • I have to agree in some places and disagree in others. It seems that the dividing is the question of does “mostly men” mean the same thing as “representative of men”?

        • “Billions of dollars are spent on combating female problems yet no money is spent on combating male problems.”

          The fact that you think of rape and domestic and sexual violence as “female” problems is exactly what modern feminism is trying to change.

          • Whilst the hyperbole is over the top there is an extremely disproportionate level of funding and awareness for that issue. I dare you to find me a single poster showing a female rapist and a male victim, holding women to account by saying “women can stop rape”. I know of one on an MRA site, are there any more?

          • Even if you swap “female problems” out for “problems that affect mostly women” the point still stands.

          • John Anderson says:

            Domestic violence is a female problem. It’s also a male problem, but men are barred by law from receiving STOP assistance, which is the largest grant under VAWA. Much of the funding available for men under VAWA is offender treatment programs in other words even the money in VAWA spent on men is spent to benefit women.

  3. Melenas says:

    Ok, I’ll bite.
    Do feminists believe that men are also victims of systemic sexism?
    If so, can women be perpetrators of sexism?
    Finally, is it necessary to address these issues to achieve real gender equality?

    What do you think about the trend (at least what I perceive) in feminism of male hyperagency and female hypoagency? In other words, the idea that men hold all the power everywhere and all gender inequalities can only be remedied by men. Thus masculinity itself needs to be re-engineered by feminists.
    (This may overlap with a question already asked, sorry)

    Thank you!

  4. In order to embrace gender equality, and be involved in the discussion on gender issues, must one be a feminist?

    • Nope.

    • Supposedly no but in my experience its amazing how much feminists will hold that against you. If they didn’t have a problem with it I don’t think we’d see as much material on the topic of “I’m not a feminist but….” angle.

      • Well, when you have studies that show 80% of respondents identify as desiring and believing in equal rights between men and women yet also only 20% responding that they identify with the label “Feminist” then we have a cognitive dissidence.

        But the issue is that the ideological movement can’t accept that their goals and desires have made it “mainstream”. It’s an in-club, and that’s the issue. It isn’t ever really about “leveling the playing field”, it’s about packing your clubhouse with people who nod in agreement.

        • It’s an in-club, and that’s the issue. It isn’t ever really about “leveling the playing field”, it’s about packing your clubhouse with people who nod in agreement.
          I hope not but I worry that what you say here may be true.

          I think what is happening is that when we come across numbers like this, “Well, when you have studies that show 80% of respondents identify as desiring and believing in equal rights between men and women yet also only 20% responding that they identify with the label “Feminist” then we have a cognitive dissidence.” people are very quick to take sides as to where that difference comes from.

          You have those who insist that its the result of not understanding feminism or not giving it a fair shake vs those who insist they do understand it and just don’t agree with it vs everyone else who doesn’t fit on either of those 2 sides.

          • To be honest, Danny, I got stick of being told that I “Didn’t get it” when my own education and understanding of Foucault, Bell, Said, etc., was far more extensive than the individual making the claim.

            I *understand* all of this quite well. I understand Patriarchy Theory and the concept of Rape Culture. And I actually agree with some of the underlying ideas presented. However, my issue tends to be in the fact that these Feminist Tenets are simplifications and they lack a mature and complex idea of how all sorts of other oppression act to support and modify the specific conditions for women. Class, for the big example, is *never* discussed in Feminism. And it’s a problem because for most objectively oppressed women (minority and poor) their actual issues are whitewashed in favor of railing against the fact that female CEOs only make 6mil when men make 12mil. That’s a non-issue. What is an issue? single mothers can’t feed their kids. Inner-city women are destined to take part in the cycle of poverty that makes them into disposable minimum-wage slaves.

            Freedom is the goal, and by focusing solely on the “win-more” issues of white, well-off women we’re pissing off the individuals who want to work for more lasting, systemic change.

            • To be honest, Danny, I got stick of being told that I “Didn’t get it” when my own education and understanding of Foucault, Bell, Said, etc., was far more extensive than the individual making the claim.
              I don’t blame you for that. Its often a cop that really translates into, “Since your understanding of it is different from mine and my is the right one then taht means you don’t really understand it.”

              However, my issue tends to be in the fact that these Feminist Tenets are simplifications and they lack a mature and complex idea of how all sorts of other oppression act to support and modify the specific conditions for women.
              Now would that include the following observation? The tendency to look at all things through some feminist lens that serves to examine well almost anything and everything in such a way that it nearly always reaches the conclusion that it stems from the undervaluing of women/feminine?

              As for class I wouldn’t say its never discussed as it is coming into play more and more thankfully.

              However this, “And it’s a problem because for most objectively oppressed women (minority and poor) their actual issues are whitewashed in favor of railing against the fact that female CEOs only make 6mil when men make 12mil. That’s a non-issue.” is an interesting point. On one hand feminism is about equal opportunity not equal results but on the other equal results the measurment of when we achieved equality (or the benchmark for when things that harm men will finally be worth talking about on a larger scale)?

    • Of course. Even the use of the correct vocabulary is required. The rules are very strict.

    • Most gender equality folk I know don’t label as either feminist or MRA. I don’t label myself as either, too many problems between the 2 and it often ends up as a way to get prejudged. I’ve been called an MRA and a feminist but quite frankly I think it’s an asshole move to call someone else something they don’t identify as. You can say their views align with feminism or the MRA (pretty much everyone I see here commenting, including HeatherN hold views that align with both) but don’t call them a feminist or an MRA if they don’t use that label.

      I’ll go further into this in a new comment.

  5. OirishM says:

    “The answer is that living feminism is hard. Basically, feminism’s about defying social expectations and going against the grain. The problem, of course, is that going against the grain usually results in a lot of ridicule and mockery. Plus, it’s exhausting to be constantly aware of how your words and actions are either contributing to the status quo or defying it.”

    Kinda not the point.

    When you (as a group) are the ones loudly proclaiming a particular standard, and condemning people for failing to live up to it, you will be held to that same standard.

    This is no different in behaviour to Republicans when they get all plaintive over the criticism they get when one of their number is found banging the housekeeper or when one of their male and “staunchly heterosexual” number turns out to really like the cock. Suddenly they complain that they’re being held to higher standards.

    No, they’re being held to the same standards they expect of everyone else. If you base your entire philosophy on traditional values and yet consistently fail to live up to them, people will point out the hypocrisy. When you base your entire philosophy on subverting traditional values and yet keep living by them, people will point out the hypocrisy.

    • So first, the comparison to the Republicans and traditional values is a bit problematic. For one thing, feminism isn’t about “values” or morals, really. It’s not about being a “better person” or a “good person,” even…whereas traditional values are about what you think is right/wrong and good/bad.

      Secondly, I’m reminded of a Quentin Crisp quote (which is apparently an old joke): “I don’t like peas and I’m glad I don’t like them, because if I liked them I’d eat them, and I hate them.” This is not exactly the same, but a similar – ‘I don’t like feminists and one reason I don’t like feminists is because they aren’t feminist enough.’ It’s a bit of a trap though, really, because the more feminist-acting a feminist is, the more people will hate him/her. This is what I was trying to point out with my example of the man giving his seat up for me on the bus. Is it hypocritical to prioritise being polite and not making a scene, over asserting my feminist ideas?

      This call for feminists to be more feminist strikes me as a call for ideological purity, for zealotry…for radicalism. And I think we can all agree that radfems are not exactly the types we want feminists to model their behaviour after.

      • OirishM says:

        Absolutely not a call to radicalism. It’s a call to consistency. And I don’t dislike certain feminists because they aren’t being radical enough, I dislike them because they aren’t willing to apply the same standards to themselves as they are only too keen to do to everyone else.

        If someone (in general, not necessarily at yourself) is going to spend their time lecturing me, then I think they should at least be able to take what they dish out. If that person then plays a “But it’s haaaaard!” card, I’m entirely unsympathetic. If they can’t handle the heat they’re dishing out, maybe they should consider what they are dishing out, or be prepared to hit in the credibility stakes.

        And if you think feminism doesn’t involve value judgements – try being male, where it seems like every which you go, no matter how good you try to be, SOMEONE will think you’re a misogynist. Someone will think what you’re doing is problematic, or sexist, or patriarchal. For some, their experience of feminism is little more than a litany of value judgements. And I’m pretty damn sure being called a misogynist/rape apologist/MRA/dudebro/whatever is an assessment of you as a good person (well, usually bad person).

        • Like I pointed out in the first set of answers, feminism is highly variable. Sometimes what one person considers feminist, another doesn’t. So take for example the issue of women taking their husbands’ last names. Some feminists think this is patriarchal and perpetuating gender norms. Some feminists think it’s fine if it’s their choice and their marriage isn’t blindly perpetuating gender norms. So a feminist who takes her husband’s last name isn’t going to be ideologically consistent with a feminist who doesn’t…but they are both ideologically consistent with their own concepts of feminism.

          The thing about feminism is that, like I said, it’s got a lot of variation within it. There isn’t any set cannon or one, single way to be a feminist. And, plus, a lot of people’s opinions change over time. When I was younger I thought any woman who wore make-up was perpetuating gender norms…and now I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I’ll even wear make-up when I want to. So my ideas about gender and feminism changed, and they aren’t always consistent with other feminists’ ideas of gender and feminism.

          • Heather,

            If Feminism is “highly variable”. then why is it that there exist zero-sum, entry-cost ideological positions for entry? can one be a Feminist and reject Patriarchy Theory as being too simplistic? Can one be a Feminist and also reject “Rape Culture” because it’s a subset of larger violence and power issues within our culture and thus provides insufficient assistance to those who require it?

    • John Anderson says:

      I think that people sometimes forget that they’re dealing with people and not machines. People make mistakes. People will give in to weakness. I’ve made a ton of mistakes and I’m certain at least a few are going to be repeated, but when I’ve made mistakes, I generally own up to them. I remember making a couple comments and essentially having a woman call me a horrible person. The funny thing is within the comment I had already mentioned that I was either wrong, changed my opinion, or had serious doubts. It’s OK to be wrong. The problem is staying there.

      Where I fault feminists is that they don’t own up to their mistakes. I’ll challenge a word choice or phrase that minimizes male suffering / abuse and instead of acknowledging that was a bad word choice, they’ll defend it. When feminists say that ONLY 10% of rape victims are men and I challenge that by noting that the definition of rape fails to count 89% of male victims because it doesn’t consider envelopment rape, these feminists will say I was just quoting the stats. I point out that if you quote stats based on the flawed definition of rape without qualification then you support that flawed definition of rape.

      In my mind, it’s not that feminists make mistakes or have moments of weakness, it’s that these things aren’t acknowledged and are actively defended.

      • On most other progressive/liberal causes, you would never ever get away with dismissing anything as “only 10%” of cases. You would never get away with dismissing LGBT people by saying they’re only a small percent of the population. (Nor should you get away with it.) Let’s say for the sake of argument that male rape victims were “only 1%” of all rape victims. That means what, half a million men?

        By the “it’s only 1%” logic, then we don’t really have an imprisonment problem in this country. We have “only” 1-2% of the population in jail at any given time. Americans are 98% not in jail, so what’s everyone complaining about? The vast majority of men of color are NOT in jail, so no reason for anyone to be concerned, right? Just let the percentages dictate….

  6. wellokaythen says:

    In answer to a lot of these questions:
    There is nothing useful one can say about what “feminists do.” There is only what is done by:

    Some feminists
    A lot of feminists
    Most feminists
    Seemingly every feminist I’ve every met
    Some self-proclaimed feminists
    The authors I’ve read in my Women’s Studies classes
    The women frequently branded as feminists
    All feminists according to my definition of feminism
    Feminism, at least the way I see it
    Etc.

  7. wellokaythen says:

    “The answer is that living feminism is hard. Basically, feminism’s about defying social expectations and going against the grain. The problem, of course, is that going against the grain usually results in a lot of ridicule and mockery. Plus, it’s exhausting to be constantly aware of how your words and actions are either contributing to the status quo or defying it.”

    I get that. I think this is certainly a key aspect in the history of feminism. There’s that rebellious, insurgent, underdog streak in feminism.

    At the same time, a lot of men feel alienated by (some brands of) feminism because those men don’t see feminists as underprivileged underdogs to the same degree that many feminists see themselves that way. For a lot of men today, the message they hear from feminism (rightly or wrongly) is “give us some consideration, we women are trying to catch up.” Meanwhile, those men are thinking, “You’ve already passed me. Why do you still need a boost?” That traditional first-through-third-wave underdog identity is becoming less and less credible to a lot of outside observers.

    Men and women tend to look at the status of women in society very differently. What one person sees as an underdog the other sees as the bully, and vice versa.

    As for ridicule and mockery: sometimes those things are unfair, and sometimes they are justified. There are plenty of traditional gender roles that deserve ridicule and mockery, and I’m glad feminists have poked fun at them. You can’t say ridicule is always just the reflex of people who are wrong. Presumably you mean *unfair* ridicule and mockery?

    • wellokaythen says:

      P.S. And, as I read a famous quote attributed to Gandhi, being mocked may be a sign of progress:

      First they ignore you.
      Then they laugh at you.
      Then they fight you.
      Then you win.

      [from memory, don't know if I got that exactly right]

      • Actually this reminds me of something someone was saying in the discussions of same-sex marriage at the Supreme Court. So there’s this argument floating around that gay people are so politically powerful they don’t need the court to rule in their favour because a vote will sort it out. But, of course, the catch 22 in that is that the only way for anyone to get their case heard before the Supreme Court is to be politically powerful enough.

        So someone pointed out that chances are there are marginalised groups we’re not even aware of right now that really need protections, but they are so marginalised as to be completely invisible. So yeah, ridicule and being fought against is progress, I suppose…but still not the end.

        On a more down-to-earth note…really, though, no one likes to be mocked. No one likes to be singled out and taken down…it sucks.

        • On a more down-to-earth note…really, though, no one likes to be mocked. No one likes to be singled out and taken down…it sucks.
          So here’s a broadly generic question for everyone.

          With that in mind why do people engae in all these take downs in the first place?

          Odd really. Why do something to someone knowing full well they don’t like it?

          Sure you can say that “some people deserve it” but even then its usually the thoughts that need to be taken down but the line between taking down a thought and taking down a person/group seem to be awfully easy to cross….

          • Honestly, Danny, it’s because at the end of the day we want to feel like we’re as big as we can be.

            And in our current culture, it’s easy and often too fulfilling to take an ideological position and beat someone else down over it for the sake of our own ego.

          • John Anderson says:

            I heard that feministing is a moderate feminist website. Yet I see things like this.

            “Are Danny Brown’s misogynistic lyrics relevant to the analysis of his alleged (by someone else) assault?”

            http://feministing.com/page/5/

            First if a person has to allege a sexual assault before it can be considered such, there are many pedophiles in prison right now that shouldn’t be there. There are people in prison for murder / rape that should have their rape convictions overturned, etc. Just because someone else says it, does that make it not rape?

            Second we’re constantly told that nothing a person can say, do, or wear justifies rape. So why is this even a question? Apparently saying misogynist things might justify a person’s rape.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              Feministing is not, in my mind, moderate. I wouldn’t quite say it’s “radical” but these are all such subjective terms.

              Of course Heather and I would agree that no matter who the victim is, NOBODY ever deserves rape. I don’t care who they are or what they do.

              One so-called radical voice does NOT represent the movement.

            • Moderate or not or radical or not it is a largely accepted feminist space.

            • Bay Area Guy says:

              One so-called radical voice does NOT represent the movement.

              Sorry, Joanna, but I grow weary of hearing this No True Scotsman argument from feminists and feminist apologists.

              Feministing is hardly a fringe, radical site, as Danny pointed out. Neither is Jezebel, for that matter. Both are prominent feminist sites and have large readerships.

              When feminists want to tell us men about how their movement is wonderful and wants equality and liberation for all, then “feminists” are a monolith. But when confronted with examples of feminists who are repulsive or man-hating, we’re told that they “don’t represent true feminism.” In other words, No True Scotsman.

              Just as feminists such as yourself take the MRM to task for the rampant misogyny in its ranks and don’t accept arguments or excuses along the lines of, “not all MRA’s are misogynistic, and the movement isn’t about misogyny,” I too find feminist excuses similarly hollow.

            • Alrighty, the thing about reporting sexual assault (or really any crime at all) is that until there is a conviction, a journalist is really meant to talk about it as “alleged.” That’s just the way that works.

              Also, the link you provided took me to an article about Elizabeth Smart, not Danny Brown. So I can’t comment on that part of it.

            • John Anderson says:

              It’s under weekly feminist reader. It links to another article (I didn’t read all the way through because it’s dripping with rape apology, but I think it’s actually another feminist site so feministing will “give it a pass” besides the fact that feministing doesn’t believe it was a rape). O take issue with the way feministing framed the story. 1. They assert that it’s less credible since the accusation was made by someone else. 2. They don’t use the term sexual in the description of assault. Kitty Pryde did not characterize it as an assault. She categorized it as a rape or sexual assault. If you’re going to point out that it was alleged by someone else, you should point out what they alleged. 3. There was absolutely no criticism of the assumption. They made it seem like a rational position to take. Before you say they’re just reporting, they didn’t say X suggests that. They phrased it in the form of a question suggesting that they believe that there is potentially some merit to it.

              Contrast this with their coverage of the suicide of Audrie Pott.

              http://feministing.com/2013/04/15/why-are-teenage-rape-survivors-being-driven-to-suicide/

              “Why are teenage rape survivors being driven to suicide?”

              Why do they think she was raped? Why do they believe she categorized it as rape?

              http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-audrie-potts-family-20130415,0,1127985.story

              “The teenager wrote on her Facebook page that it was the “worst day ever,” Allard said. “The whole school knows,” she wrote. “My life is like ruined now.”

              Nowhere in there does she say she was raped. Nowhere in there does she say it wasn’t consensual. She says her life is ruined because the whole school knows. Knows what, that she was raped by three boys or that she had sex with three boys? I suspect that someone suggesting that Audrie Pott was not raped because she didn’t come out and say it would be (rightly) and soundly criticized. When it’s a male victim, it’s a legitimate question according to feminists.

              You may have to hit older stories. Their website scrolls the stories as they write new ones.

            • UIh, because we’re, as a culture, enlightened enough to discuss criminality with an assumption of innocence? What makes sexual assault and rape so special that we ought to do away with a concept of proof?

            • What are some moderate feminist sites?

            • I wonder. If that had been Danni Brown would we dare ask if her, well her anything, had any relevancy to her assault?

              I’ll have to go read that article later but that question seems to do the usual “When something bad happens to men its because of hatred of women.” dance where one must bend reality to link everything back to the hatred/devaluing of women.

              It can’t be that this woman thought that as a woman (and him being a man) she had the entitlement to do that to him right?

            • John Anderson says:

              Kitty Pryde answered that question. When she had her pants pulled off on stage, people reacted with outrage. No need to imagine.

              “Detailing her own experiences of the Minneapolis concert, Pryde continued: “I’m mad that when two dudes pulled my pants down onstage, other people got mad too, but when it happened to Danny the initial reaction was like one big high-five. I’m mad that people are treating ‘The Thing’ like it’s some legendary event. I’m mad that even though they know exactly who the girl is, nobody in the media will even talk to her.”

              http://www.nme.com/news/various-artists/70093

              I would have linked to her blog post, but it seems to be down possibly because of the backlash she’s getting for standing up for Danny Brown. It’s sad. Why haven’t the feminists run to her defense like they did for Adria Richards and Anita Sarkeesian? Could it be they want her silenced? Here is the fallout for her.

              “Really not after Kitty’s poignant response to (and naming of) The Thing a few days later. And certain-fucking-ly not after a throng of over-stimulated, over-privileged white boys in the crowd last night kicked up and maintained a chant of “SUCK HIS DICK, SUCK HIS DICK” at the 20-year-old rapper/opener while she performed.”

              “Kitty’s opening set, despite or perhaps partly due to her audience’s willful antagonism, was disheartened at best.”

              http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2013/05/danny_brown_kitty_pryde.php

      • OirishM says:

        @wellokaythen

        Gandhi said that? It was also said by Robbie Williams in his rather good song Tripping!

        Look at how uncultured I am! ^_^

    • With regards to ridicule and mockery: I didn’t mean that ridicule and mockery were the reflex of those that were wrong. Rather, I meant that ridicule creates pressure not to act a certain way (rightly or wrongly). That’s just the way people are…we don’t like being ridiculed and mocked, so if we know we’ll face it we feel pressure to change our behaviour. But also, I tend not to be for mockery and ridicule, even of things I disagree with. Critique, certainly. And I’ll snark at someone sometimes…but ridicule, not so much. It’s not constructive.

      Anywho, on to the rest of this. The idea that women are not longer the “underdog” and that men are thinking ‘you passed me,’ and so that is alienating them…from what I’ve picked up from all these conversations and what-not, a lot of that is class-based. A lot of what I’m seeing non-feminist men claim as “proof” that women have it better, or at least that men have it worse…aren’t gender based oppressions, but rather class based oppressions. With the introduction of the idea of intersectionality, you get a lot of feminists now talking about how a white, middle class straight woman probably does have an easier life and a lot of advantages that a working class, gay man of colour probably does (for example). But the reasons her life are easier are to do with class, sexuality and race…not gender. A man in the same position as she is, would still have more benefits than she does (because all other things being equal, men are the privileged gender). And there are still certain gender oppressions against women that cut across class, race, etc. (i.e. sexual objectification).

      • How does that square with the fact that there are government programs available to that “rich white woman” that are not going to be available to men, regardless of how poor that man is, or his sexuality or race?

        How does that square with the idea that, because of her gender alone, that woman will have more social sympathy for her plight (whatever it may be) than the poor gay etc male?

        It’s interesting that “people being blind to their own privilege” never seems to apply to women.

      • A man in the same position as she is, would still have more benefits than she does (because all other things being equal, men are the privileged gender).

        __________________________________

        No – this is certainly not true. If anything it is the opposite. This idea is extremely important to you, but it is false. It is this false ideology that keeps men down and the war going on.

      • John Anderson says:

        When I first heard feminists talking about intersectionality (in the old days it was Kyriarchy), I thought maybe they had a point. They still might, but feminists have advanced this theory less to explain how differences interact to affect our situation in society and more to justify keeping their core tenet, that men are NEVER systematically discriminated against based on sex.

        Even when faced with a situation that only affects men like male infant circumcision in the U.S., most feminists will use the excuse that it’s not really discriminatory because the effects don’t rise to that level. They never explain then why the ceremonial nick should remain illegal. Even though 95% of staff on inmate rape representing 75% of all rape in juvie is committed by women against boys, feminists won’t see that as a problem with the system. They’ll see it as the individual failings of the women involved, but had it been men abusing girls, there would be demands for reforming the system.

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          What feminists don’t see those as systematic problems?

          Cites?

          • Bay Area Guy says:

            What feminists don’t see those as systematic problems?

            Cites?

            http://jezebel.com/5992479/if-i-admit-that-hating-men-is-a-thing-will-you-stop-turning-it-into-a-self+fulfilling-prophecy

            Yeah, she does admit that men have to contend with hardships on account of being men, but it’s hard to believe that she’s sincere when she puts it in such a mocking, condescending tone, and dismisses male hardships as solely being collateral damage from “the patriarchy.”

            And no, I will not buy a No True Scotsman argument. She’s not alone in believing that men are not systemically hurt as men.

            • And considering how well that post was received among feminists I think we can say that West is not alone in thinking that. Not universally of course but there wasn’t much questioning of it.

              And of course let’s not forget the way that even when male hardships are recognized they are often not recognized as parts of a system that hurt men via imposing restrictions on men but are actually the result of imposing restrictions and limitations on women. Aka, it only happens because of hatred/disregard of women. Or collateral damage is you will.

          • John Anderson says:

            @ Joanna

            Although Jezebel is probably bottom feeder feminism they did talk about this incident.

            http://jezebel.com/13-female-correction-officers-accused-of-handing-comple-479742429

            Although she says that the corruption is a systemic problem.

            “But instead of commenting on the state of the prison institution and the shocking fact that this level of corruption went on without detection for several months, comments like Gladden’s lay the blame squarely on the shoulder of the female CO’s and their femaleness. ”

            She doesn’t even categorize the sex assaults as rapes or even wrong. She does not see this as a problem. I guess it’s just a perk of the job.

            “The accused women were romantically involved with the prisoners— four of them became pregnant by the same inmate, and two of them even got tattoos of his name.”

            Had it been men abusing women, feminists would be calling for restricted access (which has already happened at some institutions) such as no unannounced entry into the cell block so they can’t see the inmates in a state of undress. Maybe the issue isn’t that they don’t see it as a systemic problem. Maybe the issue is that they don’t see it as a problem.

            • Joanna Schroeder says:

              I do not defend Jezebel or accept it as a representation of what Feminism is, broadly.

            • Well thats convenient. Jezebel’s readership says the same thing about you and this site, too. Funny how anytime someone makes the group look bad, instead of addressing that issue, you guys try to pass the buck. See also, Jezebel/GMP on “Big Red.”

            • Bay Area Guy says:

              I do not defend Jezebel or accept it as a representation of what Feminism is, broadly.

              That’s great, Joanna. Unfortunately, many, if not most feminists don’t share your sentiment in this regard.

            • What would you accept as a representation of what Feminism is, broadly?

    • lukeindetroit says:

      wellokaythen I’m with you. I also think class has a lot to do with it. Whether true or not (and unfortunately I think it is true to an extent), feminism is seen as being populated by primarily upper middle class to upper class women. Working class and poor men (myself, most of my friends) don’t feel like these women are particularly “oppressed” compared to us.

      P.S. This makes it very hard to be a working class, male, feminist. But I’m trying.

      • John Anderson says:

        “P.S. This makes it very hard to be a working class, male, feminist. But I’m trying.”

        Why, even if you just look at the definition of masculinity and femininity you’d see that feminism is already deeply flawed? It is generally accepted n the MRM (as far as I could tell) that masculinity and by extension femininity is defined by each individual person. That eliminates the gender binary which is what is so restrictive and should result in a more welcoming atmosphere for LGBTQ individuals.

        Should masculinity be the same for a gay, trans, and CIS male? Should masculinity be the same for a SAHD and a corporate lawyer? If you say no, then you’re in the wrong movement.

      • Actually, a lot of women who aren’t middle class, straight, white, European/North American, women have historically had issues with feminism too. That’s something feminist groups are still working on today…better inclusion and listening to the minorities within the movement. This is where the concept of intersectionality becomes so important.

        • Lukeindetroit says:

          Heather

          I’m well aware of the Feminist movement’s attempts to grow in this regard. I appreciate it and hope they/you/we keep trying. I just think it’s important to point out how this overlaps with the hesitancy by men to identify with and support the feminist movement. I really don’t think the impact of having your most well known advocates being well-to-do can be overstated. It really makes it hard for a man who is struggling to stay employed, etc to feel any solidarity with the oppression of women

          John

          Not sure what you want from me. I’m a man. I think there are inherent differences between men and women. My masculinity is important to me. And I am in no way interested in Identifying with the MRM, because they are built in opposition to feminism, which I support. Are you trying to recruit me to the MRM? Or just telling me that every man gets to define masculinity fr himself? If it’s the later, I’m with you. My definition of what it means to be a man does not have be anyone elses. But if it’s the former, no thanks

          • Are you trying to recruit me to the MRM? Or just telling me that every man gets to define masculinity fr himself?
            It’s not like those two are mutually exclusive of each other.

          • Oh, yeah, I didn’t mean it as proof that feminism was trying to grow. I meant it more to be like…yeah this problem isn’t *only* alienating some men, it’s *also* alienating some women. So yeah, it’s a continuing issue.

            I just bought this book by Allan Johnson called “The Gender Knot,” which is about men in feminism. I haven’t read any of it, but it’s an explanation of gender inequality from a man…specifically about how patriarchy affects both men AND women. Looks like it could be good, so I’m throwing it out there as a possible read for people. :)

          • John Anderson says:

            @ Lukeindetroit

            MRAs believe that each person has the right to define and seek their own happiness. If you choose to label your self a feminist and it’s important to you more power to you. I’ve found many aspects of MRA philosophy to be quire superior to feminist theory.

            For example MRAs don’t elevate sex to some mystical standing. Sex is an aspect of a person’s life. They set the level of importance. You’ll hear MRAs and feminist argue over affirmative as opposed to enthusiastic consent. Many feminists argue that any sex that is unwanted is rape. MRAs believe that someone can willingly have sex they don’t want to male their partner happy. A lot of people hate their jobs, but that doesn’t mean that they’re being abused.

            MRAs believe that relationships are voluntary. You’ll hear feminists demand that X, Y, and Z must be fulfilled each and every time a sex act is granted and then throw a fit if an MRA suggests that if his partner isn’t fulfilling his needs and they can’t work it out, he’s entitled to find love somewhere else. Many of them feel that if a man enters into a relationship it entitle the woman to that relationship regardless of his level of fulfillment. Of course that works in reverse to. A woman can leave a relationship she’s not being fulfilled in as well.

            Funny thing is since relationships are voluntary if I found truth in feminism, I could switch labels tomorrow without a second consideration, but I wouldn’t ask you to switch labels. You might, however, be interested in MRA philosophy. A poster asked why don’t they have ask the MRA? I think the answer is that feminists fear the MRA philosophy. Am I trying to recruit you to the MRA philosophy? Feminists indoctrinate. MRAs educate. What I’m saying is that if what you believe is worth believing in, it should be able to survive scrutiny.

          • John Anderson says:

            @ Lukeindetroit

            Hopefully, my previous comment gets approved or this will sound strange.
            Let me just clarify the job example. I could love my job, but don’t feel like coming into work today because I have low energy. I go to work to keep myself in good standing with my job, but that doesn’t mean I was abused. I could like aspects of my job, but not other aspects. If I find more value in the aspects that I like so that it more than makes up for the things that I don’t, am I being abused because I don’t like my job all the time? If you just flat out hate your job, that’s where choices and consequences come in. Staying in a job is a choice also. It may be safer and more familiar, but the consequence is that you give up a chance at being happy. Everyone would agree that a person should have the right to change a job they were unhappy in. Why does one have to stay in a relationship they are unhappy with?

            Yes, I told my boss once that I need a job. I don’t necessarily need this one. The look on her face was priceless.

  8. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I have a few probably disconnected thoughts. Even though I’m probably what would be called a gender essentialist, I have been an ally of feminism since the early 70s. I believe that women and men should have absolute political and economic equality. I think that the issue for me is when we get down to roles, culture, and biology. I do think that there’s something immutable to the male body, the male psychology, and many male roles. When these (socially desirable items) are distorted, we have patriarchy, and that has indeed been a bad thing, although I’d argue probably inevitable, given historical scarcity. But we do need people who are strong, who can stand up bravely, and who can unite with others to defend if necessary the group. Women are joining this group now too, and that’s great. The other day, at a writing retreat where I was the only man, I told the other participants I liked Robert Bly and encountered some resistance. But Bly is necessary, I think. We need myths that can unite men (in their manhood) for socially useful purposes– not just a desire to denude social life and have men and women become alike in a sort of mod featureless techno field. Some non-traditional male roles are great – the gay philosopher/healers the Native Americans had, for example. But I think that ignoring the good parts of the masculine in general sets us up for sort of an unhappy, alienated consciousness all too often.

  9. When these (socially desirable items) are distorted, we have patriarchy, and that has indeed been a bad thing, although I’d argue probably inevitable, given historical scarcity.”

    ______________________________

    Why do you believe this to be true? Do you believe patriarchy exists? Why do you think it is evil?

    It fascinates me when men turn against their own sex. I know the feminists love it, but what about you?

    _____________________________________________________________
    “But we do need people who are strong, who can stand up bravely, and who can unite with others to defend if necessary the group.”

    ________________________________________________________________

    We both know that men cannot stand up bravely for anything or anyone for fear of upsetting a feminist. Assertiveness and courage and strength and ambition are seen as part of the evil patriarchy for men and rubbish about ‘privilege’ – while women are encouraged and supported to be aggressive warriors and fighters.

    How does this obvious fact fit with your comments about the patriarchy?

    • Hank Vandenburgh says:

      Tim– bourgeois society (industrial production) led to an intense patriarchal ideal. Men would be paterfamiliae; women would be ideal mothers. Before that, women and men kind of balanced off against each other in separate realms. Women are justly now getting into positions of political and economic equality, and I have no problem with that. If you track my comments here, you’ll that many are problematic to feminists. I don’t believe in male or white privilege, for example. (It would probably be more accurate to say that I do believe in privilege but I believe that there are always many privilege differentials between any two individuals, in reverse directions.) I am sex-positive, too. Sometimes that gets some feminists upset because they want to retain Victorian protections for women by advocating sex-negativity. Now I really don’t care what gets feminists upset. Most of my women friends like me, and I’ve been lovers with some of them, and we’re still friends. I’d say most of them are feminists. My male friends range. I’m known in a couple of contexts for busting people for misandry, and I think I’ve been right when I’ve done it. I was ad hominemed to death in one of them, called a creep, a perv, and a misogynist, when I suggested women project surplus danger on men.

  10. Lukeindetroit says:

    Love the bus example Heather. Perfectly illustrates the messiness of the issue, and the fact that there are gray areas. We want to live out our beliefs, but at the same time not every hill is worth dying on, and the fact that you choose your battles doesn’t make you a hypocrite. Thanks for illustrating that in a simple and clear fashion.

    • Thanks. :) It’s actually something I had to learn how to do, pick my battles.

    • I also have another example, actually…because sometimes a feminist might not always recognize whether what she’s doing is reinforcing patriarchal norms or not.

      Once, I was on a late night train that was really crowded and there was no place for me to sit. I was going to be on this train for 10 hours. A man offered me his seat. I asked him how far he was going and he said he it wasn’t very long, though he didn’t give me an exact time. So, sleepy person that I was, and not knowing when the next seat would become available, I took his seat.

      So did he offer me his seat because I’m a woman? Or did he offer it to me because he knew we has going to be getting off soon? Or was it some combination of the two? Maybe he wouldn’t have offered me the seat if I were a man. But maybe he also wouldn’t have offered me the seat if he were going to be on the train for a long time.

      More importantly, at the time, I just didn’t think about it. So there’s that too. A feminist is a person…we can’t always be hyper-aware of the gender politics of a personal interaction.

      • I use to want to be chivalrous but I cut that shit out because it’s actually pretty damn sexist and causes a lot of issues. I give up my seat to those less able-bodied, or if I get that instinct that someone else needs the seat more like someone more sleepy than I am.

  11. Bay Area Guy says:

    Heather

    I appreciate the time and thought you put into answering my question.

    I can certainly understand how living an ideology can be inconvenient or even lead to social suicide at times. I have very strong views, but when I’m around new people or people I don’t know or trust very well, I remain silent because it’s not worth alienating people just to prove a point.

    That being said…

    I still think it’s a bit of a cop-out for feminists. Feminists have fought tooth and nail to ensure that women enjoy representation in high paying jobs, politics, and various other powerful institutions. They’ve gone toe to toe with the corporatocracy, prominent religious figures, and government in order to secure their rights.

    And still, they shy away from taking initiative in dating and other aspects of their personal lives because they don’t want to make waves, upset people, cultural expectations, etc?

    To me, that sounds like a bit of an excuse. They want equality when it benefits them (as they should), and yet the areas where they remain traditional are precisely the ones where they benefit (ie. men having to take all the initiative in dating, pay for dates, etc).

    Seems a little too convenient for me.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Assuming that were true, that we keep an unequal balance in dating on purpose, should that nullify the need for feminism and equality?

      Can’t we appreciate the equality that feminism strive for, and also keep striving for more equality for all?

      • Bay Area Guy says:

        @ Joanna

        So long as feminists don’t cherry pick the kind of equality they desire. All or nothing, in my book.

    • wellokaythen says:

      If there is such a thing as human nature, it’s human nature to pick and choose what works for you from larger ideologies, political movements, religions, cultures, customs, and ideas around you and try to ignore the ones that you find less useful. Very few people are totally ideologically pure, completely consistent, and in total alignment with the larger collective. That’s the exception rather than the rule. Just about everyone goes through life like a cafeteria line, choosing some things from the menu and setting aside others. (They may not be fully aware that they’re doing this, of course.)

      Every new social or political movement has had people who support some parts and don’t have much use for other parts. I don’t see why feminism should be any different.

      I keep hearing “cognitive dissonance” used as a form of criticism or as evidence that a pattern of thought is about to collapse under its own internal contradictions. “You’re stupid because you’re not consistent! Your movement is doomed!” Please. It just means having ideas that are not consistent with each other and maybe even contradictory to each other. So? Societies can go for millennia on contradictory ideas. Ideas are like genetic lines: purity is a deadend, and it’s the mutts who live longer. Total ideological consistency is like inbreeding.

      • wellokaythen says:

        I can’t really criticize. I pick and choose which parts of feminism are in my self-interest and which parts I find inconvenient. I don’t see why anyone of any gender shouldn’t be able to do the same thing. Ideally we would all have equal opportunity to be self-servingly selective…..

      • I agree with this to a point, in that I definitely think that rigidly sticking to an ideology is a problem. I’m also generally not too worried about consistency, so long as the person who has changed their position can explain why they changed their position. I’ve changed my opinions about issues quite a lot…but I always try to think it through and consider different possibilities.

        To me, when it become hypocrisy and “cognitive dissonance” is when someone doesn’t realize they’ve changed their position. Or when someone is unwilling to admit that they’ve changed their position. “I used to think this, and now that I’ve heard different opinions, I’ve changed my mind,” is totally fine. Or, “I sometimes agree with this, and I sometimes agree with that,” is also fine. Or even, “I can’t quite make up my mind which side I agree with,” is fine. It’s when someone just says, “I whole-heartedly agree with this,” and then later changes position without acknowledging that change, that it becomes a problem.

      • Bay Area Guy says:

        Of course, other people are going to pick and choose what most benefits them.

        However, I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and let them do it with impunity.

      • Lukeindetroit says:

        There is ABSOLUTELY such a thing as human nature. To deny it flies in the face of science, common sense, and every day obesrvations

    • “I have very strong views, but when I’m around new people or people I don’t know or trust very well, I remain silent because it’s not worth alienating people just to prove a point.”

      I can’t help but think that you JUST acknowledged that you do this, and then question why feminists do the same thing. In dating, for better or worse, the stakes in the first meeting are quite high…first impressions are quite important. I might not have ever dated men, but I’m familiar enough with the whole dynamic to know that women who approach men first are ridiculed as desperate and/or slutty. I’ve seen it happen. Heck, even when approaching other women I’ve felt a bit worried that I’ll be seen as desperate…because that’s not what women do. So when a woman changes the script, she is automatically suspected of deviance. (When a man changes the script, he’s suspected of deviance too, obviously).

      My point being, I don’t know any feminists who purposefully stick to the gender script for dating for any reason except that they don’t want to scare a guy away. It’s not malicious or hypocrisy. It’s just that they’re worried that deviating too much from the expected will make them the target of ridicule, mockery, etc.

      • Heather, it doesn’t matter what reason those feminists give for sticking to gender scripts in dating, they’re still hypocrites. Did feminists worry about driving men away when they decided to pursue careers and other rights that allowed them to better control their lives? You can’t then turn around and use fear as an excuse to justify blatant hypocrisy, all while claiming that your all about getting rid of gender roles. Would feminists accept this sort of excuse from a man who engaged in sexist behavior because he was afraid of what the other guys might say? In most cases I don’t think they would be so forgiving in fact they constantly take men to task for this sort of thing so they should own their hypocrisy as well.

        • Bay Area Guy says:

          Did feminists worry about driving men away when they decided to pursue careers and other rights that allowed them to better control their lives? You can’t then turn around and use fear as an excuse to justify blatant hypocrisy, all while claiming that your all about getting rid of gender roles. Would feminists accept this sort of excuse from a man who engaged in sexist behavior because he was afraid of what the other guys might say?

          Very well said.

        • I see this complaint from guys all the time but really what guys are saying is that they want attractive, most desirable women to pursue them. If women really pursued as much as men do, however, 90% of the time you’d be getting hit on by women who are not attractive to you. You’d have to tolerate older, fatter, unappealing women asking you out. Is that really an advantage? I think you would quickly tire of it.

          • Then I humbly submit that you are only listening to certain guys.

            For a lot of us it actually is a desire to be pursued by women, no more no less. Yes it would be idea if there were women we found attractive among them (though not the “most desireable women” as you put it.

            You’d have to tolerate older, fatter, unappealing women asking you out. Is that really an advantage? I think you would quickly tire of it.
            This is the proverbial man who has loved and lost telling the man who hasn’t loved at all that what his thoughts on love are.

          • Those guys aren’t necessarily saying “I want good looking women to hit on me”, they’re saying they are tired of always being expected to play a role that usually require them to do all of the initiating. Equality can sometimes mean giving Up certain privileges and if that means that men will now have to deal with undesirable women hiting on them then so be it.

            • Bay Area Guy says:

              Those guys aren’t necessarily saying “I want good looking women to hit on me”, they’re saying they are tired of always being expected to play a role that usually require them to do all of the initiating.

              Again, very well said, Jack. Many guys are simply tired of being invisible.

            • Wait, there are guys who get hit on? Do they have rainbows with gold in their pants or something?

          • @Sarah

            “I see this complaint from guys all the time but really what guys are saying is that they want attractive, most desirable women to pursue them. ”

            Not at all. Actually, I’m fully cognizant of the fact that, even if women en masse started to ask men out tomorrow, I would likely not be one of those men asked.

            I don’t say that women should ask men out as some sort of attempt to improve my own chances in the dating sphere. I say that women should ask men out in the hope that maybe, finally, women as a whole will begin to understand how brutal a thing it is to have to do over and over again. How many “no”s the average man will hear before he finally gets to a “maybe” and how maybe, finally, there can be a little empathy towards men who aren’t particularly suave, who don’t always “have all the right moves”

            • No one who is asking someone out politely and in good faith deserves to be treated rudely, I agree with you on that absolutely.

              I guess I just wanted to point out that being pursued rather than the pursuer will probably not increase your chances of finding what you want. Dating is hard because you have to find someone with mutual attraction and compatibility and that is just really really difficult. You can’t force anyone to find you attractive nor can you force yourself to be attracted to people you aren’t attracted to.

              Basically 80% of the population is chasing the most desirable 20% of the population and so it is crappy for 80% of us. I’d like to see both men and women feel attraction to a more diverse group of people but that will probably never happen because we are probably hard wired to like what we like.

      • wellokaythen says:

        In response to no one in particular:

        I assume that everyone in a dating situation has some sort of strategy, at least in the early days of a dating relationship. If a strategy has worked well for one group of people or shows benefits to one group of people, I’d expect other groups of people to adopt it and adapt it to their purposes.

        (Which is why I see a great way to test the idea that one sex has all the privilege in dating. If you really think women have all the power in dating, then borrow their strategy. Act “like a woman” in your dating, then, if it’s such the dominant strategy. Same with women – if you think men have all the power, then use their strategy. If the script is everything, then use the winning one.)

        Also, if I have a strategy or script that I use as a guideline, that does not necessarily mean that I expect the other person to follow exactly the script that I have in my head. If I do, then I’m an idiot. For example, if a woman’s strategy is to be cautious in taking the initiative, that doesn’t mean she demands that a man always take the initiative. What looks like a “traditional gender script” may be that, or it may just have some similarities.

        • Bay Area Guy says:

          Which is why I see a great way to test the idea that one sex has all the privilege in dating. If you really think women have all the power in dating, then borrow their strategy. Act “like a woman” in your dating, then, if it’s such the dominant strategy. Same with women – if you think men have all the power, then use their strategy. If the script is everything, then use the winning one.

          But that would never work or be an accurate experiment, because men could never implement female dating tactics and enjoy the same success that they do. They can’t sit back and expect women to approach or initiate things with them.

          • wellokaythen says:

            Then I must be missing part of the equation. (Wouldn’t be the first time….) If women have all the dating power but using their powerful strategy doesn’t work for men, then there must be some other even more powerful factor at work here. If men attempting to change the rules of dating would have no impact on the dating scene, then that’s pretty fatalistic.

            If that’s the case, then we can’t really criticize women for not changing their strategy. No one can really complain about how unfair it all is, because that would be like complaining about gravity — can’t change it, just have to deal with it. Unless we’re expecting women to simply give up all that power just out of the goodness of their hearts, as pure altruism. Not bloody likely.

            I’ve been assuming that if enough men approach dating differently for long enough, then the system would start to change. Is that not true?

            • John Anderson says:

              “because that would be like complaining about gravity — can’t change it, just have to deal with it. Unless we’re expecting women to simply give up all that power just out of the goodness of their hearts, as pure altruism. Not bloody likely.”

              But isn’t this precisely what feminism is suggesting from men? Aren’t they saying that men have all the power and privilege and should just give it up?

            • Currently as women are the pursued, men are the pursuers women’s attempts to draw attention to herself are how she often starts the dating process. Her job is to look pretty enough or interesting enough for the man to notice and start talking to her, whilst she tries to signal him via various body language. Once that occurs it’s up to both of them to jump through each others hoops. For casual sex the marketplace has far more men willing which gives her enormous power. I’ve heard that men apparently hold power in finding a relationship however since more women want one…but I am yet to see evidence of that around where I live at least, every woman I know is dating, and I know plenty of single guys. :P Power varies on location, areas with more of one gender give power to the other, types of relationships which have less of one gender give more power to them for instance due to the market.

            • I’ve heard that men in Scandinavia are passive in the dating scene and women have to make the first moves as a result. I don’t know if it’s true since I’ve never lived in Scandinavia, but I have read several places that the dating scene there us quite different than in the U.S.

              If men all stopped pursuing women then women would have to become more aggressive. That seems logical. As long as sone men are willing to be aggressive then many wonen find it more beneficial to sit back and wait to be approached.

              You have to look at it from a woman’s point of view. An attractive woman has so many offers that she has no reason to seek out the men who AREN’T actively pursuing her. From her perspective, everyone is pursuing her. Meanwhile, a less attractive woman has fewer offers but she may see it as a self selecting mechanism. She knows that most men aren’t attracted to her, so taking the initiative won’t do any good. She might as well wait for the occasional man who is attracted to show himself.

            • “From her perspective, everyone is pursuing her. Meanwhile, a less attractive woman has fewer offers but she may see it as a self selecting mechanism. She knows that most men aren’t attracted to her, so taking the initiative won’t do any good. She might as well wait for the occasional man who is attracted to show himself.”

              Then that women has just understood the male experience, men probably largely do not feel attractive as they aren’t pursued, men that aren’t hitting on anyone and getting success have no way to know they are attractive really. The first time I ever felt somewhat attractive was just after having sex for the first time with someone that wanted me sexually and romantically/dating wise. But it’s rare…

            • I suppose the difference is that women can wait around and hope someone eventually shows interest, while for men, if they wait around they will just be ignored. That does suck, I agree.

              Maybe one thing men don’t understand is that women need more interaction (as a rule) to feel attraction. It’s not just a visual reaction like “he’s cute I’ll talk to him.” I NEVER feel strongly attracted to a guy no matter how objectively good looking he is. At best I might think, “he ‘s rather good looking” but I have absolutely no sexual interest. It’s purely aesthetic.

              I become attracted to men because of their personalities, humor, intelligence, conversational skills, our emotional connection, and so on. I’m not saying that I have no purely physical attraction to men but my sexual interest depends on a lot of other intangible factors. Do I generally ignore men when I’m out in the world? The answer is yes, unfortunately. They don’t impinge on my consciousness any more than anyone else. I don’t know if all other women are like me but I’d guess it’s a fair number. So aside from my feeling that taking the initiative wouldn’t work for me personally, there is also the issue that I just never really feel attracted enough to take the initiative unless I’ve gotten to know someone and we’ve talked a lot and are already connecting. And at that point things usually proceed naturally if there is mutual interest. “Hey want to get a cup of coffee?” that sort of thing.

              I can see this creates a huge disadvantage for shy men because if they never interact with me, I will never develop a feeling of attraction for them. If they are too shy to have a conversation, then I’ll never get to know them enough to want to get to know them better. If every interaction I do have with them feels painfully awkward, I will just be feeling nervous and awkward and will never develop a sense of emotional connection to them that will lead to feelings of sexual attraction.

              For me, a man’s purely physical attributes have very little to do with whether I want to have sex with him or not. I’m not saying it has nothing to do with it, but it’s not my top criteria. I would actually prefer not to date extremely good looking men because I don’t trust them! :-) If I have a bias, it’s actually against the extremely good looking. (I had a boyfriend for awhile in my youth who was extremely good looking and he never passed up an opportunity to remind me that he was in a higher class of attractiveness than I was and that he could probably do better. I eventually broke up with him.)

              Also, I should mention that most of my boyfriends have been on the shyer /nerdier side although I have also dated a few aggressive alpha males. I prefer the nerdier guys. So I’m not prejudiced against shy or nerdy guys, it’s just hard to get my hormones going if they won’t talk to me. My current boyfriend is a computer programmer and quite shy but we started dating slowly and were friends first.

      • “My point being, I don’t know any feminists who purposefully stick to the gender script for dating for any reason except that they don’t want to scare a guy away.”

        Hmm I dont think so. Majority of women ( and feminists ) think why they should not approach men because that’s what men should do. Because they think men who have no courage to approach her are not worthy as a partner ( but women who have no courage to approach men are worthy ? ), because they think its unmanly for a man to have insecurity and lack of confidence to approach women, because they think its women role to being approached, because they think its what dating should be, men approach and women being approached. I’m all for equality but tired for all these femininity and masculinity dynamic we have as a gender. I’m all for feminism if its for making all gender barriers vanished, but clearly its not.

  12. A question on privilege and representation: you’ve often mentioned the concept of male privilege and men’s perspectives being represent in mainstream public forums. I find this particularly interesting, because I see the logic in the theory, yet I have observed, in my own life, that reality does not always conform to theory.

    I know of many white, cisgender, straight men who have not been granted the privileges you speak of. Could it be possible, that if such men fail to comply with expected behaviours for their cohort, that they could end up being stigmatized and ostracized by their own societies? Are their aspects of feminist theory that could account for this?

    In regards to representation; as a white, straight, cisgender man, I do not feel as though my thoughts, ideas and feelings are represented in the media, entertainment, or by any popular political parties, etc. In fact, I am quite frustrated that, on the one hand, I have white men in suits, running my country, who claim to speak on my half, and the other, to be told that is a privilege to be have my voice as a man represented these empty suits so well. I may be white, male, straight, etc., but the views of CNN, the white house and GQ, are not representing me. Can feminist theory explain this discrepancy?

    Perhaps all of my experiences and those of other men, are merely just one-offs? Would that explain why certain people’s experiences do not conform with the expectations set fourth by feminism and other social theories?

  13. Bay Area Guy says:

    Re: Feminist Men

    Frankly, I’m very skeptical of the notion that feminists are welcoming of male voices in the debates on gender and masculinity.

    The only men whose opinions they deem acceptable are men such as Hugo Schwyzer and Jamie Utt, who spend all of their time either bashing men or apologizing for their own masculinity.

    Most men are not feminists, particularly not the openly man hating brand espoused by the likes of Schwyzer and Utt.

    So how can feminist women truly claim to be interested in hearing men’s voices or input when they only consider a minority of male opinion acceptable?

    • Hold on. Now I’ll be the first to agree that the male feminists listed there have said some out there things (and I wonder if any non-feminist men have crossed their minds) but at the same time I wouldn’t say that that is all they do.

  14. Bay Area Guy says:

    Well, it’s not all they do.

    Still, their fundamental message is that men and masculinity suck, and that only by “drinking from the chalice of feminism” (as Marcus once put it) can they be saved.

    • Bay Area Guy says:

      I guess I should have said, “most of the time.” All of the time was just a figure of speech. I stand by my point. Every time I read a Hugo Schwyzer article, I’m tempted to mockingly flagellate myself with a belt and scream, “I’m sorry for being male!”

    • Now as funny as that is and with how understandable such a statement is (but frankly that attitude does exist) I have to take a moment to be thankful that there are those among them that really don’t believe that.

  15. Heather I’d like to ask you about your opinion on the continued relevance of the feminist label. In the recent Jezebel article, that was posted elsewhere on this page and which received a good amount of praise in feminist circles, the author bemoans that while she would love to be able to just be a humanist the patriarchy just won’t let her. Her argument seems to be that until all people are “equal” we mustn’t throw away the feminist label just yet. I find a number of problems in this position. Firstly, I don’t think a perfectly equal world is possible (though we should always strive for one) and that is not what labeling yourself as a humanist implies. Being called a humanist only speaks to how you personally view humanity and says nothing about the current state of the world. West however, seems to think that humanism is a label that we keep tucked away in our back pockets until the promised day arrives and people of all walks of life are finally “equal”. But not only does she seem to think that humanism is a word reserved for when the world is “healed”, but she also seems to think that feminism should take it upon itself to fight other forms of oppression as well. In effect she’s claiming that feminism will be here until we live in a perfect world which is just another way of saying it will be here forever. Even if we were to narrow things down to gender issues, not many feminists seem to be able to establish clear goals that will allow us to know when the movement has served its purpose.

    So TLDR, What were your general thoughts on that article and what method do you personally use to know when you will no longer need to call yourself a feminist?

  16. http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-definition/

    Anywho, on to the rest of this. The idea that women are not longer the “underdog” and that men are thinking ‘you passed me,’ and so that is alienating them…from what I’ve picked up from all these conversations and what-not, a lot of that is class-based. A lot of what I’m seeing non-feminist men claim as “proof” that women have it better, or at least that men have it worse…aren’t gender based oppressions, but rather class based oppressions. With the introduction of the idea of intersectionality, you get a lot of feminists now talking about how a white, middle class straight woman probably does have an easier life and a lot of advantages that a working class, gay man of colour probably does (for example). But the reasons her life are easier are to do with class, sexuality and race…not gender. A man in the same position as she is, would still have more benefits than she does (because all other things being equal, men are the privileged gender). And there are still certain gender oppressions against women that cut across class, race, etc. (i.e. sexual objectification).

    The link points to a self-serving definition of sexism, and of oppression.

    Men are the privileged gender…only in some conspiracy. Finally Feminism 101 is leading it. It doesn’t make it reality.

    I’m much more privileged now as a woman than I ever was when perceived as a man.

    My voice and opinion holds more weight in everything that matters (my life, my health, my happiness, my interests, my romantic happenings, my relationships and being safe from bad things happening to me). I might be condescended to if I talk about a topic I know little about, or join a closed circle of people who are experienced (regardless of my own degree of expertise). I’ll be judged as non-threatening and not worthy of monitoring every second for violent pedophilic behavior or rapist tendencies – regardless of my actual propensity or capacity for such.

    Where’s the bad? I have less chance to be a CEO? I have more chance to marry one. Why would I do the work if someone can do it for me?

    • In my opinion I think privilege varies greatly throughout the time in history ,the area where you live, your culture, your workplace, etc. As for an overall privilege it’s evident maybe in Afghanistan but in the west I think it’s starting to become very vague as to who truly holds privilege. For instance men outnumber women in injuries on the workplace but they also get more money in male-industries. Violence against women is a big issue but far more men die from violence and violence is a bigger risk for men, how do you balance that? Who holds privilege there? In the U.S women actually have a right that men don’t, selective service harms the men. You could also argue women are one of the most protected groups in existence in many western countries, far more protected than men in violence (in Australia women’s violence victimization is disproportionately much much more in the spotlight).

      As for time…when major war breaks out, women who aren’t conscripted whilst men are in that country gain a stupidly high level of privilege because a man has just lost the right to safety, right to choose for himself, he’s forced into an EXTREMELY dangerous situation whilst women are not.

      Men hold privilege in positions of government power, business, but women hold huge positions of power in anything to do with children and have a huge influence on them. Women as a gender have sexual power more so than men, men as a gender have financial power more so than women. Men have strength privilege, women have empathy privilege (much more allowance for a wider range of emotions, and more support whereas men have to be more stoic n suffer in silence for instance). Women live longer, men die earlier, most women (and 1 man) have access to the miracle of having a child, men (and some women) get to have children without the huge and risky burden of pregnancy (very simplistic view of the genders here, so forgive me).

      Who actually wins? I’m not really convinced either gender gets it better in my country, if I had to choose my gender I would roll the dice because there are heavy pros n cons on each side. As a woman I would have more chance of being raped, as a man I would have more chance of being killed and more chance of being physically assaulted, both fucking suck. Quite frankly you could make an argument for either gender has it worse depending on criteria and what is important to you, I’ve seen women deny the privilege of the power of sexuality in a society where men do most of the pursuing and women still remain largely the gatekeepers to sex. Then you get men denying their privileges such as more of your gender on TV and in media, being the default. Life and society are far too complex to make it a simple “this gender has it better”. Both genders feel pain, loss, sadness, anger, feeling left out, commit suicide, harm themselves, etc. I don’t think many people truly grasp how bad the OTHER gender gets it so it often becomes a pissing match of who suffers more. Neither stand out as a more attractive gender to choose if you have a magic spell to change your body n identity. I’d MUCH prefer to be able to choose to be rich, healthy body, intelligence, etc than have the choice of gender.

      • wellokaythen says:

        What makes it even harder to weigh privilege is that we keep finding it everywhere. Everyone looking for privilege in other people has found privilege in other people. The test always comes back positive, and there’s no way to disprove allegations of privilege. Even my writing this paragraph can be used as evidence of my privilege.

        • True. The accusations of privilege has pretty much turned into shouting matches of, “I know you are but what am I?”.

          Oh but if you believe it hard enough then you can declare someone privileged and then use that to dismiss all sorts of stuff and stat all sorts of facts and truths and suddenly certain groups actually do have it worst than other and certain voices actually do matter more than other and certain voices actually do deserve to be shut out.

          The test always comes back positive, and there’s no way to disprove allegations of privilege.
          Oh but its fun to watch them try. I especially love the, “I’m ____ so there is no way I have privilege but since you are ____ that means you certain have privilege.”

          Privilege, the one topic where absolutes are not just allowed but encouraged.

          • Some privileges are pretty evident, like I can’t think of a single privilege that aboriginal people get here but I can think of privileges women get. Race, able-bodied/disabled, mentally/physically ill vs healthy, rich vs poor all have extremely clear privileges but the male-female one is far far more tricky in my country, in Afghanistan from what little I know it’s far more evident that men are privileged bigtime. Hell shorter people have privilege on planes, more legroom and comfort!!! But then I have more privilege in being able to see over crowds and possibly earn more money in my life with the taller and more dominant frame…get too tall though and you usually have a fucked heart. AHHH the complexity of life.

            • wellokaythen says:

              I can imagine someone suggesting that male aboriginal Australians have male privilege especially if they are in any way “assimilated” into Euro-Australian (is that a word?) society.

              Anyway, if an aboriginal person claimed that he had privilege, then privilege theory as it’s usually applied would say that we are obligated to believe him. Self-definition is always accurate if you say you have it. But, if you say you don’t have it, then you are in denial, and your failure to detect it is actually proof of your privilege.

              I know at least one person that I would label a “privilege hypochondriac.” There’s no way to test, prove, or disprove that she is, unfortunately.

  17. HeatherN, I just read a comment on Jezebel on this article ht tp://jezebel.com/if-mras-actually-wanted-to-mobilize-behind-the-issues-t-477351877

    “What I’m getting around to, is that there are two types of MRAs: the naive kind and the arsehole kind. It’s worth repeating ourselves over and over again because if the former kind of MRA is listening to the right thing at the right time he might realize he is really a feminist.”

    If some people are willing to label someone ELSE as an MRA or a feminist then you can pretty much assign any online trolling to whatever group you want. The comments that apparently threaten rape that I see do not say that person is an MRA. What makes a person a feminist or an MRA, do they have to self-identify as such? Or can we just assign it to anyone, and let’s say I assign it to Aileen Wuornos (Killed 7 people) and assign it to other females who kill (or online trolls that threaten rape) then using the Jezebel logic are feminists serial killers? This is the problem of generalizations, some feminists rape n murder n beat their partners, abuse their kids (same with some MRA’s too I’m sure) so we get comments like MRA’s threaten rape, feminists want to kill baby boys (radfemhub), etc. Is it right to label someone into a group they don’t actively identify as? I have been called both a feminist and an MRA both even as insults.

    How can feminism be free from generalizations and bigotry towards it (extreme anti-feminism, not just the anti-feminist who are merely critics) if there are feminist authors so willing to use the same stupidity towards the MRA? I personally believe some feminists are the absolute best people at creating anti-feminists (and same in reverse to some of the MRA’s creating anti-MRA’s). Shouldn’t both feminists n MRA’s be telling their respective members to STFU on the bigotry and mass generalizations?

    • In my articles I only refer to people as they present. For protesters of CAFE events, I refer to them as protesters, not feminists, unless they identify as such. If they DO identify as feminists (or communists, or libertarians, or some other large group) I identify them as self-identified feminists, since then that just highlights how they choose to label themselves and preemptively prevents the knee-jerk response of “not all feminists (communists, libertarians) are like that.

      I talk about people for their individuality and who or what they choose to represent themselves as. Christians can disagree on Christian values for example, while both still being christian. The same is true of any held perspective (MRA, feminist, communist, etc.).

      • Thanks for the comment. That is how it should be, and this is why I have issue with people saying MRA’s a hate movement based off unknown people’s action. 4chan, etc troll the FUCK out of everything they can from what I understand, how many of the threats were from MRA’s and how many from trolls? I see manboobz has a new article that at least doesn’t apply the label unless they self-identify, but just says mra-ish and other terms which is an improvement.

      • wellokaythen says:

        That level of precision and objectivity and constructiveness will just not do around here. You might confuse me with facts. : – )

  18. Re. male feminist allies.

    In order to be one he must deny women’s agency and participation in the cycle of violence and also argue that women are generally the victims and men are generally perpetrators and male victims and female perpetrators deserve little or less recognition compared to female victims and male perpetrators, so how is this male not a “patriarchal male” given that he is promoting the same sexist gender stereotypes and assumptions that are said to underpin patriarchy?

  19. As several people have said, feminism is a lot of different things. I don’t think anyone can say feminism is academic feminism and not the feminism that gets discussed on-line at sites like Jezebel or Feministe. Likewise, you can’t say that on-line feminism is feminism and academic feminism isn’t. And talking about on-line feminism, it’s important to distinguish between the typically somewhat reasoned blog entries at Feministe, for example, and the often times nasty discussions that ensue. However, the people running Feministe know who their audience is and so they can’t say their discussion pieces are more representative of their site than the discussions they inspire.

    People use ideologies or parts of ideologies to further their own aims. People like to have that ubiquitous “it” both ways. If that’s true, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Feminists would do that, because Feminists are people. Whether Feminism and people who identify as Feminist should be embraced or at least respected by men has to be about the entire picture, though. To me, this big picture Feminism, the parts I find reasonable and the parts I don’t, does things that are worthwhile. It also does things that are pretty reprehensible.

    On balance, I can support what Feminism does that I can see opens opportunities for and advocates for the safety and respectful treatment of women, and especially the women I care about personally. I want my daughters to have the same range of opportunities and no more or less risk than my son has in pursuing those opportunities. Likewise, I want my son to have more opportunities than traditional masculinity encourages, but I’m not sure Feminism is directly involved in that effort, or should be.

    The things that I find reprehensible about Feminism or some Feminists are for me properly thought of as excesses, and not the core of what Feminism is.

  20. Heather,

    I wanted to ask where larger social concerns come into the picture.

    I ask as an individual who was involved in a lot of radical (Anarchist) political activism in my relative youth and who could, at that time, ask a room of leftist Anarchists if they were Feminists and get a “yeah, duh!” reaction without any concern whatsoever.

    Why is it that I’m now not allowed in Feminist spaces? If you asked me outside of the PP clinic we counter-protested every third Sunday each month, I would have (and, if you want to get down to it, still probably would) describe myself as a Feminist. So would have every person I knew in those circles.

    And part of that is because we did see the “place of women” as mostly equal but needing specific legal rights. Abortion-access is the great example. But women in the movement understood that white, middle-class women weren’t at risk, systemically. That their lives would be capable of happiness if they found it. We posit that inner-city youth, for example, are never, ever given the same sort of opportunity regardless of gender as any individual who is born into a minority ghetto.

    But now we’re at a point where we’re demonizing men for being men. Further, we’re demonizing other individuals on the Left for essential thoughtcrime. And we’re engaging in the lovely Leftist pasttime of weakening ourselves for the goal of whatever “purity” is currently trendy.

  21. Eagle35 says:

    Archy: “Finally would you want to talk to people whom your previous experience showed them dismissing your opinion because they were male and had “privilege” if you were a male? Where shaming n silencing goes on because HeatherN this actually happens quite a lot online to many men, I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of males commenting right now have had the tactics used against them.”

    It’s been awhile but I just had to jump in here.

    Archy, I can’t help but find major common ground with this opinion because that’s what happened to me as well when talking about my past. The same dismissals and minimization from that strand of feminism who supposedly cares, tearing me down with “You’re still privileged”, “It’s nothing compared to what women go through”, “You’re an anomaly”.

    But I’d go one step further than that.

    If Feminism, according to HeatherN and co is full of varying philosophies and opinions, why would I want to be in the same space where this strand of feminism that dismissed and minimized my experiences is free to roam? Sure, there are reasonable feminists, but they share the same space as the same people who dismissed me. They’re right there, in the corner, ready to mock me again.

    Let me give you analogy: Say a bully beat me up, causing grievous injury. His cohorts in crime are right there, egging him on, throwing insults on my person. Others just stand there and watch, don’t even come up to me until after the damage is done. One even goes to say “I support you.” then gives me a social group I could be a part of to raise self-esteem.

    I join that group in progress when lo and behold, the bully and his gang are there mixing amongst the people who supposedly cared. Having experienced their wrath, I get visibly uncomfortable while the bully and his lackeys continue their reign of terror rained down upon me.

    Even when this group says they support me, and care, is it really worth putting up with their crap in order to experience the hyped benefits of said social group? When the group refuses to eject them or sees no problem in entertaining their presence when every bone in my body was nearly ground to dust by the bully?

    I don’t think so. Though I have been getting better, if there’s one thing I will never do is become a part of something that, thanks to their monolithic status, allows the very strain that dismissed and minimized me a place in their tent.

    • That’s a good analogy. I have yet to hear a self proclaimed Femenist call out another on anything either said or written no matter how outrageous the statement. HeatherN referring to Jezebel as “problematic is about as strong a statement as you’ll get.

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