Julie Gillis, on egalitarianism and why feminist women listen to men.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a liberal, agnostic, feminist. Humanist. LGBTQ and sexuality advocate. Peacemaker, diplomat. Bourbon drinker. Good humored advocate of gettin’ along!
Interestingly, I’ve found myself at a site focused on men, and many well known feminist writers have left that site recently. I’ve found a voice at a site with many people who have some things in common with me, but more not in common. When I first started writing for GMP I honestly thought I’d be more of a polemicist, but I’m finding that my voice isn’t about the poles but a (hopeful) bridge between groups who have such differences. Which is one of those “duh” moments because I’m not much of a polemicist in any part of my life. I just am not and never have been.
You can imagine my surprise when in one comment I was compared and contrasted to a writer and activist I admire, Amanda Marcotte, and I chuckled because I don’t think it’s apples to apples in any way (not that the Danny was comparing me to her, more contrasting, but still. We don’t do the same things). I was a bit surprised, because she is a fierce political writer and speaker on LGBT and reproductive rights, not to mention someone who has built an amazing presence as a writer, speaker and commentator. I’m not. Yet. Again though, we do entirely different work which I think makes his contrasting not quite on the mark. No offense Danny.
He also mentioned that because I listen to men (in regards to MRA issues, and writing for GMP) I’d be seen as a traitor. I think that’s not entirely true, mostly because I firmly believe that feminist women listen to men. I mean, I do. I feel pretty damn sure Amanda does. As do many other amazing feminists I admire. Like Joanna. Like Lisa.
I think the issue isn’t women listening to men, or feminists listening to MRA’s, but how humans do or do not actually listen to each other, how we protect our ideologies fiercely. Because, like I’ve said, cognitive dissonance, ostracism, and shame drive us all to justify all kinds of things. Including fighting each other when we might (just might) have some common goals, even if they aren’t immediately clear.
I’m a heretic, I suppose, and I’ve always been so. I think ideologies always should be examined, even ones I hold dear. Maybe I will considered a traitor and if so, I guess I’ll deal with it. I’m also pretty sure that I won’t be trusted by most MRAs either. I find plenty to disagree with on that far end of the pole as well. I certainly have read some ugly (to me anyway) stuff on MRA sites.
At this point, my goal isn’t to be trusted so much as it is to understand. Were I to be hired as a consultant or conflict mediator, then I’d have to earn respect and trust on both sides, modeling what I’d hope to engender in the client.
Peace doesn’t mean agreeing. I’m actually a believer that points of view can be wrong and I hold beliefs that I firmly believe are true… (global warming is happening, different races aren’t superior to others, gay people are human beings and their marriages won’t ruin mine, everyone has the right to bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and to know how their body works). I’m more than willing to look at varying systems of getting to the results that seemingly opposing groups want. Reproductive rights for men and women both? Sure! Let’s talk about it. But we have to actually do some work listening. I don’t believe it’s impossible, I just don’t.
Peace and peace work means realizing that the other person you disagree with is still a human being and as such, worthy of basic rights and respect. Then you move forward to figuring out the rest. There will still be fighting. Hard feelings. Deep frustration and there will be back tracking, mistakes and messing up. Hopefully there will be mutual apologies.
At the minimum you have to acknowledge that your “enemy” is human. If you can’t do that, you’ve already lost. And I get that that sounds kind of spiritual and I just said I was an agnostic? I’m difficult, what can I say?
I believe this, people want to be heard and seen. Even when we are heard and seen it’s not always interpreted as such. How I see you, may not feel like being seen. We’ve all got intrapersonal stuff (hard, painful stuff) that’s difficult to carry. We bounce our inner stuff against other people’s inner stuff and then there are interpersonal issues as well. Then take those people and place them in systems…Lots to diagnose and examine if we want to actually get to mutually agreed upon results for big problems facing our country.
I want to do that work and that means working with all sides. Right and left, atheist and evangelical, MRA and Feminist. If that makes me a traitor or a heretic, I suppose that’s what I am. I’m not sure I care so long as I can do the work I find compelling.
photo: ladouseur / flickr