This question wasn’t originally posed by me, but by the feminist writer (and former One in Four staff writer) Laurie Penny. Just recently I’d been posting my own musings on men and feminism (which also explains some of the history behind why Mental Nurse went down the pipes, for those of you still wondering).
For that reason, Mark sent me these thoughts, which he wrote after Penny asked him, “Are you a feminist? What can feminism do for men, and what can men do for feminism?”
Mark: I’m sick of men who give one example from their own life of unfairness resulting from feminism as if that cancels out all injustices that women experience. I suppose privilege is a difficult thing to give up as those in a position of privilege feel it as something deductive – it takes something close to them away from them while contributing in a way far more unfocused to them to adding things to the lives of others. The ending of privilege always looks far more violent than its continuation if you are one of the privileged. The violence used to overthrow a tyrant always looks more shocking than the starving of their people over a period of decades.
One of the by products of feminism is that it is a corrective to men acting like dicks. Men suffer at the hands of other men who act like dicks, unless they are dicks. Why would you want men acting like dicks to continue? Why wouldn’t you want fairness? Why wouldn’t you want diversity, opportunity and change rather than uniformity, rigidity and stasis?
I think men can and should be feminists but only if they remember that you can’t be a feminist while doing all of the things feminism of any stripe is against. Feminism isn’t about putting all women on a pedestal or making all women angelic objects, it’s actually about seeing women and the situations they find themselves in, as they actually are. To do that you have to listen when women speak and help when they act, not speak or act for them. It is not feminism to say ‘I love women, me’. Feminism isn’t just the opposite of misogyny.
One of the finest rules for feminist men is to remember that you can choose to stop being a ‘feminist’, but it’s much harder for a woman to stop being a ‘woman’ in all that socially constructed word connotates.
If you enjoyed this post, you may wish to read my thoughts on the subject of men and feminism here.
To be continued next week, when Mark will be giving the Lib-Con Coalition marks out of ten.