Q&As with Mark Brown 5: Feminism and Men

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.

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About Zarathustra

Trained as a nurse, currently working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Co-editing the Not So Big Society blog. May possibly be an incorporeal being called Phil Dore. All views expressed are in a personal capacity and not necessarily the views of my employer.

4 Responses to “Q&As with Mark Brown 5: Feminism and Men”

  1. Stuart Sorensen 31 May 2012 at 9:56pm

    It is possible to believe in equality without embracing feminism. To imagine that only feminists are interested in equality is superficial. To dismiss out of hand the experiences of those of us who have good reason to distrust many of those who call themselves feminist is much less reasonable a position than I’d have expected.

    Fairness is a human position, it’s not gender specific. Feminism seems to argue for equality whilst so many of its advocates seem determined to maintain division. That’s not a good way to support universal freedoms.

    I am a man who is committed to equality. That’s why I can’t ally myself with a movement that embraces so much female chauvinism. I prefer rights for all regardless of their genitalia.

    Cheers,

    Stuart

  2. we are all born equal and should be treated as such I do not believe Feminism will change this.

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  1. Men's Guide to Not Being Dicks | Tangled Up in Blue Guy - 2 June 2012

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  2. Bell Hooks’ “Feminist Theory: From Margin To Center”: Chapter 1. « Loftier Musings - 3 June 2012

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