Learning Feminism

September 18, 2009

“Feminist” men

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joce Claire @ 5:56 am
Tags: , , , ,

Can men be feminists?

Well, I think they probably could be. Not because I think there are any men free of male privilege, or any men who don’t act on male supremacy, but because I don’t think there are any women who don’t collude with male supremacy in some small way or another. The social conditioning is too ingrained.

So being a feminist can’t mean never partaking in male supremacy, because then there would be no feminists. Feminism means trying to battle male supremacy, every day. Can a man do that? Sure. Do many (any?) of them? Doubtful.

Now, while I think a man could be a feminist, I don’t think he should call himself one. It’s our word, one of the few words created by women, for women. Plus, enough women are against men identifying as feminists that it would just be disrespectful to.

I like “pro-feminist” and “feminist supporter” for men. I don’t like “ally” as a self-designation. I feel like it is the people who are fighting the war who get to decide who their allies are. I want to be able to choose if I want a man as my ally, not be told I’m in an alliance I haven’t consented to. And if I don’t want any men as allies, I want that choice, too.

Now, I think it is very very very important to be wary of pro-feminist men.

Kyle Payne was a popular pro-feminist/anti-porn blogger until it came out that he sexually assaulted a woman (Nine Deuce’s take).

Terrence Crowley, in the essay “The Lie of Entitlement” from the book Transforming a Rape Culture (recommended), writes of how he spent decades in the feminist movement while coercing women into having sex with him.

And my best friend was stalked, and her roommate raped, by a man she met in college who was very active in feminist and anti-rape student groups.

Pro-feminist men can be especially dangerous because you’re more likely to let your guard down with them. But even the best pro-feminist man is never really going to understand. He will never know what it’s like to be raised and socialized as a girl, to be treated as a woman in this culture. At best it will be an intellectual exercise for him. But it is our lives.

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6 Comments »

  1. Yay! New post! This is a really interesting question. I kind of have two answers. The first is my more optimistic and forgiving, less radical side that tells me we HAVE to let them be feminists. If we won’t allow the ones who *believe* women are humans–even if only by virtue of philosophical abstraction–call themselves feminist, we’re being too exclusive. They are the ones with the power, after all.

    Then I think, no. I don’t care if they have the power. No man, no matter how good he is, is capable of transcending misogyny to a degree that I feel entirely comfortable with. I mean, I’ve never ever met one. I’ve met some really good ones. Very close. As good as it gets. But never as good as a woman.

    But wait, we’re all just humans! Imperfect humans. Don’t *I* suffer from internalized misogyny? Yes. We can’t be totally uncooperative with the menz. Can’t they share our word? Why not?

    But cooperation? Does that require making concessions? Like with my feminist identity? Because if so, fuck that shit.

    See, I have two answers. And I can’t decide which one to stick with. I think I’ll err on the conservative side. Men fuck up everything. They’ve already got their claws in feminism–OUT men, get OUT of my woman-loving feminism! You are not feminists.

    PS. Happy birthday! It’s my oldest-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world’s birthday today too. 🙂 I love birthdays. I hope you’ve been indulging in life’s little pleasures–that’s what it’s all about!

    PPS. I know I’m rambling; I’m exhausted. Please forgive the stream of consciousness format of my comment.

    Comment by Undercover Punk — September 18, 2009 @ 11:38 pm | Reply

  2. Happy Birthday, Joce Claire. It seems that the feminist blogosphere is awash with Virgos. Hope you had a great day.;)

    Comment by redmegaera — September 20, 2009 @ 8:57 am | Reply

  3. hi joce

    i used to think that men could be feminists, but clearly i am getting more redfem in my old age. haha. you see, i think that the primary goal of feminism has to be “the advancement of women as a class.” this has to include dismantling patriatrchy and the gender bianary, as well as eradicating rape, domestic violence, and birthing injuries/unwanted pregnancies that almost or entirely affect only women.

    there are even some female-feminists that i do not believe fit that definition: for example, trans-activists and sex-positives cannot claim the advancement of women as a class as their number-one goal. (they might not be anti-feminist of course, which is different. just not feminist, as in not sharing that common goal). and i dont think that men, although they can be pro-feminist, can honestly claim to hold, or be believed to hold, the primary goal of advancing women as a class. because they frankly benefit too much from the status quo, where they hold all the power. they might be all for “equality” but even the lip service stops the minute “some woman takes some mans job.” by definition, when women advance as a class, men will have to take several steps back. and i do not think that i am ready to believe that losing status and power can be their number-one most cherished and sought-after goal. not in the same way that gaining status and power is our goal.

    call me crazy.

    Comment by factcheckme — September 28, 2009 @ 9:58 am | Reply

  4. That’s a great comment, factcheckme! 🙂 I assume you mean human “status” and the “power” to be fully self-determinant, sovereign beings. Yo, that IS crazy.

    Comment by Undercover Punk — September 28, 2009 @ 10:50 am | Reply

  5. What about gay and/or effeminate men?

    Comment by buttersisonlymyname — October 27, 2009 @ 8:02 pm | Reply

  6. Hi. I know this post is old and perhaps no one is maintaining it much but I keep seeing it in Miska’s bookmarks and this statement (extraneous bits abbreviated) always bothers me:

    “Men can be feminist BECAUSE some women collude with male supremacy.”

    Er… lol Makes no sense, you know? Sorry to be picky… “Women do it too” is a justification. But otherwise I agree with your sentiment.

    Comment by m Andrea — October 27, 2010 @ 12:33 am | Reply


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