Wherein I further my commented response to Mr. Shakes

A great discussion (and recent, too!) came up on shakesville dot com regarding feminism and how it ought to look.

I started talking, and it got, well… long winded. (What? Me? Never!) So, without further ado, here’s the gargantuan beastie in full. Enjoy.


While I was reading this post, my brain got all clever on me and came up with a slogany-sounding phrase:

It’s called ‘feminism’ because ‘humanism’ was already taken.

Sounds good, feels right, needs examination and discussion. ^^

ballgame wrote:

but mainstream feminism is still not the ‘gender egalitarian’ feminism that you paint it as and which I embrace. It is, by and large a ‘women’s perspectives only’ feminism where the gender oppression of men is minimized, ignored, or denied.

But what do you define as ‘mainstream feminism’? Which feminists bring that phrase to your mind? What sources? Which sites? Knowing the frame of reference here would make replying to your comment much more accurate and applicable.

The feminist blogs I’ve read (if you’re referring to blogs as well, which I’d guess; examples to follow) do limit the male perspective because the female perspective doesn’t get near as much airtime elsewhere. They are intended to serve as a safe place for women/people of color/homosexual/the transgendered.

[My points of reference: Shrub dot com, Feminists Don’t Bake Bread and Thinking Girl, to name a few.]

What I have seen emphasized there is not “women’s perspectives only” but “women’s perspectives respected”. So often the response to a person’s experience of being on the receiving end of sexism/racism/other bigotry is met with statements that serve only to minimize, ignore, and deny that experience. Restricting the most trollish of these responses maintains the safety of the space.

This is getting unwieldy, so look for the rest on https://nightgigjo.wordpress.com/

Privilege isn’t something we’re responsible for taking up, but it happens to us automatically simply because we’re white/male/hetero/cisgendered or any other attribute considered ‘normal’. Realizing this really helps to not take it personally when a forum is designated for the voice of a minority group of which I am not a part.

This most definitely applies to me: the only privileged group I’m *not* a part of is the male gender, so I have much more listening than talking to do on these sites which are exploring and promoting a gender/race/sexuality/ability egalitarian society. In fact, I don’t realize the full extent of my privileged position until I’ve listened, attentively and non-judgmentally, to the perspectives of those folks who don’t enjoy that privilege. It’s not going to hurt me to listen: either it applies to me and I learn something about myself, or it doesn’t apply to me and I don’t have to worry about it.

I don’t have to fight to prove I’m not a racist/homophobe/sexist: in fact, the more I fight, the more I prove it. I was raised in this sexist/racist/homophobic/bigoted society, and I learned many things well. I don’t have to be outrageously sexist/racist/etc. to still be sexist/racist/etc. I don’t call people the N-word, but I have a moment’s judgment-filled hesitation when I see an interracial couple. I grew up in the South where there was a significant stigma attached to ‘the mixing of the races’, so I have this knee-jerk reaction when I see two people of difference ‘races’ together in a relationship setting. I *hate* this, and I’m fighting it by reading and listening, thinking and writing.


8 thoughts on “Wherein I further my commented response to Mr. Shakes

  1. I swear I’ve seen ballgame on Hugo’s blog, which boggles my mind because practically all Hugo does is blog about masculinities in feminism.

    Not to mention that my blog has 2 out of 4 contributors who are male. And I link to blogs and livejournal communities that focus on masculinities. And I have, on occasion, been known to blog about masculinities.

    But, you know, we mainstream feminists are all about making it so that the “gender oppression of men is minimized, ignored, or denied.”

  2. Which is why I asked, nicely (did you notice? ^^), what ballgame meant by “mainstream feminism”.

    If he, in fact, meant loud and angry people who get the most airtime, i.e., the patriarchy’s conceptualization of feminism, then his perception begins to make sense, as off-kilter as it is.

  3. Aside from Twisty, I can’t think of any “loud and angry people who get the most airtime” who don’t give at least a little airtime to men’s issues. And, well, as much as I hate Twisty’s blogging style, at least she’s upfront about her style of extremism; you don’t go to Twisty’s place expecting fair treatment of men, you go there expecting an unapologetic list of ways women get fucked by the patriarchy which sometimes includes pointing the finger at men and saying, “You helped to make this mess, you know.”

  4. Yes, tekanji, you have seen me comment every once in a blue moon over at Hugo’s. Hugo will occasionally seem to make ‘egalitarian’-like comments regarding the gender oppression of men, but his concerns often ring hollow as he repeats variations on the meme that men are responsible for “their” “own” gender oppression.

  5. I must admit, the love-in on Mr Shakes’ post feels a bit odd. But this may be my experiences in Fandom. See, the online fandom communities (especially LJ) are almost entirely women, and whenever someone is “outed” as male they suddenly get a lot more respect and admiration and kudos in fandom because they’re a “rare” breed. They may not be saying or doing anything more impressive than anyone else, but they stand out.

    This just feels very similar to me.

    With the added bonus of “Men will listen to him – he’s a man!”, as though once again women’s voices don’t count and won’t be heard.

    I may, of course, be barking up the wrong tree with all of this. Maybe I should just be happy that it’s getting through to someone, no matter what we have to do to get that to happen.

    It brings to mind this article: How can I be sexist? I’m an anarchist!

    [Of course, I may be showing my own resentment here – I lost friends over my feminism, but when BlueRevolutionist posts almost exactly the same thoughts, he get kudos for it from the same people. The hell?]

  6. I don’t see anything wrong with praising male feminists, but I do agree that the “‘rare’ breed” business and the “but men will listen to him!!!!!!111eleven” just perpetuates sexism.

    A feeling of relief, maybe… “a man who’s treating people like people”, but then… that is, to snatch Talent Show’s phrasing, the default fucking setting.

    So, being ‘happy’ that it’s ‘gotten through’? Nope. Sexist again. That’s the “women should be happy a man is thinking about them at all” argument, with a hint of “men are generally stupid, since only one or two ‘get it'”.

    Nope. Default Fucking Setting. Not stroking *anyone’s* ego (didn’t say ‘not praising’) isn’t bad.

    Although, just thought of a mitigating factor: we’re all raised by the patriarchy, in some way or another. Breaking free of this and getting to the default fucking setting (love that phrase) is praise- (or at least encouragement-) worthy.

  7. I have a post that I haven’t put anywhere yet (because I was so angry when I wrote it that I started to see red) about how treating women like they’re equal isn’t something you should get kudos for, it’s being a decent person. I think I may have added “for fuck’s sake” a few times.

    I’m a bit tired of the “But I don’t do those awful things!” meme… as though that somehow should get people a bloody cookie.

  8. Yep, that’s pretty much it. Privilege talking, all the way.

    That’s under the same tent as “but I don’t call people the N-word, so I’m not racist”. I used to suffer under that delusion myself. It was only by having an open mind while reading the White Privilege Checklist (and then reading the words o’ bloggers of color) that I started to see, “Hey, I’m not free of racism. I was raised that way, and I didn’t escape unscathed. Now it’s my responsibility to do something about that.”

    Those still unconsciously enjoying their privilege haven’t gotten to that “it’s my responsibility to re-educate myself” point.

    I continue to hope, however. I mean, I’m on the mend, and I didn’t think I was broken…

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