Men and feminism: the next frontier on feminism’s agenda. Underrated, under researched, but quite possibly one of the most important issues surrounding our engagement with the source of female oppression. Gareth at Ad Fontes has some thought-provoking views on this:
Patriarchy forces men and women to play gender games that damage both of us. The damage is not necessarily equal, but men do suffer too. Faludi shows us that it is a misstep for feminism to be solely concerned with how patriarchy distorts women without realising the effect it has on men too. Is it any wonder why the self-destructive protest movement Fathers 4 Justice — a group of fathers who campaign against the courts that rule that their contact with their children should be restricted and supervised — choose to demonstrate their suitability for fatherhood by dressing up as superheroes and climbing buildings? This demonstrates too how patriarchy infantilises men, teaching us just to be bigger boys with bigger toys.
This’ll probably get me some flak, but I’ve always had a hard time identifying myself as a feminist. I can’t.
The issue here is that the patriarchy may damage me and force me to play damaging gender roles, but do note: I get quite a bit of perks that go along with it, too.
And then there’s the issue that a tactic a guy can use to appear “sensitive” is to label himself as a “feminist”. I know at least one guy who went out in public in calling himself a “feminist”, and I remember my first reaction: “Oh ho, does this fellow have a trick up his sleeve?”
So I can’t identify myself as a feminist. It’s part irrational hangup, but there you have it.
I will however go for identifying myself as an “ally”, because it stops being about what I am and starts being about what I do. Which is good, and forces me to remind myself constantly: “What are you supposed to be doing?”
That’s perfectly fine. And you’re right, men (in Malay literature, of all places) who claim to be feminists are the usually the sneaky, lecherous types. But that’s mostly because feminists, of both sex, are demonised, and while there are already standard myths about female feminists, reasons for men to be feminists are suspicious at best.
And also, there are women who think that men cannot be feminists. It’s supposed to be an exclusive club, in which card-carrying members are the one who face direct and daily gender-based oppression and can truly be part of the *sisterhood*. Terms like the sisterhood can definitely edge men out, and most times, men feel better off as supporters and allies – which is fine with me.
…. That picture of Bill Bailey is made of WIN.
I feel the involvement of many male feminists to be very underrated, which leads to the hysteria that feminists purposefully exclude men, seeing as issues of men within feminism are not brought to the forefront. But then, I get the feeling from the MRA types that if we don’t give male issues at least 75% (and save our female fee-fees about abuse, rape, sexual violence, lack of equal pay, and other such rubbishy non-existant things), then clearly we’re biased, selfish bitches.
…that’s about as aggravating as some white dude (or some Malay dude here) who, while is for racial equality, starts asking: “Why aren’t we talking about my problems?”
No. The point about gender and racial equality is that a kyriarchy that discriminates against a particular dispossessed group not only damages that dispossessed group, but also the oppressor that does the oppressing.
You guys, I feel really bad for trailing off here. Life has been eem-possible! I blame my own poor time management skills and being swallowed-up by the London lifestyle (not that it’s very glamorous, I’ll have you know…). Oh yeah and another thing, I hate London.
As someone who had to live in London for two years (Enfield during the first, Wood Green during the second), I totally sympathize with your sentiment.
Good, good. Another person who’s human! I live in Twickenham (in Zone 5 :S) and it’s habitable in a sense that’s far as possible from the madness that is London town. The only thing that makes London bearable is the public transport (if you have a student oyster card) – it takes you into the hustle and bustle of the city quickly and easily, and take you out of it as quickly and easily too.
I like the public transport system, actually — yeah it’s slow, yeah it’s occasionally prone to fits of total FAIL, and yeah it’s FREAKIN’ expensive (student Oyster card? GAH WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT).
But in comparison to KLs? It’s awesome. It works, everywhere (not like in KL, where it sorta kinda works only in some places really).
As long as you continue to regard the myth of Patriarchy as having substance then, “the source of female oppression” (which is females themselves), will never be addressed but continue to act as an excuse for self oppression and the avoidance of real issues.
Of which then I note that usually the “guardians” of patriarchy (I actually dislike the word, mostly because I prefer “kyriarchy” myself — mainly for the opportunities of punning it affords me) may not necessarily be the patriarchs (or kyrios) themselves, but high-“ranking” members of the oppressed class.
So yes, women can oppress other women, even in a patriarchy. It doesn’t invalidate the existence of a patriarchy, though, because the standards were set and benefit the patriarchs.