Discussing feminism with women today

(129 Posts)
ContentedLittleMummy Tue 30-Jul-13 18:54:24

A post was opened about feminism on a forum I'm on. I'm a feminist, leaning more towards rad feminism but not buying into all their ideology. I don't believe men can be feminists, I think they can sympathise with the movement, as I can say against race rights, but they haven't truly experienced being a woman in a partiarchal society.

I got called names and a "man hater" and all sorts of horrible things, and I wondering if my beliefs are really out there and a bit insane?! I'm married to a man with two sons, and I don't "hate men" and I know that's a lazy thing to call a feminist but it's really got me down.

I think patriarchy does men a disservice too. I think men can be feminists.

kim147 Tue 30-Jul-13 20:51:41

So what would you call someone who reads, hears and is very aware of discrimination, who wants to remove the patriarchy, exploitation and misogyny?

And does it matter if they call themselves a feminist?

If they want the same outcome but haven't experienced it?

Is it worth arguing about labels? Should they be part of the cause or should they do nothing and sit back and ignore what goes on?

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 30-Jul-13 20:55:46

I totally get what you mean. IMO men can have feminist views, and support feminism. This might actually make them less likely to want to overtly label themselves as feminists because they would have humility about it. Men's most helpful role is not to go round saying "I'm a feminist, aren't I brilliant?" but instead to do the difficult drudge work of standing up for women and against sexism amongst other men.

kim147 Tue 30-Jul-13 20:58:14

"but instead to do the difficult drudge work of standing up for women and against sexism amongst other men."

Not just amongst men.

jellycake Tue 30-Jul-13 20:58:56

I don't think it matters what you call yourself as long as we stick up for ourselves and our rights. I love Caitlin Moran's definition of feminism
“But, of course, you might be asking yourself, 'Am I a feminist? I might not be. I don't know! I still don't know what it is! I'm too knackered and confused to work it out. That curtain pole really still isn't up! I don't have time to work out if I am a women's libber! There seems to be a lot to it. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?'
I understand.
So here is the quick way of working out if you're a feminist. Put your hand in your pants.

a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist.”
― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman

and also her way of deciding whether something is sexist.
“You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, ‘And are the men doing this, as well?’ If they aren’t, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some total fucking bullshit’.”
― Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman

ThisIsMySpareName Tue 30-Jul-13 21:11:21

I don't need a man to fight my battle
I believe in removing the patriarchy

You can't have one without the other. Patriarchy is a social construct - it can't be seen, it can't be 'overthrown' as it isn't 'real' in the same way a government is for example.

It can't even be properly defined as the things that are contained within the construct continuously change as equalities are lost and gained. It exists only as a way of describing a range of things (behaviours, laws etc) that make up our culture and society.

The only way to 'remove the patriarchy' is to change behaviours, culture and expectations to the extent where the construct no longer makes sense and a new one has be created that does.

This is a gradual process, but in order for it to be successful you need to reach a critical tipping point where the majority of society 'agree' that the previous construct is no longer relevant.

If you want to reach that majority you very much do need enlightened men to fight the battle because an unfortunate and ironic consequence of patriarchy is that some men will only listen to other men and not women.

Therefore unless the number of women in the population start to considerably outnumber men so that the critical mass of opinion can be reached without them, then yes, you do actually need men to 'remove' the patriarchy.

In my opinion anyway wink

ImNotBloody14 Tue 30-Jul-13 21:14:28

I agree thisis

MadBannersAndCopPorn Tue 30-Jul-13 21:16:25

I'll always remember going on the women's day march in london about 8 or 9 years ago. There were men there, supporting the women, there were boys there, with their mothers.
Some of the participants of the march were violently pushing men and boys out of the crowds telling them to fuck off and they didn't belong etc
Their excuse for doing it was that some women had been abused by men and didn't want them 'taking over' their march...
Really sad- I never went again

If anyone wants to support a cause, they should be able to regardless of their race, hair colour, sex etc.
Surely people would want as many people as possible to support the cause? People feel more involved when they have a name, a place, a purpose. So if a man supports feminist issues and calls himself a feminist what's the problem?

I think men can see the effects by the patriarchal society too. I am anti-racism, anti-disabilism, anti-discrimination in general etc; but I have come across xenophobia (and anti-immigrants -I don't mean anti immigration by this-), sexism and misogyny, and racism, and that is therefore what I can talk about with personal experience, but I can acknowledge I am lucky not to be subject to other forms of discrimination and hate, and try and make sure no one has to experience it.

I think men can see and acknowledge the effects of patriarchy. I anti-capital punishment and so on, but have never felt the effects of it, and I can still fight for it and support activists, just as men can. Being a feminist is support feminism, and men can do that as can women. It's about the person, not the gender.

Great post thisis

SconeRhymesWithGone Tue 30-Jul-13 21:49:05

Yes, indeed, thisis

BasilBabyEater Tue 30-Jul-13 22:19:18

MadBanners, do you think men should always be allowed to march with women?

On every occasion?

Does anyone remember the New Cross fire? It was about 30 years ago, 13 black teenagers got burned to death. There was a huge march down the Old Kent Rd to parliament and black people asked white people to stay away because they wanted it to be a black march.

Does anyone think white people should have said: "well I support anti-racism and I think black people should be equal to white people so i'm coming on your march whether you want me to or not"?

The reason traditionally oppressed groups want to organise together without the traditional oppressor groups being there, is because they can talk more freely and their voices don't get drowned out by the ones which are disproportionately heard anyway. It's really important for marginalised groups to have their own space, free from the socially and cultural dominant group, so they can work out their ideas without being rail-roaded back into the norm by people who haven't lived their experience so are more accepting of the parameters of the norm and less willing or able to step outside them. And since these people are used to being listened to and expect to be listened to, and since the marginalised people are used to listening to them and expect to listen to them, even when they consciously know that this happens their conditioning is so strong that it happens even when everyone there is aware of it and doesn't want it to happen. This means that the development of consciousness can be very effectively curtailed just by inviting along a well-wisher and fellow-traveller from the dominant group.

Which is why it is legitimate to have women-only events.

kim147 Tue 30-Jul-13 22:34:33

Do you think men should march with women on women's rights marches - unless they have been specifically asked not to?

Should straight people attend gay pride events and march with gay people - unless they have been specifically asked not to?

BasilBabyEater Tue 30-Jul-13 22:42:20

When they're specifically asked not to, they should respect the boundaries of the people who are asking them and keep away.

Of course people should show solidarity with marginalised groups, but the culturally and socially dominant group is obviously not the one which should decide the best way of them showing solidarity. Any political movement has to be led by the people whose interests it is campaigning for. So if those people ask them to march with them, then they should march with them and if they ask them not to, they should not.

It's not complicated.

Rache101 Tue 30-Jul-13 22:45:59

This is like saying only gays can support gay marriage or only black people can support civil rots. You are very misguided and confused

CiscoKid Tue 30-Jul-13 22:46:24

I am a man. I have taken an interest in feminism in the past few years, driven partly by selfish motives - I have a teenage daughter. I wanted to understand some of the obstacles that she will face in life. I have a son too, but I have a better understanding of how society will treat him.

I see posts like those from Basil and the OP, and I get where they are coming from. They want to do it on their own - it's women's fight, not men's. Fair enough. I can respect that, and if women feel that men should stay away from marches, or meetings, then we should stay away. Stand back, wish them well, and let them get on with it. Don't interfere, don't obstruct.

BasilBabyEater Tue 30-Jul-13 23:02:13

No Rache, I am not confused, you are.

What don't you understand about my assertion that marginalised groups should be the ones to decide how fellow-travellers from the oppressor groups can best support them?

Also Cisco Kid I don't want you to misrepresent my views. I didn't say I want to do it on my own. I'm in favour of men participating in feminist actions, just not the ones where women want to do it as women only and not in leadership roles. Just as I think disabled campaigners should be the ones who lead disability rights campaigns, BME people should lead anti-racism campaigns, gay people should lead gay rights campaigns etc. And those of us who support them, should take our cue from them as to when and how to organise alongside and with them and when to stand back and let them do their thang without us bringing the usual POV to the party, when they ask us to.

I really don't get why that's so difficult for people to accept.

scallopsrgreat Tue 30-Jul-13 23:04:51

I don't think the OP is saying that men can't support feminism. In fact she says they can be pro feminist. That sounds pretty supportive to me Rache101. Perhaps she isn't that confused.

I find these discussions really interesting. Women bending over backwards to include men. Just what we are conditioned to do. Can you really not see, on a march about violence towards women, that men might not be welcome, even should not be welcome?

Agree with BBE completely. So important for the oppressed group to be able to organise, discuss and lead.

kim147 Tue 30-Jul-13 23:08:34

basil I don't think anyone is saying women should not take the lead.

BasilBabyEater Tue 30-Jul-13 23:16:13

People are saying they're unreasonable, misguided etc., to want to sometimes organise without men though.

They aren't saying that about BME groups, disabled groups etc.

But maybe they think those groups would be unreasonable to want to organise together without the dominant group present.

I think we need to remember that "leadership" is often automatically ceded to the person from the dominant group. That's why leadership and permanent involvement are interlinked.

MadBannersAndCopPorn Tue 30-Jul-13 23:16:52

I think people should be able to stand up for what they believe in, especially when it comes to rights.

The march I was referring to was taking place on one of the busiest streets in London, there was a barrier for the march to take part behind so that the general public didn't get swept in.

Men who were standing watching the women march were being abused by the women within the barriers and pushed, sworn at etc
Women who had young sons with them were being physically pushed out of the march.
The women in the group felt they had the right to abuse people without reason or back up, just because they were women. That just seems like the coin being completely flipped and women thinking they're more important than men, giving them the right to abuse them.

The way women are treated in society will not change unless the majority want the change to happen, that means men too. They are the cause of the 'problem' so must be part of the solution.
^this was pretty said much more eloquently somewhere upthread...

kim147 Tue 30-Jul-13 23:17:47

Who said it was unreasonable to organise without men?

Is that the comment where men were pushed off the march?

kim147 Tue 30-Jul-13 23:19:04

I think you reading a lot more into what people are saying than what people think basil.

BasilBabyEater Tue 30-Jul-13 23:20:41

Sorry, that's not clear is it.

What I mean is, it's much harder for people from the marginalised group to take the lead, when the dominant group is present.

By definition, you are limiting the leadership potential of the marginalised group whenever you admit the dominant group.

Which is why you sometimes need to say, this is going to be a dominant-group-free event.

Because if you never have those events, then almost inevitably, leadership will be ceded to the dominant group.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 30-Jul-13 23:22:30

Having come back to this ...sounds like mostly singing from the same hymn sheet, just not always in unison. Hope the OP found this more constructive than what she encountered elsewhere.

Good post BBE.

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