“Feminism is organized insanity. Why be merely crazy, when you can turn your mental illness into a political movement?”
— Robert Stacy McCain, Jan. 29
If there is anything feminists hate more than Christianity, heterosexuality, America and capitalism, it’s a “male feminist.”
The quotation marks are required because “male feminist” is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. Feminism is a women’s movement, organized for women and led by women, and there is nothing any man can do that will qualify him for membership in the movement.
However, this self-evident truth does not prevent “progressive” males from trying to leverage feminism to their own advantage. The “male feminist” denounces his fellow men — you know, those hateful misogynists over there in the patriarchy — in an effort to persuade feminists that he is an exception to the rule. He is not a sexist oppressor. He does not view women as sex objects. He just wants equality (and a “liberated” girlfriend who doesn’t demand monogamy or a long-term commitment or any of that other bourgeois “responsibility” stuff).
The prototypical “male feminist” was Hugo Schwyzer, a deranged professor who routinely slept with his community college students, nearly killed a woman and had a psychotic meltdown after he was called out for his gross misconduct.
Feminism is based on the belief that all men (collectively) oppress all women (collectively), so that humanity is divided into two groups, male oppressors and female victims. As members of the oppressor group, males are by definition part of the problem (variously termed “patriarchy,” “male supremacy” or “misogyny”) and only women, as members of the victim group, can be permitted to have any voice or influence in defining the solution to this problem. Karen Ingala Smith has explained that anything a man says about feminism contributes to the “silencing of women in the public sphere,” which means that “women’s subordination is reinforced.” Men only seek to be recognized as “feminists” so they can play a role of “leadership and power”:
Those who have power and benefit from it in varying degrees generally do not cede it and share it — they protect and reinforce it. . . .[Women] are entitled to demand our rights without apology, without reference to how this affects men, without sorting out all the men’s problems too. . . .
That is not to say there is no role for men, just not the role they are used to of leadership and power. Men are very welcome to say that they support us and to consult with us to see in what way they can be most useful to the cause and we will tell them.
In other words, guys: “The First Rule of Feminism Is Shut Up.”
Nevertheless, “progressive” males continue begging for scraps from the feminist table and feminists sometimes give them answers:
Answer: Oh, there’s plenty men can do! Unfortunately (for men), none of that gets you the hero status and women fawning over you that most men seem to be after when they decide to engage in feminist causes. Some things that men can do to help are:
– Confront other men in male-dominated spaces when they display sexist behavior (even if there’s no woman looking).
– Do not watch porn or participate in the sex industry in any way. Tell your male friends to do the same.
– Donate money to institutions dedicated to helping women.
– Listen to women and believe them without questioning or playing devil’s advocate when they talk about their experiences.
– Use your privileged voice to create opportunities for women. For example, you can recommend a female coworker for a promotion to your boss, or make sure he pays attention to her work. Women are often invisible or ignored.
– Understand the importance of female-only spaces and protect those spaces. Do not try to invade them and do not let other men do the same.
– Do not let the women in your life do more than their share of housework. Clean your stuff, wash your dishes, change your kid’s diapers, cook your food, and do all of that without being asked to or expecting special praise.
– Respect women’s boundaries and spaces. Do not take more than your share of a seat on a bus or a train, for example, and do not push women around verbally. Women are socialized to be accomodating and will often not enforce their own boundaries for fear of male violence, even if they’re terribly uncomfortable, so you have to recognize this discomfort and back off.
– Do not judge a woman for her appearance. Avoid commenting on it, and never compare her to another woman. If you want to praise a woman, prefer to focus on her intelligence or skills.
– Work to dismantle male supremacy from the inside. Combat your own male socialization, your own entitlement and your own tendency to violence and aggression. Question everything that’s gendered. And do not become defensive or try to justify yourself when a woman calls you out on your male-dominant behavior. Do not use tired cliches like “not all men are like that!” or “but I’m a nice guy!”. Instead, examine your behavior and try to understand why you’re being called out.
– And more important of all, do all of the above without expecting any special reward! Your reward is to be participating in creating a better world that’s fair for everybody. You don’t get to be a “special” man, you don’t get free passes for anything, you don’t get to stand out for being decent. If you feel you deserve anything extra for being a decent human being, that’s your male entitlement at work. Afterall, if you’re helping women to make yourself look good, you are not helping at all.
Hope the info’s useful!
Quite useful, indeed! This was written by a young blogger who describes herself as “The Angry Hairy Lesbian Feminist they’ve warned you about,” and her point is exactly correct: No man can ever expect praise from a feminist, because nothing any man does can ever qualify him for the admiration, trust or respect of a feminist. Because he is male (and therefore, by feminist definition, an oppressor) he is undeserving of love from any female (who is, by definition, his victim).
First published at TheOtherMcCain.com
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.