Is it ok for men to call themselves feminists?

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Left Turn Left Turn's picture
Is it ok for men to call themselves feminists?

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Ok, so the issue of whether it's ok for men to call themselves feminists has raised its head again, thanks to [url=http://www.xojane.com/issues/unpopular-opinion-it-pisses-me-off-when-men... article by Meghan Murhpy, in which she argues against men calling themselves feminists. In the article, she points out examples of celebrity men who claim to be feminists, but are clearly anything but.

Now I'd definitely agree that the men Meghan uses as examples in her article are clearly not feminists. No argument there. Where it gets more tricky is whether it's ok for any men to call ourselves feminists. Because I've read articles and online discussion posts arguing both sides of the issue.

Some women like Meghan Mruphy, but definitely more than just her, are clearly uncomfortable with men calling themselves feminists. At the same time, I've read opinions of other women who want men to identify as feminists, so that society will get a clear indication that there are men who take a stand against patriarchy and for women's rights.

So for men like myself who genuinely support feminism and want to end patriarchy, what does it make sense for us to identify as in this respect. What I've been doing recently is calling myself a 'feminist man', but only doing so in one on one conversations with people who I know won't have an issue with it. I leave the term 'feminist', unqualified, for women. Yet I'm not clear whether women like Meghan Murhpy would be fine even with this. Maybe they are, maybe they arn't, I just don't know. And there's part of me that thinks that whatever choice I make, some 'feminists' will not be happy with it.

So what do the other women around here think about this issue?

MegB

Perhaps "pro-feminist" is a more accurate term. Not to take away from men who consider themselves feminists, but a sensitive approach might be warranted where women who consider themselves feminist might reject men's assertions that they have somehow become feminists in a world where "male feminist" is anathema.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I think Meghan's point, as I read it, wasn't that men can't be feminists, but that actions speak louder than words. Don't call yourself a feminist, be one.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Honestly, I didn't take from the article that Murphy doesn't want men to call themselves feminist.  She just wants them to stop crowing about it and back it up with some action - and to stop claiming the term as cred so that they can do and say sexist things.  I can't find fault with that.

Personally, I don't have a problem with men calling themselves feminist if they walk the walk.

Summer

I think the answer to the question in the OP depends on the answer to this question: "What is a feminist?" 

I think a feminist is a person who believes in equal political, economic, and social rights for men and women.  So my answer to the OP is "of course".

See also:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/08/08/why_am_i_a_male_feminist_because_i_m_selfish.html

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Thanks for posting that brilliant article, Summer. A tear ran down my face when I read it.Smile

Mórríghain

I've known many men during my life, most casually, a few intimately; only one ever identified as a feminist. He was the most unhappy man I've ever known. Coincidence?... I don't believe in coincidence.

6079_Smith_W

I just wouldn't. Never have. Even "ally" or "pro" seems kind of hackneyed to me.

To follow on Catchfire's statement, labels don't mean a damned thing, and this one is among the very presumptious ones, IMO.The important thing seems to be less what you call yourself, and more what others call you.

 

 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Mórríghain wrote:
I've known many men during my life, most casually, a few intimately; only one ever identified as a feminist. He was the most unhappy man I've ever known. Coincidence?... I don't believe in coincidence.

I can't say that this is the reason for your friend's unhappiness, but men who identify as feminist are probably more likely to notice the sexist crap that women have to face on a regular basis.

The other day I was at a local pasta eatery here in Vancouver. I'd ordered my food at the cashier as is the procedure at this place, and was waiting for my food. This middle aged man comes in and starts addressing the young woman cashier in a totally sexist manner. I was quite bothered by it, whereas most other men would not be phased by it. Just because things like this affect me deeply doesn't make me a worse man. If anything, it means I'm more compassionate, which is a quality that men on the whole could stand to exibit more often.

Tehanu

Quote:
The important thing seems to be less what you call yourself, and more what others call you.

I'd suggest with Catchfire that the important thing is less what others call you, and more what you do. In terms of men and feminism, actions speak loudest, don't they?

Quote:
I was quite bothered by it, whereas most other men would not be phased by it.

It's good that you noticed it, LT, so in terms of actions, did you say anything in support of the cashier? Challenging sexism is so very important, and in my experience, men exhibiting sexist behaviour are much more likely to pay attention to another man raising it as an issue, than they would to a woman.

Even something as simple as "excuse me, I noticed how you were talking to her, and it made me feel really uncomfortable" can be powerful.

6079_Smith_W

Exactly. That's what I meant Tehanu, and that reputation is generally built by action.

In fact, I don't think people should get all that bent out of shape about what others call them either, but since we're talking about names, it is often a bit more accurate than the honorifics people anoint themselves with.

I don't mean to pooh pooh it in all cases, and if it has particular meaning for someone to call himself something, fine. I just don't see that it has any real meaning or effect, is all.

For myself, as sympathetic as I might be about some issues, it would really feel like a sham to call myself that - especially given the line that some hold that what you do not experience you do not really understand, which I think has some truth to it.

Mórríghain

Left Turn wrote:
I can't say that this is the reason for your friend's unhappiness, but men who identify as feminist are probably more likely to notice the sexist crap that women have to face on a regular basis.

I'm neither shrink nor lab coat, I've other ways to delve into the human condition. I believe my friend was unhappy because he was trying to be something he was not. Why he did this I do not know.

Quote:
The other day I was at a local pasta eatery here in Vancouver. I'd ordered my food at the cashier as is the procedure at this place, and was waiting for my food. This middle aged man comes in and starts addressing the young woman cashier in a totally sexist manner. I was quite bothered by it, whereas most other men would not be phased by it. Just because things like this affect me deeply doesn't make me a worse man. If anything, it means I'm more compassionate, which is a quality that men on the whole could stand to exibit more often.

I'm curious, what did the man in your anecdote say to the cashier that was totally sexist?

I agree with your remarks about men and compassion, I doubt anyone has ever suffered due to the overabundance of compassion but many have suffered due to the lack of it.

Weltschmerz

I feel that at a time when more and more young women are reluctant to identify as feminists, or worse, see it as a bad word, it is important for both men and women to wear the label proudly.  My fear is that if we don't continue to own the word, it will get redefined by those who oppose it.  That's why my wife has a button on her jacket that says "This is what a feminist looks like".

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I do agree Weltschmerz. While I think Meghan's point is absolutely a good one (as usual) and that calling oneself a feminist is cheap if you don't act like it, I always take the opportunity to identify as a feminist man when appropriate (or at least, say that I am trying to be a feminist man). But if you are saying it a bunch of times in a roomful of women who have stopped talking, ur doin it wrong.

Weltschmerz

I am slowly learning how to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.  I have had a few opportunities to confront both casual and explicit sexism, and even though my repressed British upbringing screams at me to avoid conflict, I have not let them pass.  While my beliefs are feminist beliefs, these days I think of myself more as a feminist ally, because I will never be fighting the same fight that women do.  But I try to do my part.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Well said!

Mórríghain

Weltschmerz wrote:

I feel that at a time when more and more young women are reluctant to identify as feminists, or worse, see it as a bad word, it is important for both men and women to wear the label proudly.

Why? I cast off labels, political, social or otherwise, years ago; I didn't need them then, I don't need 'em now.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Interesting perspectives.

My partner doesn't refer to himself as a feminist, but I'd call him a functional feminist.  He was already halfway there when we met, but raising two daughters and watching them enter their teens has made things that used to be more abstract for him much clearer.  I expect living with me hasn't hurt either - although he was always a very egalitarian partner.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Tehanu wrote:

Quote:
I was quite bothered by it, whereas most other men would not be phased by it.

It's good that you noticed it, LT, so in terms of actions, did you say anything in support of the cashier? Challenging sexism is so very important, and in my experience, men exhibiting sexist behaviour are much more likely to pay attention to another man raising it as an issue, than they would to a woman.

Even something as simple as "excuse me, I noticed how you were talking to her, and it made me feel really uncomfortable" can be powerful.

He initially addressed the cashier in a sexist manner but then gave his order and paid for it in a more neutral manner. Given that the cashier took it without appearing phased by it herself, I'd have potentially made the situation much worse by saying anything, so I didn't.

I was by myself, but If I'd been with a friend who understands sexism, I'd have pointed it out to the friend.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Mórríghain wrote:

Quote:
The other day I was at a local pasta eatery here in Vancouver. I'd ordered my food at the cashier as is the procedure at this place, and was waiting for my food. This middle aged man comes in and starts addressing the young woman cashier in a totally sexist manner. I was quite bothered by it, whereas most other men would not be phased by it. Just because things like this affect me deeply doesn't make me a worse man. If anything, it means I'm more compassionate, which is a quality that men on the whole could stand to exibit more often.

I'm curious, what did the man in your anecdote say to the cashier that was totally sexist?

I agree with your remarks about men and compassion, I doubt anyone has ever suffered due to the overabundance of compassion but many have suffered due to the lack of it.

He addressed the cashier as "Hey beautiful." Definitely sexist, but maybe not as over the top as my description made it seem like it might be.

MegB

Left Turn wrote:
I was quite bothered by it, whereas most other men would not be phased by it.
Tehanu wrote:

It's good that you noticed it, LT, so in terms of actions, did you say anything in support of the cashier? Challenging sexism is so very important, and in my experience, men exhibiting sexist behaviour are much more likely to pay attention to another man raising it as an issue, than they would to a woman.

Even something as simple as "excuse me, I noticed how you were talking to her, and it made me feel really uncomfortable" can be powerful.


Left Turn wrote:

He initially addressed the cashier in a sexist manner but then gave his order and paid for it in a more neutral manner. Given that the cashier took it without appearing phased by it herself, I'd have potentially made the situation much worse by saying anything, so I didn't.

She likely appeared unphased by it because she hears crap like that all the time. I frequently am referred to by the patronizing and condescending "dear".. It's no better or worse than women of all ages being called "girls".

Quote:
I was by myself, but If I'd been with a friend who understands sexism, I'd have pointed it out to the friend.

When challenged, the male response is often, "I meant it as a compliment," as if we should all be so grateful. Well, I'd be ever so much more grateful if these clueless entitled idiots would pull their heads out of their asses and join the 21st century, but saying so would take valuable seconds away from my life, when I could otherwise be preparing a mental shopping list, or deciding when it's time to get the cat neutered. My point is, women have bigger, more important issues to deal with. If more men would vocally step up to the plate more often, it would relieve us of some of the burden of dealing with these oblivious fools.

Bacchus

I dont know RW, I think I would be MORE hesitant to speak out if it meant I would not get to view you make statements like that last paragraph to someone

MegB

Bacchus my friend, spend five minutes with me in a shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon, and you will witness the full spectrum of my most tediously verbose misanthropy.

Bacchus

*grins* I witness that all the time shopping with Mrs bacchus or letting her drive.

 

A rage towards people awesome to behold

 

MegB

Wow. You 'let' her drive? How enlightened of you ... ;)

Unionist

Paladin1 wrote:

I have a question, is a female waitress addressing a male patron with "dear" or "hun" the same as LeftTurns example of a male customer addressing the cashier as beautiful?

It depends on whether he's carrying a concealed firearm.

 

Paladin1

Left Turn wrote:

 

He addressed the cashier as "Hey beautiful." Definitely sexist, but maybe not as over the top as my description made it seem like it might be.

You did make it sound a bit more sinister than a customer addressing the cashier as beautiful (but maybe that's still sexist just the same?)

I have a question (moderator permitting), is a female waitress addressing a male patron with "dear" or "hun" the same as LeftTurns example of a male customer addressing the cashier as beautiful?

 

Paladin1

So if he has a gun then he can talk to her how he wants? Harsh Unionist.

Unionist

Oh goodie, let's have a discussion - in the FF no less - as to whether a server calling a customer "dear" is equivalent to a male customer calling a female employee "hey beautiful".

I strongly object to this, and I'm flagging this as offensive - provocative, ignorant, baiting.

 

Bacchus

Rebecca West wrote:
Wow. You 'let' her drive? How enlightened of you ... ;)

 

LOl A unfortunate phrasing. Its more like I have to fight to drive. She prefers to drive but her road rage is simply fearful

Paladin1

Unionist, in an effort to keep this thread on topic I am editing my response. (I will save a copy of it and PM it to you if you wish).

 

I will just say that I feel you are not only guilty of baiting in this thread with your comment about concealed weapons but in fact making a personal attack against me which I feel is bordering on harassment and stalking- by taking a topic in a completely unrelated thread and bringing it to this one.  Your comment had nothing to do with this topic, you acting offended over my comment (which I even indicated could be inappropriate for this thread to the mods) doesn't cover up for it.

I have inturn contacted the moderators in order to speak with them and the site owners about your harassment and singling me out in such a personal way. While I wait to speak with the moderators and site owners please stop taking topics I speak about and dragging them in to completely unrelated topics in attempts to discred me or make fun of me, if you don't like my stance on another issue don't drag that  into unrelated topics.

MegB

Paladin1 wrote:

Left Turn wrote:

 

He addressed the cashier as "Hey beautiful." Definitely sexist, but maybe not as over the top as my description made it seem like it might be.

You did make it sound a bit more sinister than a customer addressing the cashier as beautiful (but maybe that's still sexist just the same?)

I have a question (moderator permitting), is a female waitress addressing a male patron with "dear" or "hun" the same as LeftTurns example of a male customer addressing the cashier as beautiful?

 

That's a good point you raise. historically (and still) women are patronized, infantilized and condescended to by men on the basis of their gender. Since the opposite has not and does not hold true for men, in our tiresomely patriarchal society, the answer is no. It is not the same.

It's also important to note that when women, say, in retail or food services address customers as 'dear' or 'hun', they generally address both men and women that way. With some exceptions, men do not address other men who work in service industries in that way.

Paladin1

That makes sense, I never thought of it that way.

I've said to my daughter "say thank you to the pretty lady" if a server brings her crayons or something. I've also had my daughter point out children of difference races and responded by saying something along the lines of "Yes her skin is brown isn't she pretty"   I've never stopped to wonder if it's appropriate or not.   I'm probably getting off topic though sorry.

MegB

The only thing I would warn against is too much emphasis being placed on being pretty. For girls, they often grow up feeling that their only value resides in their physical attractiveness (as opposed to her intelligence, leadership qualities, etc.)

Society in general - advertising, mult-media messaging, the classroom and schoolyard - reinforces this in ways that boys are far less likely to encounter. Girls need to have their self-esteem especially reinforced in ways that are not dependent upon how they look (think they look, are perceived by others to look). It's not that boys aren't ridiculed for the way they look or dress, or that they aren't unfairly rewarded for being 'blessed' with good looks, it's that there is far more balance in the kinds of attributes that are praised or criticized when it comes to boys and young men.

Mórríghain

Rebecca West wrote:
I frequently am referred to by the patronizing and condescending "dear".. It's no better or worse than women of all ages being called "girls"...

In my experience women are just as likely as men to describe women of all ages as 'girls'; in fact I'll go out on a limb and say tis more common in my social and professional circles for women to overuse the term than men.

 

6079_Smith_W

Mórríghain wrote:

 I'll go out on a limb and say tis more common in my social and professional circles for women to overuse the term than men.

Women can fall into that just as men can. And just because some women do it does not justify it.

 

MegB

When women refer to other women as girls, the power dynamic is very different from when men refer to women as girls. It isn't analogous, nor is it necessarily based in current or historical gender inequity.

6079_Smith_W

@ Rebecca.

I know. I was thinking more of cases in which some women actually do reinforce it, and sometimes that "girl" talk goes hand-in-hand with it,

 

ygtbk

Well, since it's clearly OK for men to BE feminists (people who say otherwise, please show your work), the real question is whether they are allowed to say a thing that is true. And if they are not allowed to say this, then who is not allowing, and why?

MegB

ygtbk wrote:

Well, since it's clearly OK for men to BE feminists (people who say otherwise, please show your work), the real question is whether they are allowed to say a thing that is true. And if they are not allowed to say this, then who is not allowing, and why?

No, the real question, which you seem to have missed (see Catchfire's and others' previous posts), is whether it's valid for a man to call himself a feminist when his actions clearly indicate he's not.

As for the being allowed to say what is true, red herring alert. If this is some kind of defense of so-called free speech in the Feminist Forum, take it elsewhere. Like, to the rest of the board, and the universe for that matter, where men get to decide what is "true" and what is not. If that is not your intent, please clarify.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I think it is just fine if women call me a feminist. I personally would never refer to myself as such. Label jars not people is still one of my favourite sayings and after decades of advocating on behalf of people with developmental disabilities I would not call myself a disabled activist.  After decades of working on campaigns for NDP candidates I am still not a social democrat. However over the decades of fighting union battles I have always proudly called myself a trade unionist.

I think it is important to know when you are an ally and when you are fighting your own battles with the help of allies. For me the point of all activism is a society where justice and respect for all becomes a reality.  Supporting progressive change is the key to moving society forward not self aggrandizement.

Unionist

Thank you so much for that, Tehanu.

Tehanu

[img]http://reisman.lohudblogs.com/files/2011/06/rains.jpg[/img]

I'm shocked, shocked! To find that a thread called "why can't men be feminists" slid so easily into Feminism 101.

ygtbk: It's called appropriation. Let's try an anology, sometimes those help. See, I may deeply admire First Nations culture (let's go generic and not name a specific nation, after all, just like feminists, everyone's pretty much the same, right?). I have dreamcatchers in every window. I go to every public drumming event I can find. I only refer to Turtle Island. I am appalled that centuries ago, oops, decades ago, oops, now, that there has been oppression of FN people by the Canadian government. Oh, and by individual Canadians but not me, right? I have been to a sweatlodge and it was a profound experience. My dream is to be given an eagle feather. I am always very sympathetic when I hear of Idle No More protests. It's possible my great-grandmother was FN so in a way I have a bond, not so?

And yet the FN people I know don't seem to embrace me with open arms as their long-lost sister. Why? Oh, why, why?

They might ask:

How am I actually an ally?

Does it seem I'm more concerned about the cool trappings than the core issues?

Has anyone seen me DO anything to address systemic oppression, rather than just talk about it?

Have I given any indication that when the going gets rough, I'm not going to disappear?

When people challenge me, do I react defensively, or do I listen to why my behaviour might be annoying or offensive?

Do I seem to want a cookie for every little thing I do?

When they point out that I'll never experience the same oppression, that I can be an ally but not one of them, that it feels colonial [patriarchal] to have a white person [man] swoop in and try and solve everything, do I respond with "people who say otherwise, please show your work" thereby creating more work for them?

There's a reason why many feminists find this [url=http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-finally-put-in-charge-of-struggling... article hilarious, yet sad.

What's wrong with calling yourself an ally? I'll tell you, a lot of feminists are more likely to trust a man who says he's an ally, or pro-feminist. Because that's handy shorthand for him to demonstrate he's aware of his own privilege.

And you know what? When men say they're feminist allies or pro-feminist, it does indeed accomplish the goal of society getting a "clear indication that there are men who take a stand against patriarchy and for women's rights" as Left Turn put it (by the way, I'd be interested in seeing which feminists have said that they want men to call themselves feminists for that reason?).

...

Left Turn, you opened the door for this, so I think you need to hear it. You characterised the incident in the pasta bar as "addressing the young woman cashier in a totally sexist manner," that you were quite bothered by it, and that things like that affect you deeply, unlike other men. But when I asked you if you said anything, you minimised the incident. So it seems you wanted a cookie for noticing, but that in hindsight it wasn't serious enough for you to get into a potentially uncomfortable conversation with the guy. Um. 

(Yes, I know that the cookie thing can get guys defensive. But think about why that is, okay?)

The female cashier has no idea of your good intentions. For her, this is just another time she has to deal with a guy using his privilege to comment on her looks. Probably it happens often enough that she doesn't notice or figures it's not a big deal, but maybe it bothers her a lot, who knows? The guy has no idea of your good intentions or observation. For him, he can continue to objectify any woman, especially in a subordinate position, and none of the people around him will ever challenge his right to do so.

Nothing changes.

Noticing sexism and not doing anything about it is not feminist.

And you're not going to like this at all, but citing an incident of what sounds like dramatic sexism, giving yourself credit for noticing it and using that as a demonstration of how advanced your feminist development is (you say other men wouldn't have noticed it, although who knows, maybe they did and also didn't do anything), then downplaying it when asked if you did anything ... that's not feminist either.

I suggested a gentle fairly non-confrontational script up above for incidents like that in the future. I also pointed out that for guys to challenge other men on their sexism is particularly effective. So, can I suggest that you make yourself a pact that, even though it's difficult, next time you see or hear a sexist incident you WILL say something to the guy?

We don't have to challenge sexism every time we see it, because lord knows we'd be exhausted in a day, but if something's serious enought that it deeply bothers you, then it's a good idea to think in advance, how will I address this if it happens again? And do so. That's part of being an ally.

 

ygtbk

Rebecca West wrote:
ygtbk wrote:

Well, since it's clearly OK for men to BE feminists (people who say otherwise, please show your work), the real question is whether they are allowed to say a thing that is true. And if they are not allowed to say this, then who is not allowing, and why?

No, the real question, which you seem to have missed (see Catchfire's and others' previous posts), is whether it's valid for a man to call himself a feminist when his actions clearly indicate he's not.

As for the being allowed to say what is true, red herring alert. If this is some kind of defense of so-called free speech in the Feminist Forum, take it elsewhere. Like, to the rest of the board, and the universe for that matter, where men get to decide what is "true" and what is not. If that is not your intent, please clarify.

Well, since I'm defending the principle that men can be feminists, and you're defending the principle that non-feminist men shouldn't call themselves feminists, I don't think that we disagree in that respect.

As for free speech, my point is simply that if an apple is red, I don't think I need permission to call it red. The principle generalizes.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Thanks for your wonderful post, Tehanu.

Though because part of your post was a response to my comments about the incifdent in the pasta bar, I'm going to respond to specifically to that part of your post.

Tehanu wrote:

Left Turn, you opened the door for this, so I think you need to hear it. You characterised the incident in the pasta bar as "addressing the young woman cashier in a totally sexist manner," that you were quite bothered by it, and that things like that affect you deeply, unlike other men. But when I asked you if you said anything, you minimised the incident. So it seems you wanted a cookie for noticing, but that in hindsight it wasn't serious enough for you to get into a potentially uncomfortable conversation with the guy. Um. 

(Yes, I know that the cookie thing can get guys defensive. But think about why that is, okay?)

The female cashier has no idea of your good intentions. For her, this is just another time she has to deal with a guy using his privilege to comment on her looks. Probably it happens often enough that she doesn't notice or figures it's not a big deal, but maybe it bothers her a lot, who knows? The guy has no idea of your good intentions or observation. For him, he can continue to objectify any woman, especially in a subordinate position, and none of the people around him will ever challenge his right to do so.

Tehanu, I realised that my initial comment may have given the impression of a much more sexist interaction, stretched out over much more time, than was the case. Given what the incident was, speaking up could have created a situation that was more uncomfortable for the cashier than the original incident. As in when someone steps in to try and fix a situation and winds up making things worse. As in if the man tried to justify his actions it could easily have caused more sexism that was contained in the original incident.

 

MegB

ygtbk wrote:

As for free speech, my point is simply that if an apple is red, I don't think I need permission to call it red. The principle generalizes.


I'd buy that if we were talking about the colors of fruit, but we're not.

Although you may not intend it, reducing the veracity of discussion about men and feminism in the FF to calling an apple red would be insulting if it weren't so ridiculous...

Niall Keane Niall Keane's picture

I once read a saying, from some anonymous source, on the internet several years ago; "There are only two kinds of male feminists. One is the kind that wants to get into a woman's dress, the other is the kind that wants to get into a woman's pants." OK so it was intended to be humourous, though I realize some may take offense to it. But part of the humour is because there's a grain of truth to it.

I personally don't go around identifying myself as feminist, for a couple of reasons. One is the debate on whether it's morally and ethichally right for men to do so. Another one is I just don't feel comfortable with it, in no small part because of guys like Schwyzer. He's not the first prominent male to identify as feminist who revealed himself to be a fraud and a wolf in sheeps clothing. (Anyone remember Kyle Payne?) But the reality is any guy who makes a big point of advertising himself as feminist is going to be rightly regarded with suspicion and skepticism. Any guys who put themselves at front and center of the movement SHOULD be, IMNSHO. I can remember seeing pictures of the Slutwalk in Pasadena, California and I remember thinking how wrong it was for him (Schwyzer) to be there literally at the front of it all, carrying the banner and being a keynote speaker at the rally. It turns my stomach even more now, knowing what I do about him. He built himself a very elaborate facade of legitimacy. There are lots other Hugo Schwyzers around. But if there's anything good to be said about them, it's that at least that they're a lot less sophisticated and their transparency is pretty easy to spot. Especially to women who are experienced activists.

StephenStewart

Meghan Murphy doesn't mince any words when she says, "it pisses me off when men call themselves feminists," but she muddies the water by saying, "it’s not that I don't think men can be feminist," and then describing men who aren't feminists, but claim to be.

As W. S. Gilbert said, "things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream." That doesn't mean that there is no cream, though, does it? G. B. Shaw campaigned against patriarchy, to redefine gender roles, change the marriage laws and achieve female suffrage.

Let's call Shaw and other men such as myself who are feminists, male feminists. I suspect that this may actually be a form of sexism, but it seems a small price to pay if it's all that's required to keep the peace. After all, even Meghan concedes that men can be feminists.

ygtbk

Rebecca West wrote:
ygtbk wrote:

As for free speech, my point is simply that if an apple is red, I don't think I need permission to call it red. The principle generalizes.

I'd buy that if we were talking about the colors of fruit, but we're not.

Although you may not intend it, reducing the veracity of discussion about men and feminism in the FF to calling an apple red would be insulting if it weren't so ridiculous...

Since I have no intention of insulting you (as you have correctly determined), and since you asked me to clarify, let's start over.

There is a threshold question here. Do you think a man can be a feminist? If not, then there's little reason for this thread, since there is no way that he can legitimately call himself a feminist. If it's possible, then there's something to discuss. What do you think?

6079_Smith_W

@ ygtbk

Well it's a uesful discussion in some ways. But my personal inclination is still to say no. I see it as an essentially pointless issue, and more divisive and ego-driven than productive - Cathfire's point about solidarity notwithstanding.

For example - not to say that feminism is nebulous and means nothing, but there are certainly different interpretations of it. For a woman to be on one side one of those schisms is one thing. For a man? Well, even if I did have some burning desire to pin that  badge to my chest the prospect of wading into that would be enough to dissuade me. It would just make it all about me and that label, rather actually trying to accomplish something.

I know for a fact that some of my values make me non-feminist in some people's eyes, so why claim to be something I am not? Better to be honest and show support in ways that I can.

 

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