Allies, Critics, and Antis, Oh My!
So, I’ve stumbled upon the wild, wooly world of male-authored blogs that are critical of feminism. It was kind of intriguing at first. I figured it might be interesting to see a guy’s critique of feminism. So, I spent a few hours perusing two blogs:
I started with the intention of wanting to hear folks out. I really wanted to like these blogs. Really I did. However, it became obvious that I have as many traits in common with these folks as an apple has in common with a kumquat. Yes, they are both fruit, but outside of the shallow trappings of language, the resemblance simply falls flat. I may be critical of some aspects of feminism, but I have very little in common with the folks who post at these blogs… and quite honestly, I prefer to keep it that way.
Nevertheless, it was instructive to read these two blogs. I’ve discovered that in spite of some of my critical feelings toward feminism, I wholeheartedly embrace most of its ideas. After encountering some of the… um… flawed perceptions of sexism and gender that are manifested in those two venues, I’m reminded of why I’m quite grateful that feminism is around. So, it was a positive experience overall, but probably not the way the blog authors intended, I’m sure.
My primary issue with feminism is that it’s not nearly as inclusive as it claims to be. The packaging is nice (New and Improved! Now more inclusive than ever!), but the contents are lacking. When it comes to women who stray too far from a white, middle class, cissexual norm, feminism is still rough around the edges. There’s room for a lot of work, folks… a lot.
In the spirit of inclusiveness, I also think there should be a greater focus on exploring how gender effects men. In the long run, I’m not sure how sexist oppression can be effectively challenged without including men’s experience with gender. Men are half the human race and the dance of power that occurs in gender often involves women and men interacting with each other. And of course, the old adage, “patriarchy hurts men, too” is also important. I’d like to think that feminism could include the broader objective of easing the gender-related crap that all people have to endure from a system that is far too restrictive for everyone.
Unfortunately, the attitudes and ideas I witnessed at Feminist Critics and Toy Soldiers are so misguided that I’m left feeling pessimistic about the viability of including men’s voices. After sifting through some of the verbal melees there, I am reminded of why feminists are hesitant to devote much effort to including men’s voices. However, blogs like Alas, A Blog and Feministe give me hope because there are many guys in those venues who do get it. I think it would be beneficial to initiate a continuing dialog about men and gender with guys who see themselves as feminists or allies of feminism.
In spite of my brush with the anti-feminism of Toy Soldiers and Feminist Critics, I still have little desire to embrace the title of feminist. I’m certainly an ally of feminism and I love many of its ideas, but I remain too critical of its real life practices to fully embrace the label. It makes me sad to say this, but there you have it.