Spitfire and I have been discussing the possibility of roping in more guest bloggers as we find our personal plates rather full. (I myself just started a new relationship…meet my new boyfriend, Graduate School. He keeps me up late nights with fiery discussion of Dewey Decimal versus Library of Congress Classification…mmm… nerdylove.) So I suggested that it would be interesting to get a guy to guest blog.
And then we heard the metaphorical crickets chirp on both sides of the Gchat.
This has been a common debate within feminist circles–can men be feminists? In its most basic terms, I tend to wholeheartedly agree that yes, men can be feminists! Men can believe in gender equality! But upon further investigation I begin to wonder. Between the theory of male feminists and the the actuality of male feminists, there has been a disjoint as I find theory hasn’t manifested itself into actuality…at least that I have personally witnessed.
This isn’t to say I haven’t run into male feminists in my life. I know quite a few. But I find they fall into three categories:
(1) Freddie Feeble Feminist: These are the guys who say yes, I am a feminist! I believe in gender equality! And thank you Freddie, I appreciate your support. But Freddie doesn’t know much. He can’t tell you why reproductive rights are important (just that “choice is good”), he can’t tell you why the balance between work and family may be difficult and fraught with social pressure for many women (he probably hasn’t really thought it over anyways.) Freddie’s heart is in the right place, but he doesn’t have much to say, and I wonder what, if anything, he contributes to the feminist community at large. Although I truly hope Freddie pipes up during locker-room machismo discussion, I wonder if he does. But Freddie respects women.
(2) Fabio F**k Me Feminist: A close cousin to Freddie, Fabio too claims to be a feminist but can’t articulate why. But unlike Freddie, who has his heart in the right place, Fabio has other things on his mind…his dick. He claims to be a feminist to get chicks. Because somewhere down the line he heard that feminist chicks are sexually liberated and easy. He’ll sweet talk you through women’s liberation, but only so far as the nearest bed. Fabio clearly doesn’t respect women.
(3) Frank Full of Himself Feminist: Sure, Frank knows his Katie Roiphe from his Linda Nochlin, and he’s been to a few Take Back the Nights. And don’t we know about it! Frank can’t stop talking about gender equality, but his “talking” soon becomes lecturing and he comes off as too “enlightened” and it just feels too much like patriarchy’s stamp of approval…thank god for Frank’s head-pat of approval! Frank pisses me off becase Frank pays lips service to respecting women, when in fact he doesn’t, because in his mind he’s still saying “bitch, sit down and listen to me, the man.”
So this is what I have personally witnessed in my life, and I realize I’ve painted with large brushstrokes, and I realize I could be wrong–I hope I am. But I’m genuinely asking, can men be strong solid feminists– knowledgeable, respectful, and contributing? I know men have written about masculinity, contributing to gender studies, and these voices are valuabe to help flesh out gender topics that abut feminism, but they don’t directly support feminism.
But I hope I’m wrong about this. How can we get Freddie to be more vocal like Frank but less of a douche? I don’t want to scare guys away thinking they are forever doomed to fall into one of these categories, but how can they (can they?) find a valuable role and voice within feminism?