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Old 08-07-2006, 09:24 AM   #1
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The male feminist

We’ve had some interesting gender debates here so I figured Id try posting this: link

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But can a man ever really be a feminist? Some say it is inappropriate for men to call themselves feminists, arguing that feminism is a movement developed by and for women, and that men can never really understand what it is like to be a woman. Furthermore, critics claim that by jumping on the feminism bandwagon, men could eventually dominate the movement.

Organisations such as Oxfam, however, think the risks of involving men are far outweighed by the benefits. Its Gender Equality and Men project, launched in 2002, has incorporated men into work on issues as diverse as reproductive and sexual health, fatherhood and poverty reduction.

Jenny Watson, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, isn't surprised. "Things are changing very fast. Increasingly, men see that the lives women are trying to build - balancing work and family - are lives that they want to lead too."

And given that, what man wouldn't want to call himself pro-feminist?
So can a man be a feminist? Would you see it as compromising his masculinity? Is it damaging to the feminist cause?

I mostly wondered if there aren’t areas within feminism, such as physical or psychological counselling (e.g. rape-counselling, parenthood planning), where men would do more harm than good and where preserving a feminine environment is essential. We all speak more freely when we are exclusively in the company of our own sex.
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Old 08-07-2006, 09:36 AM   #2
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Re: The male feminist

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Originally posted by silja

I mostly wondered if there aren’t areas within feminism, such as physical or psychological counselling (e.g. rape-counselling, parenthood planning), where men would do more harm than good and where preserving a feminine environment is essential. We all speak more freely when we are exclusively in the company of our own sex.
I think there are areas, like the ones you've mentioned, but I think those aren't directly related to supporting feminism. I'm not really a feminist myself and yes I prefer a woman doctor, but that's not influenced by my feelings toward feminism. I simply prefer a female because I can say things like "have you ever experienced X-symptoms while on Y-brand of birth control?" and she can answer based on experience.

Anyway, the concept of feminism has always been shady for me. Personally, I prefer to support gender equity rather than gender equality. Let's face it, men and women are not the same and should not be treated the same across the board. I don't see why men can't be feminists.
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Old 08-07-2006, 09:40 AM   #3
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Excellent thread, I hope the men here will reply.

I think men can be feminists, sadly I haven't met and don't meet that many. Just for me personally a man has to be demonstrative that he is a feminist, it's much easier to call yourself one than it is to walk the walk. Talk is cheap.

For me a man who is a feminist has a deep and abiding respect for women as humans and as partners/equals, is a gentleman in the true, equality-based sense of that word, honestly cares about "women's issues". A man who is a true feminist will buck the boys club and speak out when he sees and recognizes sexism and sexist men, he doesn't care about any actual or perceived threat to his masculinity. He is secure enough in himself and knows that so many things are more important than ego or projecting a certain image, or conforming to some societal stereotype or ideal-that is true masculinity in my eyes.

While men can probably never understand what it's like to be women, we can't understand what it's like to be them either, so I don't see how any movement can ever work unless it incorporates both genders.
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Old 08-07-2006, 09:54 AM   #4
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No I do not, the nature of the "womyn" pushing groups is divisive and is that is the type of feminism that we are discussing then the anti-male bias is a powerful detterent.

The concept of the gentleman and treating women with respect is not intherently synonomous with equality (the formalised concept of the gentleman that existed in the 19th Century for instance is mildly chauvinistic) and LivLuv is quite right to point out that it is about equity, I hold that humanism and the principles of secularism and rationalism are the best tools with which to enow all of humanity with the rights and liberties to reach their full potential, and I do think that I am a gentleman to a fault. I do not think that those ideals can be reconciled with the gender poltics and philosophy that have risen up with modern feminism.
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:03 AM   #5
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Well I personally don't think treating women with respect and being a gentleman is a chauvinistic concept I'm not talking about a condescending or demeaning behavior, but one that is actually rooted in feminsim. Generally if a man truly sees a woman as an equal, he will respect her and yes, be a gentleman. That's been my experience

And people have differing definitions of "feminist", feminists are not by definition "man haters" or biased against men. Maybe at first women had to be "women pushing" because they had to be, they were fighting such an uphill battle. The only men I am biased against are sexist ones-and men who use, mistreat, and abuse women. And men who are not good human beings, according to my personal definition of that.
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:14 AM   #6
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But that will raise the ire of radical feminist types who make misandry the appropriate answer to misogyny. The connections between the enlightenment and womens rights are strong and quite wonderful, a great example that I can think of is Harriet Taylor Mill in the 19th Century.

The application of Marxist dogma throughout those gender-politics organisations is rather off-putting, although from a different tangent Camille Paglia has piqued my interest.
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
But that will raise the ire of radical feminist types who make misandry the appropriate answer to misogyny. The connections between the enlightenment and womens rights are strong and quite wonderful, a great example that I can think of is Harriet Taylor Mill in the 19th Century.

The application of Marxist dogma throughout these groups is very off-putting, although from an apparently different tangent Camille Paglia has piqued my interest.
Which is all very true, but radical feminists represent such a small minority within feminism that debating the issue from that perspective is a bit like debating artistic value of 'It's a small world after all’ using only the first two bars… very limiting - and considering how atrocious that song is, also potentially damaging to ones health.
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:26 AM   #8
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Then what meaningful debate is there left to be had? Is feminism today restricted to matters such as maternity leave and pay status? Has it gone too far - a serious consideration given the dropping academic performance of males? Are things like universal sufferage and sexual liberty, things for which we are so accustomed to become human rights or is gender apartheid and executions for crimes against chastity permissable by virtue of cultural difference?

All important issues, particularly the last one for which I am disgusted at the policies the Bush administration has taken, especially against birth control and minimal condemnation of cancerous Sharia.
Quote:
The editor of a women's rights magazine in Afghanistan has been arrested after publishing articles deemed blasphemous.

Charges were filed against Ali Mohaqiq Nasab after a complaint by a religious advisor to President Hamid Karzai.

Mr Nasab's magazine had questioned the harsh punishments for adultery and theft demanded by the most conservative interpretation of Islamic law.

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned his arrest, noting "deteriorating" press freedoms.

While local law bans comments deemed insulting to Islam, further legislation stipulates that journalists can only be arrested after a government-appointed media commission has studied their case.

This process appears not to have been followed in the case of Mr Nasab, whose monthly magazine Hoqooq-i-Zan - Women's Rights - has appeared since the fall of the hardline Taleban.
link

The fight for womens rights is inexorably linked with those of the open society; free speech, secularism, sex with a dash of blasphemy is the playbook.
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrsSpringsteen
I don't see how any movement can ever work unless it incorporates both genders.
Well said.

Extremists turned "feminist" into an ugly word with nasty connotations of man-hating, ball-breaking, bitchy lesbians.

But if the basic idea is fairness in social, political and economic status and opportunities based on gender, I think the vast majority of people buy into that idea.

So much could be accomplished if we could just move away from the us-versus-them, win-lose approach to everything.
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Old 08-07-2006, 10:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by AliEnvy

Extremists turned "feminist" into an ugly word with nasty connotations of man-hating, ball-breaking, bitchy lesbians.

But if the basic idea is fairness in social, political and economic status and opportunities based on gender, I think the vast majority of people buy into that idea.

So much could be accomplished if we could just move away from the us-versus-them, win-lose approach to everything.
I agree completely, especially your use of the word "fairness". I've always understood there to be a definite difference between achieving equity rather than equality. The "us-versus-them" feminists have really turned me off to the concept of a feminist "movement". In my experience, women are often just as at fault voluntarily or unconsciously encouraging sexist attitudes and behavior (see the breast feeding thread).
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Then what meaningful debate is there left to be had? Is feminism today restricted to matters such as maternity leave and pay status? Has it gone too far - a serious consideration given the dropping academic performance of males? Are things like universal sufferage and sexual liberty, things for which we are so accustomed to become human rights or is gender apartheid and executions for crimes against chastity permissable by virtue of cultural difference?

All important issues, particularly the last one for which I am disgusted at the policies the Bush administration has taken, especially against birth control and minimal condemnation of cancerous Sharia.link

The fight for womens rights is inexorably linked with those of the open society; free speech, secularism, sex with a dash of blasphemy is the playbook.
As I understand you, you’re arguing that the very idea of feminism is divisive because it emphasises furthering the rights of women rather than of mankind as a whole. You mentioned Harriet Taylor Mill but I personally find Mary Wollstonecraft and her contemporaries to be of higher relevance. The very cornerstone of their argument against chauvinism was that a society cannot function without equal rights for both men and women. They did not merely argue in favour of the empowerment of women. Feminism is not divisive but rather a part of the general struggle for a pluralistic, free society.

I agree that many aspects of Sharia are highly misogynistic but you certainly do not need to look so far for examples of gender bias. I applaud your adherence to the Gentleman’s code and I’m certain that the next sentence does not apply to you. I’ve met many self-styled Gentlemen who treat women as weaker individuals who should be protected and cosseted mentally as well as physically. Their paternalistic approach perpetuate the chauvinism that Mary Wollstonecraft fought against in direct line from the men who argued in the late 1700s that women are akin to animals and have no souls. As long as remnants of this line of thinking remains we do not have equality of the sexes.

Equity is all very well but I think we also need our heads collectively examined. The more I think about it, the more enthusiasm I feel for the idea of men taking up the challenge of changing the way of thinking of those who would protect women ‘for their own good’ – let alone those who would bully and demean women. In the end, changing laws and instituting fair hiring practises is not the hard part. Changing attitudes is.
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:19 AM   #12
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Quote:
Feminism is not divisive but rather a part of the general struggle for a pluralistic, free society.
I understand and agree with you there and in your other points you elaborate upon the points raised a post or two prior to the quoted one, the issue adressed here would be the modern connotations of feminism, a label which has been corrupted at least as much as liberal.

But the truth seems to be that a society can function with gender inequality just as much as it can with slavery and genocide, if societies with these practices simply failed outright there would be no problem since all that remains would be pluralistic and free states. But they do persist and the attitudes do enjoy a modicum of respect in some circles in free states, I think that it is very difficult to completely erradicate behaviour such as mistreatment of women; I think that there is work to be done but it encompasses a good deal more than the basic concept of equal rights and treatment under law as well as gender (or the mere dichotomy in gender since intersex and transexuals are at the margins).

Very good point about the paternalistic attitudes that drive this, in a recent discussion I was pressed rather forcefully with "how would you feel if your daughter went out and behaved like a slut" when I defended logical secularism against theocratic morality, the base argument invariably became that the religious based morality was innately better because only it protected virtue, and it was framed in the manner of paternalism (I still maintain that treating women as if they are something to be ruled is not quite as virtuous as they think)
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:26 AM   #13
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Can a man be a feminist? You could in the 70's.



“The quintessential honorary woman: a feminist icon.”
The Boston Globe
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Old 08-07-2006, 11:28 AM   #14
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Get with the times

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Old 08-07-2006, 01:05 PM   #15
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I don't think involving men in women's right to equality is counter productive. After all, every man is some woman's son, is he not? How many of them are some woman's brother, lover, father? It's the one thing I never understood about the true sexist pigs. They'd treat a woman like a possession but heaven forbid another man leered at his sister - he'd get his teeth knocked out for it. It's as if they're incapable of connecting the dots in their brain.

That said, I have known a few truly evolved men, who wanted nothing more from a woman than to be their partner, equal and not more or less than that. The problem is, our society still largely dictates that this is an effeminate way to be.
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