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Sun Oct 27, 2013, 10:40 AM

On allies and male feminists

I know that the question of whether men can be feminists or can only be allies is a hotly debated topic, but that isn't what I'd like to discuss. Instead, I want to expand on something I wrote on another thread - the thread "Dear DU Woman - stop throwing back shots of Rum and you won't be raped..."

I wrote:

As it is, I expect better of men. I expect men to change masculine culture to make it ok to say to buddies, "Hey, don't reduce that women to just a body part, she's a whole woman" when they indicate a woman's breasts or bottom and go "Hur-Hur, I'd like to tap dat." I expect men to change masculine culture to make it a cool thing to tell a buddy, "I don't think she's sober, don't have sex with her." I expect men to change masculine culture to make it ok to listen to - and actually HEAR - women when they talk about their experiences and how they experience the world.


It seems to me that too many men who are not themselves misogynists do not feel that the above is their duty. They think that as long as they themselves do not make rape jokes, or make it difficult for women in the work place, or expect women to "put out" on the first date, they've done their part, and feel proud of themselves.

However, to me that is not enough. If any man is to get any cred for not being a misogynist, let alone being an ally, the least he must do is start helping to dismantle the toxic view of masculinity in our culture. We have examples of men doing exactly that here in HoF, and on DU in general, but far too many men still think equality is women's business, if it's something they think is valuable at all. It is not the latter group I seek to challenge, but the former - the men who are decent, yet passive.

Is that not the least we can ask of men?

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Response to KitSileya (Original post)

Sun Oct 27, 2013, 10:43 AM

1. I agree

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Response to Arcanetrance (Reply #1)

Sun Oct 27, 2013, 10:47 AM

2. You were definitely on my mind when I described men who do all these things.

Because you do a great job standing up against misogyny on this site. I just wish most men were like you.

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Response to KitSileya (Original post)

Sun Oct 27, 2013, 02:25 PM

3. And there it is

It doesn't matter if a male "loves" women, or has an "extremely independent" female SO, or knows "other" feminists or has "a warped sense or humor and is a vehement free speech advocate" etc.

This is also what I expect from our good men, our decent men, our allies. It's the surest sign of a lack of misogyny and what an excellent post, and point, you make

And for our feminists, male and female out here, or out in the world fighting and educating and speaking up and speaking out (thank you Captain Picard) what can I say? You all rock!




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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #3)

Mon Oct 28, 2013, 12:14 AM

10. I agree with you, all these excuses they make are just so much smokescreen

They're simply covering their behinds - how much must they not hurt the women they love, or their extremely independent wife, and how much must they not realize that just because they have a right to say something, doesn't mean it makes them a decent person to say these things? We can totally demand that they behave like decent human beings, and confront them when they aren't, and also demand that they in turn confront men when they aren't being decent. The silence on DU sometimes is overwhelming.

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Response to KitSileya (Original post)

Sun Oct 27, 2013, 03:21 PM

4. Men who do nothing are actually complicit in the patriarchy.

Precisely because men are not required to do anything to reap the benefits. Doing nothing is, in essence, the same as endorsing it.

As long as they don't rock the boat, they'll be just fine. And many know this. So they do nothing and assume no one notices.

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Response to Gravitycollapse (Reply #4)

Sun Oct 27, 2013, 09:59 PM

8. "Doing nothing is, in essence, the same as endorsing it." i had to do the hardest thing in the world

 

and speak up in a room full of people, with my mom there in front of people she socialized and worked with because if i did not have the courage to speak up, then i was reinforcing the racism. i was allowing it. i might as well have been a racist also if i kept my mouth shut. i didnt want to. it was hard. i hated it. and i did it. cause i could do nothing less, or i was the problem. i agree totally. it is not fun for any of us. that is not the discussion. it is the reality

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Response to KitSileya (Original post)

Sun Oct 27, 2013, 06:15 PM

5. this is no different

 

than what I would expect of decent people when confronted with racism.

It's hard to convince people you're not racist when you're chilling with a room full of people making racist jokes, or kicking back with your buddies listening to how they would never hire someone who is black.

We shouldn't even have to go through a thought process of whether or not it's our duty to speak out. It should just be instinctual to blurt out "wtf, dude, that's not okay."

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Response to KitSileya (Original post)

Sun Oct 27, 2013, 09:21 PM

6. Here's my view as a young man who sincerely wants to help...

 

As a group, men put an incredible amount of pressure-on themselves and each other-to conform to the "masculine" ideal. This comes from a deeply rooted ideological assumption about the inherent, so-called "natural" differences between men and women. It's an uphill challenge to shake off that social conditioning.

That being said..I believe that there are many men who sincerely want to help the feminist movement in its goals. However, I also believe that male allies or would-be allies of feminists don't speak out as often because they fear the inevitable backlash from other men. You can call it cowardice or complacency, and you wouldn't be wrong.

I wonder how white civil rights leaders felt in the 1960s, particularly in the South. Pretty sure many of them were ostracized, disowned, and despised-hell, many were murdered by Klansmen and other racist slime! It's one thing for members of an oppressed group to recognize social inequality; but how can more members of dominant groups find the courage to stand side-by-side with the oppressed, to actually recognize that yes, privilege is real, deprivation is real, inequality is real, and it's holding back society as a whole?

I don't have any answers tonight. But I do know that more of us men must confront each other frankly and firmly about sexism, just as whites have to confront each other about racism, and straight people have to confront each other about homophobia.

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words still ring true:

Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals
.

http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html


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Response to YoungDemCA (Reply #6)

Sun Oct 27, 2013, 10:04 PM

9. you are right. it is the reality of it. it is hard. and if you do not speak up then you are part

 

of the creation and continuation of the racism or the sexism.

i am going to talk to my boys about this and see how they deal with it. i know my oldest speaks up so often, and it has caused him problems, but he has always been willing to take the repercussions, even when it is so tiring and hurtful. i wonder how he is doing with it in college. but my youngest? i think it has to be a particular type of misogyny or racism or homophobia for him to draw the line. shrugging off the little stuff.

there is just so much in our culture and if living in an area where it is so prevalent, then it would be exhausting for the boys to always call it out.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Reply #6)

Mon Oct 28, 2013, 12:22 AM

11. I see what you're saying,

and I agree with it, but it must never be forgotten that the risks minorities face are of an order of magnitude greater than what privileged individuals face when speaking out. When it comes to racism, I as a white person, must never forget that for me to stand up against racism doesn't make me a hero, it makes me a decent human being. I don't deserve a cookie for doing so. Too many men seem to think they deserve a cookie when they are not being actively misogynistic - but what needs to be pounded home is that it is simply expected of them as decent human beings.

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Response to KitSileya (Reply #11)

Mon Oct 28, 2013, 06:18 PM

14. Oh absolutely

 

Treating women with respect and empathizing with them is the least any of us men can do. As we all should treat each other with respect.

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Response to KitSileya (Original post)

Sun Oct 27, 2013, 09:56 PM

7. a very good Op and i could nto agree with you more. i know that when women, especially our young

 

women and girls do the manipulative things with men, that they know they will get away with, but it is using men, i feel i have a responsibility to speak up. and strongly. explaining why it is unacceptable, how damaging it is, why it effects us all.

it is not a tough thing. and yes, i expect it of men. and if a man does not actively behave in thsi manner, they are not only not allies, but they literally are part of the problem cause they are good dudes reinforcing the wrong to their friends. friends and peers that would listen to them. because they are too lazy, cowardly or are simply unconcerned about making this a better place for all of us.

and if they are that, then no... they absolutely are not allies.

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Response to KitSileya (Original post)

Mon Oct 28, 2013, 04:38 PM

12. Gender stereotypes and societal pressure to conform to the gender binary is what drives a lot of it.

 

I'm certain there are a lot of great potential allies out there who are afraid of taking up that duty because of the rank homophobia and prevalence of rape culture in their own environment.

I know for a fact this is a huge problem in the military and in university settings. The taunts about "cockblocking" or an unwillingness to have sex with a drunk woman at a party being perceived as "being gay" are major problems men my age have to deal with.

But the way I've come to see it is that it takes a "real man" (I hate to use that stupid gender normative term, by the way) to fight something as powerful as rape culture.

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Response to KitSileya (Original post)

Mon Oct 28, 2013, 05:26 PM

13. Here is one example of how allies can use their privilege to fight oppression.

In this video, we hear the story of a woman who uses her white privilege to call out racism.



The sad thing is, it is only because she actually perceives the different treatment as being wrong that she is able to recognize the unfair treatment and call it out.

Misogyny is so ingrained in all of us, that most of us do not register unfair treatment as even being wrong. It appears natural. Normal. Just the way things are.

We have a long, long, long way to go.

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Response to redqueen (Reply #13)

Mon Oct 28, 2013, 06:24 PM

15. Most of us would rather be comfortable.

 

Racism, sexism, and other forms of social oppression are uncomfortable to even recognize, especially for those from the groups that have benefited at the expense of those being oppressed.

The thing is-the members of the oppressed groups have to deal with the reality of their oppression every day. They don't have a choice. They can't be comfortable. That is something that I try to keep in mind.

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Response to KitSileya (Original post)

Tue Nov 26, 2013, 09:10 PM

16. +1000

Thanks for a great post!

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