Yes, I’m one of those feminists who doesn’t want men in feminism, the type who doesn’t think men can be feminists. I’m quite happy to talk with you, work in partnership with or alongside you, even count a select bunch of you amongst my friends, but call you feminists: “Nah.”
Men – you’ve had since time immemorial to get your shit together. For the sake of argument, let’s start from the assumption that as a species we’ve been around for about 200,000 years. Evidence suggests that early societies were egalitarian but that with the development of agriculture and domestication around 11,700 years ago, came the emergence of patriarchy, of men’s domination of women. What we refer to as first wave feminism gained prominence from the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, though this is western-centric and writes out women’s earlier struggles in Europe from the 15th century. Even if we take Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman published in 1792 as the start of women’s fight for our rights, men had eleven and a half thousand years to do something about sex inequality – if only a) you had wanted to and b) you weren’t too busy enjoying the benefits. What’s suddenly happened for you to want to get in on the act?
Feminism is more than the demand for rights for women or equality between women and men. For me, feminism is the fight for the liberation of all women as a class from subjugation under patriarchy. Loose the structural analysis and feminism gets lost in the rights of the individual, in identity led politics and notions of choice and agency fail to take sufficient account of context and impact. Get men in and feminism is almost inevitably reduced to the problem of inequality and usually it isn’t so long before the ‘men suffer under patriarchy too’ line is trotted out.
Men, revolutionaries, when you fight for equality you’re too quick betray your sisters. Women were fighting for the rights of women as a class, as well as the overthrow of totalitarian regimes in the Arab Spring, but women’s status has been seriously threated in the countries that achieved changes of government. The end of communism in Eastern Europe, and with it the rise of choice and consumerism furthered the commodification of women and men’s right’s to choose to profit and purchase. In the UK, the Socialist Workers Party handling of rape shows that misogyny, sexism and sexual violence were seen as equality issues of lesser importance.
Men, you take up too much public space. This post by End Victimisation and Blaming cites Dale Spender:
“Present at the discussion, which was a workshop on sexism and education in London, were thirty-two women and five men. Apart from the fact that the tape revealed that the men talked for over 50 per cent of the time, it also revealed that what the men wanted to talk about – and the way in which they wanted to talk – was given precedence.” […]
“There is no doubt in my mind that in this context at least (and I do not think it was an atypical one) it was the five males and not the thirty-two females who were defining the parameters of the talk. I suspect that neither the women nor the men were conscious of this. There was no overt hostility displayed towards the females who ‘strayed from the point’, but considerable pressure was applied by the males – and accepted without comment from the females – to confine the discussion to the male definition of the topic.”
Spender is absolutely right if my experience is anything to go by, the situation she described was not atypical. In the media men dominate, they take up disproportionate space. In politics men dominate, they take up disproportionate space. Even on public transport men dominate, you take up disproportionate space as illustrated by this blog and this. Seriously fellas, we know that your balls aren’t that big.
This piece by Glosswitch on the vitriol directed towards a twitter hashtag #sharedgirlhood and its protagonist Victoria Brownworth (@VABOX) explores the importance of a collective approach to women’s oppression. Too few women get to know the joy of mass women-only spaces. It’s increasingly rare to find even a feminist event that is women only, and those that seek to provide this, increasingly face challenges. Bullying from men’s rights extremists led to the London Irish Centre cancelling a booking for the women-only radical feminist conference Rad Fem 2013 for safeguarding reasons and because the venue could not handle the volume of complaints, though the conference went ahead peacefully elsewhere. What’s the big threat? Are you afraid that we’re plotting to overthrow male privilege or something?
Men, how about you prioritise taking responsibility for your violence above asking ‘What about the men?’ Services for women who have experienced sexual and domestic violence are increasingly required by commissioners to offer services to men too, despite evidence that this is not what women want, despite women being overwhelmingly the victims and men being overwhelmingly the perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence. Despite even the recognition of this by the government in its strategy to end (male) violence against women and girls. Incidentally men, if you focussed on ending male violence, you’d be helping a whole lot more men – and women – than you are by overstating your victimisation by women.
Men, how about you challenge the pornography tastes of some of your brethren? Other men and boys listen to you, use their sexism for the greater good. How about you challenge the sexual objectification of women without needing to call yourselves feminists to do so. Just do it because you recognise that objectification is damaging to women, a cause and consequence of inequality that upholds patriarchy.
Men, how about you sort out the rest of society – that in which you dominate – and make that more equitable and safer for women before you insist on occupying our space? There is a role for you, plenty that you can do, and I really hope that you will be influenced by feminism but in my experience, it is the men who exclude themselves from identifying as a feminist, who instead see themselves as allies, supporters or pro-feminist who have the more sophisticated analysis. Men who realise that feminism is not about or for them, not about what they think.
The silencing of women by men in the public sphere is deafening; the habit of overlooking and failing to respond to women’s subordination is entrenched, structural and serves men as a class. By insist on inclusion in feminism, once again, men’s wants and needs are prioritised over women’s and women’s subordination is reinforced.
Why do my beautiful sons have to be showered with so much viscousness just because they have a penis
It so sad but I agree with feminism full of women’s greatest virtue love and not hate please.
With all respect, you’re really missing the point.
You can disagree with Karen’s point or stance, but there is no viciousness there! I have sons – they have never felt ‘showered with viciousness’ by feminism of any kind.
I completely agree with this article. A year ago I wouldn’t particularly have thought anything of including men in the ‘feminist’ title, and feminist spaces, but having read more rad fem materials (books, blogs and articles) has helped to understand why the reality of it becomes problematic. Men are used to dominating and having their needs and experiences centered, and seem unable to behave outside of this modus operandi, even within feminist activism (of course there are individual exceptions, but the majority of so called feminist men unfortunately fit this description.) I actually found this blog after a search, for ‘why men can’t be feminists,’ following an interaction in a feminist facebook group, re discussion on an article posted about the male contraceptive pill equivalent. A male poster remarked in response to why he was suddenly becoming very vocal about men’s rights in this area: (when he’d never really felt the need to contribute previously) ‘I thought male reproductive health and contraception was a feminist issue’ Cue my jaw hitting the floor lol! Mainstream feminism has absolutely lost it’s way, that men like this can identify and supposedly practice feminism.
I look forward to perusing the rest of your site, keep up the good work 🙂
This whole ‘patriarchy hurts men too’ attitude does nothing but breed entitlement. Encourages them to march into our spaces and demand we shut up and talk about them instead, then start whining about what hypocrites we are if we don’t. No thanks. If patriarchy didn’t have net benefit for the male they’d have ditched it years ago. If they hate men’s inhumanity towards men so much, then it’s their responsibility to change that. Nothing to do with us, mate.
Well written. This man agrees.
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I’m sorry that I haven’t gotten my act together in the last 10,000 years, but to be fair, I wasn’t alive for most of them.
Telling that you choose the time that you have got to make a weak attempt at humour to dismiss an issue rather than engage and contribute to change, isn’t it?
You openly reject men from even being allowed to participate in the movement. Is there really anything he could do “to contribute to change” that you would accept? Humor and dismissal seems a rational response in that light. You do get that your hostility towards men has consequences?
Consequences like peace and quiet, a safe space, the ability to define our own movement and the freedoms we want? Absolutely! If you think men trying to force their way into feminism isn’t a problem, I suggest you just scan the comments to this article; the overwhelming volume of verbiage comes from men telling the OP why she’s wrong, how she should be doing feminism, why men should be included (so men can benefit, apparently, otherwise known as “equality”), or just attacking her for being a feminist, and a very clear-thinking one, in the first place. Because she’s not nice enough, apparently. In other words, men telling us what we should be thinking and how we should be behaving; exactly what we’re fighting against.
Meanwhile we are being assaulted, beaten, raped, murdered in droves by your brethren; you are doing precisely nothing about this, but we are supposed to modify our feminism to avoid hurting your feelings and making you feel excluded when you turn up and whine on feminist pages. Please. Get over yourself.
Have you ever been a male and tried to “engage” in a discussion about feminism? It’s not something you want to go through twice.
“Consequences like …”
Like driving people away from feminism. Seeing feminism labeled as a man-hating movement. And having people deem such man-hating to not be worthy of being taken seriously, thus resulting in your being dismissed and mocked… not because you’re a woman, but because you’re a reprehensible human being.
I’m sure you’re going to rebut with NAFALT… accusing me of broad brushing feminists unfairly… to which I’ll point to your assertion “Meanwhile we are being assaulted, beaten, raped, murdered in droves by your brethren; you are doing precisely nothing about this,” where you are effectively broad brushing men the same way I’m broad brushing feminists… difference is, feminism is a choice… an ideology people CHOOSE to follow, unlike being male.
” the overwhelming volume of verbiage comes from men telling the OP why she’s wrong”
Because men having opinions is wrong, and a woman telling men they aren’t ALLOWED to be part of feminism… a movement which shields itself from criticisms by claiming to be a movement of equality for both genders, that it doesn’t hate men and that it works to address men’s issues too (so MRA’s aren’t needed)…. A claim that would result, not in men being ejected from the movement, but of YOU and your beliefs being ejected. Of course, we both know that’s not what feminism really is, and your brand of man-hating exclusionary club is closer to the truth of what feminism is, but there are still a lot of people who have drunk the cool aid. A lot of men who’s identity relies on being part of the feminist movement**.
“In other words, men telling us what we should be thinking and how we should be behaving; ”
Funny… this is what men are getting ALL THE TIME… or are you not aware of the various man-labeling used to shame men’s behaviours? And isn’t telling men they can’t be feminists telling men what they can and can’t be? What they should or shouldn’t be thinking? Basically everything you’r objecting to hear are the very things feminists (and women throughout history… prohibition comes to mind) subject men to routinely…and yet, despite you’re perpetual wailing on the topic, you seem to resent men returning the favour.
**Ironically, it is my own opinion that feminism appeals to these particular men because they are, in fact, reprehensible human beings… and feminism’s constant demonizing of men makes these particular men feel like their shitty behaviours and thoughts are simply a result of them being men, who inherently have shitty behaviours and thoughts… and aren’t a result of them actually being shitty people. And then then get to believe, despite these shitty behaviours and thoughts, that because they are aware they are shitty people, but that it’s allegedly because they’re men, their awareness makes them better than other men. And of course, them being shitty people who happen to be men, and admit to it, simply reaffirms the man-hating inherent to feminism. So to be honest, I get why you don’t want men in your club… it attracts the shitty ones who want to absolve themselves of responsibility for being awful human beings… who would want those people?
Men can contribute by repeating women’s words, so that other men listen, and then reminding those other man that a woman actually said that first.
Or by just keeping their mouths shut and listening.
Believe it or not, I have met one or two men who actually stated (after being asked) themselves that they should keep their mouths shut and let women talk. Am still not sure whether this was due to lots of work by their girlfriends, or whether such men actually occur in nature.
No excuses. Not being born does not absolve you from blame. /s
Thank you so much for making my point for me.
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I’m not approving any more comments from bleating men’s right’s extremists. Thank you any commentators who do not fall in to this category,
Yes Feminisim is about women not men not boys. But a grown up attitude would understand this simple fact. As a feminist we need to focus on women. if men get involved then we are not focusing on women. we do not hate men but sad to say some men hate women 2 women killed by known men every week
Well done, you just blew the UN’s feminist campaign, HeforShe, straight out the water.
I think the framing of the campaign is misguided at best.
This article is one of the reasons why I, as a woman, will never identify as feminist. Have you seen photos of WOMEN holding up signs saying “I don’t need feminism because… feminism is man hating” and then feminists reply “feminism isn’t man hating. ” Well you just proved to the women holding up signs that feminism is man hating. Obviously if you want feminism to work, because it’s harder to dismiss a woman who says male privilege doesn’t exist than a man who says male privilege doesn’t exist.
Now being a woman, I know male privilege doesn’t exist in the west. I am a woman so I know. Call me an internalized misogynist all you want. You’re entire blog is the reason why so many women hate feminism these days. Yes you do have advantages for being a woman that men don’t. You are more likely to graduate high school, go to college, have a doctorate, shorter prison sentence, you are less likely to be prosecuted for rape, child molestation, you aren’t told to “take it like a man” if you’re raped, a victim of domestic violence, etc. now there are disadvantages for being a woman. An “institution” is a structure of norms, conventions and attitudes. Women are just as guilty as men of creating and perpetuating ideas that harm other women. For example, female professors also favor male applicants, female employers are also more likely to judge women negatively, and we women call ourselves and another woman who is being assertive the b word. How is that that feminists tell men “you don’t know what it’s like to be a women” and then say “All women have experienced XYZ” when I am a women and I have not experienced “XYZ”. H You have never been *ME* so you don’t know what it’s like to be me, so stop speaking for me.
Now I have a question for you. If (hypothetical scenario) a woman changes her gender and becomes a man, he was a feminist when he was a woman, now is he no longer a feminist?
Such a pity.
Great comments, Erin. It is clear from this blog – and many like it – that the feminist movement is no longer about equality and has no interest in helping to make the lives of boys and men any better – only women. And that in the minds of the writer of this blog – and so many others like her – that you can only help people who come from the same class of people as you. There is a word for that. It is bigotry. And the sad thing is, many of these ‘lovely’ feminists fighting ‘the good fight’ don’t even understand what the word ‘equality’ means. This blog is just another example.
Absolutely, categorically, positively the most stupid post I have read all year. Thank you so much for passionately articulating my core beliefs about the bigotry of feminism. I may be quoting this blog for the rest of my life xxx
‘It is bigotry when everything is not all about me’
As an Men’s rights advocate and avid anti-feminist, I’ve got to thank you for writing this, and I encourage you to write more . The sense of victimhood while actively participating in exclusionary behaviour, the clear antipathy, if not hatred of men, the repetition of “facts” that most people already know to be false, the emotional rhetoric that is clearly intended to manipulate, and the outright rejection of men in general… these are wonderful ways to help fill the ranks of the men’s rights and anti-feminist movement. You do so much more for helping towards driving feminism out of modern discourse than anything I could do.
Keep up the good work, and again, thank you.
As a radfem, I’ve not wasted even one minute of my life commenting on MRA sites or articles. But here you all are, obsessively cluttering up the comments on a radfem blog, because the author had the temerity to say that as feminists, we’d like to have some woman-only space which isn’t dominated by men, in our own movement. You’ve just made her case for her; why aren’t you off somewhere running your own movement, if it’s so much more relevant? I assure you you wouldn’t be missed.
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Excellent! Everything you said was right on.I had the displeasure of attending a “feminist” meeting here in NYC, held by one of the “biggest” feminist groups in this city, and probably in the whole country. (They have different divisions all over the USA). I noticed that a few men attended. Lovely. I was not happy at that already. Then, just before the “talk” got started, an older “feminist” mentioned something about men can be feminists too, and all of us aren’t lesbians, or some shit. I was aghast! Before the meeting even began, this is the first thing out of some heterosexual woman? Some of the “guys” in there were taking up too much time talking…I was seething! I need very badly to find a still functioning radical feminist group before I go insane! Luckily, I can find blogs like yours to read and relate to. I loved what you said about men having a zillion years to get their shit together! They KNOW how we want to be treated (as equals and more), but they flat out refuse to make this happen. Femicide is rampant now. I read the news everyday, and am always, always disgusted at what I read: murder/suicides by men, rapes, murders, “honor killings,” molestation, child porn, having sex with animals, throwing acid on women, and more! All of these horrendous crimes are done by men. The message (which is loud and clear) is that MEN HATE US!! If they loved us, these atrocities against women would just not be happening. They want to keep us as sex slaves, barefoot and pregnant, oppressed, self-loathing, and….dead.
Thanks Jennie, I can only sympathise. Hope you find some good women-only spaces soon.
do you really believe all men are inherently evil and none of us are allies for equality and womens’ rights, working towards gains because we sincerely believe in them? generalizations help no one.
I personally prefer not to get caught up who can use the ‘feminist’ label (since I think neoliberalism has already succeeded in reducing feminism too much to a question of identity), but prefer to discuss *what* men should be doing and are currently failing to, and I like how your article does this. Thanks so much for this.
The creator of the #SharedGirlhood hashtag was @smashesthep, by the way. Victoria Brownworth was one of those using it.
Really great post, and browsing through the the comment section gave me a small ironic smile – again, men dominate it with the lengths and amount of their replies. A coincidence? 🙂
I’d say: “Ohhhh, for sure, pure coincidence.” 😉
Great post Karen, and its about time Rad Fem got the recognition it deserves…I am sick of euphemisms like “family violence” and “domestic violence”…that go along with “equality” talk…mask the whole situation and allow LibFem to flourish..indeed, that is precisely why the state supports libfem, it all works nicely with patriarchy. Killing women is femicide. A crime.
Thank you so much for writing this piece. I think it serves not only as a call-out to men but also as a reminder to women that we don’t have to passively accept men inserting themselves into our spaces. I’m a 20-year-old college student and ex-libfem and I’ve only started learning about radical feminism in the past year or so. It is such a relief to be able to prioritize myself and other women and to stand in solidarity with women worldwide instead of constantly catering to men and trying to sell feminism to them. I wish other women could experience that and it deeply saddens me that radical feminism is so misunderstood. So… thank you for being a role model for young women like me! I’m really glad I stumbled across your blog and you’ve gained a follower.
Thanks very much Megan, that’s such a lovely comment to get up to. Glad you’re finding your place. x
Well that’s good that you don’t want me as a feminist, I never wanted to be one anyway.
Why on earth are you reading this then?
Because I stumbled upon it while jumping about the land of wordpress
And yet you are absolutely fine about The Return of Kings excluding ALL women AND gay men? Their separatism smacks of something considerably more oppressive and discriminatory than any feminist blog has ever dreamt up!
Saw this article after you recently reposted it in the #HeForShe hashtag on Twitter in response to Emma Watson’s very reasonable UN speech promoting inclusiveness in the fight for gender equality. Some thoughts:
“Thanks and all, but no thanks: I don’t want men in my feminism”
Well, for every person building bridges, I guess there’s another trying to burn them down.
“men had eleven and a half thousand years to do something about sex inequality – if only a) you had wanted to and b) you weren’t too busy enjoying the benefits. What’s suddenly happened for you to want to get in on the act?”
I’m twenty-nine, and you can’t figure out why I wasn’t doing something about it eleven and a half thousand years ago?
“Feminism is more than the demand for rights for women or equality between women and men. For me, feminism is the fight for the liberation of all women as a class from subjugation under patriarchy.”
What part of the latter isn’t covered by the former?
“It’s increasingly rare to find even a feminist event that is women only”
Given most feminists consider feminism to be, despite the name, about equality, this is hardly surprising. Besides: you want to fix “the evils of patriarchy”… And you want to do it without involving men? Good luck with that.
“Men, how about you prioritise taking responsibility for your violence above asking ‘What about the men?’”
I believe in responsibility to the responsible. Not, “a black person committed a crime so lets blame all black people”. I’ll absolutely take responsibility for any violence I commit. To take responsibility for violence some random other man commits would be as stupid as taking responsibility for violence some random other person of my astrological sign commits. There is no connection beyond that we have something in common. Are you taking responsibility for Myra Hindley because you are also a woman? No, and nor should you.
“Services for women who have experienced sexual and domestic violence are increasingly required by commissioners to offer services to men too, despite evidence that this is not what women want”
So, in fact, services for *people* who have experienced sexual and domestic violence. If someone were beaten up by a black person, would you ban black people from attending the same hospital? I realise that PTSD has its triggers, though I’m not sure that reinforcing the fear is the best bet. And as “non-threatening men” go, someone who’s in need of refuge at a shelter due to having suffered domestic violence is probably about as non-threatening as it will get.
Still, there may be an argument for gender segregated facilities (ignoring, as usual, those who aren’t one of the two popular genders), but if the resources aren’t there to provide sufficient separate shelters for all, then in my opinion, it’s simple:
The need for shelter from real threats (domestic abuse) > the need for protection from imagined threats (the idea that a man who is in need of shelter due to being beaten by a woman is just as bad and threatening as a man who beat a woman).
“Men, how about you challenge the pornography tastes of some of your brethren? Other men and boys listen to you, use their sexism for the greater good. How about you challenge the sexual objectification of women without needing to call yourselves feminists to do so.”
Yes, because it’s absolutely terrible that these female models are earning good money (generally far more than any men in the same videos) doing something they enjoy in order to provide a service that other people also enjoy. We must put a stop to that immediately.
(As an aside, even if I were “on board” with this particular crusade, which I’m not, the only men I can think of who have discussed their tastes in porn with me are gay, so not too many women in their porn).
“Men, how about you sort out the rest of society – that in which you dominate – and make that more equitable and safer for women before you insist on occupying our space? There is a role for you, plenty that you can do, and I really hope that you will be influenced by feminism but in my experience, it is the men who exclude themselves from identifying as a feminist, who instead see themselves as allies, supporters or pro-feminist who have the more sophisticated analysis. Men who realise that feminism is not about or for them, not about what they think.”
Just so you know, I don’t dominate society personally. Well, not the whole of it, anyway 😉 That’s not how it works. Nor do men operate as a collective consciousness any more than women do. I don’t get a vote in the rest of what men do. All I can do is try to be a good example, air my views on gender issues, discuss my opinions on these topics in public fora, and, in general, do all the things you want to exclude me from having the right to do.
SO much in this comment is problematic, but this screams out : “Yes, because it’s absolutely terrible that these female models are earning good money (generally far more than any men in the same videos) doing something they enjoy in order to provide a service that other people also enjoy. We must put a stop to that immediately.”
Doing something they enjoy? You do realise that porn performers are there for the money right? They are PAID to look like they are enjoying it, and to say this to promote the industry.
That MANY of them have suffered sexual abuse as children and teens? That their lack of self worth is what makes them able to be subjected to the experience.
Are they earning more money than men? If they are maybe this is due to the fact that porn is a much nastier experience for a woman than a man – harder on the body, and being expected to ‘perform’ in ways a man never has to (being verbally abused, slapped around, hair pulled, choked during oral etc etc) + quite a lot of that money has to go on various cosmetic ‘procedures’ to make them ‘more’ sexy, and the repair the damage of constant huge dick penetration!
All the males need to have is the huge dicks.
While some of what you say is true and some can’t be proven either way, I feel obliged to provide some clarification on what I can. Women definitely DO make more money in porn than men do, on average 2/3 more than men in fact, according to http://www.therichest.com/expensive-lifestyle/money/money-in-pornography-one-of-the-most-misunderstood-industries/ .
Additionally, every single item in your parentheses male porn stars are also subjected to (albeit choking during oral is generally only in gay porn) most in a very popular category (to plenty of men and, I’m sure, many women as well) called fem-dom.
Now I’d like to know what your opinion is on lesbian porn. Do you believe that lesbian sex is a “nastier experience” and that lesbians would never willingly penetrate each other (like with dildos and strap-ons)? I hope you don’t believe that no female porn star actually enjoys sex like they were biologically designed to (which is almost the whole point of the clitoris).
On a separate and unrelated note:
Equality and chivalry are not mutually exclusive. If you want both just try holding doors open for men just because they’re men.
Have a great day! 🙂
Your stance has good intentions and some fair points, but the result of your ideals and actions will only cause isolation from the small niche that, albeit you have a very popular idea amongst, will not penetrate the general public. Simply for the fact that your entire viewpoint reads Men vs. Women. As a male, I’ll never understand the inequality experienced as a woman just as you will never experience the racial prejudice I experience as an African American. Yet as a black male, that does not give me the entitlement to push away people (for the sake of the argument let’s assume white) who fight for equality of all races. The fight for feminism, to me, isn’t Men vs Women, but Men and Woman because at it’s very core is simply a human rights issue. We have been blessed as a species with differences. Differences due to ignorance and fear that have in our very dark history caused oppression, hatred, and inequality; but I for one, believe in a world where our differences as unique individuals can be celebrated, while also be treated equally as human beings. So, no, I am not afraid that you will overthrow male privilege because, your ideas are radically polarized to the very same men whom you ironically ask to “sort out the rest of society”. And until you and your peers recognize this as a human rights issue and accepting the other half of the world, your goals will not and cannot be met due to the fact you have isolated and thereby dug yourself into a trench not willing to budge. (Which at times has been, speaking frankly, scoffed at by the general public i.e not shaving arm pits; people don’t take that seriously) With two kid sisters, I embrace the he for she movement because, as far as I am aware, our best and most legitimate chance at seeing those two grow up being whomever they chose to be while receive the same standards and benefits as their male counterparts. So with all that, I respectively disagree with your opinion.
I disagree with your statement about being a POC not entitled to ‘push away’ white anti racist campaigners. Ghandi himself ‘pushed away’ whites saying that it was a struggle for Indian people. I believe that many POC would disagree with you. There are advantages to separatism – the main one that springs to mind is self determination – undiluted by having to accommodate people who need to be ‘brought up to speed’ on every single bloody thing because they have never actually known what it is like!
If a man said to me ‘I want to understand and help’ I would definitely question his motives! If a man wants to identify as feminist he can just do that – he does not then have the right to expect acceptance from all feminists. Personally I do not have a problem with men identifying as feminist, but I do have a problem with men insisting that they should have access to women only space, based on their ideology.
If you push away male feminist allies, who may have different perspectives (god forbid, maybe better ideas) on how to tackle issues of inequality, all you are going to do is construct an echo chamber, one in which nothing will be achieved. In order to achieve true equality, you need the engagement of people on both sides of a divide, unless, of course, you intend to use violence and terrorism to achieve your aims.
You’ve really failed to understand.
I respect your feelings about this, but absolutely NOTHING can come from exclusion of people. If someone sincerely wants to understand and help, it is very arrogant and sad for you to tell them “nope, not good enough.” Sure, there is oppression, but your sentiment helps every bit as much to keep women isolated from society. If all feminists thought this way, I’d be very scared for the future.
Grouping three and-a-half billion people on this planet into a single personality type simply because of their gender.
Stating that people are incapable of doing something, because of their gender.
Excluding them from a group because others of the same gender act in a way that does not mesh with that group.
Using anecdotal experiences with individuals of a gender as justification for making derogatory comments and holding negative views of everyone within that gender.
Using historical gender roles to justify treating everyone of a certain gender in a certain way.
Congratulations ladies, on being everything you claim to hate. You truly are our equals, in every way.
Great topic. Never met a man who did pro feminism for anything but to pat himself on the back even the ones who bring themselves to genuinely care with part of themselves will turn on you in a heartbeat when it gets too deep. Like when you start talking about how the y chromosome isn’t a little something extra that makes them speshul…it’s a virus…like for real. Not being a smart ass. That’s the biology and natural male inferiority just kills them.
Female means something. And of course, biology is transphobic
Hi! This article is great and puts into words a lot of what I’ve been thinking about men intruding into feminism. I hope you don’t mind, I’m quoting your article and linking back to your blog from mine (giving you all the credit of course)! I just want to share this with some of my friends. If you’re not comfortable with this, I’ll take it down right away.
Men, fix yourself and fix the world while we do… other things.
Sweetie I get real woman every day of the week. Its just too bad I’m not interested in them 🙂 I spend most of my time around fantastic, loving, caring, wonderful, strong, intelligent women day in day out. They are my best friends. This pathetic excuse for a ‘rights activist’ who in fact would like to turn the tables, like any extremest, because in their eyes only if the scales are tipped in their favour are things ‘equal’, Is just grasping at straws because real men don’t love her. I have my own inequalities to face, as a gay man. So please do not tell me I hate women, or do not have ‘real’ woman in my life.
Gay men hate women just as much as straight men do. So that’s hardly a disclaimer.
There are parts of this article I disagree with too, but I don’t think there’s any need to become insulting or stoop to ad hominem arguments.
Joe, I’m obliged to draw the obvious conclusion that your disgust is a projection of your own inadequacy. I’m guessing the closest thing you’ve come to a real woman is your sock drawer.
Its a shame women like you ‘Karen’ give women like me the passion to help men and boys when I see this stuff happening, two wrongs have never make a right and as stands, you will never be right, you cannot fight sexism with sexism, you will just harbour hatred between the sexes, and you wouldn’t want that, You are what gives MRA’s the fuel in there misogynistic fire, you will never gain gender equality or supremacy (obv what your after) if only 50% of the population are involved, Individual men have NO more power then you only when they are a group do they hold power. And what domestic abuse statistics the f*** up ones that show women as the primary victims, because when men tell someone there wife’s beating them they get laughed at? Oh right no them fake statistics couldn’t be the patrichy at work, since COMMAN SENSE (yes you should use it abit more) it is almost impossible I repeat IMPOSSIBLE (and think about this for a second) That one half of the population was put in there place and the other wasn’t. YOUR WRONG let me put it simply like a child.
Women stayed at home,Men went to work Now am sorry did I miss the point where MEN were told they could be neutering people aswell? No cause it told them they could just work as it told women they couldn’t work.
When it told little girls they couldn’t play football it also told little boys they couldn’t play with dolls
When it sexualised women it taught men to become obsessed with sexualized women
I mean I shouldn’t need to carry on its common sense. Yes women have always suffered worse as a group. You don’t get to judge on peoples individual circumstance. Anyway I suggest you do get some mental help to harbour hate isn’t good love.
It’s really sweet that you took the time out of your day to reach out like that. Thank you.
You actually disgust me. Its women like you that destroy
equal rights, not nurture it. I just hope young girls do not have
the misfortune of coming in contact with you or your warped view of
the world. Stop compensating for your low self esteem by blaming
men for not finding you attractive.
Hey Joe, thanks. Men like you give me the strength to continue. Much love x
So do you seek out the destruction of “men only” spaces while advocating that “woman only” spaces are justified? It seems less like an equality movement and more like a power changing movement.
Absolutely, how else will we smash patriarchy?
These so-called patriarchal power structures took thousands of years to develop out of conditions that are very different to today. It wasn’t a deliberate attack on women. Don’t you think it’s particularly nasty for women like yourself to deliberately try to hurt boys and men because of these perceived past injustices that boys and men living today had nothing to do with? And if we lived in such a dominant patriarchal system, how do you account for the speed with which we have seen the change in the position of women in the west over the past few decades? How could that have happened in a patriarchy? I think historically there were inequities that women have faced but they came about through centuries of evolution. What you and women of your ilk is doing has no moral basis. Equality is a noble cause. What you are seeking is not equality. At least you’re honest and put your hatred out there where we can all see it.
Priceless, thank you so much.
So you are trolling around feminist blogs ozziematt? Really you need to get out more – you equate feminism with mental illness and yet spend time and effort leaving hateful messages on feminist blogs. I loathe anti feminists, but I do not call them mentally ill or spend my time trolling around their blogs!
I agree men should not be Feminists. Any man who calls himself a Feminist is an idiot of the highest order.
The rest of your opinions and grossly inaccurate revision of history is somewhat distorted by your mental illness.
I believe this mental illness is your blind faith in a hateful ideology called Feminism.
There are so many inaccurate and illogical statements within your blog, I don’t know where to start.
All I can say is: the silencing of men on issues of gender is deafening.
I have to say that this blog is absolutely ingenious, and raises points that are too often unheard, but I can’t agree with this post at all.
It’s obvious to all of us that the successes of women’s rights movements have primarily occurred as a result of the activism of female participants. But for unfortunately quite a lot of men, they might be more likely to to be quicker on the uptake if they are engaged with the arguments by fellow men. That is not to say for one second that they cannot be persuaded by singularly female activists, but the basic fact is that people are more likely to agree with someone with whom they can identify more closely.
As an anecdotal example, I went for a night out with a few guys, and one of them groped a girl as she walked past at someoint in the night. I was fucking horrified that someone I knew could honestly think they had any right to do something like that, and I berated him. Initially, he told me to just piss off, but I could see that he was genuinely ashamed, and I do think he regrets having done it. However, I don’t think he was the sort of person who would have even given it a second thought if the girl he groped or another girl had said something to him. But when there was another male telling him that was a disgusting thing to do, it gave him pause for thought.
Men of that type would probably come round to that opinion eventually, but I personally believe it can occur much more quickly and effectively when it’s a person they feel a deep identification with, whether that’s through shared interests, shared loyalties or gender.
A prime parallel would be Ivan Cooper, who was leader of the Northern Irish Civil Rights Association at the beginning of the Troubles. At the time it existed, Catholics and nationalists just didn’t have the same rights as Protestants in many areas (it was more difficult to get a job or a house, and elections were rigged to ensure unionist majorities), and the association’s aim was to ensure that Catholics gained equal status but Cooper was a Protestant, not a Catholic. The fact that there were Protestants in key positions within the association highlighted the fact that civil rights were not simply a Catholic issue; Protestants too were sick and tired of seeing their Catholic neighbours treated like dirt, and wanted to express that disgust via activism. Could you honestly find yourself able to tell Ivan Cooper and all those selfless Protestants that they had no right to call themselves civil rights activists for Catholics, and that they had some sort of lower status within the movement? Similarly, would you sincerely tell white anti-apartheid campaigners they had no right to call themselves so, for another example?
This sort of idea within feminism doesn’t help the movement at all, there’s absolutely no need to exclude or alienate men, and I think this type of viewpoint reinforces an extremely unhelpful stereotype that happens to put many people I know (mostly women in fact) off feminism: that feminists apparently hate men and think women deserve superior status over men. I know that the vast majority of feminists don’t hate men, and I don’t believe you do, but the language you’ve used at some points in this blog might suggest otherwise to another reader.
At the heart of this for me is the communication and the arguments put forward. Primarily, my consciousness has risen thanks to the writings of females such as Emmaline Pankhurst and Mary Wollstonecraft.
But I’ve also been inspired to read about how John Donne, in the 16th Century, wrote poems to his wife in such a way that he wasn’t simply mansplaining; he knew her to be his intellectual equal. John Stuart Mill is another prime example in the way he advocated for women’s rights and held his wife in the highest intellectual esteem, when many other men merely considered their wives to be inferior.
In modern times, I can see movements like ‘The Good Men Project’ working to ensure that men try to be decent and respectful human beings. I think your argument disparages the work of all these men and others who are aware that things should not be the way they are, and work to stop it.
By doing this, you’re alienating men and women who wish to do the right thing, and reducing the support for women’s rights among the population. Feminism is at its core a movement supporting equal rights for women, and as such any person of any gender should be able to call themselves a feminist.
Thank you for your post.
I agree, many men do listen to other men in a way that they will not listen to other men, my point is, the decent men do not need to place themselves within the feminist movement to be decent human beings. I am not saying that men do not have a role (and I thought I made that quite clear) but that their role is in wider society – not within feminism.
Have you read much from the Good Men Project? I made the mistake of believing they genuinely were interested in what they claimed for a short while but it quickly became clear they’re just Men’s Rights Extremists. On the other hand, I see The White Ribbon campaign as men who are genuinely trying to engage other men and make a difference. It’s a good initiative (though I wish The International Day for The Elimination of Violence Against Women hadn’t become obscured by ‘White Ribbon Day’); they’re men who are doing the right thing and I welcome that – but it doesn’t make them feminists.
And I disagree, feminism isn’t about equality,it’s about the liberation of women.
Karen in my reply earlier I suggested that those with privilege should most helpfully take up the fight as Equalitarianists thus fully supporting the oppressed without smothering the voice; broadly agreeing with you and not with Cieran’s conclusion. However I must take a pedantic position to your reply to Cieran’s and say that Feminism is the liberation of women (currently oppressed) on the basis of gender equality. Thus it is about both liberation and equality. Let’s say that we come to live in a time when in all walks of life empirical evidence shows that women and men receive the same [fair] treatment and command the same [positive] respect, judged or competing on merit alone. I would expect at that time that feminists would support women, men, and transgender individuals in instances where gender inequality raises its ugly head without question.
I hope we are still on the same ‘hymn sheet’ and your point to Cueran was to draw attention to the understanding that it isn’t about men (as you have pointed out more than once that we men do have an important role).
If we’re talking pedantry (and actually I think this is more important than mere pedantry) I would say that feminism is about the liberation of women (currently oppressed) on the basis of sex inequality. Gender is a social construct and it is a tool of oppression of women (and yes, also responsible for the creation of stereotypes and roles that men may not wish to adhere to whilst acknowledging that those roles create and reinforce dominance).
Would you point me to the difference between sex inequality and gender inequality please?
Thanks in advance
I think I did.
I read this Blogpost and some comments with interest and was initially disgusted that a feminist (fighting for Women’s rights on the basis of gender equality), should exclude me, a man, however late I am to the party … I’m only 44 I thought, i don’t have the responsibility of 11,000 years of bad practise on my conscience I mused somewhat sarcastically, but I do have 30-40 years of structural racism and societal nurture to overcome I posited particularly self-righteously.
However, having mulled this over I became increasingly uncomfortable with my sanctimonious stance. Once I was honest with myself I could appreciate that my view was informed by my male privilege (as much as it was in issues of race and sexuality by my white privilege and my heterosexual privilege) thus skewing my perspective to one that portrays me as a victim of Karen Ingala Smith’s opinion. This revelation, dustily fell out of the cupboard in which it had quietly been hidden; it choked my thoughts as I tried to breathe the air that used to be so much more comfortably clean (or so I thought) before opening the cupboard door, I couldn’t muster the will to shove said revelation back on the top shelf of the cupboard from which it came; it didn’t belong there in the first place – it hadn’t belonged there for 11,000 years.
Therefore I not only found myself agreeing with Katen (although not entirely with her rationale) but felt obliged to write to all those reading the blog as I really previously believed myself enlightened and converted and, as a consequence entitled to disagree with you and had realised I was wrong and others may also be in that situation.
There it is – me, a 44 year old male doing a U-turn on an issue I could have been so militantly opposed to only yesterday.
I then wondered about the role of men in fighting for women’s rights (and whites in fighting for BME rights and heterosexuals in fighting for LGBTQ rights). I came to the conclusion that perhaps men – and in other particular spheres (including the blends of multiple spheres that I believe are referred to as intersectionality) those with societal privilege – should call ourselves Equalitarianists so as to be able to:
– fight Sexism and fight for women’s rights on the basis of Gender Equality and in addition …
– fight for LGBTQ rights on the basis of equality of sexual orientation.
– fight Racism and Xenophobia on the basis of Racial equality
– fight for the right to believe, or not to believe, on the basis of Religious tolerance and freedom of Religious expression
– and so on.
And when equality and under-representation is eradicated we can all, throughout the spectra encompassing gender identity, sexual orientation, racial identity, and faith perspective can truly be Equalitarianists.
I will leave you with a critical thought to mull over and that is to consider whether Karen’s rhetoric – which originally made my heckles stand on end – is too close to appearing to support gender discrimination. I don’t think it is but I did feel it’s force and it almost had the effect of entrenching me into my previous paradigm. This is an escalation of in intended victimisation (which I dealt with earlier), a phenomenon I see much in face to face arguments but, without facial expression and vocal nuance, it seems to be more prevalent in Blogs and especially (with limited space) on Twitter™ ‘conversations’.
PS pls excuse typos as I can’t see very well.
Thanks for the long and considered response Mat, I read it with interest. Karen
You are welcome Katen. I hope it will be of de use to men considering the matter and to women whether or not they can understand them.
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Men can not call themselves feminist, they are putting themselves in the middle of a woman’s debate. attention is then focused on the male and his voice. Its hard enough trying to keep the conversation on women’s reality as it is. When I talk about women going through domestic violence I get loads of stories of men being hit by violent women, or why don’t you open a man’s refuge?When I outline statistics on Domestic Violence or Rape I am made out to be a man hater because I focus on women not men. I have been called judgemental and these are only the polite names. We all know men and women can be violent however the main social problem at this time is male violence and abuse towards women and children. female violence is much lower in number and socially and legally challenged.
Men who support or understand feminism would not invade a women only space, call them selves feminist or use their voice to take discussion away from the many issues women need to acovate on for themselves, abortion rights, equal pay, childcare, health care, domestic violence, rape,employment issues and so on. Men can go away and start to remove patriarchy that would help
I think there is a difference between a man identifying as feminist, and a man who insists on being in a women only space because he identifies as a feminist. Any man who wishes to undermine women only space is obviously not a feminist, or in any way a man who can be considered a pro feminist man.
I don’t think I have ever met a man who called himself a feminist. I used to say that it was not possible for men to be feminists. I do not now hold this view, as I believe that to self identify with an ideology is valid in itself – though it doesn’t of course follow that that man who identifies as feminist is necessarily any more aware of how patriarchy and misogyny work. I DO agree that men should not try to undermine womens’ space, and was shocked, but not at all surprised that MRA’s harassed the Irish Centre for agreeing to having a rad fem conference there (I will be reading all the links above as I know nothing of all this).
I do not understand why women’s space is considered so threatening. One of the primary functions of women only space (IMO) is to free women from the social norm of always having to check with the men – ie we constantly self censor, and ‘tread carefully’ so as ‘not to offend’ (or worse). I do not see this as being carte blanche to male bash (and have found that women only space does not tend to lead to male bashing anyway – women CAN talk about other things!), and even if it did is it not valid that women should have safe space to talk with other women about the violence and abuse from those entrenched in patriarchal norms (and I am not just referring to men)?
I agree with this piece. It sometimes seems to me that men want to call themselves feminists for the label only. The men who DO pro-feminist activism are much more important to me as a feminist than ones who just want to appropriate the term. It’s another need for them to dominate a space that isn’t theirs.
Saying that men cannot be feminists is a bit like saying a human rights barrister cannot be brilliant, unless they themselves have been subject to human rights abuses – been tortured, or thrown in prison without trial, or had their property confiscated. Can the CEO of a cancer charity not do work unless they have had cancer?
It is perfectly possible to make a very valid contribution to feminism without being a woman. It is self evident to me that the feminist cause is valid and worth fighting for, because it represents the most widespread form of inequality there is – both in terms of power, violence, money etc. To suggest that a man cannot make this mental leap – which is really just simple empathy, is arrogant – and the language you use is exclusive, not inclusive. So I can’t see this post, and others I have seen elsewhere like it, being a very constructive contribution to feminism overall (although I think the Counting Dead Women efforts are very admirable, and most of this blog I do love). Best wishes and hopefully no hard feelings for robust feedback!!
No hard feelings, no. But I disagree with you of course.
I have an idea for a campaign – can I drop you an email about it? I really want to help. In particular with the last few paragraphs (what can men do)
I don’t need you to join feminism in order to fight patriarchy any more than I would need you to move into our house so that we could both go pick up litter in the city park. Just get on with it already and quit looking over your shoulder to make sure the women are fawning over you.
Dana, trying to reply to you & not sure if this is getting threaded correctly: yes, absolutely, the serious male feminist allies are out there combating misogyny, e.g. Jackson Katz & his Bystander work. Men can be really good allies but most male “feminism” is actually just entryism – inserting themselves into women’s spaces (just look at the comments on this blog to see how much space the men take up), demanding recognition for not raping or battering ( i. e. the minimum level of good behaviour required to stay out of prison – I think I’m going to start going up to strange men and thanking them for not burgling a house today…) , protesting that their issues – caused by patriarchy – are just as bad as ours and we should be doing their fighting for them, in the name of “equality”, and of course, telling us how we should be doing, or rather diluting, feminism. As far as I’m concerned, men who are not actively fighting patriarchy, i. e. taking the fight to powerful male institutions and cultural norms, are propping up the patriarchy by allowing it to remain the default – they are part of the problem and we need to stop wasting valuable feminist time and energy on them. We need to be clear that this is a movement for women, run by women, with the objective of freeing women from patriarchal oppression, period. And women’s spaces are what we say they are.
Thank you for this superb article. It is full of excellent points, and I agree with every one of them. I believe that men have a vital part to play in ending sexism, misogyny, and violence against women and girls. One which goes behind just not carrying these things out, too. However, that doesn’t mean that we should start proclaiming ourselves to be feminists, or carelessly occupying feminist spaces. If feminism is the movement for women’s liberation, then how can men be part of that, when only women can liberate themselves?
Like I say, this does not mean that men cannot or should not play an important part in the struggle against patriarchy. However, for me this can only ever be as allies to feminists, rather than as feminists ourselves. What I dream of is a genuine movement of men coming together in opposition to sexism, misogyny, hegemonic masculinity, male violence against women and girls, and patriarchy. Imagine what impact this could have on other men and on society, when allied to the women’s movement?
The argument that ‘feminism’ is just a word and that it is of little importance what people call themselves misses the point, in my view. The word is symbolic of so much. Ultimately, given the extent to which men dominate all other corners of society, including other resistance movements, it is vital that, in feminism, women are able to have a movement of their own. It is particularly vital that they can have their own spaces free from the presence of men within feminism. There are several important reasons for this, and the example you give of how a minority of men can dominate discussion even within a feminist context is one of them.
That’s not to say that men should never feel welcome at feminist events, but that women should not feel in any way apologetic about calling for women-only spaces when they want to. Surely any man who considers himself to have any understanding of or support for feminist ideas should respect that. By the same token, I would think that any men who are supportive would also be somewhat wary about professing themselves to be feminists. For the same reason, I don’t believe that there’s any risk of this stance pushing these men away. I also think it’s important for these men to think about why it is that they are supportive of feminism, and why it is that they are calling themselves feminists. I imagine many/some of the men who do describe themselves in this way are well-intentioned, but I think they should also think twice before they give themselves this title, when it’s not theirs to give.
Ultimately, as you say, men have more than enough to worry about as it is in challenging and stopping the sexism, misogyny and violence towards women of our fellow men (and in ourselves), let alone other social inequalities and injustices, without the need to occupy the women’s movement and feminist spaces. I am proud to consider myself to be pro-feminist, and would argue that men should strive to build an anti-patriarchy, pro-feminist movement, if we want to do something about sexism, misogyny, and violence against women and girls. As far as feminism itself is concerned, it is time we stopped talking, and started listening.
Thank you very much Stephen, lovely to get such a considered response from a man who ‘gets it’.
Thank you Karen, and many thanks to you for all the great work that you do!
But its not just women liberating themselves … its about men liberating themselves from the role of monster prison officers too. I think our movement desperately needs male support, to get places that we can’t reach. Probably doesn’t sit politically correctly but still, more support rather than less will get the message and revolution back up and rolling forward rather than backward as it has felt it has been going with the rush towards pornography and violence towards females.
Those prison officers are not monsters. They are ordinary human beings. In fact that makes what they do all the more terrible since if they *were* monsters you would expect them to behave that way.
And most of them are men.
Who’s doing the rushing toward pornography and anti-female violence? Men.
They need to work on their own s?!t because if they would just do that, more than half the war would be won. And we shouldn’t have to ask them. If they genuinely believe patriarchy hurts men too–and I agree, it does–then they need to stop telling US that and start dismantling it. The more hands working at this task, the faster it will get done. And they don’t need to join our movement to get that work done, any more than some random guy needs to move into my house in order for us to both pick up litter in the city park.
Thanks for the reply Karen.
It might just boil down to semantics, or it might not, but having this debate is always the most important thing, rather than agreement over every specific detail. Guess I’ll have to wait and see!
Until then we’re all working towards an end of Patriarchy and the institutionalised “mess” it leaves in it’s wake, and thats what counts.
All the best
Having the debate: yes. Respecting safe spaces: yes. Ending patriarchy: definitely!
I’m not saying that men cannot tackle sex inequality, nor am I saying that they should not hold positions that are informed by feminism; just that they do not need to call, themselves feminists, or more importantly invade women only spaces, to do so.
For me: feminism is for women by women.
I look forward to reading your piece, even though I suspect that I might not agree with some of it.
I’ve actually read this article twice to be sure I understand your position on this issue. It’s a particular feminist opinion that I’ve encountered for as long as I’ve been reading. As a man, i’m very interested in the implications of feminism from a male perspective.
Last week, I had the opportunity to pose a detailed question to Angela Davis, Gina Dent, and Rafeef Ziadah, on this very topic. I also had the privilege of speaking with Angela and Gina after the event, and was able to receive an even more detail response to my question.
In brief, all three women agreed with me on the need for men to face the considerable challenge of adopting a genuine feminist perspective, and thereby, “become” feminist.
With this in mind, there is clearly more than one valid position on the issue you’ve raised. I am currently in the process of writing an article on the question I posed during the lecture, but suffice to say, I personally don’t think the following sweeping criticism in your article is very helpful without genuine substantial qualification – You said:
“Get men in and feminism is almost inevitably reduced to the problem of inequality and usually it isn’t so long before the ‘men suffer under patriarchy too’ line is trotted out”
Needless to add, I am not attempting to negate your life experiences. You are certainly not wrong for holding these views. Moreover, you have broached a very interesting, and necessary, conversation that won’t be ending any time soon unfortunately!
These are the conversations we need to be having as a society of males and females, if we are to ever address the glaring problems caused by that old-foe “Patriarchy” – better described as the Prison & Military Industrial complex that ultimately oppresses “we the people” – both male and female alike.
I’ll be sure to forward you a link to my article in the New Year.
All the best
I disagree with the notion that men cannot be feminists and actually believe that we are never going to be successful in our drive for the end of patriarchy without men on board so I think this article is quite dangerous. It will give fuel to the MRA’s and underline their belief that feminists don’t want male allies. Just as white men helped to argue the case against slavery in the UK from their positions of power we need men alongside us if we are going to shift the system. If we exclude them we will be doomed to failure as we are stuck in a system of gender relations. A shift for women implies a shift for men too. If we exclude men from feminism we will have a movement of people at the bottom of the hierarchy who can easily be ignored and that won’t get us anywhere at all. Feminism is an idea, a way of seeing the world which then leads to action. Sure men don’t feel the effects of patriarchy as women do but they can certain conceptualise them and act alongside us. I for one open my feminist with wide arms to feminist men.
Thanks for taking the time to comment even though I disagree with the points you made.
Great article! Hits the nail on the head and I agree: men cannot be feminists because they are not female and will NEVER KNOW or fully understand female oppression in all the ways you describe under patriarchy on a daily basis.
This is really interesting, but I’m not sure I agree. That is, I don’t really take issue with any of your claims for what men should be doing to help women, I’m just not sure why men who do these things shouldn’t get call themselves feminists.
I very much see where you’re coming from with your statement that ‘it is the men who exclude themselves from identifying as a feminist, who instead see themselves as allies, supporters or pro-feminist who have the more sophisticated analysis’. In my experience too, the best male supporters of feminism that I know would be reluctant to call themselves feminists. I think this is a generally good attitude to have, and, as you say, a signifier that they understand that feminism is ‘not about or for them’. But at the same time I’m not sure that their reluctance to call themselves feminist means that they’re not.
While I wouldn’t want to start applying the feminist label to people who actively reject it, if a person agrees with the cause and principles of feminism and is active in ‘fight[ing] for the liberation of all women as a class from subjugation under patriarchy’, then they seem pretty worthy of the label ‘feminist’ to me. Shouldn’t ‘feminist’ be at least somewhat analogous to ‘advocate of civil rights’ or ‘gay rights activist’ (I’m guessing you’d think ‘activist’ over ‘advocate’ was required). It seems to me that it ought to be possible for me, as a heterosexual person, to become a gay rights activist. If I was truly conscious of heterosexual privilege I would probably be reluctant to label myself as a gay rights activist. If prompted, I would probably use some of the terms you suggest men use, such as an ‘ally’ or a ‘supporter’. Still, I can’t help but think that I would just be a gay rights activist.
I’m also not convinced there’s any good to be had in denying men (who qualify) the label of feminist. I’m not sympathetic to talk of ‘re-branding’ feminism, but dispelling ridiculous myths about feminism that make people suspicious of the movement (feminists hate men, etc.), so long as we can do so whilst retaining the true meaning of feminism, is surely a good thing. Would allowing men to label themselves feminists not help in this endeavour? Of course, they should not be able to appropriate this label undeservedly without criticism, but then neither should women.
And those that do deserve this label are, I would have thought, not people whose presence in the feminist movement would lead to the women within it being silenced. The men dominating the discussion at the sexism conference were clearly not all that knowledgeable on sexism (or at least what knowledge they did have was somewhat narrow in scope), and I’d go out on a limb and say that the men campaigning against the women-only feminist event were simply misogynist. But quite a few men would have noticed the disparity of participation at that event and at others, and even more would have no issue with there being women-only spaces. Surely feminism is aided by there being more of these men, and the best way to get more of these men would seem to be to be welcoming men into feminism so we can together discuss the more difficult and nuanced types of subjugation of women (such as how both men and women allow men to dominate and direct conversation).
Let’s face it, men currently make up only a tiny proportion of those actively involved in the feminist movement. That’s not going to radically change any time soon. I’m not sure that allowing those men to identify as feminist, and even trying to up that number a bit, would be damaging to feminism. If anything I would have thought it had the potential to make feminism stronger.
Thank you for your commenting, even though I disagree.
I think we need both spaces – some women only, some women and men as I would agree, have had way too much of the what about the menz disrailing under every feminist article in any newspaper.
Because feminism can’t be strong without including the menz! Says a man.
so this is great and the argument is incredibly well founded and i agree on a conceptual level except…it’s cissexist and excludes any non-binary folk and their experiences. not all people are cisgender; not all men have a penis. some men have a vagina or ovaries or other typically “female” anatomy and they still need to be included in your feminism because they face many of the same issues cis women do (violence, sexual violence, access to reproductive care, economic discrimination, etc), and deserve to be included in your feminism. trans women (especially trans women of color) are incredibly over represented in hate crime stats, and face (often legal) discrimination based on their gender in every sphere of their lives, yet are so often excluded from “women-only” spaces (which are often incredibly problematic. i, as someone who is female bodied yet not always female identified, have been excluded from women’s spaces because i am not a “real” woman, and that is fucking outrageous. there are people who are being oppressed by the patriarchy who may not identify as men or women but who still deserve the same basic rights as everyone else and have just as much of a place in feminism as you. a feminism that invalidates the existence or worth of an entire group of people is not a feminism i want to be a part of. i agree wholeheartedly that oppressors need to stop taking up the spaces for oppressed folk to speak and act and work, yet that same attitude excludes any trans or non-binary individuals who also identify as feminists and who also need the rights feminism is fighting for, and who would benefit from an inclusive feminism, not an exclusive one.
Let then deconstruct their own gender roles and how they are used to make men cannon fodder and how the military depends on strict gender roles for men and women. They can start with Kathy Barry’s Unmaking War, Remaking Men. Women will do feminism better with all women.
“Men, how about you sort out the rest of society – that in which you dominate – and make that more equitable and safer for women before you insist on occupying our space?”
This is just perfect. While many male ‘feminists’ identify themselves as such with sincerity and a desire to aid, this post sums up beautifully the seemingly inevitable undercurrent of ownership and dominance when men access women-only spaces.
And you’re so, so right. If men would get their shit together in the other infinite spaces they rule over, there’d be less need for feminist mobilisation. But I guess that’d be less satisfying (and less easy) than colonising women-only space, even when said colonisation is borne of a desire to be seen as “different” and “better”.
Thank you for writing this.
Thank you. Glad you liked it.
Absolutely, categorically, positively the best post I have read all year. Thank you so much for passionately articulating my core beliefs on men in feminism. I may be quoting this blog for the rest of my life xxx
Thank you so much, that means a lot.
Wow, as a gay man I wish I had half the rights and Privilege you have Gay men are lacking in many states 1100 state, and federal rights and are the most beaten and killed minority in America, and the most discriminated according the TSPLC .Nice hate filled rant though. Can you please list for me the state and or federal rights you are with out and place the statute number next to it , and when did you have to sign up for the draft ?
When did you?
Clem: She’s British. Illiterate much?
11,000 years ago civilisation began. Your historical analysis is rather skimpy and Manichean, your patriarchy theory is unfalseifiable claptrap. You are clearly a bigot with little grasp on reality. If this is the best post portiasmart has read all year she isn’t reading a thing all year.
Jesus loves you.
“When did you” what Karen ? Can you be specific ?
I had to sign up for the draft back in the 1970s I am 55
Do you hate all women, or just feminists?
Again, Karen please list the state and federal rights you are lacking along with the statute number beside each one
What on earth gave you the idea that I was going to jump to your orders? Do your own homework.
Patriarchy is real just calling feminists names is not an argument. The bigot is possible yourself as you are unable to look at history and see the evidence showing how patriarchy has operated. Men have been putting themselves in power often by using violence for hundreds of years. or is that not true in your world. Women were barred from voting and from many professions for hundreds of years until brave women fought for our basic rights. Men can not be feminists the whole point is that it is about women and our strength together as sisters.
Karen, again I am asking a simple question. What state and/or federal rights are you lacking ? Please list the Statute Number beside each one. Please, because us gay white men of Privilege, as you call us, are lacking 1100 in many states and are the number one minority to be killed ,discriminated ,and beaten, and thrown out by parents , so Please I am asking you to answer my simple question. I work for a civil rights law firm .
Then you know the law any We are in UK. no discrimination is right gay men should not be abused however women are still discriminated against, the question can men be feminists no.
Karen answered your question
“11,000 years ago civilisation began.”
And that is precisely the problem. Ever since, we have had to fight about sexism and racism and a whole host of other social and environmental ills. Before the advent of civilization, if a cultural group got up to stupid behavior they generally found that it killed them off. Civilization involves externalizing your screwups to some subordinate population to do all the suffering for you. YOUR historical analysis is *nonexistent*–try a little harder.