Friday, September 28, 2007

Can men be feminists?

I feel the need to discuss something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. It is not directly related to popular culture but it is certainly related to feminism. In my sociology of masculinities course last night we discussed the role of men in feminist movements. This is something that I am personally very conflicted about. I concede that we (feminists) need to unite with men in order to produce radical change. Separatism will solve nothing and will most likely alienate a whole lot of people, women and men alike.

That being said, hearing a man call himself a feminist makes me cringe like nothing else. Allowing men into feminism is dangerous territory because we risk losing hard won power. In class someone suggested that we wouldn't want to have white folks at the forefront of anti-racist movements. Theory written by the oppressor is just further imperialism. Yet wealthy, white and male folks who traditionally have had all of the power have a very hard time forfeiting that power to those they have traditionally subordinated.

My point is, how do we know that letting men call themselves feminists will not result in them taking the reins and writing the canon? How do we know that they will not further silence women's voices?

These are things for which I have no answer. I do like to hear men call themselves pro-feminist or feminist advocates. In fact, in class last night I mentioned how I have never met a man who actively called himself a feminist. After class a young man approached me and said "Hi. My name is Randy. I am a feminist." I laughed at him and had a very difficult time believing that he was not patronizing me. After several minutes of conversation it became clear: this young man was sincere. Or as sincere as a member of the privileged class can be.

I guess I will let Randy show me his feminism before I castigate him too severely...

2 comments:

Sophie said...

one of my favorite photos from the march for choice.

Cortney said...

Update:
Randy might truly be a feminist. I really have enjoyed being in class with him. He is intelligent, compassionate, and genuinely interested in feminist issues. This world needs more men like him.