Sunday, June 11, 2006

You have to start somewhere

I think that this kid is getting a harder time of this than he deserves. Hugo Schwyzer wrote a post about how he deals with students who are ambivalent toward embracing feminism, giving an example of an email exchange he had with a student. The kid explains his fears about not being accepted and not finding anyone who will go out with him, and I think Hugo does a pretty good job of explaining why the kid is more aprehensive than he needs to be, and why he should be more aprehensive about embracing patriarchy than not getting laid.

As the links above show, not everyone agreed. Many took issue with his fears about feminism affecting his dating life, though putting it in overly-simplistic terms that reduce this kid to a sex-crazed moron. From Pandagon:
Let me put it this way–you’re not committed to women’s equality if you still think that women are obliged to reward you with a pussy avalanche for lowering yourself to treating them like human beings. And if you walk around with a chip on you shoulder, angry that women don’t immediately take off their pants because you kindly point out that you’re sure that their boyfriends are dickheads, because you know women like jerks, it’s going to show.
I'm not saying that what Ms. Marcotte's said isn't true, but I do think it's a mischaracterization of the guy's position. Yes, a lot of people date simply to get laid, and yes, I'm sure he's aprehensive about his prospects for just that. Still, the idea that no girls will like him because he is taking a stance he's already uncomfortable with - I can see why that would not be very attractive. Of course, it's not true that feminist dudes can't get chicks, but the way that the dating system is all gummed up with patriarchal excreta, you are going to have to be more creative when it comes to getting a date as a feminist. And while not every feminist falls into this dishonest trap, let's not forget that there are those who are happy to demand a patriarchy-approved look from their man.
"there are feminist men out there. unfortunately for me, i have yet to find one i am physically attracted to. any of them that i have met have been scrawny, way-to-artsy (to look at) men who dont turn me on in the least. i need to find a feminist football player looking type and let me tell you, THAT is hard to come by.
Posted by: katie | May 22, 2006 02:30 PM"
I think the thing that's not being appreciated here is that we all struggle with our loyalties to patriarchal power structures. It comes up over and over that none of us is the "perfect feminist" and that we all are at some time or another seduced by the perceived advantages to the patriarchal system around us. It can just seem easier to get ahead by getting plastic surgery, smashing your feet into stilettoes and turning off your brain so that Mr. Frat Dude will look your way. You're only getting a booby prize here, but it's not nothing.

There's something wrong when you're demanding the booby prize and refusing to be the booby like katie above, or when you're avoiding feminism because it might dampen your prospects of getting laid. This is not to say that it's easy to make these things right. In the comments on Hugo's post, Q Grrl had this to say.
Ahhh. So when he's ready to determine that women are no longer less than human, or merely second class citizens, *then* he'll support us.

You know, when women approach an all male group and challenge them on their misogyny, we're called man-haters, ball busters, dykes, and harpies. Don't kid yourself that a man challenging other men is brave or exceptionally impressive. It's not even virtuous. More precisely, it's a base-level human reaction to injustice -- and no man should be given kudos for simply rising to the least common denominator.

This guys whining about lack or sex or lack of female companionship -- but he's willing to put up with misogyny if it means his needs are getting met. Why would you find that even remotely acceptable?

Further, just because a man feels he cannot compete with other men vis-a-vis dominance, it doesn't make him a feminist. Or pro-woman. It just means he's fully bought the idea of masculinity equaling dominance. He's just as bad as the bully who calls another man a "pussy" -- only he's assuming he *is* a "pussy" and therefore has some sort of "in" with women. Then he gets upset when he realizes he never bothered to ask women what they want or need -- and blames it on women for sending mixed messages.

Posted by: Q Grrl | June 06, 2006 at 08:45 AM
My reply:
Q Grrl, you're confusing the right thing to do with the easy thing to do. Male privilege is not infinite, renouncing it is tricky, and entails a lot of unknown risk as well as known risk. You're losing out on a lot of things that most people will tell you are your birthright, and no matter how wrong they are, the patriarchy sure is persistent. Add in the hypocrisy of feminists rejecting feminist men due to their own swallowing of patriarchal mythology, and things are challenging for a male feminist. I should say that we don't really need to compare the challenges of being a male and female feminist - it might be harder for women in a million different ways but that doesn't mean it's a walk in the park for a dude. And, as for your first sentence, I think that sounds like the right arc for moving from a life wrapped in patriarchal norms into one that follows and understands feminist principles. Unless you're willing to wait for non- and anti-feminists to up and die one day, that's what you're going to have to settle for.

Posted by: Sara | June 06, 2006 at 09:13 AM

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