"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." ~ Gloria Steinem

Sunday, February 27, 2011

If It's Not About You, Don't Make It About You: On The Unfortunate Privilege Of "Feminist Men"

I'm sure where, exactly, some dudes get off implying that being a feminist man is harder than being a woman, feminist or not. Neither am I sure, exactly, where these same dudes get off basically saying that since they're treating us way better than the rest of the dudely dudes, we should be nicer to them, regardless of whether or not we think they're treating us way better.

And that, my friends, is the key. As soon as a "feminist" starts telling you that you don't actually know how you feel, and they need to enlighten you as to how you actually do feel, that person kind of gives up some feminist street cred. And it's worse when that person is male, because, shockingly enough, kind of a big part of the advent of feminism had to do with women getting fucking sick of being told how they're supposed feel, think, and/or respond to stuff.

The thing wot has set me off can be found here; you'll have to click around a little to get the whole backstory.

Look, I appreciate feminist men. I do; I really, really do. But I'm starting to think back on a conversation I had with my boss/friend en route to New Mexico in October--the basic gist of which was his belief that there's no such thing as a "feminist man", because men will never understand what it is to be a woman, which is central to true feminism, and thus the best men can do is "feminist ally". He came to this conclusion after taking a women's studies course [sidenote: autospellcheck does not like "women's", which I'm not entirely certain of myself, but since the right-click-change options include "womenfolk's", I am so not changing it.] in college, and I'd actually never thought about it that way before, but after he explained his "There's no such thing as a feminist man", I agreed with him.

And now I think I agree even more. See, the trouble is, the patriarchy is insidious. You cannot fucking erase your privilege just because you want to, so even when you try, and align yourself with a marginalized of which you are not a part, your natural tendencies are still going to be coming from a position of privilege. Which is to say that it's incredibly easy to continue to expect women to listen to you just because you're a man, and the fact that you're aligning yourself with feminism lends more weight to your belief that you should be listened to, because you're way better than those other dudes, yo! and your natural privileged inclinations spin out of control, and it's like seven hundred times worse.

Just, like, think about it for a second. It makes me 700% more frustrated to be mansplained to about feminism by someone who claims to be a feminist than it does to be mainsplained to about how the patriarchy no longer exists by just a regular dudely dude.

And I know you are not doing it on purpose. But mansplainers never do, even the dudely dudes.

I don't have to read feminist books to understand how the oppression of women affects the world. And dudes who read every single feminist book out there will still never, ever understand that oppression in the same way I do.

I mean, go read Sady's post, but do anti-racism white people pretend to be anything other than an ally? Straight people, cisgendered people, able-bodied and neurotypical people, none of these pretend to be anything other than an ally. Why is "feminist" considered to be the one thing that you can be regardless of which side you fall on?

Seriously, you have to go read the post.
So now Freddie’s sulking that Sady Doyle is “telling everyone about how impressed with herself she is.” And I am. Because I knew that would piss him the hell off. Because I’m a woman, and I have accordingly been taught my entire life to view myself as lesser-than, to devalue my own accomplishments, to accept it when other people treat me as lesser-than and devalue me, which they (if they are men, especially) have been taught to do. And I refuse. I say no. I tell you I’m Sady fucking Doyle, and I expect you to believe it. Being a woman who likes herself, is proud of herself, is impressed with herself, in public: There might not be a more subversive act.
Maybe someday I'll have the readership that Sady does; I seriously doubt it, but she's also said she used to seriously doubt it as well, so, I don't know. If I ever do, I hope I will handle it just as she does (in my eyes, anyway): like a total fucking badass.

No comments:

Post a Comment