Why I Don’t Go Around Telling Women That They’re Feminists

A year ago one of my cousins came to visit to say her goodbyes before transferring to a university in Washington. (She borrowed one of my favorite books and still has it two states north of California and there’s no telling when I’ll see her again. Gah!)

She sat on my bed, looking through course papers I’d received at my own university including the United Nations Constitution, because I am a nerd and had shown her. Excitedly. Naturally we began to discuss issues, and somehow I casually mentioned that I’m a feminist.

“You’re a feminist?” she asked.

I looked at her funny. “Isn’t everyone?”

For the next few minutes as we spoke her mind was clearly somewhere else. And then she announced suddenly, “Everyone is a feminist! I just realized!”

I wouldn’t change my response since then, because in the context of speaking to my cousin, it was one that worked–and I knew it would be. “You’re a feminist too” was pushy and a little shallow, and she’s a thoughtful and sensitive person. “Isn’t everyone?” had forced her to think of the definition on her own. I could have settled for a simple “Yes” but the results that I knew were ultimate would have been slower.

A lot of people don’t identify with feminism simply because they don’t know what it is or don’t realize what it is, I agree. But recently there was a discussion somewhere, hosted by a feminist who is convinced that anyone who doesn’t identify as a feminist either (1) doesn’t know what it means or (2) is a sexist.

And while there’s overwhelming reason to believe this, that’s unfair. There are also quite a few who do know and still don’t identify, and the reason isn’t because they’re sexist but rather because the feminist movement has been very abrasive toward them: feminism is STILL full of racism (that’s why we needed womanism, after all) ableism, and transphobia, and other forms of discrimination. Just as we should avoid accusing people who identify themselves as feminists of not being feminists, we should also avoid concluding that just because someone doesn’t identify as a feminist means they don’t know what it is, or that they’re against equality. I identify as a feminist because I see it as a mutable movement that can be reclaimed by women of color–and by religious women from religious men–and reshaped. (Also, I am not giving up a movement that got me the right to vote among other things. I’d feel that I was being disrespectful, and throwing a lot away.) But some underprivileged people have been really hurt by how often feminists disregard them. It’s best not to decide for people what they are or aren’t. It can even be douchey to assume that they don’t know what they’re talking about or haven’t struggled with their identity. Only the individual can make that decision.

I know too much about being told what I am to do it to others.

At the same time, I’d probably sent her off with the impression that everyone–as in literally everyone is a feminist. But she’s not the type to push things, so I’m certain we’ll be fine.

It’s important for me to point out aspects that are feminist (and I will be especially aggressive about this with Islam, because I’m going against the grain of privilege here) but not expect people to take up the term. As I’ve said before, you don’t have to identify as a feminist to be Muslim, but the religion is intrinsically feminist. And while it irritates me to no end when people talk about feminism and humanitarianism as though they’re mutually exclusive and finitely defined–or when they make up terms like equalist as if feminism doesn’t cover it–most times I try to contain myself, unless I truly believe that they really just don’t know. Because not everyone is looking to reclaim the movement, and many associate it with bitter feelings for good reason. While feminism might not be nearly as -ist as the world “out there” and actively participates in the practice of checking privilege, given the nature and purpose of the movement it is not acceptable when it even comes close to being -ist.

And there’s something disturbing about asking women to fit into feminism rather than changing and reclaiming feminism to fit women. If a woman has a complaint about feminists (“I feel like they’d judge me if I became a mother.”) FIX THE MOVEMENT–not her. Don’t invalidate her feelings with something like, “That’s because you don’t know what feminism is.” Because there is probably a very real reason she feels this way. And it’s the movement’s problem–not hers.

49 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Go Around Telling Women That They’re Feminists

  1. almostclever

    "And there's something disturbing about asking women to fit into feminism rather than changing and reclaiming feminism to fit women. If a woman has a complaint about feminists ("I feel like they'd judge me if I became a mother.") FIX THE MOVEMENT–not her. Don't invalidate her feelings with something like, "That's because you don't know what feminism is." Because there is probably a very real reason she feels this way. And it's the movement's problem–not hers."Beautifully said!! We can all be represented under the protection and compassion of feminism, we just all need to get out of our boxes and be sensitive and careful to represent and include all of our sisters. Even my sisters who reject feminism, I am sure they have their reasons. I want to include them also, because their voices and their rejection has a special role to play in how we view and talk about feminism.

  2. because their voices and their rejection has a special role to play in how we view and talk about feminism. Yes! It's about time that the argument of who gets to define feminism is answered with women other than just "white women" or "upper class women" or "abled women" or "cis women."

  3. To a large degree this is what I'm trying to do with No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?– trying to show men that (a) they are feminists and (b) what feminism can do to them, while simultaneously making feminism a more welcoming space for men. :)

  4. I commend what you do, Ozy, but I see men as privileged and don't feel it's feminism's obligation to make them feel welcome and feel that it should be the other way around. It's different for me when we're talking about people who are underprivileged by race or class or sexuality being included in feminism and feminism being what gives–but as for men when we're talking about solely the identity of sex, I think they should adjust to feminism, not the other way around. It's the same thing for white women or straight women… they should be the ones making space, not the rest of the world making space for them. Feminism is already about them, and everything is already about men. Even sexism against men is disguised sexism against women: men aren't allowed to be feminine because they'd be "lowering themselves down" to the inferior level of women. I genuinely believe there's a difference between making an effort to include people of color and making an effort to include men in terms of who should be the one to give a little.

  5. Just to be clear, I don't mean feminism's job shouldn't be to make men feel welcome, I mean feminists' job shouldn't be to make men feel welcome–that it should be the other way around.If that makes sense. But I'm really glad you're doing it; I would never be able to handle it like you can.

  6. Hmm… I guess my analysis of gender issues is slightly different from yours. I view gender as being fundamentally different from, e.g., race, insofar as if you are a white person, it is very unlikely you are going to experience discrimination or stereotyping based on your race.* However, men often DO face stereotypes based on their gender. Admittedly it's better all things considered to be a man than a woman (if nothing else, the rape thing): however, either way, gender roles harm everyone. Also, on a purely selfish-feminist level, a lot of women's problems won't be solved until we solve the men's problem too. The rape culture requires the male culture of violence, you know? Sorry to derail your comment section…*All I can think of off the top of my head is some white people in majority black or Hispanic schools who got bullied… certainly not comparable to the systematic prejudice that non-white people all too often face.

  7. Ozy, you of all people are more than welcome to derail my comment section. ::heart::I agree (mostly) with your first paragraph. Except that I think when men get shit for being men, it's rooted in woman-hating. Your second paragraph–I don't think men's problems will be solved until we solve the women's problems first. So I guess we're inverted there.

  8. Gender often intersects with other identities in very strange ways. For example, did you know that while gay men make more money than lesbians who make more money than bisexual women–as you might expect–bisexual women make more money than bisexual men?* It's completely contrary to the train of logic before it, but it's consistent with the acceptability of male homosexual relations vs female. I would in no way suggest that bisexual men have it worse than bisexual women, even if the impact of monosexism comes down harder on those men than those women, but it is contrary to the way we tend to perceive and stack oppressions.Similarly, black men are less likely to graduate high school than black women. They're more likely to be jailed, too. A white woman's accusation of victimization by a black man can land a black man, any black man, in jail. Please note I'm not making a judgment on rape accusations or anything of the sort–my point is that the accusation of a black male attacker has the power to land any random black man in jail and in previous times get him lynched. That's a very serious power discrepancy and also kind of what I was talking to you about re: white female privilege, Nahida. A woman of color just can't make the same accusation and have it hold the same gravity, even against a man of color.So I guess I largely agree with what Ozy is saying, about the patriarchy hurting everyone, and in my opinion the only way to fight it is to dismantle gender roles entirely. No weaker sex. No breadwinner sex. No maiden names. No stiff upper lip. No difference between maternity and paternity leave.I would totally be more articulate about this too but it's like 5 am and I can't believe I'm still up.*Note that even though bisexual women make more they're still more likely to live in poverty. I suspect this is because women are more likely to have greater financial burdens (like dependent children). Part of the reason I think monosexism and heterosexism take more away from men is that they have more to lose to begin with–a straight, able, cis man isn't really very likely to be raped, but if he's gay or bi his chances get markedly higher. A straight woman already deals with the spectre of rape so the difference between her and a queer woman is not nearly as great.

  9. Well of course they intersect. That's why I have no problem with feminists welcoming gay people (men and women), or bisexual people (men and women), or black people (men and women).Not men.Gay people, bisexual people, and black people shouldn't have to fit into feminism. Feminism should go out of its way to fit for them. But in regards to being a man–I ain't the one moving for that.Male homosexuality is less acceptable than female homosexuality in society because the patriarchy thinks lesbian women "are so hot." Again, it's the root of the problem; I feel that saying something patronizing is a benefit is like accepting microagressions. They're better than macroaggressions–but they are still a problem.I read an article a few days ago by a Male's Studies professor writing about how men don't get periods and aren't given away at marriage (because supposedly that's awesome?) and don't give birth and how they used to get Bar Mitzvahs but now girls get them too so they aren't as special and so men have no unique rite of passage to tell them they're men. He ACTUALLY said that because women have an equivalent for Bar Mitzvahs now, they're not as great anymore. EVERYTHING he was saying had to do with men finding security in being as far away from womanhood as possible. I've seen comments from men saying things like, "I'm sick of competing with women."I feel like if I white person WERE bullied for being white we wouldn't even hear about it because no one would give a fuck. But if something happens to a dude suddenly everyone's in panicky tears, and blaming the feminists, even through all the woman-hating shit that surfaces from it.

  10. What Ozymandias said was gender stereotypes, Nahida, not something as specific as bullying.But I'm leaning towards Nahida on this. From what I can see solving women's problems would solve men's, and while it could also work the other way, it's been going that way for too long. Medication would always be tested on men and assumed to work for women. History is written for men. It hasn't been working out for us. I'd even say that it's just a way for men to hold onto their privilege, to say that solving their problems first would solve ours. There's too much of a pattern of oppression here. And whenever women do make progress, men seem to have problems. Like, are you fucking kidding me? Like she's said, it's rooted in woman-hating.

  11. Well, Nahida is a radfem and Ozymandias seems to be on the other side of the feminism spectrum (correct me if I'm wrong) so it's impressive you two can even have a civil debate. Good work. =P

  12. radfems aren't the complete opposite of sex-positive feminists. Nahida said somewhere that she was spending too much on lingerie. i think it was twitter. and she wears makeup, and Ozymandias said somewhere that she thinks radfems have a point. i can't rmember where that was i think it was a comment section. But yeah.

  13. Yeah, there are a lot of radical feminists I really admire (most notably, bell hooks). And for that matter some sex-positive feminists who make me want to facepalm and run away.I guess that what I'm thinking here is that it is possible– and probably synergistically best– to work on both genders' problems at the same time, because of how much they are intertwined. And a whole lot of shit is sexist against both.I mean, to pick on a very minor example: in heterosexual dating men are supposed to pay. You can look at it from the feminist perspective of "this is condescending to women, it makes it seem like women don't have money because that's a man thing, it makes the woman not an equal partner in the date-having, we can pay for our own damn dinners!" You can also look at it from the masculist (I love that word) perspective of "this makes a man a Success Object whose value is his ability to pay for things, not all men have to earn tons of money to be desirable, it's really fucked to pay a woman for her to consider you sexually desirable." And both sexist perspectives, I think, are in play in that situation, and only looking at it from one angle misses some of the subtleties? I'm not sure how much sense I'm making…And, yes, that thing about Bar Mitzvahs is ridiculous. Men and women should be EQUAL, that does not mean men get special shiny things. Or women get special shiny things. Everyone gets the same amount of shinies!

  14. almostclever

    "Admittedly it's better all things considered to be a man than a woman (if nothing else, the rape thing):"I take SUCH issue with that statement. Men are raped all the time, and sexually abused and also harassed. Rape is not the sole domain of women or the vagina, and I think this statement clearly identifies the way we view women, and I find it problematic. I also think we need to stop shoving ourselves and also others into these finite categories just because we think certain things that are different from someone else. I had someone yesterday tell me I am a pacifist because I don't agree with the war… UMMM, DON'T TELL ME WHAT I AM! Labels bring all of these background issues and beliefs into the discussion that cause preconceived notions and create characters or representations instead of people. "radfems aren't the complete opposite of sex-positive feminists." Am I too harsh if I start talking about a need for us to STOP creating separate groups just because we don't agree exactly on everything?

  15. Ozy, I think you made a good point about subtleties, but I don't think that this an issue about perspective–it's one about responsibility and the core of reality. I see feminists having to reach out to men as some form of appeasement, like reaching out to white people or upper class people. The reaching out should be in the opposite direction. These things aren't my issues as a woman for me to introduce and welcome men into helping solve–these are issues created by a patriarchal system that favors men and masculinity and are issues that men should be solving themselves without seeking validation from those they oppress whenever they feel their privilege slip.

  16. almostclever: Oh, dear, that wasn't what I meant at all! Of course men can be raped– we actually cover that a lot at NSWATM. However, as a woman, one is more likely to be raped. I think it's important to distinguish between having terms to quickly describe one's beliefs when one doesn't have time to write a manifesto, and thinking that people who do not share your label somehow are less thoughtful or contribute less to social justice. You need to try to engage with everyone, you know?Nahida: Well, hell, it's not work you have to do, any more than cheerfully atheist me has to engage with religion. :) I suppose to a certain degree I view it as less me-a-woman reaching out to men and more me-a-person-interested-in-masculinity reaching out to men.I think of men as victims of patriarchy as well, though. It's slightly better to be forced to be strong when you're weak than weak when you're strong, but ideally no one should be forced to be anything at all. :) And men have really not had their consciousnesses raised about the negative effects of the patriarchy on themselves. Of course, men ought to take a leading role in deconstructing their own oppression, but women and non-binary people can help too. Allies, if you will. :) Debora: Word. But I really feel it's been remarkably not-shitstorm-y, although I've been trying to engage with MRAs (world's most thankless work), so my beliefs may be forever skewed on what counts as a shitstorm.

  17. Hell yeah, that's why I'm glad you're doing it as I mentioned. =P I'm just seeing it as totally sucky that you have to do it, like it's totally sucky that people expect to me explain to them why terrorists do things (because I know terrorists…) and that's why it's something I refuse to do–because as far as I'm concerned they are privileged asshats.You are a better person than me.

  18. "The reaching out should be in the opposite direction."Why would a man reach out to followers of a movement that identify him as the problem even when the movement itself does not? Feminisim clearly distinguishes between patriarchy and men and states that it is opposed to patriarchy. Yet it is always them, they and him. Should men simply accept this disdain and still reach out because we are privileged? No one is this perfect, women included. "These things aren't my issues as a woman for me to introduce and welcome men into helping solve"Isn't feminism about equality of the sexes? It is inherently inequal to consider only one gender's issues. I understand that women's issues require precedence today but to conclude that men's issues are not a feminists problem is a mixed message. I keep asking are feminists about equality or aren't they? Let me be clear. This isn't about asking women to solve men's problems. Men are quite capable of solving their own problems. However there are many issues that are intertwined between the genders. The priority should be to balance the rights of both genders best one can. This due dillgence is missing. This good faith attempt is missing. Everyone wants power and control simply because they want it or are afraid that if the other has it, they will be its victim. I believe Ozy's point is not about validation nor about appeasement. Its about considering both perspectives because we HAVE to in order to achieve equality. We must constantly assess how far the pendulum is swinging in both directions not just one.I want to be clear. Its not my place to define feminism nor tell feminists how to be feminists. These are reasons why I am hesitant to reach out. Why is it about our problems vs their problems? Why can't they be all OUR problems?

  19. almostclever

    Ozy, Thanks for clarifying, and being so gracious about it :) What is MRA? Sorry peeps, I don't know the lingo. I think the biggest thing I have learned about privileged versus disadvantaged peoples is that it is not the disadvantaged people's responsibility to teach the privileged – that just adds another burden that comes from privilege. If one wants to know about feminism or women's thoughts on the issues at hand, google it! Check a book out at the library, do your own research. It is not our responsibility to parrot for men, just as it is not a Muslim woman's responsibility to consistently repeat to every non Muslim she meets, why Islam is peaceful.Humayun, it IS OUR problem, together. isms affect all of us, and we all should be involved – and why does the truth scare you so much? "Why would a man reach out to followers of a movement that identify him as the problem"The first step is accepting that men are the problem, just as whites are the problem when it comes to minority rights, and right wing religious people are the problem when it comes to gay rights.When we can accept that WE may be part of the problem, then we can become part of the solution. It is about awareness.

  20. Should men simply accept this disdain and still reach out because we are privileged?Yes. There are very, very good reasons it is always them, they and him. It isn't disdain–it's truth. Seriously. Deal with it. I'm not concerned about hurt feelings while there is infanticide in China and rape around the world and less than 3 months of maternity leave in the US. When a gay person is cussing out straight people, I am not going to be like you're hurting my feelings! I am going to stfu and listen and acknowledge the problem and my responsibility to do something.This isn't about asking women to solve men's problemsI wasn't talking about the issues that are placed under men's rights. When I said these aren't my issues I was talking about rape and infanticide and maternity leave, not men's rights. This aren't my issues–women are not the problem. These are men's issues, which feminists should not need to encourage them to fix. It's pathetic that they need feminists to be reaching out to them to see that they should stop.I believe Ozy's point is not about validation nor about appeasement.I don't think it is either. I also don't think you've ever tried to talk to an MRA. These men don't believe in consent, feel that child support is worse than rape, and that women shouldn't be allowed to work or vote, and when they do have a real issue (like suicide rates or how the world is under the impression that men can't be raped) they come back to blaming feminism because they need to put women down to feel like men.And yes, that is showing a need for validation and I see giving that validation as a form of appeasement. So no, I am not interested in reaching out to them. I'm not interested in reaching out to the guy who complains that women don't sleep with him and then blames feminism (women's progress) instead of patriarchy. Because that is a sexist. That is someone who believes that in order for men to have rights women should not. And I'm not gonna be like, "Oooh you're right you have it SO HARD let's go back to the 1800s when you could keep your wife abused and drugged and tell her she's always wrong!"Ozy this comment has stopped being about you somewhere in the middle: I don't think these are the kind of men you're reaching out to–I think they're just the ones who flocked to your blog first; I know you're probably more interested in solving men's issues and men's rights and actually doing something than sitting around blaming feminism for the problems. After all you are a feminist (Or gender egalitarian? Do you take both or just the latter?) And that's why you're awesome. It's… your audience.

  21. @Sarah Heh I was fixing something in my comment before I saw yours so yours shows up first before mine does =P In case you're wondering where it went you have to scroll a littleAnd MRA is… to say what Katrina said, the male equivalent of a KKK member. Here, read this! =Dhttp://manboobz.blogspot.com/2011/04/on-spearhead-demanding-child-support-is.htmlAnd thishttp://manboobz.blogspot.com/2011/03/earthquakes-and-ideologues.htmlAnd basically anything else on that blog. (The author David Futrelle is my hero.)I think the biggest thing I have learned about privileged versus disadvantaged peoples is that it is not the disadvantaged people's responsibility to teach the privileged – that just adds another burden that comes from privilege. If one wants to know about feminism or women's thoughts on the issues at hand, google it! Check a book out at the library, do your own research. It is not our responsibility to parrot for men, just as it is not a Muslim woman's responsibility to consistently repeat to every non Muslim she meets, why Islam is peaceful. […] The first step is accepting that men are the problem, just as whites are the problem when it comes to minority rights, and right wing religious people are the problem when it comes to gay rights.Thank you! Repeated for emphasis.

  22. Feminisim clearly distinguishes between patriarchy and men and states that it is opposed to patriarchy. Yet it is always them, they and him. Should men simply accept this disdain and still reach out because we are privileged? No one is this perfect, women included. You have got to be kidding me.Where the fuck did anyone say women are perfect? Let me get this straight, you want US to check OUR LANGUAGE because when we say that men have oppressed women IT HURTS YOUR FEELINGS??! When we're talking about rape and wages you want us to say "it" instead of "them" when it's been made clear to you over and over that WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU?Okay, what exactly is the point of this conversation? Nahida and Ozymandias disagree, and Nahida was telling her. And Ozymandias was contributing in return, and the two were sharing their perspectives in an impressively civil manner. This is a radfem blog, and as far as I can tell the fact that Nahida chose to bend her own policy with ONE person doesn't mean people like Humayun who have probably been lurking around to jump at an opened opportunity to whine about his hurt feelings are suddenly welcome to debate with her about how she runs things.She was talking. To Ozymandias.

  23. Kels, as much as I was annoyed, Humayun did clarify that he was not telling me how to run things. Also, this blog isn't nearly big enough to be "running things" =P I'm just one person writing personal crap in my free time and there really aren't that many views in a day.But thank you. Humayun, we've already talked about this. You seem to have trouble accepting that I'm not talking about you and that when I'm writing about oppression I am not interested in the feelings of the sex who oppresses me. To say that I can't fully express myself, that I need to add a disclaimer like "I mean the patriarchy of course, not all men–just certain ones, you know it and not them" while I'm DYING here is just another way of exerting your privilege.

  24. Um. Yeah peeps. Nahida started with Ozy, that doesn't mean she invited men to suggest that feminists make room for them first. I mean, look what happened. This post was about including underprivileged people who are trans, and/or of color, and/or underprivileged in other ways, into the feminist movement. And instead we're talking about privileged men, because men jumped into the conversation. And not to talk about being of color or lower class or trans or disabled (even though according to the post these aspects would include them as well) but to talk about being privileged men. And now we're talking about men, like every other area everywhere else. This whole thread is a perfect example. This is why, among other things, we needed Women's Studies classes in universities.

  25. Well, technically I jumped into the conversation. :) Sorry, guys…Nahida: I identify as a gender egalitarian and a feminist, with feminism being the portion of gender egalitarianism that quite rightly focuses on women's issues (the same way that gender egalitarianism is the portion of social justice/humanism/whatever that focuses on gender). And I'd like to say that it is not the unprivileged person's responsibility to educate. Certain unprivileged people may choose to educate, because they like educating and it's what they're good at, but "no, fuck off" is also a perfectly acceptable reaction to a privileged person being an asshat. I also think men should lead the "masculist" movement, in general, but that's a derail from the derail…

  26. Yes, but that was because I invited you to do so. *shrug* I wanted to have that conversation with you, and you didn't have to but you did and you've been really gracious and understanding. You don't need to apologize you're fine and if anything you did me a favor by listening. =)

  27. I think I should have started with a disclaimer.1. I have been called a terrorist, sand nigger, camel jockey and some other choice names. Women oppressor, whiner, and a lurker would be a step up. In other words, my feelings have not been hurt. I am not sure if anyone here is even capable of that. All of you seem like decent people.2. I know you are not talking about me when you say “men”. No need for a disclaimer. I believe the only time I mentioned myself in my post was in regards to my hesitance to reach out. I did not say I won’t neither did I say that I had expectations that must be met for me to reach out. The point I was trying to make was that if I have this hesitance maybe some other guy has it too. I will explain this further below.3. I am not against feminism. Having been blessed with three amazing sisters, this movement and its success is very important to me. I just do not agree with some of it or find a conflict in its theory and practice. I was trying to address that conflict and saw an opportunity in the comments section. I understand now that discussing this conflict here leads to annoyance and it triggers people. Being annoyed is everyone’s right and I do not find anything wrong with it. Sometimes I want to annoy people. It was not the case this time. I was looking to resolve this conflict and I will do that somewhere else. @NahidaThis relates to the point 2 above. In my experience there are three kinds of people. (1) People on your side, (2) people looking to pick a side (3) and people that will NEVER be on your side. I am talking about the number 2 category here. These are the men that will reach out. My point was to not expect them to reach out this easily and I mentioned the reasons why. I was not asking anyone to add disclaimers or address hurt feelings or change the language. I was not even asking feminists to want these men to reach out. This is the men’s problem to sort out. I was listing what they need to sort through and clarify that this reaching out will not be easy for us. I agree now as I agreed earlier that men’s issues are men’s problem. My point in the post was related to issues that address both men and women. I have not seen the needed due diligence from all parties related to such issues. I do not know who or what is MRA. I do not know for sure whether they seek validation or not. I should probably look them over.@almost cleverIf you read the last question of my post, you will note that I acknowledge this as OUR problem. I am not really sure why you mentioned it again. Can you clarify you disagreement? Also please indicate clearly which truth you refer to that scares me so much.I do not believe men are the problem. They are part of the problem. Men seeking validation from patriarchy is the real problem. The oppression, the sexism, and the discrimination and mistreatment of underprivileged groups other than women are all attempts at appeasing patriarchy. I do agree that it is about awareness. Awareness among men that they do not have to appease patriarchy. This is where the challenge lies. I would clarify but it’s a men’s issue and has no place here. I was not asking anyone here to teach men about feminism. It is for us to do on our own. It is part of the reason we “LURK” at such blogs . As I mentioned above, I was simply asking to be aware that it won’t happen this easily. As you said, it is all about awareness.

  28. almostclever

    @ Deb,"This is why, among other things, we needed Women's Studies classes in universities."Explain to me how that has any relevance in this conversation, or is it your way of being passive aggressive and veiling your insults to the people who have not commented the way you find appealing? Considering you have called this thread "a shit storm" that you were not expecting, I assume you are seeing this discussion as one of aggressive intentions?

  29. Humayun, we know (at least I know) that you've been called all those things. Debbie made a point when she said that if you'd brought up this side of your identity (being Muslim, and I'm guessing a man of color?) rather than the fact that you're a man you would have been covered under this post because that's an underprivileged experience. That would have been okay. But you were talking about men, who are privileged compared to women."I do not believe men are the problem."I do. They don't have to be, but right now they are. As are the woman who go with it. Oh God, the women. That is even more depressing. And sometimes we're problems without even knowing we're problems. Yesterday, a couple hours after a friend of mine had told me he was genderqueer, I totally forgot and dismissively pointed out that "you're a dude" when we talked about differing perspectives on gender privileges. I should have said he's perceived as a dude.He didn't say anything. Maybe he wasn't aware that I'd messed up because he's so used to people being insensitive. Or he just decided to let it slip because he knew me.Either way, I was a problem.And I'm interested in issuing out "parts" of the problem to people. Because, as an individual I may be part of the problem–only a symptom, but as a person who fully identifies with her sex and her assigned gender since birth? That is a CLASS of people–we are the problem, and not part of the problem. (Who's the other part?) I think everyone needs to admit that they're a problem and not parts of the problem, recognizing that their actions don't exist in a vaccum and affect everyone on a societal level, so that we can all take some responsibility.

  30. almostclever

    @ Humayun, If you believe it is OUR problem, why so against women choosing to define feminism for themselves, and trying to learn from what women think, instead of imposing yourself on the issue and trying to define it for us? If it is OUR issue I would think you would be trying to learn more about all the different sides of feminism instead of trying to define it for us. Women are not a monolith, therefore there is no defined category of feminism, you should research more instead of getting huffy and puffy because YOU don't get it."Isn't feminism about equality of the sexes? It is inherently inequal to consider only one gender's issues. " Instead of trying to argue with women about what feminism is "supposed to be" why not listen and try to take it from a woman's perspective, instead of what you think it is?That is my point of disagreement with you. You keep pushing men's issues as something the feminists need to worry about otherwise we are "not about equality" and I take issue with you dictating what women should or should not be doing in order to be "about equality." Did black people worry about white people's issues just because racism effects all of us? You can't talk about equality and then whine about how the privileged are in need of equality also… Men are not the ones being disadvantaged here. Sure gender roles suck but men are still the beneficiaries here, so let's not start harping on feminists not being about equality because we don't talk about what men are suffering from…Also, what is the "other part of the problem" when it comes to sexism and how feminists choose to address it?

  31. almostclever: Veiled insults? It was meant to connect this pattern, in which conversations dedicated to underprivileged groups are taken over by a privileged group, in small situations like blog threads to a larger problem.I did call it a shitstorm, and I still believe it was/is, though not because of any of your contributions. I meant mostly between Nahida and Ozy, both of whom seemed to have much love and respect for each other, as well as each an understanding of the other's cause. So I failed to understand what the real argument was; Nahida disagreed, but was happy Ozy was writing about men's issues, and found it productive. Ozy understood, and is continuing to be productive. We need both to keep doing what they're doing. Where's the problem?

  32. almostclever

    @ Deb,That's what I see also, I guess I failed to see the shit storm and didn't understand what you were talking about… My bad. :) forgive? :) :)

  33. My comments are not an imposition, not a dictation, nor do they imply any expectations. They are simply my disagreement. I believe this is the third time I am making this statement. For someone to continue to believe otherwise means to me that they believe I am coming from a place of privilege which is NOT the intent of my comments. I am not saying that I am not privileged nor am I claiming I am so great and different from those “men”. I am them! I also know that women have been subjected to privileged statements in the past which is why I understand and am ok with being perceived this way. However I would like to have a productive conversation. If my comments are perceived other than how I mean them to be perceived then there will never be a productive argument. I cannot clarify this any further. It is up to you how you perceive me. In the end there will either be a productive dialogue or there won’t be one.@almost cleverWhere have I defined feminism for you? The definition I used was established long before I was born. My disagreement with you isn’t really this definition nor is it feminism. My disagreement lies with how people define equality and how I believe it to be different. I say people because my argument is not just aimed at you or women or feminists. This is aimed at everyone. You asked me to consider a woman’s perspective. I say that I cannot stop there. For me to be equal, I must consider both perspectives and give them similar weight. It only becomes OUR issue when both perspectives are equally considered (where relevant). My stance remains the same regardless of the gender under discussion. I have said the same things to men. They accused me of pushing women’s issues and in some circles I am referred to as pussy whipped. "Isn't feminism about equality of the sexes? It is inherently unequal to consider only one gender's issues. ..You interpret this as me pushing men’s issues. I anticipated this interpretation which is why I clarified in the same post that I am NOT asking women or feminists or anyone other than men to solve men’s issues. My point was that the consideration of both perspectives in issues that impact both men and women is missing. Not just with feminists but with men as well. This comment in quotes was attempting to emphasize the first paragraph above. If I was only referring to feminists and pushing men’s issues my statement would not say “one gender’s issues” it would say “women’s issues”. I am not telling you what I think Feminism is. I am arguing what I believe to be equality. I disagree with you on another issue. I believe equality is absolute and applies to everyone. It is irrelevant if it’s black or white, privileged or underprivileged, or anything else. Every instance should be held individually to the standards of equality. Let me give you an example to clarify further. I work in a viciously competitive industry which is predominantly white male. I am a brown Muslim competing with this group. Overall I am at a disadvantage due to privilege but I do have some advantages that I refuse to avail. My boss asked to meet with a female representative of a client to bid for a consultancy engagement. He asked me because I am a man of color and he believed she would be more open to me than my white colleagues. This is not an assumption he actually mentioned this quite clearly. I refused simply because this would be unfair to my colleagues. People said I was wrong because I was, too nice, not aggressive enough and self righteous. Who I am is irrelevant here. No one argued that if I had proceeded with the bid, it won’t be unfair to the other men. I do NOT expect people to do what I do. I am not dictating my version of equality on you. I just happen to follow mine and disagree with your version.Mentioning other issues I disagree with here would not be productive for obvious reasons. I will discuss them at another time here or in another place.

  34. @NahidaI appreciate your perspective. Being underprivileged in one instance does not negate my privilege in another. As I said above I believe every instance must be evaluated individually. I was not even disagreeing with the post. My disagreement arose from the comments. Men as a class are the problem. This is where you stop but I cannot. As a man this is my problem to solve. To solve it I must ask WHY? The answer to this question defines the entire problem for me. This is why I believe men are part of the problem. The other part is the answer to this question which is in the previous post. I do not think I clarified this previously. When I say men are part of the problem I am not marginalizing their contribution to and responsibility for the problem. I am taking it further to find a solution.@Kells Shells“Okay, how is identifying pronouns NOT asking us to change our language?”I have addressed this already in the previous post.

  35. Humayun, you are really mansplaining at this point. Your whole first paragraph is a lecture, you're actively implying that we don't believe equality is absolute or applies to everyone, and you've come straight out and said that you see our perspective as a perspective rather than truth. (Seriously, the fact that men's issues arise from woman-hating rather than man-hating is not a perspective.)I do not think I clarified this previously. When I say men are part of the problem I am not marginalizing their contribution to and responsibility for the problem. I am taking it further to find a solution.Gee, thanks. Humayun, when we say you are watering it down there are reasons we say you're watering it down. You're using the same tactics that have been used to dismiss us over and over. I think your distribution of the problem's "parts" to be men and finding the solution is absurd–"find the solution" is a goal, not a problem, and if it were, it exists because of men. And you can't seem to accept it.If your disagreement is from the comments rather than the post, to quote Kels quite frankly I was talking to Ozy. I realize this is public open space, but I've made it clear that I'm not interested in having this discussion on the blog because I've had it too many times and even the most well-meaning of men act like their argument is new and surely I've never heard it before. I would think it were obvious then that when I make an exception with a very specific woman it doesn't mean I've invited everyone. And this is why. We're still talking about men.

  36. My comments are not an imposition, not a dictation, nor do they imply any expectations. They are simply my disagreement. I believe this is the third time I am making this statement. I couldn't get further than that. You're a condescending douchebag. "You keep saying him instead of it! Wait, what? No, I'm not asking you to change your language, where would you get that idea?"If you're disagreeing, find another place to voice it. Seriously, why are you telling us, as if we haven't heard it before? You've successfully further derailed this thread and made it about men when it was supposed to be about marginalized experiences. So what exactly is your point? I mean, it's not like we go to men's rights blogs and are all like, "You're all doing it wrong and you're not considering everyone's perspectives!" Instead we find productive spaces for ourselves. If you want to make progress in men's issues, find a men's rights blog, and leave it out of this one. But you couldn't STAND checking your own privilege and letting women discuss amongst themselves, could you? You couldn't say, "I'm got male privilege, and voicing this disagreement is going against the basic premises of the blog to be a place for focusing on marginalized identities, so maybe I should sit this one out." Instead you grabbed the first opportunity you saw to whine about men, then to tell us that we're interpreting you incorrectly, and then to continue to whine about men. Well thanks, this thread, which was supposed to be about trans people and disabled people and people of color is not about men.

  37. Okay, I really didn't want to do this, but since we're STILL talking about men and men's perspectives when this post (and this whole blog) was concerned with women's issues, I'm shutting down this thread. I guess we'll try talking about disabled people and trans people and people of color again some other time. As always.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s