Wednesday, May 10, 2006

As Men How We Benefit from Feminism

I believe that looking at "men helping women through feminism" is a difficult path for most men. It's not really how we are likely to move for the most part. Where we do travel on such a path, it has potential problems. (This is not to say that we may not help women through such a path, but rather that it's not how we really are as male people.)

Men who want to help women often look at this in very literal ways. It's dangerous for young women on college campuses to walk on campus and near campus in the dark, so we should help the women by escorting them where they want to go at night.

I certainly wouldn't want to discourage men offering such assistance to women who know and trust them. In other situations I would want to know How women are to feel safe with such men? Do "pro-feminist men" have some "Seal of Good Escort Keeping" which makes them different from the men who may assault or simply antagonize such women (trying to hit on them)? I think not! Do we also want to continue the message that women need be dependent upon men?

I think that men who find a traditional world view fitting their lives neatly will only find feminism useful as a tool to get what they want, e.g. sex with a "cute girl". For such men their desires of the moment and their histories of success within their lifeview are going to be most important to them. Such men may well have a double-standard where they don't want their sister or mother treated in such a fashion, yet they ignore the inconsistencies in their own lives.

Other men are not happy and comfortable with important parts of their lives. They may be affected by other men's

1.) Put-downs - as "sissies" or simply not "as good" in sports, looks, earnings, job, grades (in school) or in many other areas,
2.) Threats of being beaten up or experiences of being physically attacked

as well as feeling very alone.

As men we often don't learn how to be close to other people except as it relates to having a girlfriend or wife (and there often we don't know how to relate well). We may be able to talk with others about sports, music, movies or "women", but we aren't used to dealing with feelings except for seeing and expressing anger.

We may have not been close to our fathers. When we are fathers we may have trouble relating to our sons and daughters. It is far easier to go to see our child play a sport or be in a play, than to deal with their emotional lives as they grow.

Feminism can help us escape the homophobia and other isolation that keeps us apart from other men. We can learn to try to support our fathers and brothers as well as sisters and mothers.

Feminism can help us understand how scapegoating women and others in general doesn't give us anything tangible. Feminism can help us see how Patriarchy isn't "men vs. women" but a system where Power - often Men With Power - "grow" and "survive" - through power over others. Men are over other men, most women, and children.

Power can be based upon our collaboration with the System. When we work 80-100 hours a week as a slave of our jobs, we may seemingly have power. When we burn-out or otherwise fail, we oftenno longer possess the Power. When our employer reorganizes our power may diminish greatly. When we're disabled or "old" we often lose our power.

As men we may react to our life situation in various ways. It is a challenge for us to find life-affirming paths that help us grow, rather than escaping through drugs, seeking material possessions, or other methods of escaping who we are.

We can learn from women. We can learn from children. We can learn from each other.

In the end we generally need to find or own paths through life. Feminism may help us in many ways use spirituality, live a more healthy lifestyle - diet/exercise/listening (for a change) and in many other ways.

When we find such paths, we (hopefully) will be able to move beyond a narcissism and general neediness. We can then begin supporting others: women, men and children. At first it may come out of either a practical need or an ethical desire, but in the end it becomes a part of our inner core. We are changed and it comes from inside of our inner selves.

We can love and support ourselves and through that be loving, caring people among our families, friends, allies and others we may not know.

Thank you!


1 comment:

Sazz said...

I really like the basic contention of your post: feminism has things to offer men as well. Aside from the emotional benefits for men, there are greater political benefits for all: such as creating a world without hierarchy, domination, violence, hatred.
However "men helping women through feminism" is not a great way phrase it. We don't need "help through feminism", femnism is our help, we need "men supporting and advocating feminism".

For those men that do want to support feminists, and are looking for ways to do it, let me begin by addressing the escourting women at night example first. Accompanying a woman at night does nothing to change the fact that she is a target of abuse, it's a bandaid solution. What you should want is for women to be independent of men, for women to be safe walking alone at night. This means addressing the motivations of men who prey on women, and working towards removing those motivations from society.

The greatest thing you can do to support feminism is make yourself accountable and make your mates accountable for male supremacy and oppression of women. Take action in your personal life and tell your male friends and family the same:
* Don't use pornography and prostitution, these are examples of exploitation of women.

* Challenge yourself: keep asking why it is you desire the things you desire, things like having regular penis-in-vagina sex, desire to father biological children,

* Refuse to bond with other men at the expense of women: hiring strippers, sexist jokes, going out with your mates while your partner is at home with children.

* Make the conscious effort to learn from women, listen to women, spend time with women that are happy for you to do so.

* Read feminist texts far and wide, learn about the many ways women are oppressed, ways you may not have even realised, and start learning how to see them in your own life (two great starters are: "Radically Speaking" bby Diane Bell and Renate Klein, "The demon lover" by Robin Morgan. And a fantastic text written by pro-feminist Bob Pease "Recreating Men") Tell your friends to do the same!

* Never stop trying! Never stop challenging

Keep the good pro-feminist work up Geo, great blog.