Friday, May 05, 2006

Feminism - As a Man

Feminism has meant a lot to me for many years. Around 1981-2 I joined my first men's support group. Out of it some of the men in the group moved into defending themselves among each other from their various romantic split-ups - "supporting" - was I saw as their misogyny. I went to my first men's gathering and started seeing how gay+/bi+/straight men could choose to listen and understand more of who we are as men.

In 1983 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA - after hearing an inspiring speech by Andrea Dworkin at a Men's Conference in St. Paul, MN - a group of us started Men Stopping Rape, Inc, which likely has been the most active men's anti-rape group in U.S. history. We started out talking and talking and talking and listening and listening and listening and struggled to work with each other.

Eventually we had a weekly table at the Saturday Farmer's Market on the Wisconsin State Capitol and began doing workshops at the University of Wisconsin and elsewhere in the local community. As we became credible to the local feminist Women's Community we began working in support of their work and did some things jointly. We learned rather quickly that we needed to relate to other men as "we" rather than as "they". We were and are "those men" who had been sexist in our actions and were and are struggling to work through our own issues.

Pushing guilt upon men and saying how "good" we are is counter-productive. Trying to "protect" women perpetrates the misogny around us. Developing closeness and support among our male friends, regardless of who we may seek as our primary partners, is important.

Feminism has taught me a lot about being male! Reading, listening and feeling have helped me grow, though further growth is always desirable and necessary. I have a long way to go and will probably feel that way for the rest of my life.

I'll address more in some of my future writings here.

Thanks! Be well!

Geo

1 comment:

thinking girl said...

Geo, fantastic post! Good for you for not being threatened by feminism, as so many men are, and for supporting not just women's rights, but also for trying to find a better way to be a man in society under patriarchy. I think the first step for ending gender discrimination is for those who benefit from it - men - to realize and acknowledge their privilege. thanks for being an activist for women's rights!