Do not write about women’s bodies or their sexuality until you’ve been writing and reading feminism long enough to understand that women will never care what you have to say in this area, apart from drawing their attention to the informed writings on this subject by other women.
So said Garland Grey, one of the many people who called my old blog out. For those of you who are unaware, I ran a ‘male feminism’ blog for a period of about a year. Now I have come to tell you not only that I am not a male feminist, but that no one is. That’s right I said it, from the mouth of the former Lighthouse himself: there is no such thing as a male feminist.
When I learnt about patriarchy, and my complicity in its continuation, I wanted to help solve it. I hated it so much I took on the voice of oppressed genders, deciding that my frustration at the injustice mattered equally to theirs. Perhaps most tellingly, I felt this was my struggle. I thought our struggle was the same, because everything that angered feminists angered me too.
But it was not and is not my struggle. To struggle is to be on the defensive against an onslaught of heartfelt oppression. One of my privileges as a man is the ability to step back and stop thinking about it, because oppression isn’t my daily routine. I am not constantly reminded of unavoidable characteristics that hold me back in this terrible society. In the words of this Michael Kimmel quote, I am invisible.
Perhaps the most important post on this subject is “can we stop using the term ally?” by Radical Masculinity’s Gauge. Much of my objections to the term Male Feminism are contained therein. The point I seek to make is that Male Feminism builds an identity on the oppression of others. Rather than being a reaction to experienced oppression, it is a decision to cease oppressing others.
In essence, it is based upon the supposedly praiseworthy quality of being a decent human being.
I continue to be involved in the movement. I was even elected Campaigns Officer of my university’s Gender Equality Society for next year. The difference between my former identification as a male feminist and my current activism is that now I am merely helping feminists out. Our president will be a woman, as will almost all of the committee. The society is led by women, run by women, and controlled by women. I bring only my enthusiasm, knowledge and IT skills to the job.
Oppressed experience I do not.
I am just a man helping the feminists achieve their righteous goals. Though I agree wholeheartedly with everything they do, and though my thoughts and ideals may be considered feminist, this is not my identity. My identity is as a privileged person who seeks desperately to mitigate that privilege, and sometimes that means refusing to take credit for the hard work of others. I am no special snowflake, I am no shining beacon, and I am no male feminist.
Listen to the genders I oppress, read that essential post about allies, and see that though my realisation of the horrors of patriarchy can be considered useful, it is not in itself worthy of any support or reward.
Two UK women are killed every week by a former or current partner.
Now tell me who you think should be centred in this discussion.