Be young and shut up

A blog about student activism.

Feminist men should be neither exalted nor altogether dismissed

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Feminism Has A Problem

I just read this pretty awful article in Vagenda about feminist men. I was looking into one of their writers’ racism, and though I think it is my responsibility to spread the word as a white feminist, instead of adding my own crap to the debate for the sake of SAYING SOMETHING I’d rather direct you to these excellent articles.

The piece in Vagenda on feminism for men I read, entitled, ‘Let’s hear it for the boys!’ was so problematic I barely made it through. If the writer ever reads this, though, I really would encourage her not to give up or get angry at me for pointing this out, but instead to be inspired to read more widely, especially stuff from our trans* sisters, Black feminists, queer feminists and socialist feminists.

Things That Are Wrong with ‘Let’s hear it for the boys!’

It equates being a man with having a penis. It talks about being an angry hairy ugly lesbian as if that is a bad thing. It says that Plato and Kurt Cobain were feminists. (WTF?!) It thanks men for supporting equal rights when not doing so is sexism. It talks about ‘top blokes who deserve a biscuit’.

Fun feminism – liberal, middle class, white, cissexist feminism

This kind of feminism exalts men who are even vaguely supposedly ‘on our side’, as if we owe them something. We don’t. Feminists have fought for gains that women should already have had, and won them through struggle. They have been imprisoned, gone on hunger strike, been tortured and the rest of it in order to gain the most basic rights.

Obviously Julie Bindel is a scumbag transphobe – but we should criticise ‘fun feminism’, by which I think she means contemporary liberal populist feminism, although not for the reasons she suggests. We should criticise ‘fun feminism’ because the wishy washy, shallow feminism of Jezebel, The Vagenda, Caitlin Moran et al ignores serious problems like racism and cissexism in the feminist movement in order to ‘avoid in-fighting’ and avoid any uncomfortable self-criticism. (Personally though I think an anti-racist, trans*- positive feminism is a lot more ‘fun’ than a racist transphobic one.) I also think they ignore the effects of capitalism on women.

The reactions against this kind of men-appeasing feminism tend to be that men have no place in feminism, that men should shut up, that they should just support whatever women decide.

And while I strongly sympathise with this, and probably used to broadly advocate that position, it doesn’t really go far enough.

‘Feminism is for everybody’ – bell hooks

The concept of feminism being for everyone doesn’t mean giving men biscuits when they’re vaguely nice. It does mean that everyone should know about feminism, learn about feminism and work towards more equal power relations.

Men shutting up and staying out of it means men feel they can be lazy and ignorant and lets dickheads off the hook. We should have women-only spaces where and when we want (and men shouldn’t complain about that) but I think engaging with sympathetic men isn’t a bad thing at all, if they are genuinely sympathetic and not fauxmenists. Saying ‘men can never understand’ is a good way for men to just be wankers and blame socialisation for their behaviours instead of improving. Maybe they can’t understand everything – but they should try.

The other problem is, if men should just support women feminists, which women feminists should they support? I understand that sometimes people say ‘another group says this’ in order to justify their privileged rubbish – but equally, feminism is full of vibrant debate and ideology. We value experience more than other traditions, for sure – but we also have a huge amount of rich theory.

Expect more of men

Yes, we’ll be constantly disappointed by them – aren’t we always?! But they are more than capable of not being arseholes, as occasionally is proven. I always think that it’s generally feminists who recognise that men can change, whereas the proponents of male power actually just think men are violent scumbags who can’t be trusted. Rapists think all men are rapists. Feminists actually distinguish between rape and sex (discounting some pretty vile radical feminist texts that count all heterosexual sex as rape). [Most] feminists and all good social theorists emphasise socialisation and social structures over ‘human nature’.

In conclusion

Being a man who believes in equality for women is not something to be exalted – it should be normal. But some men genuinely are feminists. Now – off you guys should pop to do some self-education rather than waiting around for women to teach you everything.


Written by CakeCakeCakeCakeCake

October 8, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses

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  1. I really like loads of this, and am a big fan of the balance you advocate, but I can’t help thinking it’s a huge jump to say that men can be feminists. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it, and will probably keep identifying as an ally or pro feminist. I’d really like to have a chat about it though.


    October 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    • I disagree with her on a lot of things, but I think Judith Butler and others make a valid point about there not really being such a thing as a homogenous women’s experience. That, and the fact that I think of feminism as theory, practice, ideology, etc. I think experience often means men aren’t always great feminists but nonetheless…..

      Tbh the whole ‘can we call men feminists’ thing doesn’t really interest me. Why are we so protective of the word in that context? There are plenty of proper scumbags that call themselves feminists, of all genders, lol. Mensch anyone? xxx


      October 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      • Definitely. I do notice something of a dissonance between the destruction of binary gender and sexuality and the idea of “womens’ experience” as a thing. I’m not sure what I think about it at the moment to be honest.


        October 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm

  2. How can I stop your shit blog from emailing me?
    You make so many dumb ass points, you’re a “raging hairy lesbo man hater feminist” as you kindly put it above.

    I’m all for equal rights, but it’s Equal rights when you like it, and sexist when you don’t.
    Don’t hold the door? I’m a cunt?
    You don’t hold the door? I should have held it for you, I’m the man.

    What your post, from the little I read before I rage quit my life, it seems that if you don’t get everything done for you, it means we’re wankers.
    You want equality? Go build a house.
    You want Equality, Hold the door open for 10 lads as they come out the shop after you (NO NOT “AFTER” you but walking behind you to leave, don’t flatter yourself with more man hate)

    You want Equality? Become a Trash lady and pull bins.
    You Want equality? Go clean sewers.
    You want equality? I think you get the point, don’t ever say, “But a man should do that” Cause that’s not equality, just like us men should not say, “Oh it’s a womans job.”

    What’s good for one is good for the other.
    Men can be cunts, and so can women, women can be nice, and so can men.

    Being a feminist doesn’t help, it just adds fuel to the fire and keeps it burning.
    The only way to become equal (Which quite frankly can’t happen, it’s genetic that men are NATURALLY (NOT WORKING OUT!!) stronger than women are.
    It’s genetic that women are more CARING than men are / more family orientated, that’s just NATURE and we can’t change that no matter what.

    William Campbell

    October 8, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    • lesbian man hater feminist and proud

      actually i’m a bisexual man hater feminist but whatever

      i didn’t make you follow my blog, you chose to.


      October 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    • I really do feel sorry for you sir. Firstly, you don’t understand the internet, or email. Spam filter, unsubscribe button, whatever. You have options here!

      Second, in what way would Kate becoming a bin collector be equality? I really don’t get your argument.

      Your silly childish views are unfortunately not the product of nature, but of poor education and social conditioning. Sucks to be you.

      I’m going to go with poor education, since you don’t seem to know that every ( has to have a )…

      Callum Leslie

      October 8, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    • Obvious troll is obvious.


      October 9, 2012 at 10:46 pm

  3. I enjoy these posts which make some useful points. However the shrill tone, lack of humility towards other views, and black-white thinking minds me of some of the less attractive aspects of debating with conservative evangelical christians.

    Emma M

    October 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    • I used to be one when I was about 13 so maybe that’s why!
      Seriously though I know I have a confrontational style which I am trying to improve but also I don’t think being a bit robust is always a bad thing in a discussion, as long as it’s opinions/views that are being challenged, rather than making personal comments about people.


      October 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm

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