America’s Next Bill Clinton!


On feminism, pro-feminist men and group think

So, to start off with, a disclaimer: I originally posted this on Feministing.com, but it was taken off about 30 minutes after it was posted. Irony of it all? The post is about how the mainstream feminist movement doesn’t deal with dissent very well. Here, then is my effort to restart an old blog. Original content of the piece originally posted on Feministing is below.

I found feminism in the fall of 2005. I was an American soldier at the time, interested in going into politics, and started my college career as a political science studies major. Something about gender studies pulled me in. If I wanted to change lives and help women, I needed to know their plight. I signed up for my first women’s studies class – Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions, it was called, and immediately got pulled into the feminist world. Feminism grabbed me by the collar, pulled me and loved and respected me. I eventually became a women’s studies major as well, and relished in the feminist organizations on campus and weekend getaways at feminist conferences. But as I grew within politics as well as the movement, there was a sense of uneasiness – one that I completely ignored and wrote off as male privilege tugging at me. Eventually, I’d had enough. I turned in my feminist card, began to look at feminism from a larger perspective, and while I still stand for gender equality and believe with every fiber of my being that we have a responsibility to end sexism, the majority of which directed at women, I could no longer call myself a feminist. I went quietly because I knew the movement wasn’t about me. It was about women. Yet, with the fallout this week between the pro-feminist males at the Good Men Project, I can no longer stay quiet. The problems I had with the movement are the very same ones that played out recently. To put it more succinctly, the pro-feminist movement, although good by intentions, currently faces many problems and is a symptom of the larger cause with the feminist movement. I want to address these problems today, not because I want to attack it, but because I feel it can improve.

 Being a man within the feminist movement isn’t easy. Right from the start, in Feminism 101 or whatever the name that version of the class is called at each Women’s Studies department, we are told to let go of our privilege and listen to women. We’re told to be aware of our gender and the power that it came with. We’re reminded that no matter how we view ourselves – that even if we think ourselves as just another well-intentioned guy looking to end gender discriminations, that we would be looked at differently by women, that we might inadvertently pose a threat by our actions, because of women’s experiences.

All fair points. Men within the movement do need to examine their actions and what they say, and indeed, men do have privilege and power within the movement. But that ends there. Because men are the minorities within the movement, and because we’re told to give up certain privileges and expectations, within the movement, men are not the ones in power. There’s nothing wrong with that. A reversal in roles within gender politics can be good. But such expectations become a problem when, rather being stuck in “gender neutral,” which is just as bad, the movement becomes stuck on gender overall. That is, when men’s gender becomes the focus of what they have to say, and women’s experiences become “truth” within the movement, we’re no longer practicing feminism; we’re deciding whether we agree with a person and what they have to say valid based on gender.

Because of that, any man who takes the time to speak about disagreements within the movement must be “mansplaining.” Any man who speaks ill of another feminist within the movement – as long as she isn’t pro-life or Naomi Wolf, is an MRA in disguise –a wolf in sheep clothing. Any man who challenges the experiences of women not based on her gender, but because some experiences might just be wrong regardless of gender, is considered a failure in feminism’s number one tenet – listen to women.

It is almost as if, within the feminist movement, there is a reversal in role in having a voice. Whereas within a greater society, the picture of obedient women who agree with the patriarchs, getting pats on the head and approval from men in power is a powerful one, within the feminist movement, it is also true for men. Suddenly, “truths” become the experiences of those in power instead of a group as a whole, and just as we’ve learned that those at the top rungs of the power ladder are less likely to see the whole picture, as they are blinded by their own privilege, the same can be said for that power within the feminist movement. I know it already. I know that someone will come along and say that this is yet just another argument from men who feel like their power is taken away, and are fighting for that power back. Such is not the case. I say this not because I want more feathers on my headdress, power at my disposal or more room at the podium, but because such a practice within the movement has hurt more than it’s helped the movement. Just as sexism has hurt our society as a whole, this practice – which is far from the sexisms women face in the “outside world” – has also hurt the progress of the feminist movement. As a result, much like women in patriarchy, men are conditioned from day one of the movement to be “good allies” – and by such – they are implicitly told that being a good ally meant spouting theories and ideals that the movement agrees with. Do so and one gets a reward and a pat on the back. Disagree and one gets labeled as a man threatened by having power taken away and, worse yet, a member of the MRA.

Yet another way the movement has silenced dissenting ideas is to accuse men who disagree with the movement’s certain messages of falsely being threatened. While, indeed, the language that some men use for fear of being silenced is ridiculously out of proportion, the truth is that some men within the movement are fearful of speaking out in disagreements for fear of being an outcast. Whereas “good allies” are taught to respect women’s perceived threats, and that based on lived experiences, women do have the right to feel threatened and men should take great care in recognizing that and not act in threatening ways, the experiences of men within the movement and the threats some of them feel, are cast of to the side. Any claims of being threatened, and let’s be fair – the threats men feel within the movement and the “reprisals” to be felt, are nothing compared to what women often have to deal with – are perceived as a silencing tactic by men to save their feelings, where men’s utmost concern is often not their feelings, but being able to speak truths within the movement without being outcast. In short, rather than listening to their allies, mainstream feminists revert to old and stale feminist theories, created originally not to examine the movement from within, but a gendered culture from the outside.

But all of this isn’t about men at all. It’s not about Hugo, it’s not about the Good Men Project, and it’s most certainly not about men. The fall out between GMP and Hugo is symptom of bigger issues within the pro-feminist men as well as the feminist movement: how to deal with dissent and intellectual challenges. Just as feminism challenges conventional wisdoms of gender roles within a larger society, there also has to be room within the feminist movement for disagreements and challenges of feminist theories that are stale, tired and no longer make sense. At the current time, there is no room for that. There is a monopoly within the movement, and anyone who disagrees is written off as sexist, antifeminist or misogynistic. The feminist movement and the pro-feminist men’s movement within it have a lot of growing up to do.

Within the mainstream movement, unless one is a cookie-cutter feminist, one is considered wrong. Suddenly, the pro-life feminist who works every bit just as hard for comprehensive sex education, to promote girls education and fight for gender equality, becomes a misogynist who does not trust women, and has no room within NOW or the FMF. Any woman, and I’ve seen the discussions within my own eyes, who acknowledges a need for feminism but doesn’t see it as being important in her own life for she’s lived a life of privilege, is labeled a “victim of the patriarchy” and apparently does know her own life. Feminists think she knows herself less than feminists know her. Feminists, again, I’ve seen firsthand, will claim she is blinded by patriarchy and she herself is a victim. Women who have passionate concerns of the feminist movement – the Naomi Wolf, Camille Paglia and the likes, all the sudden become non-feminists, and even get implicitly compared to Nazis in the process. And men get it too. All the sudden, for all he’d done for the women’s movement, Edward Kennedy, in endorsing Barrack Obama over Hillary Clinton, became a betrayer of women, according to Marcia Pappas of New York State NOW. Even well-intentioned and decidedly feminist organizations and writers, the Good Men Project is a good example, become misogynistic for straying from the narratives of what mainstream feminism requires of them.

Because of this, mainstream feminism as we know it becomes an echo chamber. Rather than being open to new ideas and looking at itself critically – “being introspective,” one calls it when encouraging male feminists to look within themselves – the current feminist movement becomes more interested in whether someone agrees with them. The measuring stick for being good feminists, and good men, in this case, isn’t about the work one does or the difference one makes, but rather, whether one spouts of ideas that are in agreement with others within the movement.

As a result, the people the current feminist movement set out to help aren’t helped at all. In fact, their voices are silenced. When Amanda Marcotte suggested sending a certain politician sanitary pads in protest over anti-choice legislations, rather than condemning the idea as being counterproductive, feminists jumped on board – all the while, young girls in Global South nations continued to miss school days when their menstruation cycles begin and they do not have any sanitary pads with which to take of themselves. Instead of calling out NOW for its condemnation of David Letterman for his affairs with a subordinate, feminist supporters jumped on board with it, all the meanwhile taking away the voice of the woman in question, without so much as asking her whether her relationship was consensual or considering that, perhaps, the relationship was a part of her choice. In short, the feminist movement of the current time will support women’s choices, but only if they agree with those choices. Instead of reaching out to men and young boys to mentor them on issues of consent and respect for their partners, and at the same time, listening to the concerns of young men and their experiences regarding sex and masculinity, feminists across America attended Slut Walk last summer and fall, choosing instead to solve the problems with one-way conversations rather than listening to the people they wished to change. After all, if men are the problems in the sexual assault epidemic, and they are, the right thing to do – the effective thing to do is to engage them in conversations, not to yell at them. In the end, Slut Walk accomplished nothing because mainstream feminists were more interested in having a day at the park with the people they agreed with rather than doing the tough thing and engaging the people they disagreed with.

In “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help,” Jackson Katz posits that men concerned about gender equality must live examples of being good allies to encourage their sons to do the same – often, Katz writes, this means supporting women’s causes and not turning a blind eye to Take Back the Night and other events with a focus on eradicating gender violence. What this does, he goes on, is impresses upon boys that gender violence is their concerns, too, and that it also falls upon them to end gender violence. While it is true that men must make good examples for young boys (and girls) regarding the eradication of gender violence and promoting gender equality, by simply attending rallies and not challenging conventional wisdoms of the movement also sends another message – that men can help, and that such help is welcomed, but only if it falls in line with the narrative an perspectives of the mainstream feminist movement, which sometimes can be wrong. It’s no wonder so many men and boys – and so many women interested in feminism – shy away from it. While they want to help, many are threatened by the possibilities of being called sexist, stupid, unaware of their own privilege, a victim of the patriarchy, and too many other names that have been thrown toward dissenting feminists when disagreements happen.

As a result of this, the mainstream feminist movement becomes less effective than it can be because it consists of people who share the same ideas and values about what works and what doesn’t.

Epistemologically, by only welcoming those whose ideas fall in line with their own, mainstream feminists not only denies themselves the ability to grow, but also the experiences and skill sets important to achieve its end states. Moreover, the rejection of new and dissenting ideas also takes away some of its credibility of becoming a welcoming organization. If feminism asks of men to listen to women, then the movement in itself must also listen to men – and women – who come to it with genuine interests and support, but may not share the same ideas

The world isn’t black and white; it does not consist of only good and evil; and, most certainly, it’s not about us vs. them. It consists of various ideas, some good, some bad, and we ought to focus on the ideas that work best, rather than whether someone working alongside us, for the greater good of the world, agrees with us.

In all, the fallout experience between GMP and Hugo is a “fail forward” experience. It can serve as a learning experience. It can allow all feminists to look within themselves and ask not whether others agree with them, but whether the practices and cultures within the movement are best for gender equality. Until it does that, until it chooses to welcome all ideas, and condemn bad ideas regardless of from whom such ideas came, and allows the men and women within the movement to share ideas that might not necessarily reflect the conventional viewpoints and theories of feminism, it will have shortchanged itself, and even more, will have shortchanged the people it wishes to help.


24 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I am glad to see that you have turned away from feminism. But you are only in the early stages of your evolution.

You need to turn away from it resolutely and fully.

For example, I can still hear VERY strong echoes of feminist rhetoric in the way you express yourself.

And. . . the way you cite the collaborationist Jackson Katz with no apparent reservations or criticisms, is a bit . . . disquieting.

It suggests that your deprogramming is far from complete.

By the way, have you read the Agent Orange Files yet?

Also, I would recommend that you get acquainted with the following website:

gynotheory.blogspot.com

Comment by fidelbogen

Thanks for the suggestions. I appreciated it. What I am interested is not to bash one movement or another, but to look at each movement with critical eyes. That is, to say, just because I no longer consider myself feminist does not mean that I consider them evil. Each action ought to be looked at with unbiased examinations.

As such, as the blog is brought back, it’ll be an examination of cultures and groups. Some good, some bad, some feminist, some not. What I don’t want to do, though, is make any one movement out to be the enemy. MRAs have good intentions, and so do feminists. They choose to simply look at the world different.

And now and then, I’ll be writing about food, too. I miss fast food. I miss greasy, awesome American food. So you’ll see that, and you’ll see posts about the war ongoing here in Afghanistan. You’ll see a thing about politics and Michelle Bachmann – and a few more things about Afghanistan. But what you won’t see, though, is the attack of any specific group based on their intentions. As I said, I believe people want to be good. Tomorrow, a post on Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Wikileaks and the far-left’s failures.

Comment by profeministmale

It is your blog, and I am certain you will manage it as you see fit. No doubt, your perspective will evolve with time.

I know that mine has. Why, once upon a time — as late as the year Y2K — I had a “live and let live” or “laissez-faire” attitude toward feminism. But, life being a dynamic process, my stance evolved as I studied and pondered.

Comment by fidelbogen

@profeministmale,

I hope you don’t mind me leaving a comment here – I was directed to you by Fidelbogen, who commented above.

What struck me as I read through your post was … deja vu. I entirely relate to where you are coming from, having been there myself.

That’s not, of course, to suggest that you should now follow the same path and believe the things that I believe. We are all on our own paths. However, it is surprisingly common, in MRA circles, to hear “I used to be a feminist, until …” and a recounting of a story very similar to your own. My own abandonment of feminism was near-identical to what you have described; I found I could no longer tolerate the intolerance of dissent, the groupthink, the apathy towards the other half of the human race. In setting up their own power structures, they commit the same sins that they set out to highlight and critique.

Although I take issue with this exclusive woman-focus, I don’t blame women. They are only human. I just wish feminists would realise that; that while women are FULLY human, they are also ONLY human, and do not hold a monopoly on truth, as we might expect deities to.

Comment by Snark

Hey, Snark, I apologize for the delay in response. Thanks for the contribution. Though I would say that not all feminists are created equal, and some do represent the ideals of gender equality quite well. It’s often that ones who have power within the movement that are the loudest and the ones who do the most damage.

Comment by profeministmale

All right – new rule: if you’re going to come on here and discredit one movement or another, or suggest that it’s some sort of a conspiracy, or that an entire movement is skewed – regardless of the movement, whether it’s the MRA movement, the feminist movement, the Tea Party, OWS, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, or anything else — you don’t belong here. Here, we criticize the actions of a particular group, and then we find answers.

So, if you don’t see your comments on here, it’s because you’ve not offered enough thoughts and intellect to have made it. I’d like to think that I am fair enough about that.

And forgive me for the slow approval process – the Internet is at a crawling speed here.

Comment by profeministmale

I see an immediate difficulty here. You spoke of an “MRA movement”. The problem is, there is no such thing. There only appears to be such a thing, but the underlying reality is more complex.

I, for example, do not call myself an “MRA”. . . although others have done so and will continue to do so.

However, in the spirit of the “editorial mandate”, I am certainly able to criticize the actions of a particular group (e.g. feminism) and then find (or at least propose) answers.

That much said, I must say that I found Snark’s comment most enlightening. Snark, I thank you, sir!

Comment by fidelbogen

Excellently written.

Comment by Tim

something I wrote yesterday, with links to Sweden’s condition, the ideal feminist state in the current world.

http://ireadoddbooks.com/2083-by-anders-behring-breivik-fjordman-part-two/comment-page-1/#comment-3006

“As I said, I believe people want to be good. ”

surely, the women of radfem hub don’t think of doing evil, their intentions are purely good.

Comment by namae nanka

I’ve come to similar conclusions from being profeminist.

I’ve lead a group for male victims of sexual assault at a rape crisis center (RAINN affiliate) for 3 years, the only one like it in Minnesota. And dang is that a lonely place. Again, it seems more important to deny men can be victims than help the women whose husbands are drinking, acting out sexually, won’t communicate, fear sex, isolate socially, are anxious and depressed… by having services for men. There must be dozens of groups for women, and millions in VAWA and public money, but services for men are non-existent. That doesn’t serve women best, but I’m afraid, silenced and anti-women (I guess) for saying that.

Comment by Anonymous

Actually, that’s just absolutely not true. RAINN was created for all victims and survivors of sexual abuse, and most organizations, unless there is a safe-space concern, will not turn away someone based on their gender, so your argument holds no water.

And I am tired of the statistics supplied by government agencies being called a lie. It’s not being supplied by NOW, nor the evil FMF, or anyone who is a feminist. It’s being supported domestically by the FBI and internationally by the State Department, neither of which is considered a special interest or feminist organization.

So, yes, I get that you’re bitter about feminism, but go find another argument to focus on, find something of substance to attack it on, because the gender violence being false card just holds no water.

If my employers, the U.S. Army, is recognizing this, and is working to focus on changing men’s behavioral change, while also acknowledging that men sometimes are victims of sexual violence, then I am not sure why you people still think of it as some sort of feminist conspiracy.

Comment by profeministmale

This is such a typical response. Let’s see if we can communicate because we really aren’t.

Your response is about something else, and I invite some self reflection as to what happened. I’m not a rape denier/MRA/false rape society somebody… Why would you go off on “gender violence being false”? Why would you assume I think anything is a lie? I never mentioned any of that.

I’ll be very simple. I’m passionate about working against sexual violence but I feel marginalized and unwelcome in groups who are addressing because I’m a male. (That’s different that “turned away because of my gender”) So much so, I’ve quit volunteering. Sad. While women complain, where are the men who care about this issue???? (Subtext: Men must just be assholes who don’t care about rape…)

Here’s where I want to ask you, now repeat back what you think I said and what you heard…

Comment by Anonymous

Well, that’s an interesting rule. How can any political movement handle “dissent and intellectual challenges” if it holds, as a first premise, that deep motives may never be exposed, and first premises may never be questioned? Apparently, sexual politics isn’t really political discourse at all — it’s fundamentalist religious faith.

Comment by mediamancer

Because I am interested in solutions. Got any?

Comment by profeministmale

If you would like to learn more about male feminists, I suggest you have a look at the ongoing anger-fest at “The Good Men Project” and in particular the comments about Hugo Schwyzer, a feminist male, women’s studies professor and see what level of loathing he used to generate against men and boys..
He is now receiving some long overdue criticism from feminists themselves on Feminstin dot com. It just demonstrates that once you do not toe the feminist religion line, you are just canon fodder and their long term enemy. Tom (male feminist) Matlack is on the receiving end out that exact same response..

Comment by Whatmenaresayingaboutwomen Jay

“Intellect”. Ouch. Not sure I measure up, but here goes. Short and sweet. My experience with feminism was positive until wayyyy back when, they chose the path of victimization and I became an oppressor. I’ve moved beyond that, having failed to accept the validity of that odorous pile. (We’re all victims.)The biggest two problems I have with feminists in general is their reliance on chivalry, aka “white knights”, and their failure to take responsibility along with new found freedoms. It’s the equivalence of demanding to be Captain of the ship, steering her into an iceberg, then running for the lifeboats and demanding “women and children first!” Regardless of all progress they’ve made, they still insist that men be expendable. Excuse me, but if I must be the one to go down with the ship, I damn well WILL have more than just a say about the course taken.
Regarding your new rule, are you not also silencing voices? In particular those whose intellect you deem below the half-full mark, yet may have valid points but not the vocabulary? My suggestion is to allow all posts except those that resort to name calling and/or contain threats. But, wudda I know, I was just a lowly Marine E4 back before you were even a tadpole.

Comment by tonysprout

I take issue with you attacking the whole movement as a whole. There are a lot of shitbag feminists, to be sure, but don’t discount the whole movement.

It seems like the majority of the analysis of feminism you put forth there fails, and is focused on such smaller pictures that it fails to see the bigger faults of feminism.

As for the White Knight syndrome, I am not quite sure which feminism movement you’re talking about, or even what feminism is, but I’ve not seen that in my experiences.

Do, pray tell, which feminists have failed to take responsibility for which freedom?

I don’t want to seem as though I am buddy-buddy with the mainstream feminist movement, but damn, you make it hard not to defend it when you make outrageous statements like those.

Comment by profeministmale

Hmmmm. It sounds like you have quite a bit of reading and study to do, in order to get current with the literature.

As for “discounting the whole movement”: That is just what I do. And my method is quite simple. I define the term “feminist” to mean exactly the same as “female supremacist”. Call this a linguistic fiat.

There are quite a few who share this policy.

So, if some basically nice person chooses to call him/herself a ‘feminist’, then that person has made a very unfortunate choice of appellatives.

I will not cut that person any slack. And if that person is wise, then he/she will adopt a different label (other than feminist).

To sum up: Feminism is what we say it is.

And that’s all it is.

Comment by Fidelbogen

Well put. I agree.

Comment by Anonymous

@profeministmale —

As a woman and a feminist, I’m somewhat disappointed that you no longer want to call yourself feminist or pro-feminist, but I can sympathize with a lot of what you’re saying here. I am pretty much a MacKinnon/Dworkin-style radical feminist, but even I got called a victim of the patriarchy or whatever recently by a feminist woman because I was critiquing her brand of essentialist feminism that wanted posit women as possessing, I don’t know, some sort of mystical capacities that men don’t have. Yes, this kind of name-calling is reactionary and pointless and derails actual discussion.

Regarding your points about intolerance of dissent in the feminist movement, I agree with your analysis, but I would add though as someone in academia that there is always going to be a difference between academic feminists and feminists in activist circles. Feminists who are philosophers or social scientists are trained to engage in debate and argument, and are subjected to rigorous peer review, and that sort of intense academic training also has the long-term effect of making one much more emotionally stoic and less prone to outbursts, rants, etc. If you were to revisit feminism as an *intellectual* tradition rather than as an activist movement, through a philosophical and empirical lens, I suspect you might find it’s a lot less frustrating and a lot more rewarding (and there is much less of the us vs. them kind of language in academic feminism — it’s really more about criticizing structures than criticizing groups so there’s a more impersonal feel to it). Certainly that has always been my own approach — I tend to avoid activist culture like the plague because it’s usually reactionary and prone to emotionalism.

This said, I think dissent is to be expected (not just in the feminist movement, but pretty much everywhere) and everybody needs to train themselves to not react emotionally to dissent. I was strongly critical of SlutWalk, especially when it came to India (I am South Asian), and I often critique what I perceive are choices made by women that only serve to reinforce male privilege and female subordination. I don’t expect everybody to agree with my perspective, not even within the feminist movement, but nor am I going to stop expressing myself as honestly as I can. I think the best anybody can ever do is offer their perspective in a spirit of open-mindedness, generosity and humility, without fear or anxiety or insecurity, yet stay open-hearted and willing to learn something even from an avowed enemy.

Best wishes.

Comment by ned

Thanks – the best analysis of what I am going through yet, I appreciate it.

I want to remind everyone else that this space is not one to be anti-feminist, either. It’s a space to maturely and intellectually discuss the wrongs of the feminist movement, as well as other movements. It’s not an us-versus-them thing, and it’s not going to be opened to bitter assholes who are only here to bitch about feminism, as many have done in the past couple of days.

I also apologize for the delay in approval. I finally was able to get Internet fast enough to get this done.

Comment by profeministmale

I’m currently a grad student in developmental psychology – feminism is a passion but it’s not something I’m academically trained in. However, I do follow what’s going on in academic feminism, and I am thinking of devoting some time to doing a sort of retrospective of the feminism movement from a number of angles — historical, sociological, philosophical, empirical, etc. I’d like to see how much of the feminist analysis has stood the test of time, what can be thrown out, what needs to be revised/nuanced, etc., and what could be done to strengthen the analysis. I personally am pretty fond of MacKinnon’s and Dworkin’s work, but I’m not uncritical of either of them (Dworkin in particular was more of an activist than an academic so her scholarship can be inadequate and I often take issues with her tone/language).

As a Pakistani/South Asian, I am also following feminist movements in Third World countries which are much more nascent and dealing with a much more severe set of problems than Western feminism.

One of my working beliefs at the moment is that for any progressive political thought-system to actually be effective and sustainable (whether feminism or antiracism or whatever), it needs to be plugged into a wider ethical/existential framework. What I find in all these political movements is that a particular ideological narrative becomes the be-all and the end-all for people, and they get deeply sucked into that narrative and are unable to get detached and take a step back and look at the bigger picture. So many of our issues as men or women or as white or nonwhite people boil down to existential issues and questions anyway.

Not only that, without some sort of wider ethical/existential framework, making morally normative evaluations is almost impossible. Everything becomes about identity politics, turf wars, etc., and this has the effect of dragging down the quality of discussion.

Anyhow: the point of all my rambling was really to give you some of my background, and, if you are interested, I’d like to offer to have an e-mail conversation in a spirit of open-heartedness and dialogue. I’m genuinely interested in understanding what the wrongs of the feminist movement are because I feel that self-critique will only make the feminist movement stronger. I also feel that when you subtract the emotionalism out of the equation, the men’s movements and the feminist movement actually does have a number of common interests (though they have different lines of analysis and propose different solutions), and have been speaking to masculinity theorists about possible bridge-building efforts (though it’s admittedly difficult at times because the assumptions of the two movements are so drastically different).

Moreover, I am personally struggling with the question of how to collaborate with people with whom I totally disagree without compromising my ideals (e.g. pro-sex-industry feminists, pro-life feminists, etc.). It seems that people on all sides of a controversial issue can often take positions and refuse to budge from them and yet claim that they are doing so in good faith and sincerity. This seems to be a general problem of the human condition, not the feminist movement in particular — how do we live with and reconcile all these contradictory positions?

So if you feel it’s not too emotionally exhausting for you to talk about this topic, feel free to drop me an e-mail (you’ve got my e-mail address). I particularly enjoy testing my assumptions/thinking against male perspectives because in my own feminist framework my goal is not to criticize particular groups (men, women, etc.) per se, but to criticize cultural structures, and it can be useful to talk to men to make sure that’s what I’m doing. Thanks!

Comment by ned

“Until it does that, until it chooses to welcome all ideas, and condemn bad ideas regardless of from whom such ideas came, and allows the men and women within the movement to share ideas that might not necessarily reflect the conventional viewpoints and theories of feminism, it will have shortchanged itself, and even more, will have shortchanged the people it wishes to help.”

And I’m totally agreed on this. I believe that ideas have consequences, that true ideas have the ability to gather momentum and force in a way that false ideas simply don’t, and even though I find the core analysis of sexual politics and the anti-essentialism of radical feminism pretty compelling overall, I’m more than willing to have a wider intellectual framework than just radical feminism.

Comment by ned

Ned, last I checked, radical feminism was very much indeed essentialist.

So I am a bit confused here.

Comment by Fidelbogen




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