America’s Next Bill Clinton!

I just occured to me that the blog is being talked about over at another feminist board related to I Blame the Patriarchy – and negatively. I think it’s a wonderful things because while positive things makes us believe in what we say even stronger, the negative things force us to examine our beliefs.

Rather than addressing all the issues at the moment, I wanted to take time out to simply say that, perhaps, I was wrong all along and that i am sorry. Perhaps all the patients and teachings and devotion my WMST professors showed to me have gone to waste – and that rather than truly understanding the issues and seeing things from a true feminist view, I am still looking at the world from a very patriarchal view full of male privilege and the lack of true understanding.

I could (but wouldn’t) say that this is MY brand of feminism and no one has the right to critique it. But that would be the wrong thing to do. My intent is to become a better person in life, not to always be “right.”

Perhaps I ought to take more time to listen to the veterans of feminism – and those who come before me. Perhaps starting fights in bars for feminism isn’t such a great thing. Perhaps I only see it as effective because it’s a showing of my musculinity.

In any regard, I will be examining my personal life in the next weeks (and beyond), and perhaps with the patience and teachings of those who have truly understood why we fight, I can become a better person, and thereby affecting those around me to move to action as well.

Know that my intentions are good. It’s just that sometimes, caught in the passions of what I feel is right, I wear my heart on my sleeve and do not take enough time to examine the complexities of what it truly means to be a feminist.

I hope to learn, hear and be critiqued by you.

Feminism is my religion

In my circle of intellectual friends, be it at a cocktail lounge or progressive coffee shop, the question of, “What is your religion?” always seems to come up – and rightfully so. Understanding a person’s religion allows us a glimpse into their personal lives and values and convictions.

Often times, my answer – although I am a Unitarian Universalist, is that “love is my religion” – in short, that I believe in fairness, justice and equality. It’s a short way to explain what is sure to be quite a complex (yet simple) religion.

Lately, though, I’ve also told people I am a feminist because feminism also incorporates that values of UU-ism into its beliefs. I do wonder, though, which came first – am I a UU because I am a feminist, or am I a feminist because I am a UU?

This much I know: feminism, for me, is a religion. It is my religion not only because my political ideals are shaped by it, but also because I am required to, as a matter of the personal vs. the political, “act like a feminist,” and behave in ways that are feministic, and not a misrepresentation of feminism.

Just as Christians are judged based on the behaviors of a few bad apples, feminists can also be judged in such a way. Because of that, I feel the obligation to, at all times, act as “holy” as possible in a feministic ways. Although, because our beliefs are feminists might vary, it’s also a struggle to correctly represent all of feminism so that people do not misunderstand us, or fail to understand that ours is a just and right cause.

At least Christians have the Bible – and a code of ethics by which they must follow. What do we  have as feminists? Nothing. It seems aside from a big circle of support for one another, we rarely have anything to turn to as we navigate and wade through the complexities of what it means to be a feminist in our personal lives.

Is it wrong to buy clothes without knowing if they were made in a sweatshop? What about ownership of an animal (as been discussed over at If and when we choose to get married, is it okay to have a traditional wedding, and let ourselves dream away of the perfect day?

As for gender roles, how much do we reject, and how much do we embrace, as to still be a part of a normal society? Is violence acceptable as a means to further our cause? Can “rough sex” be feministic? What if we enjoy music with misogynistic lyrics? As feminists, are we supposed to be vegetarians? What of preaching as feminists? Do we go door to door, or do we just live our lives and set good examples? Can a feminist, much like a Christian, be feminist in name only? How do we find out the answers to all these questions? To whom do we turn for answers? How do we know it’s the right answer? How can we deal live normal lives without compromising our values as feminists? How do we go on being feminists without, in the eyes of many, being annoying?

Sometimes, I wish there were a feminist Bible. Our lives would be much easier. But by no means am I bitching – nor do I have the right to. While it’s a challenge to have to question each and everyone of my own actions, I know that I am doing so from a privileged standpoint. There are millions of women who are living through the plight of being oppressed everyday.

But this, I believe, can start a good discussion on how we ought to act as feminists. The personal, after all, is political.

What’s in a name? Pro-feminist males or simply feminists?

So, I wanted to write about the misogynistic and patriarchal idea of how some claim two people of different genders can’t “just be friends,” because there’d be too much sexual attractions, but instead, I’ll write about something a poster asked of me last night: why I call myself a pro-feminist male rather than a feminist.

The value of this post is not about activism, but rather, feminist theory. I’d like to know what you think on it.

 So, the following are the reasons I call myself a pro-feminist male.

1) The feminist movement has been and was created for and by women.  For me to call something that was created for the purpose of women’s rights my own is the very definition of patriarchy – and I have a big problem with that. While I can be an ally and a suppoter, I’ll never, ever truly know what the female plight is like. It seems if I were to call myself a feminist, it would trivialize the importance of women’s rights.

 2) To own and have possesion to something is to have power. Thus, the feminist movement empowers women. As pro-feminist males, we’re always encouraged to give up our male privileges (at least birth-right/unjustified privileges anyhow). By taking the feminist movement as our own, all we’re doing is holding on to those privileges, and gaining from them.

3) In the end, all of these are merely semantics, but I believe we must highlight the differences in privilege that we have. Even within the feminist movement, there are differences in class and privilege – often based on race, gender, age and areas of focus. While I might just be able to say that I am simply a feminist, I am not. I get more privilege as a male, no matter  how we slice it. To merely call myself a feminist would mean to reject that fact that I am still privileged for being male.

 Often times, those who are privileged don’t feel the need to recognize or acknowlege such differences, because they aren’t being treated any differently or aren’t losing perks because of the differences. But for me, as a pro-feminist male, to think that we are all one, and are treated the same, is to be irresponsible.

When I look in the mirror, I may see “just a person,” but women are still looked at as women, and with that, comes limitations cast on by society (whether we like it or not and how much we hate it, we are gendered by society because we’ve been trained to be that way.) This is merely a way to highlight and remember that, so we don’t lose sight of what feminism truly is about.


Feminism and love.
August 7, 2007, 12:51 pm
Filed under: family, Feminism, gender roles, love, personal is political, social constructs

At an attempt to start off this blog on a good note, I am using old blog items from other blogs I used to write on. As it progresses, I’ll be coming up with new ones in the next few days.
You can also find me on facebook, with notes featured as blogs. I am listed under Marc L at Old Dominion University.
So, feminism and love: it’s been the topic in my head the last week or so, because of what we’re reading in class and all. I want to get your opinion on whether we can love and still be feminists.

I used to think it was impossible, because love, for what it’s worth, upholds patriarchy. It leads to “family,” and “wife” and “husband,” all of which are problematic in its own sphere, because of society’s definition.

In fact, since my transformation/mutation/metamorphis into a feminist, I’ve rejected relationships and love, seeing it as weak and patriarchal.

But, in reading “To Be Real,” I realized that, indeed, love and feminism can exist.

While society’s view of love, it seems, is based on inequality, feminists can indeed take such institution (love) and transform it into something powerful.

Love, for the feminist, isn’t about being weak or feeling “out-of-control” love, but it’s a decision. It’s a decision based on us having a choice — in that we love someone for choosing us, and we choose someone for loving us. That decision to love is not because we are forced to, as is often the case with the general public, but because we choose to, and we feel like it.

For the feminist, love is about shared values and ideals, beliefs and dreams, knowing damned well that we are completely fine alone; but that we’re better together.

For the feminist, love isn’t about someone completing us, making two halves into a whole — but rather, two wholes joining.

In fact, for the feminist, love isn’t about someone making us better people, as the cliche goes (idealistically, you should already be good enough when entering a relationship), but rather — joining forces to make something, someone, some agency, some group, some institution better.

Maybe I am all wrong. Maybe we feminists should just settle for casual sex, because anything else that can lead to a family might be patriarchal, but then again, maybe I am onto something here.

After all, we feminists don’t need a trophy partner or a suppoter, what we need are allies.

As my favorite poem goes, and I think it applies here, “I don’t want to build my life around you, but I want to include you in the building of my life.” That, for me, is how love ought to be for feminists.