America’s Next Bill Clinton!


A new take on violence …

It certainly took a lot of time to deconstruct, but I think I can safely say that I’ve come up with the conclusion that violence – no matter how justified, is not a trait belonging to the feminist movement – and that just as we speak out against domestic violence, we must also speak out against all other forms of violence.

I write this because my journey to feminism hasn’t been an easy one – it’s been filled with trials and tribulations – particularly dealing with my tendencies to display violent toward those who I deem misogynistic.

But said thoughts and actions, no matter how well intentioned, still reeked of the patriarchy. As feminism asks males to give up our privileges, we too, must also give up the things that we hold closest to. For me, it was the ability to prove to others that I can overpower them, and can render them powerless.

This idea of masculinity, then, is also a social construct. Just as we are socially constructed to believe men and women ought to behave a certain way, we are also socially constructed to believe that violence is a part of masculinity – that somehow, if one walks away from a fight, or shows a desire for peace, that one isn’t “man” enough.

I was ready to give up other privileges, but somehow, I was still reluctant to give up violence. Somehow, for me, to give up violence meant to give up a part of me – that to give up violence, I would no longer be a man, but rather, an “other.”

To truly give up privileges means we should give up the privileges we are uncomfortable with giving up – not just those we feel like giving up. For me, violence was one of those privileges I did not want to give up. I’ve come to realize that feminism is not meant to make us comfortable. It’s meant to challenge us – the way we think and the way we behave.

Consider this: in speaking out against misogynistic actions and the objectifications of women, we are speaking out against social constructs of what it means to be men. To be consistent with ourselves, we must, too, give up violence.

We have to acknowlege that we are affected by the Hollywood version of what it means to be a human being – what it means to be tough – and what it means to be a man. For most, this means embracing violence.

Just as social constructs have affected women negatively in others ways, they also affect women through violence. By my mere actions of embracing violence, I am sending the message to others that, indeed, violence is acceptable. While all of the violent actions I embraced were gears toward those I believed deserved such violence, through their anti-feminist actions, what I did not realize is those violent actions in themselves, were anti-feminists.

After all, the violent actions I take will only uphold violence – by embracing violence, I only reinforced the idea of what it meant to be a man – and while I won’t be affected, such actions have a domino effect, as it further fuels the violence cycles, and the recipients of said violent actions are women and teenagers, whose minds are still impressionable, and thus the cycle of violence continues.

Being a feminist does not mean we get to pick which forms of violence to reject. The truth is all violence is bad – and by picking and choosing, not only are we being incosistent with our feminist beliefs, it also means we are upholding the very things we are fighting against.

For those who have been so patient with me in my walk closer toward feminism, thank you.



A pro-feminist male in love (with a feminist!)

I am very sorry for a most cheesy post! 

So, I think I’ve met the woman I would like – the person who is going to be the Hillary Clinton to my Bill Clinton. Some of you  have heard about her before – but I’d like to say this one more time – she is amazing. In the words of my favorite poet, “I don’t know if love conquers all, but I know it’s conquering me at an alarming rate.”

We met at a feminist conference; she interned this summer for a women’s rights organization; she’s spent time overseas to help poor people; she is not religious; she is active in progressive politics both on and off campus; she has a beautiful mind; and her greatest ambition is to one day win the Nobel Peace Prize. What more can a person ask for in a mate, right?

To be sure, we are not a couple – and I like it that way. But I feel this affinity and longing for her. Yet, the funny thing is that I am very much interested in women, in general, and I do go out with a lot of women – most of whom are feminists.

Some people have told me that doing so is inconsistent with my values, because I am “playing the field.” They’ve said that if I truly do feel good-and-love for her, that I should just try to be with her, and not go out to dinners and dates with any other women.

Here, the word “date” becomes one that needs to be defined: is going to dinner with a woman considered a date? Is it a date if you two are the only ones at the table at dinner and drinks? I certainly don’t think so, but others seem to. The thing is I am interested in the way women think – their minds, their thoughts, their experiences and the way they see things. That’s why I go out with women to dinners and cocktail bars. I like finding out about them. I expect nothing in return, and mean nothing by going out to dinner with them. Yet, some people don’t seem to understand that.

On another different note, I’ve been on two dates and a friendly dinner this week, and all of them were feminists. It’s funny because the two dates and the dinner friend broke gender roles, and paid for my dinner and drinks. I am a feminist,  but somehow, I felt uncomfortable with it – as if I owe them something for paying for my dinner and drinks. I don’t know how to take it when a woman pays for my dinner. The feminist in me tells me that it’s good for reversal of gender roles. The person in me tells me that I don’t want to burden them.

[one more note on the feminist I am interested in] She’s not ready for a relationship, and I understand that. And, in fact, I do appreciate her just as her – a person. I appreciate that she is in my life. If, in the end, nothing happens, she’d still be a great person for whom I am thankful to be in my life. I’d like to love her as America’s Next Hillary Clinton, but I already feel the world for her as just a person. I don’t need romance to appreciate her for who she is.

Thoughts?

 Also, I am driving up to DC for her birthday, which means I need to take a day off from work and drive up there at night. This song below popped into my mind. It’s called I-95, by Fountains of Wayne.

They sell posters of girls washing cars
And unicorns and stars
And Guns N’ Roses album covers
They’ve got most of the Barney DVDs
Coffe mugs and tees
That say Virginia is For Lovers
But it’s not
Round here it’s just for truckers who forgot
To fill up on gasoline
Back up near Aberdeen

It’s a (four) hour drive
From me to you
(North) on I-95
And I’ll do it til the day that I die
If I need to
Just to see you
Just to see you

Hip-hop stations are fading in and out
All I’m receiving now
Is a kick drum mixed with static
Constellations are blinking in the sky
The road is open wide
And it feels so cinematic
‘Til a van
Driven by an elder gentleman
Cuts right in front of me
From then on that’s all I see

It’s a (four) hour drive
From me to you
(North) on I-95
And I’ll do it til the day that I die
If I need to
Just to see you
Just to see you



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.
Thoughts?

Marc



“Unhooked: How women pursue love and crap …”

Has anyone read a book called “Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose At Both”? I heard about this book from a feminist I’d been working with on some student activism issues, and also heard a few of my female friends mention it.

By the time I finish any book, I can always tell if I hated it liked it, but I don’t really know with this book.

It brings up a good point and takes a stand against sex-positive feminism in taking the position that sexual politics and the power thereof do not translate into true political power in feminism. In fact, it might add to the plight of women. Just from that chapter alone, one could write a whole damned essay on feminist theories and personal responsibility.

But at the same time, it also covers the lives of college students and the “hook-up” culture, featuring the lives of many young women who, caught up in the casual sex culture, were unable to have healthy, loving relationships. Its attribution is, as if, somehow casual sex leads to an inability to love.

Furthermore, it treats heartbreaks, broken relationships, unrequited love (or as I like to call it, unrequited interest, as “love” is built in a relationship, and not just through mere association with someone) as if they are cataclysmic events that are harmful to young women and men. They are not. They are pretty healthy. They are a part of being an adult and social interaction. I’ve bad my share of bad (as well as good) relationships, unrequited interests, and all those things covered in the book, and it’s only made me a better person. So, I am failing to understand the author’s point.

What I find problematic is that the author presupposes that, somehow, we can’t have both. She supposes that, somehow, without love, that college students will grow old to be like that lady in “Great Expectations,” sitting at home wth a bunch of cats.

What if, it’s just that college students – and especially ambitious ones, are being promicuous because they’ve not yet (since their standards and dreams are so high) found the person who is fitting enough to love? Does this mean, then, that they ought to throw away the condoms, stay away from the bars, and just be old and boring?

It also talks about the academic challenges of college and how, because careers and academics are considered more important than love, many women are choosing the formers over the latter, and instead, choosing to “hook-up.” I get a sense, and perhaps I am being defensive here, that the author is advocating love and marriage over academic and career achievements. This, for me, opens a whole other dialogue about that Betty Friedan brought up in the “Feminine Mystique,” which, ironically, was mentioned in the book.

The book also attributes the casual sex culture with the Vagina Monologues and my favorite play, “Because He Liked to look at it.” Its message was, essentially, raising awareness about female sexuality has somehow been responsible for the sexual behavior of women that ended up hurting them. I am not a big fan of using the play as political activism, but I don’t like the idea of bashing it.

My biggest issue with the book is, like many other studies of sexuality, it only addresses relationships in a heterosexual sense. There are many of my friends who go through the same “hook-up” culture as homosexuals, both males and females.

I don’t know …the majority of the book reads like a bad episode of Real Life or Queer as Folk (straight style), but it also brings up very interesting feminist perspectives, weaving together the various movements and waves. If nothing else, it’s making me think. In all, it’s a good book. There are some quite touching parts to the book, while other parts just makes me want to throw the book out the window. It’s sort of like a roommate – sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it.

Bottom line I drew from this book: everything in moderation in terms of both casual sex and falling in love. I don’t think the author said this, but it’s what I drew from it. There’s Marc’s creative nature at work for you.

I don’t know what to make of this book …but, if you feel like discussing it, the copy I currently have is yours. Drop by the house any time and pick it up.



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.