Skip to main content

Can A Man Be A Feminist?

Recently, I commented on one of my favorite blogs, The Feminist Current, which is a pithy and sharp and feminist critique of feminism. Meghan Murphy the main writer is radical while remaining in touch with reality. For example, she once blogged about a club she sometimes visits with her friends and the pictures of objectification that resulted, which everyone seemed to put on their facebook which reifies male-gazing, etc. To the contrary, she admits that sometimes she goes out and has fun, dresses they way she wants, but there's a line crossed when these nights are immortalized through pictures and the internet and substantiates the status quo. I also really liked when she said just because you're a feminist and like Game of Thrones doesn't make Game of Thrones feminist. 

I mistakenly called myself a feminist on Feminism, Writing, and Doing Womanhood Wrong. I say it was a mistake, because really, we're not anything- Buddhist, Feminist, Anarchist. And as soon as we say something like that, we make a binary, and you set yourself up to be logically dismantled. 

Has anyone ever dismantled you? It hurts!

I wrote too conversationally on her post. I was feeling a very light hearted and very friendly, and I over shared and got was coming- someone wanted to tear me down. A commenter said this:

"Men shouldn’t call themselves feminists. In fact, when you really think about it, they can’t be. Feminism doesn’t fundamentally change a man’s mindset and worldview as it does a woman’s because he simply cannot grasp what it is like to be a woman. If you cannot think about and analyse the world through a female-centered perspective, not only are you unable to fully understand and support the views, experiences, and goals of women, you also cannot possibly have anything of value to contribute to feminism. And that’s why men who invade feminist spaces constantly speak over and silence women, and insult those women they disagree with. Just wait until you see a man trying to call out a woman on her “internalised misogyny,” real or imagined, so that he can be lauded as a ~brave and enlightened~ hero of feminism. I’ve heard it said that men’s reactions to being told that they can’t be feminists justifies their exclusion from both the label and the movement."

Meghan Murphy went on to say this:

"They don’t call themselves feminists. I call them feminist when I talk about them. If my male friends called themselves feminists I would think they were douchebags and definitely not feminist. Actual feminist men don’t go around identifying as feminist — it’s about showing not telling, as far as I’m concerned — though I’m ok with them calling themselves ‘allies’ or whatever…"


What's great about being eviscerated in a comment section is you vow to never be nasty again. I've been critical of a lot on this blog and other blogs, but I've only had my feelings hurt a couple of times. However, on this gutting, my feelings are more than hurt, I feel undermined, dis empowered, othered, and born to lose. Although I was not called directly an invader, a douchebag, and unable to contribute ANYTHING to feminism, it's implied directly in a passive aggressive sting. What's wrong with passive aggressive implications is that they lack the Adrenalin/endorphin rush, which helps you stand under the onslaught of an aggressive-aggressive attack, but includes all of the pain. 

And I disagree. I'm not feminist to  "analyse the world through a female-centered perspective" but to challenge patriarchy. Can I challenge patriarchy? Everyday. Do I need to? YES! Why is it important to me as a man? Because as bodhisattvas we vow to end greed, hate, and delusion. At the top of this is patriarchy, then capitalism, then ecocide. I don't need to be lauded as a brave and enlightened hero among feminists. I need freedom from the sensation of being alive and having my skin crawl in our samsaric world of suffering. This transformation takes place through the inside and the outside (which is really the inside).

I'm reminded of Derrick Jensen's t-shirt that features a bomb, a wrench, a spray paint can- it represents all tactics, and how a movement can be dismantled from the inside when different factions attack each other instead of a common target. I feel like that's been demonstrated on a micro level here- dismissing would be allies with insults. Maybe a gentle reeducation was called for, but insults? There's nothing to discuss when insults are flying. 


And on this question, can men be feminist, a quick search shows it's all about a community's agreement. In my circle, if you want to challenge patriarchy, you can be a feminist. I won't call myself a feminist in other circles where they have a different definition of what being a feminist means. But you can call yourself the Mickey Mouse Club if you want, and as long as you challenge patriarchy, I'm in solidarity with you. 


Comments

  1. The feminist blogosphere is really challenging for anyone who doesn't toe a certain line. I've been skewered in a similar way that you were. And nothing you say once the dogpile comes will help. The lack of compassion on some of these websites is painful. I say that because it's not just feminist-minded men getting such treatment. Women of color regularly run into walls with majority white women commenters. Poor women run into walls with financially privileged women. And the list goes on. What I have noticed is that the well known feminist blogs tend to be dominated by white, liberal, able bodied, college educated women in their 20s or early 30s. They control the "appropriate" language and tone, of which violations frequently solicit sanction, backlash, and the rest. When it comes to male commenters, we tend to get lumped all together. Except those who figure out the dominant voice and go along.

    The thing is as practitioners, we can let go of a need for the identity and labels. I don't really call myself a feminist unless a situation seems to be calling me to do so in some way. At the same time, though, it would be nice to be able to have conversations about issues without all the blasting, controlling, and name-calling. Which I think is hard to find with the major feminist blogs. I quit commenting awhile back because it took too much energy. I wouldn't label myself anything. I would do my best to avoid words or phrases that seemed to upset folks. And it just didn't matter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes. Lesson learned, titles relinquished. Just This Person of No Rank!

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How To Become A Zen Monk (or die trying)

"Now, if you have decided to become a monk because you think that life in this world is too hard and bitter for you and you would prefer to rather live off other people's donations while drinking your tea - if you want to become a monk just to make a living, then the following is not for you." -Kosho Uchiyama
So you want to be a Zen monk or priest? Unsui, which means clouds and water? Good on ya. Me too. 
Having googled that very aspiration for the first time in 2003, I was convinced it was impossible. I'll admit I am as thick headed as they come. I was also resistant to meet some figure in a robe. I heard my father's voice when I begged him to get my fortune read in Jackson Square, New Orleans, "I'm not paying some fat asshole in a bathrobe to tell you lies." Instead, for the first four years of my Zen practice, I committed as little as possible to my local sangha, left when they started chanting, and never talked to the teacher. I was so unapproacha…

Boredom and Buddhism

To say I feel bored feels disrespectful. How could that be? I have a three month old daughter, I'm training for a demanding job in the temple, I'm a wilderness medic responding to incidents every 4 days or so, and I'm sewing my priest robes for ordination. And I have this sense of disinterest.

I have a few theories as to why I feel bored. One could be the natural come down from having the baby and becoming stable in our schedule. Another come down plays out in the adrenaline crash after responding to a medical emergency or the general up keep work I do at the temple when compared to fixing something crucial to operations. When I hear there's a fire in the area I'm pretty excited to be mobilized for stay and defend duty. I feel pretty guilty about that, too.

So I read Beyond Boredom and Depression by Ajahn Jagaro and I was reminded to be careful about looking outward by this passage:

So what is boredom? It is a subjective experience that occurs when the mind is not i…

Goodbye Green Gulch Sama! Hello Tassajara!

About two years ago I left Mid City Zen in New Orleans. I feared I was leaving something, and now I'm about to leave Green Gulch and that same fear has arisen. I imagined there was wealth, a sort of freedom, and a lot to "renounce."  I had a car (a fast one!), a playstation 3, many books, many articles of clothing, and as I look around our little cabin, that same perception has arisen- I have too much stuff! And I like it!

My book collection that I sold or gave away in New Orleans has somehow manifested out here. And I have quite the collection of farm hats and farm boots. Rubber ones, Redwings, Ropers, Bogs to the ankle, Bogs to the knee, a navy seal Solomon for the wet spring weather. Most of them are fit to throw away, glued back together and stitched with fishing line, and just so smelly, so smelly my wife won't let me keep them in the cabin, so I hide them all around Green Gulch.

So I started packing, and while that fear of renunciation has arisen, it's not …