30 May 2009

Can men be feminists?


William Godwin, John Stewart Mill, John Lennon, the list of male feminists is endless(ish), but can men ever really be feministing when they lack that all powerful 'fe' suffix?
Posie Rider says "no". Men jumping on the band wagon of female endeavours has been going on for years. They have taken over cooking (Jamie stole the limelight from our Dehlia); clothes (Matthew Williamson); and makeup (transvestites and media types). And now Feminism too?
Well I say "no", you bastards. My ex said he was a feminist but he wasn't; he was a fucking liar! J. S. Mill travelled round the east end of London distributing 'contraception literature' to prostitutes because he believed in the sovereignty of free speech: he was doing it in the name of liberalism, not feminism.
Feminists have argued that liberalism even hinders the agenda. Although she is my idol, I had to take on board Dr Kapur's* comments about Catherine MacKinnon at a recent feminist networking lunch. Kapur argues that MacKinnon's discourse of liberalism (particularly neo-liberalism, which sporned the deathchild post-feminism and it's evil twin 'men can join in too') only works to 'victimize' women. Discussions of female rights have spiralled out of control, as Western values dictate the agenda and acquire the despotic qualities of patriarchy. Feminists like myself aspire to label the conditions of alternate cultures as good/bad; just/unjust, without having any concept of the complexities at hand. For instance, I only found out the other day that Egypt was in Africa. How could I have known that when I live on the other side of the world?
I can only conclude that if feminists must be cautious when conversing with our sisters from abroad, how are men expected to understand the problems of women? They 'Other' us because they must.
I DO like Martini Rosso though.
* Please see Kapur's wonderful book Erotic Justice

3 comments:

  1. What about the androgyny of gender in post modern society?

    Hasn't sex become more of a form of identity rather than biology? So if a person wants to be a lady without actually being a lady then isn't that his choice?

    Obviously a lack of biology does sort of stop you being a lady, but women do not go around with their vaginas on show.

    So really, to be a feminist isn't about whether you're a man or a woman, but another form of expression to do with the way you identify yourself within our complex contemporary society? Maybe?

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  2. um yes perhaps, although not so helpful when it comes to pay discrepancies, or when a chauvinist chancer tries it on with you on the bus (as happened to me yesterday, to my horror. The drunk swine, after assaulting me in spirit with his language then fell headlong onto the seat next to me, coughed up his last Marly, and fell asleep with his legs in the aisle. And this wasn't the first time such a thing has happened let me tell you.)

    I digress. Point was, though I may willingly forsake the shackles of femininity (eg with contraceptive implant, now a little infected opps) society will not let me do the same, not with a body and face like mine at least (I am very thin and uncommenly attractive, sadly). Perhaps it is easier for plainer girls, lucky bitches. Alas not for Posie!

    That's not to say I have a problem with transfolk! You gals/guys/etc rock! Keep up the good work!

    And actually, Matthew, sometimes I DO go around with my vagina on show. Patriach.

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