This is our truth, tell us yours
Once I spent a weekend in the lake district with a bunch of swingers who had rented a cottage. It was pretty much the final nail in the coffin of me deciding I really didn’t like most swingers. Great as group sex is there is nothing that will make up for being forced to watch Take me out by someone who discusses her bodily functions loudly and monotonously. One evening we made a communal meal, or rather two of the men took it on themselves to cook. I wandered over to offer to help, and watched bemused as someone attempted to cook rice after first soaking it, then performing complex alchemy with two pans. On being questioned he explained that this was how you cooked rice, because starch. I knew there was little point in explaining that in a number of years of living in China I had never seen such a cock up of cooking rice, and instead went to see if one or two fit young hunks were going to come round later to fuck me senseless.
People declaring themselves experts is not gender specific, however in our society, where patriarchal norms are taught from birth and men simply do not hear women most of the time it is almost impossible to avoid the experience of a man speaking over or for women. It happened just this afternoon when some genius decided the thing sex workers needed was to organise collectively, perhaps form groups that campaigned for changes in the law. Thanks dude, I mean us women would never have thought of that without you.
Even when women do speak men insist they are taking up more of the conversation that they are. Research has shown that if a woman speaks for more than a quarter of the time in a group, men will afterwards say she dominated the conversation. Then there is the urban myth women talk more than men. This is just the fairly non threatening space of group conversations, where women are less likely to speak then men. Life isnt lived in nice safe conferences or around the water cooler though, As Carter wrote recently the experience of being a woman includes the knowledge that any man could at any moment be abusive, that there is no magic way of knowing if the nice guy asking for a date or offering to buy you a drink will later turn out to be an Assange or Schwytzer. Any man could be a rapist is not the same as all men are rapists, no matter what the #notallmen crowd say, its just a fact that women live with, and which influences everything from who we sit next to on the tube to which clients we see as sex workers.
So a pretty uncontroversial description of living under patriarchy in Twenty First Century Britain, and if you find it controversial you may be reading the wrong blog. It is also the reason a man cannot be a feminist, oh they can call themselves one, plenty do. However if you understand a feminist analysis of the power structures of modern capitalism, and more so if you agree with it as an analysis, then you would know as a man you must not call yourself a feminist. In a world where male voices dominate, where all men could be the man who rapes you, where our structures and bureaucracies are organised in order to protect and uphold male power an privilege male feminist voices would simply replicate the existing order. Any men in the feminist movement calling themselves feminists would inevitably make the movement center around male voices and male concerns.Under capitalist patriarchy there could be no other outcome, since from birth cis men are taught that their voice is central and their privilege the axis around which all must revolve.
So any man who calls himself a feminist either doesn’t understand a feminist praxis or does and sees this as a way to achieve his goals, usually sex, fame and money. In either case he cannot be a feminist. So when I write a man cannot be a feminist I am not saying so as a rule to ban them I am saying in the terms of he does not have the qualities inherent to being a feminist. Chinese is actually far better here as there are three words for can, only one of which implies permission,
This rant was prompted by what seems to be Hgo mark 2, another man who it turns out is abusive who was describing himself as a feminist, as I have already explained, the minute he claimed that identity any respect or authority he had to talk about feminist issues was lost. No platform for men who call themselves male feminists would be a very good start to protect women from these men. I have never heard of Charles Clymer. and have little interest in knowing more about him. I already know that any man who calls himself a feminist is more likely to be a danger to women, to speak over them, to ignore their concerns and to want a feminist movement that puts men at its heart.
* rice- double quantity of boiling water to rice, bring to boil, stir once, cover, cook til water is absorbed, rinse with boiling water to remove starch