Sometimes, it's just a cigar

This is our truth, tell us yours

To the male feminist in the Fedora

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

Advertisements

18 comments on “To the male feminist in the Fedora

  1. Wickedjulia
    May 31, 2014

    I am not sure I agree with you but, you do make a very valid point.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      May 31, 2014

      would love to hear your thoughts

      Like

  2. I’m not sure I agree that men cannot be feminists, but I will strongly agree with you that in this current society, despite the male “nod” to equality or even feminism, the act of the male talking over the female, long winded or succinct, is common practice and largely unnoticed by most males and- yes- females, too.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      June 1, 2014

      this is why I think they cannot be one tho, if they understand this, why would a man want to call himself a feminist since that speaking over of for would happen?

      Like

  3. HeatherN
    May 31, 2014

    I disagree it’s inevitable that men who identify as feminists will attempt to make the movement centre around male voices. Men can be feminists; I know men who are feminists. I think whenever we come across men who are more invested in their identity as feminists rather than in actually working to achieve equality, then that’s an indicator that man isn’t really a feminist.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      June 1, 2014

      If the men you know are feminists why do they want to identify as a memver of a movement that should be centered on women not them?

      Like

      • HeatherN
        June 1, 2014

        Why do they want to identify as part of a movement whose goals and principles they agree with, despite the fact that those goals don’t primarily benefit or centre around them? Because not everyone is fuelled only by self interest.

        There is a difference between a man identifying as a feminist, and a man attempting to centre the feminist movement on the fact that he identifies as such.

        Like

  4. John
    May 31, 2014

    I was recently told that I was a feminist; I do not see myself as one. I am pro-equality and pro-human rights, I see myself as humanist not a feminist.

    I work in a male-dominated environment, am white, married, middle class and grammar-school educated. I have a civic role in Society and am a manager at work; there is little for me to say on the debate that is relevant.

    But I find modern feminism to be too much populated by gesture politics. There is a gender pay gap, there are very low rape/sexual abuse conviction rates, there is FGM rampant the world. Sex workers get a massively unfair, raw deal. Recent stories in Sudan, Pakistan and India show how dangerous and warped the world is. There are horrifying tales of child sex throughout the world. It’s never ending, but what do our groups call for – Jane Austen on a £10 note.

    Those women who can’t get an abortion in Northern Ireland because the Abortion Act deliberate excludes NI and a HIgh Court judge upheld the NHS refusal to grant them one, wonder if they cared who was on their legal tender!

    It’s just mind-blowingly banal IMO. I just don’t get the priorities. For a start, Austen is a very divisive figure, I can think of dozens of more appropriate people, but it was just such a minor thing to concern when there are real issues around the world faced by women on a daily basis.

    So I’m happy to not associate with that group. I see my humans as equal and find my politics easier that way.

    Although, as I said, as a straight, married, middle-class man, just what I can really bring to this discussion is questionable! 😉

    Like

    • jemima2013
      June 1, 2014

      sounds to me that you bring quite a lot 🙂

      Like

  5. Patrick
    June 1, 2014

    With respect and at the risk of being exactly what you talk about is the short way to refer to the “sort of can” in which men cannot be feminists, that such a claim is self-refuting?

    Like

  6. Wendy Lyon
    June 2, 2014

    I dislike men calling themselves feminists for the same reason I dislike anyone calling themselves an ally – I think it’s for the less privileged group to decide who merits that label, not people outside it who want to be associated with them. That said I have known some men who self-identify as feminists without being all Clymer about it.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      June 2, 2014

      i find they are usually the ones who when you point out the issues stop calling themselves feminists. Its like the whote ppl who took over the anti apartheid movement, and demanded they be listened too, good intentions are not enough

      Like

  7. elrondmiddleeng
    June 5, 2014

    A mathematical point. In a group of people, what would the size of a group be, more than 4 maybe. The anyone talking for more than a quarter of the time could conceived to be dominating the conversation.

    Like

  8. Pingback: On the value of the label “Feminist” | Valery North - Writer

  9. orathaic
    July 2, 2015

    I can tell you why i think it is important for men to identify and feminists (and not as allies). I don’t think i can do that without speaking my mind.

    As a white, cis, educated, wealthy, male, i am rather privileged. But being used to having my voice heard doesn’t necessarily mean my voice has nothing valuable to contribute to the movement.

    Of course there may be many men who do not listen to women, even within the movement. I have not met them, but i trust you know what you are talking about when you tell me they exist. But your claim seems to be that every man necessarily wants the movement to be centred around themselves is flawed. (Unless, perhaps, you believe that this is an essential characteristic of all men, and that nothing the feminist movement has done can change these men…)

    If you want i will tell you why i think it is important for men to identify and feminists. If not i will shut up.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      July 4, 2015

      This is hilarious, your comment proves my post, but you are completely unable to see why

      Like

  10. dwpandme
    August 11, 2015

    With reference to my comment on “principle, practice and not all men” http://wp.me/p3IOyJ-sW , I wonder if it wouldn’t be beneficial if there were more men who were not so much self declared feminists (nothing makes me want to punch someone more than a hand-wringing, privileged, guilt-ridden Guardian-reading male who calls himself a feminist), but who spoke as men while at the same time highlighting the alternate view of the world from a woman’s perspective as a reminder to the vast majority of men who are unable to see how things look from the other side.

    The reason why it may yield considerable benefits to cultivate such an ally is that I believe it is incomparably more difficult for a a member of the opposite sex to induce in a person’s rigid world view the freedom of thought necessary to produce a conceptual leap across the power divide than it is for someone of the same sex. Due to a lack of real discourse, the two sides of the debate seem to have moved away from shared ideals and common objectives to the extent that neither side believes the other has any insight into their subjective world view resulting in indignation rather than empathy and hence no progress seems to be the rule.

    How to go about that, I have no idea, but as it stands at the moment most opinion pieces in the media and sentiment online seems to be counter-productive in many ways.

    Like

    • jemima2013
      August 11, 2015

      i agree that communication is lacking, and needs to be the key. I had high hopes for the good men project, and remember thinking Carter could write for it….well we all know what they did when Hugo turned out to not be the great white saviour!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on May 31, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: