Kelinci Hutan (kelincihutan) wrote in feminists4life,
Kelinci Hutan

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On Men Defining Feminism

I frequently read Jill Stanek's blog. It's an excellent way to keep up with Life news and issues. However, she and her commenters can often lean to the anti-feminist side. One of her recent posts, for example, talks about the recent uptick in conservative women claiming the title of "feminist." Which I think is great. However, looking at the comments, you will see the post from HisMan, a man who defines feminism.

I'm a Christian. I don't disagree that God gave men and women different roles in the church and the family. I'm not only fine with that, I think that they are good ones and build women up. I don't think that Christians who conflate our cultural ideas of male and female roles with the Biblical instructions on male and female roles do anybody any good. It's not just bad feminism, it's bad doctrine, which is much more important from a Christian stand-point.

I say all that to point out that our patriarchy has had an influence even on things we should be very careful not to let be influenced by it. Which, I worry, sometimes makes it very difficult for men, who are otherwise feminists themselves, to think outside of their own privilege. All of which to say, I'm very wary of men who try to define feminism. (Especially if they come out with that "feminist vs feminine" line...whatever that means.) It's not that I don't think some men can do it. It's not even that some men don't do it very well. I just see a lot of men who try very hard and fall very flat.

Thoughts? Do you think there's anything we, as women, can do to help men understand what feminism is really about?
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"Do you think there's anything we, as women, can do to help men understand what feminism is really about?"

No, because "feminism" seems to mean different things to different women, just as it is different to different men.
I think it's difficult to teach people what feminism is all about because the term 'feminism' is used to describe a variety of political ideologies.

It's difficult for people to see the oppression that they don't suffer from and may benefit from. Partly that's because people tend to assume that other people's lives are like theirs. Partly it's because the feeling of knowing that you benefit from someone else's oppression is uncomfortable. One approach is to talk openly and candidly about your experiences patriarchal oppression and how those shape the ways we interact in the world. Maybe connect those individual experiences to statistics that show that it isn't just a one off, but a pattern of women being treated this way.

Of course, if someone is resistant that's not going to work. People can delude themselves into believing anything if they want to enough. I don't really have time for people like that any more. I don't want to be around them. There are good people who will listen to others and see how they've been wronged. In the end it comes down to justice.
In this particular case, it's not even an issue of men not understanding feminism, or of people disagreeing on what feminism is about (i.e., a generalized "men and women are equal" versus adherence to a specific belief of how to achieve equality). This is about someone making shit up that has nothing to do with any definition of feminism, appropriate or not, that I've ever seen, and my immediate response is that this doesn't seem like a person who will be open to explanation about what feminism is really about.
I think that's what really frustrates me about that particular comment. This is someone who just doesn't seem to be interested in feminism at all, and that strikes me as completely contrary to professing to be pro-life. I would've thought that believing all human beings are valuable would logically follow into not just opposing abortion, but feminism, anti-racism, and so on.

Then I read things like that I just feel like some people have really missed the boat.
Ugh, how can you read the comments on Jill's blog? Every time I venture in that direction my eyes bleed. :)