On Pro-feminism and Its Imitators

Men cannot be feminists.  They cannot.  Please, please can we put this one to bed. This comes up time and time again both in real life and online where men insist that they are feminists and that I am quite wrong to insist that they are not.

Feminism is the fight against the gendered power structure which justifies the greater exploitation of women’s labour, and feminists are its footsoldiers.   This gendered power structure is known as patriarchy.  Patriarchy, meaning rule of the fathers, is a structure, comprising of the representation of the world, the regulation of the world and the social norms of the world which advantage men.  Only women experience this representation, regulation and normativity from a  position of weakness.  Men necessarily experience it from a position of strength or at best neutrality.  That is not to say that patriarchy always works to advantage men in any given situation, but that as a structure it acts to collectively give more power to men as a group.

There are experiences that only women can have – among them are periods, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion and menopause.  Men do not have these experiences.  Not all women experience any or all of them, not all women can, but to be classed as “woman” is to accept a gendering which includes the potentiality of those experiences.  The potentiality of having these experiences  shapes the way society views women.   The representation of women, their regulation and the norms which society expects from them are informed by that potentiality.  So while there may be no direct experience, there is experience of living with such expectation.  Both the experiences and expectations affects the way in which women live their lives.   To live female under patriarchy is to be continually exploited under the weight of these expectations and experiences.  To live male under patriarchy is to live with the collective benefit of not having these expectations or experiences.

Critiquing patriarchy, or any other power structure for that matter, from a position of dominance is troublesome.  When you have relative power, you are more likely to be heard than those with less power; analysis performed from a position of dominance is necessarily different from that performed from a position of weakness and a lack of experience of structural weakness lessens the insight into its manifestation.  Challenging the  patriarchy (or any other power structure for that matter) from a position of dominence is troublesome.  Firstly because you have relative power, your challenges are more likely to be effective than those with less power.  Secondly because you do not share the experiences of those fighting from a position of weakness, you will not experience any damage by a ill-conceived challenge.  Thirdly because you benefit from patriarchy, the most productive challenge that you can make is to stop benefiting as much as you personally can.

Men’s relationship to gendered power is completely different.   Theory on gendered relations which is developed by men does not come from the experience of being systematically disadvantaged by it; and the experience men gain from a successful challenge to patriarchy is to lessen their relative power.  This is why both theory and leadership must come from women. Feminist praxis must be developed in relation to experience, with theory growing from the lived experiences and challenge emerging on that basis.   To adhere to feminist philosophy is to acknowledge and assert the role of women as the agents of their liberation.  Claiming to be an agent of liberation while male is to  deny women that role.  It is not feminist, and it is not even pro-feminist.

Amongst the feminist community, there is a perception of men who call themselves feminists to be creepy sexual predators, which in my opinion is only partially justified.    Men who call themselves feminists tend to be associated with the radical activist community where feminists also congregate.   Patriarchy is a universal system which affects all gendered experience, including individual interactions.  Within communities where males are allowed to be considered feminist and to shape discourses of women’s liberation, all too frequently those discourses get co-opted to individual male advantage.   The analysis of how gendered power is manifested becomes distorted, women are exploited and fear to complain lest they be seen as “bad feminists”.

Men who support feminism are pro-feminists.  They recognise the gendered structures of power which advantages them, and work to support those fighting against it and the central agency of women on the basis of their collective lived experience, accepting the leadership and thought of women while challenging the personal benefit they obtain from living under patriarchy.  We can challenge patriarchy without pro-feminists, but they make it a great deal easier for us to do so.   If you are male and wish to support the feminist movement, consider becoming a pro-feminist for they are our allies and comrades in the struggle.

By definition, men cannot be feminists – and those who call themselves such part of the problem we are trying to solve.

 

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53 comments
Mhairi McAlpine
Mhairi McAlpine

No, I agree with you that patriarchy is harmful to everyone. The issue is that although it is harmful to everyone, men gain relative advantages, while women are disproportionately disadvantaged. The problem with including men as feminists is that they experience the patriarchy from a position of relative advantage. What you describe as "your feminism" isnt feminism at all, but anti-kyriachial activism - ie the fight against structured power. Feminism is specifically the fight against patriarchy, which is only one aspect of the kyriarchy.

Enne Ilo
Enne Ilo

Thanks for your comment! Mine is a form of feminism dominant at the university where I study, especially among my fellow Gender Studies students, so I'm not quite alone. But yours is, I admit, the more popular form of feminism here, there are groups of "pro-feminist men" and so on. It's sometimes a bit sad to see that with patriarchy at large in the world, we feminists squabble among ourselves because of different definitions of what "the f-word" really means, while we should be out there fighting patriarchy no matter the definition of THAT.

Enne Ilo
Enne Ilo

Hi, I realize this is an old post by Blogosphere standards, but I'd still like to comment. This is because your patriarchy and mine seem to be at odds with each other, and I would like to hear your thoughts on mine. Your patriarchy seems to concentrate on "the rule of men over women". The claim that men can't be feminists hangs on the supposition that it is only women patriarchy is harmful to. I find patriarchy to be rather more complicated than this. It is actually, so I feel, harmful to people of all sexes and genders. Because patriarchy is harmful to every person living, it is in reinforcing stereotypes of "man" as oppressor and "woman" as oppressed, that even this "radical feminism" of yours is in fact ridden by the system it tries to fight. It seems to me that patriarchy (just as a matriarchy, or a "skolioarchy" would be) is harmful to "women", "men", "trans people", "genderqueers" and everybody else, because it maintains that there are such homogenous groups to choose from. Patriarchy is a set of power relations according to which it is OK to define any one person by just one characteristic, inborn or otherwise. What this means in practice is that because of patriarchy, children learn at a very young age what it is to be "a man", "a woman" - that there are certain normative characteristics for "each" category, and that if you qualify for one (of "the" two), you must fit the mould completely or be ridiculed and worse. Because of patriarchy, we learn to control our sayings, gender presentation, even thoughts, to fit the prescribed (yeah, medically too) box. And this leads to people doing not what they would like to or would be good at, but what they think they "should" be doing. As you can see, the unhappiness (I like to call it oppression) patriarchy is causing, is not just for women, but in people of all genders. And so, I would like to argue, feminism (despite having a name rooted in the historical pro-women's rights movement) is a movement for everybody interested in social injustice. To be a feminist is to fight against oppression in its every form, because all oppression boils down to one thing: power, and who wields it. And so every person is oppressor and oppressed at the same time. This is my truth - please, tell me yours!

Anti "pro-feminist", but feminist
Anti "pro-feminist", but feminist

A) The idea that some people are not allowed to have opinions, or that there opinions are necessarily worthless due to their innate biological traits is plainly absurd. I don't want to be associated with a movement that is so plainly discriminatory, nor one that is seemingly afraid to address arguments on their own merits. B) To say that a man cannot be a feminist is akin to saying a white person cannot be antiracist or that a middle class person can't be socialist. Turning the supporters of a cause into lower-ranked honorary members is not a smart way to build a broad base, and is pretty unpleasant and exclusionary generally.

admin
admin

A) Of course you can have opinions, the point is that a male opinion is less valid because it is not backed up by eperience B) A white person does not live with racial oppression. Its not about skin colour, there are people with pale skin who are contextually Black (such as Roma). So while they can be anti-racist their opinion is of less worth than those who live with racial oppression because they cannot fully understand it. Socialism is different, that is an economic philosophy, not an anti-kyriarchial struggle. As such, class power is transparent and tangible in the form of money, so can be analysed by any who care to see. Patriarchy and colonialism can only be properly fought by those who feel its effects because they are by their nature ideological forms of oppression. Turning the supporters of a cause into lower-ranked honorary members is not a smart way to build a broad base, and is pretty unpleasant and exclusionary generally. The struggle against the patriarchy is for women to lead, if that means that we piss of a few of teh menz along the way so be it. Either they become pro-fems and support us, or they retain their menz status and remain part of the problem.

Jennifer Frances Armstrong
Jennifer Frances Armstrong

I love this form of argument: "2. The point is you cannot claim we live in a patriarchy without substantiating the claim and expect to be taken seriously." What the reader doesn't see is that he is making an implicit assertion that he actually exists, rather than being a computer generated program, and that some kind of really existing person, that nobody has ever seen, has to be believed in. There is not proof he or she exists, though, and that (by the person's own argument) is proof that he does not exist. If computer programs continue to bother you in this way, just ignore them.

Liam
Liam

Another naive young women who's been brainwashed by a gender studies course. Some houses are patriachy some are matriarchy, I personally prefer patriachy, please respect my and others choice.

admin
admin

I don't respect your "choice". Your choice is to uphold a power structure in which you benefit to the detriment of over half the world population.

Charlie
Charlie

I tried to make the same points in a blog post I wrote some time ago about being a male ally of feminism (http://orderfromcha0s.livejournal.com/6123.html). I managed to express a little of what you said in about double the length. To be honest, and this sounds a bit sad, I felt odd talking about how I felt to many feminists who insisted I was wrong and that I could be a feminist. It was a difficult position to argue from, and I wanted some good old-fashioned Marx to throw around. Cheers!

admin
admin

Good article. Thanks for the comment.

Alasdair
Alasdair

Good post. This is why I (usually) don't identify myself as a 'feminist' - I prefer to use 'profeminist'. But really, what you call yourself is far less important than what you do. I am therefore rather suspicious of any man who insists fiercely on his right to call himself a 'feminist'; if he really cared about the feminist struggle, he wouldn't mind not being able to use that label.

Lyra Liberty
Lyra Liberty

I spoke to my male partner about this and he agrees with the original poster. He sees himself as a supporter of feminism or a pro-feminist and that men have to take anti patriarchial and anti misogynistic action in their own space and the space they occupy. There is no need to occupy women's space, as a pro-feminist man he tries to pull up those who still men and women to be equal or nonsense that gets spouted from other men

admin
admin

Are you seriously suggesting that the answer to eradicate the patriarchy is for men to stop being men? Hmmm...thats an interesting one. As a woman I have no experience of being a man. I have no idea how it feels to be a man, socially or biologically, but I recognise that there are differences. Assuming that you see trans* as being a state of mind, rather than a biological fact, you could argue that men should become women, but thats a bit of denial that there are seperate gender identities and that we can just overcome them by individual willpower. Assuming that there is not, and that it is all just social pressure, the more acceptable trans is, the more men will lose their maleness (for want of a better expression), so yes, it may be a route out of the patriarchy. Interesting thought.

Mark Richardson
Mark Richardson

Certainly, there is an acknowledged risk amongst queer and trans theorists that in opposing the way in which patriarchy erases ambiguity in order to impose a strict separation of the genders, we end up promoting a form of metaphysical idealism in which people are encouraged to simply vacate their assigned gender through individual will power alone. Judith Butler has some interesting responses to this in her book Bodies That Matter. Also worth a read is Sandy Stone's essay The Empire Strikes Back: http://www.actlab.utexas.edu/~sandy/empire-strikes-back

admin
admin

I've read Sandy Stone's essay and absolutely loved it. Havent read bodies which matter, but Gender Trouble is also excellent. Its an interesting idea, in the same vein as the "race traitor" theory within anti-colonialist ideology, that you "refuse" to be white, similarly you "refuse" to be a man. Puts transmen in a difficult situation, and also there was that case in the US of a boy brought up a girl, who went back to being a boy after years of psychological difficulty. Interesting idea certainly, but I'm not convinced.

Mark Richardson
Mark Richardson

Following on from the discussion about trans-people above - and also with reference to your claim that pro-feminists should challenge the personal benefit they derive from patriarchy - does that not then suggest that pro-feminist men should be asked why they are not willing to submit themselves to transsexual change? At root, their objections to such change could only be based on the patriarchal logic that a person has a "natural" subject-position in relation to gender and that their own natural inclination is to remain male (and privileged). Is there any assumption on which a pro-feminist man can object to being submitted to transsexual change which is not an inherently patriarchal assumption? If so, what is it?

admin
admin

You are what you are, if you are male, you are male. Transsexual surgery is only appropriate for those with gender issues, not for guilty privilaged men, taking up time and medical resources so that they dont have to confront their own advantages.

Mark Richardson
Mark Richardson

But saying "you are what you are" is quite undialectical, isn't it? One of the functions of patriarchy is to ignore biological ambiguities which raise doubts about a strict division between male and female and to simply stamp people one thing or the other. I don't see much value in reinforcing a cornerstone of patriarchy. And reducing transsexualism to a medical pathology at the expense of finding some existential value in it - why do that? We should be doing the very opposite. Indeed, what if there was a social movement which made it impossible for men to be completely comfortable with their gender identity and which ensured that all men experienced "gender issues"? Feminism would benefit from that, wouldn't it not? My suspicion is that you neither want men to be comfortable with their identity (they are too "guilty" - to use your term - to allow that) but nor do you want to give them what you see as an easy escape of transsexualism. I suppose my point is that it is not an "easy escape" - its very difficulty even for some of the most "pro-feminist" of men indicates that it hits at the very nerve centre of patriarchy.

Where is the Proof
Where is the Proof

@admin 1. For you to make that judgment requires the knowledge that I am male. You do not have that knowledge. 2. Again, I have read these resources, and they have not convinced me. That is why I would like your take on the subject. "why do you think it doesnt exist?" This question is essentially asking me to provide evidence for a negative assertion. Evidence is not needed for negative assertions. Or rather, the only evidence needed is that the individual making the positive assertion has none. And that is my position. I have not been presented with evidence supporting the patriarchy that is not flawed or irrelevant. The lack of evidence IS evidence. Of course, if legitimate evidance is presented, then I will have to reevaluate my position. Will you do the same, I wonder? 3. perhaps at first. It is certainly easier to understand something once you have experienced it, but experience is not necessary for in depth understanding. It helps, but it is not necessary. Experience is a path one can take for understanding. But it is not the only one. And It does not lead to a better depth of understanding then, say, doing years of reasurch. Fighting in WWII does not make you an expert of WWII. Getting mugged does not make you an expert on crime. Being a women does not make you an expert of gender bias. Experience is not necessary for understanding, nor does it lead to a deeper sense of understanding then just doing good old fashioned research. I am getting a close minded Vibe from you. All your talk of not needing to substantiate has made me curious. Is it even possible for someone to change your mind? If you where to present evidence, and I where to debunk the evidence, would you admit you where wrong, and change your position?

admin
admin

You know, I've been reading back over this wee exchange, and dont know what you are hoping to get out of it. You clearly disagree with me, yet carry on a conversation demanding that I convince you. I cant actually be arsed. The whole conversation reads as "Dont talk about what you want to talk about, talk about what I want to talk about: that you are wrong because I say you are and I is da man." Piss off and find some other cunt to bug.

admin
admin

1. You're right I dont know this, but I strongly suspect it. 2. Yup - you provide legitimate evidence that demonstrates that there is no systemic gender oppression and I will reconsider my position 3. No, being an individual with individual experience of x, y or z does not give you broader insight - that is why we have a movement which brings all those oppressed together collectively so that we can learn from their collective experiences and insights.

Where is the Proof
Where is the Proof

@ admin 1.Out of curiosity, what made you suspect that I am male? 2. Very well. Here is your legitimate evidence: There is no evidence that shows systemic gender oppression, thus, there is no systemic gender oppression. Remember, I explained to you that the only evidence a negative assertion needs is that the person making the positive assertion has none. It is just like asking an atheist to prove there is no god. The only evidence an atheist has is that the theist has none. And that's all an atheist needs. 3. Right. And excluding men from that is harmful. Why? Because men offer just as much insight as women do. To exclude them from labeling themselves as feminists will disenfranchise men from offering legitimate insight, insight that may be needed. As for your second post, what I am hoping to get out of this is, oddly enough, proof. The reason I am disagreeing with you is the same reason I disagree with everybody about everything. The way my mind works can essentially be boiled down to "false until proven true" for every claim made in existence. This required a bit of a shift in thinking around 11th grade or so, but it is a mindset that has allowed me to see the world for what it really is. A big unanswered question. So, when I ask about patriarchy, I am seeking an answer to a question. Does it exist? It might, and if it does I want to know about it. "I cant actually be arsed" You activity participate in a a fight against patriarchy via your blog, but you cant be arsed to substantiate what you are fighting against? Despite the fact that substantiating it is necessary to fight against it? Odd. And by the way, this "Don't talk about what you want to talk about, talk about what I want to talk about: that you are wrong because I say you are and I is da man.” Is called straw man and ad hominem. In case you have not heard of them, straw man is when you misrepresent a persons argument and argue against the misrepresentation rather then the actual argument being given. This is actually very forgivable, as it often happens accidentally. Ad hominem is when you attack the individual making the argument as apposed to the argument itself. That statement was straw man because it misrepresented my arguments into "dont talk about what you want to talk about" and "You are wrong because I say you are wrong" It is ad hominem because you claim I am a man. This would normally not be ad hominem, but you aslo claim that men are not as able as women to understand gender bias against women. Thus, you are saying that I am not able able to understand gender bias on account of me being male. All of this without actually knowing my gender. It is Interesting to me that you identify yourself as a cunt. A word that has inherently negative implications. Although I am probably reading to much into it.

admin
admin

As I said, piss off and find some other cunt to bug.

Jenny Howard
Jenny Howard

And another, unrelated comment: I certainly agree that feminism must be woman-led. But I don't see that, therefore, men can't be feminists. Militaristic metaphors aren't my favorite tool, but going along with the language you've used, you've characterized feminists as "footsoldiers" in the "fight," while men's roles are limited to "allies." But what do allies do, if not not fight as footsoldiers alongside those to whom they are allied? As I said, I see the necessity for women to be the leaders - the "officers" if you will. But I don't see why the troops they command cannot be allied as well as native. You did raise the point that there are some men who "sign up," but then try to take the leadership role. Agreed, such men are not welcome participants in the fight. But to say that all male footsoldiers will mutiny because some of them do is judging people by their membership in a group, rather than their worth as individuals. Not just in the feminist fight, but in any liberation struggle, I have an ethical problem with that. Not to mention the practical point that greater numbers make the victory more certain. Would love to read your thoughts on this.

admin
admin

The linguistic distinction is to make a distinction between the active role and teh support role. When men take an active role in the feminist movement, there is a danger that that it will be co-opted either through ignorance, and sometimes intention, to a diversion away from the struggle of women's lberation through different priorities and experiences.

Jenny Howard
Jenny Howard

I'm left a little unclear where you stand regarding trans people. In the original article, you identified women biologically - either capable of periods, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion and menopause, or to accept a gendering which includes the potentiality of those experiences. Yet, in the comment thread, you apologized to "transfems" for equating "one with a penis" with "man". I'm not sure what you mean by transfems. Female-bodied people living culturally as men? Male-bodied people living culturally as women? Given my confusion on this point, I feel completely in the dark about how you see trans people fitting into feminism. Could you say more?

admin
admin

It was sloppy of me. Sorry. Patriarchial oppression affects all those gendered as women, regardless of anatomy. Transmen are in a strange situation, as they will have experienced patriarchial oppression and may continue to in some instances.

Jenny Howard
Jenny Howard

...and trans women?

admin
admin

transwomen are female gendered, thus experience patriarchial oppression

david jamieson
david jamieson

""” [Men's] primary role is to ‘listen’ rather than engage in effective critique. No coherent opinions can be formed in this way because their is no ideological coherence in the femenist movement.” I’m sure this isnt what you meant but it sounds like you are suggesting that women cannot form a coherent liberation ideology unless teh menz give them a hand." No - there is no true ideological coherence in any movement. Every activist, every radical thinker is a snowflake. None of us completely agree. This means their is no road map for 'pro-feminists' to follow, like women, and like all people over all matters - these pro-feminists must make their own opinions. That is to say they will be male opinions. They will just be male opinions that are deliberately (under either the sanction, or instruction of the feminist movement) concealed from women. But these ideas, right or wrong, won't go away - they will just be shared between men. People can take ideas from one another but, after all is said and done, must make up their own mind. A 'pro-feminist' would have to decide for himself, for example, if he thinks prostitutes (sex workers, depending on which side of that debate you fall) should be organised into unions. The movement cannot teach 'pro-feminists' what to think about this because it is divided. Men can choose one of the arguments on offer - but if they do so they are asserting themselves into the debate - they are trying to determine the movement. The only alternative left is to do what many men of the left already do. Ignore the debate entirely, take no position. Many men do this not because it is the correct thing to do - but because, truth be told, it is so low down on their list of priorities. As I see it, the schema you have outlined above threatens to reinforce, rather than diminish this problem.

admin
admin

" Every activist, every radical thinker is a snowflake" I agree entirely. The duty of the radical tho, is to adopt oppositional conciousness, to continually explore from the point of view of the oppressed. That point of view is best expressed from the oppressed themselves, the duty of the individual radical is to incorporate all oppressions working on a situation to identify how to approach it. Different radicals put different emphasise on different elements of oppression - being fem/pro-fem means that you value women's oppression as a critical element. And as you point out, far too many men on the left do not. In terms of women in the sex industry, either position can be pro-fem assuming that it comes at it from a pro-woman standpoint. IMHO the debate is over the conflict between agency and consent - it is for women to resolve it, so if you take the opposing view and a feminist tells to to wheesht, just wheesht.

admin
admin

" [Men's] primary role is to ‘listen’ rather than engage in effective critique. No coherent opinions can be formed in this way because their is no ideological coherence in the femenist movement." I'm sure this isnt what you meant but it sounds like you are suggesting that women cannot form a coherent liberation ideology unless teh menz give them a hand. You are right, the feminist movement disagrees over a whole number of things. The most productive course of action is then to examine feminist discourse together with any other liberatory ideology operating within the sphere. 2. That's why we need pro-fems. Who listen to feminists and then tell men about feminism. They are part of the movement, but play a support role rather than an active one.

david jamieson
david jamieson

At the heart of this theory is an idea contested by few on the (serious) far left - that women must lead the womens movement (in both practice and theory) as they are the best equipped by experience of oppression and are likely (for many reasons) to be the most dynamic force in such a movement. Like all good maxims this has its limitations and they are, I think, telling in this article for at least two reasons. 1)If men are to take a sedetary position in such a movement - not trying to influnce the debate within or direction off the movment then they must allow their opinions to be formed by the women of the femenist movement, their primary role is to 'listen' rather than engage in effective critique. No coherent opinions can be formed in this way because their is no ideological coherence in the femenist movement. Women femenists violently disagree over the most basic of issues. Of the women femenists I know (not a scientific survey by any means) most would disagree with the argument in this article, for example. Ultimately any man's opinions vis-a vi womens politics will be formed by a man - himself. This leads me onto my second point. 2) If having established their opinions of the femenist movement men are either to then be discouraged or even banned from espousing them 'in the presence of women' (for that is what we are talking about here) they will then go and discuss their secret opinions with other men. This creates a two teir movment, where men evade discussion of womens politics or even lie and claim they agree with opinions of the women around them - and then secretly go and espouse their real thoughts only with other men. This is pernicious for any number of reasons but lets just take one. Lets say some of the ideas in these mens heads are wrong - even reactionary - he will never know/it will never be challenged etcetera. Worse, the secret world of male discussion on Femenism becomes a wee grotto of backward notions, that never come to light but are impacting negativley upon the movement. None of this is to say men should have an equal share in the femenist movement. But this article I think, goes way too far.

admin
admin

Where is the proof... 1. You dont have a definition of feminism so how can you tell me mine runs contrary to the norm. You have a penis was shorthand for you are a man (apologies to transfems), and therefore your argument boils down to "you are a woman and therefore I must be correct" 2. Read up on patriarchy - loads of resources out there. Not my problem to deal with your ignorance. 3. All liberation struggles must be led from within. It is unacceptable for white feminists to undertake analysis or assume leadership within the Black liberation movement.

Where is the Proof
Where is the Proof

1. Because I do not think the normal definition is correct either. I know what it is, "advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men." but that would exclude radical feminists who believe women should be not have equal rights, but greater rights and superiority. Those feminists are still accepted as "feminists", so that definition does not work either. you argument that "I do not know the definition, so how do I know the normal definition" does not address my argument that your definition does not apply to many feminists. I have never made the argument "you are a women and therefore I must be correct" in any shape or form, as I never mentioned your gender. In fact, I was not even sure of your gender before you said "I am a women". The username Admin is not gender specific. And, for that matter, neither is mine. 2. I have read up on patriarchy. Extensively. I was required to do so from my women's study course. And I was not convinced of its existence. So I am not ignorant on the subject. I am however, interested in you take on it. For one thing, your definition is slightly different then most I have encountered. See, I am curious if you have any evidence I have not encountered before, any ideas I have not thought up. If I go out into the internet and debunk some arguments that patriarchy exists, how am I to know if these arguments are yours? You might have better ones, or you may even agree with me. It is simpler for you to follow the excepted logic and present evidence that supports your claim. Not to send me out, the one arguing you are incorrect, to do more research. It boils down to this. You have made a claim, you must back up that claim with evidence. Otherwise, why should anyone believe your claim? Of course, if you have already substantiated that claim in another location on this blog, you could just link me there. Have you? If not, it might be a good idea for a future post. 3: Again, this does not address the argument "experience is not necessary for critique" I disagree with your stament "all libertarian movements must be led from within". For one thing, it might not be possible. Take for example the severely mentally disabled. They cannot lead their liberation movement. so does that mean they do not get one? Or for another example, animal libertarian movements? Another thing, we are not discussing leadership of a movement, we are discussing whether someone can just have the label of belonging to a movement applied to them. I also think you are incorrect when you say whites (I am broadening this to white people in general, if you don't mind) cannot undertake analyses of the discrimination blacks experience. For one thing, they could simply analyze the analyses made by blacks, or make impartial observations of there own. This is part of my "you don't need experience to critique" argument. Or, if they wanted first hand experience, they could undergo massive surgery to darken their skin pigmentation, dye there hair, eye changing contact lens, so they can experience and analyze first hand.

admin
admin

1. Perhaps yu did not state it as baldly, but thats were your argument was going. 2. Dont accept it then. There are lots of youse who don't accept patriarchy because you benefit from it, and dont want to see that. We know this, thats why we fight. 3. People who are severely disabled can be advocated for by people with similar yet not so severe disabilities. I have issues with the animal liberation movement for exactly the reason you mention. Yes, whites *could* analyse their observations of Black oppression, but the most productive way that they can do this is to observe and analyse their own role in that oppression based on what Blacks tell them and convey that to other whites.

admin
admin

1. No but I've dealt with teh menz before, and recognise this opening move. 2. Like I said, there are lots of resources out there for you to find out about patriarchy, why do you think it doesnt exist? 3. Your understanding of something which you havent experienced is necessarily less complete than your understanding of something which you have. http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/nagel_nice.html

Where is the Proof
Where is the Proof

1. How would you know that was the direction my argument was going? Can you read my mind? 2. I do not "not accept" (quotes simply because saying not not sounds weird to me) patriarchy because I benefit from it. For one thing, how do you know I benefit from it? For another, how do you know I don't want to see it when you have presented no evidence? I cant see something you don't show me. For another, how do you know patriarchy even exists? I do not accept patriarchy because I have not been presented with evidence that shows it exists. "We know this, thats why we fight." Are you really going to "fight" the patriarchy without substantiating it? If you don't substantiate the claim, you don't allow for people to point out how you might be incorrect. Is that what you want? 3. I was going to write a point by point deal, but I am getting sleepy, so I will just say that experience is not necessary for critique, because you don't need to experience something to understand it, and by extension, fight it.

admin
admin

Where is the Proof: 1. So you claim, that my definition is wrong, but you dont actually know what the word means? 2. As you don't know what feminism is, and obviously cant be bothered finding out what patriarchy is, forgive me if I dont take you seriously. 3. See no 2. Kevin I'm sure you are skeptical, lots of men are. They are used to a position of privilage and it makes them very uncomfortable when they are told that they are unable to extert influence and ultimately domination. Just because people use a word in a particular way doesnt mean to say they use it correctly. I know some feminists who do consider that men can be too. While I respect their opinion, I believe it flawed and ultimately harmful to feminism Within any liberation movement there are always differences of approach. Micheal and Bill Thanks for the kind words, always good to find pro-fems. Excellent blog btw. I run into a lot of radical men who genuinely want to undermine female oppression and think that the best way of doing this is to call themselves a feminist and take theoretical and practical leadership - sometimes on the basis that women are too oppressed to do so themselves, hence men must step up to the challenge - its kind of the #kony2012 of women's liberation. I have no doubt they have good intentions, but there are far more productive ways that they can contribute and its important that there are men who can act as role models for potential pro-fems.

Where is the Proof
Where is the Proof

1: Yes, I am claiming that your definition is incorrect without knowing the actual definition. There is nothing wrong with that. As an example, You may say that 20473952 dived by 2 equals 45345.5, But I can still tell you (correctly) that your answer is incorrect without knowing the real answer. 2: Again, I don't need to know what feminism is to know your definition is wrong. And I don't need to "find out" What patriarchy is or whether or not it exists. You do. You made the positive assertion, you substantiate it. Thing is, I have come across many definitions of patriarchy that deviate from its anthropological roots. And I am simply sick of refuting each and every new one that pops up. Then I realized that I do not have to. You are the one claiming the world is structured to advantage men, the onus is on you to prove you are correct. 3: As I have refuted your second argument, your third is no longer applicable. Another thing. Your (refuted) argument only address the third aspect of my third argument. It does not address: Just because a movement does or espouses the doing of X does not mean that you are required to do or espouses the doing of X in order to be part of said movement. And having experience is not necessary for critique.

admin
admin

1. Is that because perhaps you are one of "teh menz" who know that a feminist's definition of feminism is wrong because you have a penis? 2. No fucking onus on me whatsoever, buddy. Fuck off if you think I'm playing your game. 3. A movement does/expouses X; you do not do or expouse X. How the fuck can you be part of the movement?

Where is the Proof
Where is the Proof

First, thank you for not just moderating my post out of existence because you don't like what I am saying. And instead activity defending your position. Now, 1. No, It is because your definition of feminism runs contrary to the norm, and does not apply to all feminists. As a side note (or rather, a side question), in your experience, do some men actually claim that they know that feminists definition of feminism is wrong because they have penises? That seems like a rather silly way of arguing a point. "I have a penis, therefor you wrong" Is an argument I have never come across. 2: It is not a game, it is logic. You make a claim, the onus is on you to substantiate it. I do not understand why you think you can claim something is true without presenting evidence. 3: Because the movement is not necessarily defined by doing or espousing X. As an example, a number of feminists have started fighting against issues such as racism and ableism. These are not core tenets of feminism, however, and it is not necessary to fight against racism/ableism to be a feminist. The argument you just gave does not refute the second aspect of my original third argument, that experience is not necessary for critique.

Bill Patrick
Bill Patrick

I love this post! Thanks for so clearly explaining something that I am often asked about when I call myself "profeminist." I try to be an accountable male ally in this work. But even so I know that my unearned power and privilege works to my favour in ways yhat I am not even aware of. I yearn for the day that women are free of men's tyranny. And as a male ally I am trying to do my part. I blog weekly at billsprofeministblog.blogspot.com and cross post this on xyonline.net. I find the above, ivory tower, higly abstract arguments against your position highly frustrating, and I find the assertion that we may not actually live in a patriarchy to be utterly out of touch with anything even remotely resembling reality. I believe some of the posters here are far more interested in little intellectual games rather than in social justice and women's liberation. And to me that is yet another clear sign of men's continuing unearned sexist power and privlege in the world: when a woman tries to raise a useful point, too many of my brothers rush in to try to debate her to death. Because of our position as men, we can just sit back and chit-chat about this stuff while all around the globe women are in a struggle not just for equality, but often for survival. Thanks again for your wonderful post!

Michael Flood
Michael Flood

As a passionately profeminist man, I broadly agree with the article above. I made some of the same arguments in this 'profeminist FAQ': http://www.xyonline.net/content/frequently-asked-questions-about-pro-feminist-men-and-pro-feminist-mens-politics#Whycall. And in this academic journal article on men as students and teachers in Women's and Gender Studies, I offer a more complex account of men's relationships to feminist scholarship and knowledge: http://www.xyonline.net/content/men-students-and-teachers-feminist-scholarship-journal-article. Best wishes, Michael Flood.

Kevin
Kevin

"Theory on gendered relations which is developed by men does not come from the experience of being systematically disadvantaged by it ... [t]his is why both theory and leadership must come from women." I am skeptical of the claim that men’s inability to experience women’s oppression makes them incapable of participating in the production of a good sociological theory of that oppression. Sure, my first-person experiences will furnish me with some prejudices, and these may hinder me in my attempts to see the world for what it is. But if we conceive of theory as a third-person account of large-scale social structures (perhaps you don't conceive of theory in this way), I don’t see why these first-person prejudices should be insurmountable. "By definition, men cannot be feminists..." How do you maintain this thesis in light of the fact (I think this is a fact, anyway...) that competent users of the English language do think that men can be feminists? Are you comfortable with saying that people are systematically wrong about the meanings of the words they use? You're committed here to saying that whenever someone says "He is a feminist," she unknowingly contradicts herself. That looks like weird linguistics to me. I'm sorry if this post is obnoxiously long.

where is the proof?
where is the proof?

This article makes a lot of unsubstantiated claims. First off, your definition of feminism is false. Second, you have presented no evidence that we live in (your incorrect definition of) a patriarchy. Third, you have given no reason as to why men cannot be feminists. You have given (bad) reasons as to why it is problematic for men to critique patriarchy, but that does not exclude them from being feminists.

admin
admin

1. Is it really? Do tell what is the correct definition of feminism 2. And your point is caller? 3. Feminists critique and challenge patriarchy, this must be done from a position of experiencing its oppression. Men do not have this experience ergo men cannot be feminists.

where is the proof?
where is the proof?

1. Yes it is. I do not know the correct definition as I have never come across one that is applicable to all feminists. 2. The point is you cannot claim we live in a patriarchy without substantiating the claim and expect to be taken seriously. 3. A rebuttal in three parts, first, just because feminists critique and challenge patriarchy does not mean critiquing and challenging patriarchy is inherent to feminism. Second, experiencing the oppression of patriarchy is not a requirement to critique it. If "experience of the oppression" where necessary for critique, no one would be able to say that murder is a bad thing. Third, you have not proven that we live in a patriarchy or that it even exists. Until you do, it is assumed that it does not. So, if we were to accept your premise that experience is necessary for critique, then women are not able to critique patriarchy either, because it does not exist, so they cannot experience it.

leetstik
leetstik

I agree with much of what you have said, except the non-existence of patriarchy, you speak like a logical positivist and your use of that line of argument detriments the rest of what you have said.

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