Sunday, August 9, 2009

Week 2: What is Masculinity?

*Blog Prompt: If feminism is primarily concerned about the status of women, then what is-- or what ought to be--men's role in this movement? Is there room in the picture for men? How can we better understand and imagine new possibilities for men and feminism? (Tarrant, 105)

31 comments:

j.leigh said...

Despite 3+ years of feminist/gender studies, one of the most explosive debates I still remember is from my very first Introduction to Women’s Studies class. One of the only male students, a player from the UCF football team nonetheless, presented his final project on the role of men in Women’s Studies classes. The class was often very divided on political, military, religious, and personal issues, but this particular idea – the involvement of men in a “women’s” space – ignited us all. I still remember sitting in my corner seat, telling my male classmate that while I appreciated having him in class, I would never want him or any other male to teach me because he would never have the lived experience of growing up woman.

Despite being enrolled in later classes with many amazing feminist men whom I deeply admire and respect, I still held onto that belief until I read Kyle Brillante’s and Bob Lamm’s essays from “Men Speak Out.” Their personal experiences politicized the ideas of privilege and safe spaces, and made me re-think my own stance on men’s roles in the feminist movement, whether in or out of the classroom. I have often discussed with my peers the concept of women-only spaces and how much more comfortable I am discussing my own feminist-womyn identity around others who identify the same. However, as Brillante points out, “feeling unsafe and uncomfortable is necessary because it promotes the critical and reflexive thinking that education is all about. This discomfort in experiencing new ideas drives the learning process” (221). His reasoning at first made me uneasy, but as I continued to read, I grew more aware – and, admittedly, ashamed – of my own unchecked privilege as a woman in feminist classes. As Brillante writes, “left unchecked, gender-based judgments not only inhibit the learning process, but also undermine the goals of feminism. If feminism is a movement that teaches us to identify and end oppression … then feminism is not solely a single-gender interest” (226). With my privilege in these classes, I pre-judged the men who were also enrolled. I questioned their motives, doubted their commitment to the cause because of my (false) assumption that they would never “get it,” and feared (with good reason) that they would take over. After reading Brillante’s essay, however, I realized that without the voices of people of any and all gender identities working together and truly listening to one another, there is no hope for a unified egalitarian world. Perhaps feminism should be redefined not as being “primarily concerned about the status of women,” but “concerned about the status of all people.” It is in this way - challenging our comfort zones; deconstructing our previously held beliefs and reconstructing new ones with more open minds; and truly listening to the voices of others who are restrained by the same strict gender codes as ourselves – that we can begin to change the world.

It is important to remember, however, that despite how much the activist work of feminist men is needed in order to bridge the gender gap, women cannot let the movement be taken over. We must always remain at the forefront of the cause, as we began by fighting for women’s liberation from unfair power balances. We cannot forget that “men in this society have no concept of the importance and beauty and necessity of women controlling their own space, their own bodies, their own lives” (Lamm 193). It is with this knowledge that women can accept everyone into the feminist movement and into Women’s Studies classes, yet still retain our own voices. In this way, feminism CAN become a movement for everybody. Though it began as a women's liberation movement, it has blossomed into an action for people of all identities to break free from society’s prescribed and restricted gendered, raced, sexed, abled, and classed norms … and the next time I see a man in one of my feminist classes, whether he is a football player or a thespian, I’ll make sure not to judge but to welcome him in with open arms.

Ariel Dansky said...

I would like to begin by thanking Leandra for spearheading this course at UCF. It is an extremely relevant and necessary topic to be studied and should be integrated into all Women’s Studies curricula as well as feminist discourse.

To address the prompt, where are men in feminism?

Let’s begin by dissecting the word, which, in a way, is sexist (or un-egalitarian, at least). The first syllable connotes that which is “feminine,” so the word can therefore is often inferred to apply to women (as if all women were “feminine“).

Most of us know that in actuality, feminism denotes a philosophy which opposes all form of oppression (class, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.). Its goal is an egalitarian society.

So if the word denotes that which is egalitarian, why shouldn’t we just call it egalitarianism?

The answer to this question doesn’t need to be pondered much. We should all be grateful for the courageous women who fought for the rights women have today. The feminist movement has historically brought us closer to an egalitarian society, and for this, we pay the movement tribute by continuing to identify as feminists and acting out this philosophy in our daily lives and activism.

So what about the men?

Men in feminism is (correct me if I’m wrong) predominantly a third wave concept. In other words, they are only just beginning to become outwardly involved in the feminist movement; in turn, the feminist movement is only just recently becoming conscious of their integral role in feminism (maybe this is why Men’s Lives is the first and only college text book on Men from a feminist perspective).

On the other hand, a significant yet superficial obstacle to their involvement is simply the name of the movement. The f-word. Many men (and women) run away at the mere mention of feminism (Nina told us at YWLP training that 10 students dropped her Intro to Women’s Studies class because the word feminism was in the syllabus). However, as more men become enlightened as to the meaning of feminism, more will become feminists. In turn, as more men become feminists, they will act as ambassadors in their daily life as to what a feminist

jorge mendoza said...

Two things to put out there:
First: This is the first Women's Studies course I have taken (as I mentioned when I introduced myself our first class), so although some concepts and views may be somewhat or entirely new to me, I still figure myself a progressive-thinking person with a keen interest to understand and to share.
Secondly: So far, this is one of the most interesting courses I have ever taken, and am pretty stoked for the rest of this semester.

Now, it is asked "What is the role of men in the feminist movement?," and I humbly ask what the goals of the feminist movement are so as to ask the question in the first place? The purpose of the feminist movement is 'commonly' understood as seeking greater gender equality as well as addressing the concerns of women's issues. Wait, women's issues? What is meant by this, I'm sure to be asked. And surely, I ask the same, for women's issues are really everyone's, women's issues are society's issues. What impacts the women of a society or a culture and how is a measure of the state of said society/culture. Men in society, especially those who hold the most appeal and political power, have much impact on the women in that society, whether it be basic human rights, access to health care, portrayals of women in the media, views on what is 'appropriate' of women, and so forth.

We can go over much of the progress that gender equality and the feminist movement has attempted and succeeded in doing, while still recognizing there is so much more to be done, in many places around the world still, not just in the West. Where it starts is by including men in the conversation. That's where men being within the movement begins. At first glance, when breaking down the word 'feminism', it can almost seem to mean exclusionary to many men that turn away from this 'f' word, not often for what feminism is itself, but what male culture has perceived it to be. There needs to be a renewed discussion amongst men themselves on what it truly means to be masculine in this day and age and to make the adjustments necessary to make the strengths of masculinity be beneficial for all members of society. There needs to be a rejection of past and damaging ideals of masculinity. What needs to replace those ideals? Compassion, a sense of Justice, Fairness, Pragmatism, Sympathy, and frank Openness, among other things.

j.leigh said...

Jorge,

I just wanted to say how glad I am you pointed out that feminism is not just a Western movement. I think it's highly important to stress that while the movement is (thankfully!) expanding to include a space for men, it should also be looking globally toward the feminism(s) of women all around the world (while not attempting to colonize with our own Western feminist ideas).

Your comment that feminism is about gender equality and women's issues also got me thinking about the difficulty in defining what actually constitutes a "women's" issue anymore - do these issues include trans rights, women-identified boiz, male-identified chix, lesbian rights, etc etc, and how do these issues vary globally for women? This is why masculinities and gender studies are so important!

It's exciting to experience feminism during a time when it's not just a white-washed middle class movement, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the introduction of masculinity studies into our curriculum at UCF will advance our understanding of it even further.

Sara N said...

Speaking to Feminism without Speaking for Women.

Apparently my thought process is too long for blogging *sad face* so I have to condense my original blog. Suffice it to say these questions are loaded and filled with assumptions about gender as a dichotomy and the paradox of identity politics. So at the risk of occluding important information I will limit my entry to the questions at hand.
The essays by Bortnichak, Lumm, Okun and Duetsch stood out to me positively because none of them spoke for women, only about feminism. They took what I affectionately refer to as a “Pro-Feminist” stance a la Okun. This three letter addition to the F-word makes all the difference because it allows women their voices without running the risk of a man speaking for women. Bortnichak consciously asks “was it even my place to step in on Ana’s behalf? Was I being overprotective?... The problem is knowing when to intervene; in knowing when to act on my personal feminist beliefs, and knowing when to hold back” (173 ML).
There is a serious potential for damage when a man (regardless of intentions) speaks on behalf of a woman. Rather, as a last resort, he must speak for her if she is incapable of speaking for herself (as described by Bortnichak); note the importance of women’s voices in contributing to the discourse (as exemplified by Lumm); or contribute to the discourse about being a male “Pro-Feminist” ( as Okun and Deutsch have done). This indirection promotes feminism without claiming to speak for women. “If we sincerely want to learn and change, we’ve got to begin by listening to women and trying to really hear them” (194 MSO). Here, Lumm only speaks about feminism, not for women.
An episode of South Park might help to demonstrate my point. South Park takes on the N-word in which Stan (a white character) continuously tries to tell Token (a black character) that he understands the complexities of the N-word. At the very end of the episode Stan has a revelation and tells Token, “ I get it now. I don't get it. I've been trying to say that I understand how you feel, but, I'll never understand. I'll never really get how it feels for a black person to have somebody use the N word. I don't get it.” Token replies, “Now you get it Stan…thanks dude.” In the same way, men will never fully understand women’s situation in society. To claim that they do is not only foolish, but offensive. Hence, this is not to say that men should not try; only to keep in mind their understanding will always be limited due to hermeneutics.
Nietzsche says that the best kinds of friendships are between people who are different because of the potential to learn and grow from the relationships. I happen to agree. It seems counterintuitive to forge friendships in the name of feminism and then to deny the crux of the issue. If men and women were equal feminism would sooner or later become obsolete.
Some might counter this problem of men in feminism by suggesting that we should shift the focus of feminism to all oppressed groups of people to be more inclusive. However, if women are the focus of feminism, then by shifting that focus it would cease to be feminism. So too, if the F-word applies to everyone it will be stretched to meaninglessness.
To be clear, we need support and allies within the feminist based identity movement including but limited to men. I happen to know some men who are “more feminist” than some women. But, it is equally important to allow us our voices, our alterity and our place in the front lines of the battle. For without that, it would cease to be feminism. Indirection is important because it allows women their alterity, their Otherness. For, without that, feminism runs the risk of being subsumed into maleness and patriarchy which would undo everything our foremothers struggled against.

amanda said...

Men within the feminist movement will always be the subject of debate. Can men be feminist? What will the role of men be in the movement? How can a male be a feminist if he’s not a woman, I mean how will he know the struggles that women have gone through. The questions are innless and every one has a different opinion. I think we need to step back from these questions though and just accept and welcome any male who would want to be a self-identified feminist and welcome them to the movement. While we are fighting for women centered issues, we are also fighting for equality among the sexes and what better way to do that then have men join us.

One article that I fell in love with and answers this question of what is the male role in the feminist movement is The Starbucks Intervention by Greg Bortnichak (Men’s Lives 171-3). Greg is a self-identified feminist. He battles internally as to what to do when he sees women being the victims of our sexist, patriarchal society. He stated that “problems come up when I want more than anything to take feminist action-to act in defense of someone who is being victimized by patriarchal power-but my aid is unwelcome or inappropriate or potentially does more political harm than good” (147-8). I think that men should be able to stand up for women when they see them being the victims of certain acts. I don’t see this as men fighting my battles for me but them rather helping me fight the battle of sexism and patriarchy. Greg has an ability to have an affect on people that women might not be able to. Some men might better react when hearing that their actions are sexist or anti-women rather than if it was a women telling them. Greg ends his article by saying, “feminism is something I embrace because it helps me think more clearly about who I am and how I behave as a man in this society” (173).

Tarrant ask the question is there room in the picture (of feminism) for men and I would have to say yes. One hundred times yes! I am all for women’s safe place, a place where women feel that they can share their thoughts and ideas in a non-judging, non-sexist, non-patriarchal place. At the same time we need to welcome the men that want to be apart of the feminist movement. There are some things that men won’t understand about being a woman and there are some things that women won’t understand about being a man, but that does not mean we cannot work together for the same end goals.

Men’s role within the feminist movement will be as our support, as someone else who wants equality among the sexes, as someone who can bring a different point of view and new ideas to the table and another voice to help speak out against the injustices we all face by living in a patriarchal society.

Claraine said...

I believe that men can and do play a very important part in feminism. What I think needs to be addressed when considering men’s involvement is that fact that men can contribute and support feminism but there is a thin line between contributing and dominating an area. This was addressed in the article by Bob Lamm. His honesty was very striking to me; to hear a man admit his shortcomings and his wishes for women and his thoughts about the treatment that they receive and endure made a powerful impression on me. He urged men to listen to women, I think that this is also key when considering men’s role in the feminist movement. Men have to be willing to take a back seat and deal with issues that indirectly affect them; they have to allow women’s voices to be heard. Women need to be heard and understood.

I think that involving men in feminism is a necessary step to furthering the movement. Men are able to reach out to other men and relate in many ways that women might not be able to. Men’s involvement in this movement will broaden the spectrum and allow for a rich and diverse approach to ending a wide variety of oppression(s). If we can come together with respect and understanding that was displayed so clearly and eloquently by several of the men from this week’s readings then we are expanding the possibilities and resisting the limits that society places on us and using all the resources available to us. We can fight alone all we want but I really believe that shutting men out would be a huge mistake, they are capable of stepping back out of the barriers that society sets up for us and see that things need to be done to change the way we treat other living things.

carly mac said...

I think that it is problematic to regard masculinity in terms of genetics and biology, the way the Wikipedia does:
"A great deal is now known about the development of masculine characteristics and the process of sexual differentiation specific to the reproductive system of homo sapiens. The SRY gene on the Y chromosome interferes with the process of creating a female, causing a chain of events that leads to testes formation, androgen production, and a range of both natal and post-natal hormonal effects."  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masculinity)

Because of these types of claims (that appear on a website that is easily and most accessible to all people) that support the Biological Determinist theory, the average person assumes that "the process of creating a female" (or male) is caused by chromosomes, not by socialization. The average person (a non-women's studies/gender studies scholar) who is curious about masculinity and gender is probably automatically going to look to Wikipedia first. Most people are therefore going to assume that gender is inherent, that all boys are the same and all girls are the same, and that this is natural and normal. It's biological, so you can't dispute it, right? How are we going to strive towards gender equality when we have such stern gender polarization?
I also think its interesting that even within Wikipedia's definition of masculinity, when an example is used, competition is implied. "When masculine is used to describe men, it can have degrees of comparison—more masculine, most masculine."  Why are men comparing themselves to other men on the basis of 'who is the most masculine in the room?' Wikipedia also states that virility is a synonym of masculinity. Virility is described as strength. This means that femininity (the opposite of masculinity) means weakness. Cool.

Men must stop competing with other males, assuming that personal attributes are biological, and viewing men as strong as women as weak. There are a lot more productive things that men can be doing with their time... striving towards gender equality, for example! :)

We think of feminism as being primarily concerned with the status of women. This is not necessarily true. Feminism is about striving towards equality and stopping the oppression of ALL people. This, believe or not, includes men. Men are also oppressed in this society, even though they are the ones with the most power and privilege. Men are oppressed by the same gender roles that oppress women. The same way that women are limited in expressing their true selves by the confines of feminity, men are constrained by ideals of masculinity. Because of these rigid social constraints, neither men nor women can develop into full human beings. Studies show that androgynous people are the most healthy, well-adjusted, and adaptable.* This is because they display a full range of characteristics, instead of characteristics that we assume can apply to only men or only women.

carly mac said...

continued...

If men want liberation from the “Act-Like-a-Man Box” (Paul Kivel 83) and freedom to express a full range of emotions and characteristics, they must become part of the feminist struggle. Jackson Katz claims that men can, indeed, “contribute to the enormous transformations in the gender and sexual order that [is] taking place all around us- as well as within us” (xxi). I think Katz has a very valid point about the way that men can and should do their feminism. It is not only external, but is internal as well. He quotes Sandra Harding, a feminist philosopher. Katz states,

“Harding argues that it is important for men (and whites, heterosexuals, citizens of wealthy Western countries) to learn about themselves through the lens of the experiences of subordinated groups. But she also acknowledges that men must struggle for a kind of self-awareness, a process that is painful for men who find themselves ‘abandoning cherished beliefs about themselves and their worlds, and choosing new behaviors and life projects.’” (xxii)

One of the privileges that men have is the option to not think about their privilege. I (being white, wealthy, young, educated, and able-bodied) can understand how easy it is to ignore privilege. My privileges are no burden to me. Had they not been brought to my attention, how would I even suspect that I have more power than others? I can also empathize that it is difficult to reject privilege. When something is given to you so easily and matter-of-factly, it is hard to deny it. Especially when denying your own privilege and pointing out the privileges of others can come as such a challenge. What men in feminism must do is, as Shira Tarrant states, work on “confronting patriarchal systems in a culture that can be unsupportive and downright hostile to this perspective” (4).

It’s easy to preach to men that they need to take an active part in the women’s movement. However, actually allowing them to help us is quite another. Kyle Brilliante’s essay, Engendering the Classroom: Experiences of a Man in Women’s and Gender Studies, brought many issues to light that I would have never suspected. Brilliante writes, “By prohibiting men’s involvement as women’s studies students through disavowal and neglect, women in women’s studies programs make themselves the only ones knowledgeable and capable of fulfilling feminism’s goals” (224). I often feel like the students in my Women’s Studies classes are the only people who understand feminism and are really working towards change. Feminism needs to be accessible to people outside of this small scholarly field, and men should be encouraged to join us within it. The same way that feminists are concerned with the way women are marginalized because we have vaginas, men should not be marginalized within feminism simply because they have penises. To exclude men from the discussion of feminism would be against everything that we stand for. We would be hypocrites. Also, don’t we need that other 50% of the population to help us? We surely can’t do it alone. So female feminists should strive to include and encourage male feminists, not alienate them. Brilliante says,

“But though I still try, I can’t help but feel that as long as women like her-my peers, my classmates- continue to remind me that I don’t get it, that I can’t get it, that I won’t get it, I’ll always remain distant in their eyes, my maleness forever an impediment. What I really want from my classmates, peers, and other women, is for them to realize me for who I am, who I can be, and who I want to become; that I am someone who is willing and wants to understand.” (224)




* Miller, N., Falk, R., & Huang, Y. (2009, July). Gender Identity and the Overexcitability Profiles of Gifted College Students. Roeper Review, 31(3), 161-169. Retrieved August 27, 2009, doi:10.1080/02783190902993920
http://ezproxy.lib.ucf.edu/login?URL=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=43187486&site=ehost-live

mixed enigma said...

First, I would like to address the insecurities with the question in what “ought” to be men’s role in the feminist movement. There is no particular layout that men should follow within the movement besides to raise their own consciousness to the oppressions being imposed upon women, from here they, men, may decide what they “ought” to do. Now to the question at hand; as addressed in the article the The Starbucks Intervention, the author exemplifies the notion of what role exactly men should play in feminism. The dilemma of men’s role within the movement is that men either “risk offending or patronizing women who are capable of protecting themselves, or insulting women who like this sort of [objectification of women]” (Bortnichak, 173). The author of this text is a fine example of the predicament that will arise from the role of men in the feminist movement. As aforementioned, consciousness-raising is the main successor men ought to take in such a female driven movement; “there is a need for men to do consciousness-raising of a different sort: self-consciousness-raising” (Katz, xxiv).
Now, is there room for men in the feminist movement? The few authors we read in Men Speak Out did address this question; unfortunately for men it seems that women have always wanted to reclaim their own space without the access of men. I utmost agree with women in reclaiming what ought to be their space, but I empathize with the men attempting to make changes within the patriarchal system from their perspectives. Men who are, or made, aware of the oppression of women can only aide in the process of ending patriarchy. The more individuals one recruits for the battle the better the turnout will be in our, women’s, favor. Men cannot hinder the movement, as some feminists I feel would like to disagree. As Jackson Katz reveals in the foreword of Men Speak Out, “we as men could contribute to the enormous transformations in the gender and sexual order that were taking place around all us – as well as within us” (xxi). Thus, a social change should be all inclusive of any individual who feels the need to end the oppression at hand. If feminists decide to only include women in the movement then feminists could be blamed for the same ostracizing that men do to women everyday. Feminists should not take this risk of the exclusion of men who are willing, and able, to help fight for our rights. As Brillante states in his essay, “left unchecked gender based judgments not only inhibit the learning process, but also undermine the goals of feminism. If feminism is a movement that teaches us to identify and end oppression—in all its manifold forms—then feminism is not solely a single-gender interest” (226).
Hopefully, feminism will achieve the Ze perspective of non-gender conformities and not continually disavowal men because of a difference in chromosomes. Though many feminists, I believe, are against biological determinism it seems as if they still hold a grudge on individuals whom appear differently from them. My suggestion is supersede the external masquerades for the internal mental power. Feminism is moving towards a non-biased movement that should, and will, be able to accept assistance from all Ze’s. Let us stop formulating boxes that depict society’s characteristics based on historical discourse created by patriarchal endeavors. As pointed out in the introduction of Men Speak Out, men and women are “struggling to rethink how it understands manhood and masculinity, just as it is struggling with changing ideas about women and femininity” (Tarrant, 1). Thus, pre-conceived connotations need to become obsolete so that pro-feminist men and feminist themselves reclaim ideals created by the patriarchy. It’s a joint struggle, on behalf of men and women, to end such patriarchal misconceptions.

Ashley Halpin said...

Through my limited knowledge of feminism (this is my first women’s studies class and I chose the class on a whim, but I am glad I did), the readings have convinced me that men can have a very positive role in feminism. Although feminism is primarily concerned with the rights of women, it is also a movement towards equal rights for all. In order for our society to become more egalitarian, men have to change the way they act and think, as well as women. In American society, gender is so ingrained in the way we think, behave and indentify ourselves that it can be difficult to understand that masculinity and femininity are not something we are born with, but are taught. For example, the idea that women are not naturally better parents than men, but are encouraged from a very young age to possess the characteristics we associate with being a good mother,—compassion, kindness, and gentleness—can be a very foreign concept.

Which leads us to the role of men: if not taught by someone, how are men to understand how gender is culturally constructed? Additionally, if not taught by someone or through a life experience, how are men to understand the privilege they have, which because they possessed it their entire lives, is “invisible?” Again, through my limited knowledge, men can learn to understand how gender is culturally constructed and how women are oppressed through the privilege of men, and then utilize that knowledge to become better human beings as sons, brothers, boyfriends, husbands, fathers, teachers, politicians, employees, bosses and the list goes on. Through their growth, who can say how many people they may influence to be better human beings, as well?

However, I believe the first step to change is knowledge and if we encourage men to take women’s studies classes and participate in the feminist movement—even if it is just through living their everyday lives—they will gain knowledge they may never have received otherwise.

Kevin Alvarez said...

I have always been uneasy about my own role in feminism. Even though I've been part of a feminist organization for going on two years and always sympathized with feminism without knowing it - I feel as though a role for men is always looked at with skepticism and suspicion.

"Engendering the Classroom" was one of the readings that stuck the most with me. This is because I know what it is like to say I am a Women's Studies minor and to receive a response like "You're a women's studies minor?!" and "But, you're a guy!" and this is usually from women. I find that one of the most aggravating things is to justify why I am a WS minor but I have had to do it.

When it comes to the role of men in feminism I don't think I have an opinion one way or the other. This is still something I am grappling with even though I actively participate in feminist activism. I feel as though men should serve as enablers (like the protagonist in the Starbucks Intervention) rather than as protectors of feminism. I believe men can be feminists, men should be feminists, and that feminism can eventually become a movement that encompasses all people but I equate a leading role to men in feminism to one of white men leading the black rights movement.

Sandy P. said...

My conception of men’s role in the feminist movement has much to do with the essay “Engendering the Classroom.” I had never read any literature on behalf of men on feminist perspectives and was quite skeptical to hear what these men had to say. First, I think men’s role in the movement should be the education and consciousness-raising of, not only themselves, but other men. Patriarchal forces in society shape men (and women) to take on behaviors that demean and denigrate women and their status in society. Unfortunately, not enough men come to learn about feminism and feminist politics on their own and many—consciously or subconsciously—think, “what can I learn from a woman?” What men don’t realize is exactly what Jason Katz mentioned in the movie “Tough Guise;” patriarchy not only relegates woman to a subordinate and fixed role in society, but it also oppresses men in a similar fashion by teaching men that they are always in a struggle against “feminine forces” in which they can only win by being MORE masculine, MORE manly.
Secondly, men can serve to educate young boys that are learning to shape and interpret masculinity on their own terms. Feminist men can teach boys that women are not simply here for their enjoyment or amusement and that women are ALSO autonomous, self-sufficient beings. Feminist men can teach boys about gender dichotomization and fluidity, in turn, hopefully easing the transition of adolescent boys into a type of “manhood” that does not require woman’s subservience or degradation. Teaching boys early is crucial to future generations and an important step in preventing violence against women.
Although it is hard to admit that some men do not believe in listening to and acknowledging women as autonomous beings, I think this is where feminist men can really try to bridge the gap. This also leads to my next point on men in the movement: LISTENING. I cannot stress Brillante’s point enough; men in the movement need to listen to women and realize that the movement is truly about a woman’s space. Men must understand that it is necessary to take a secondary role in the movement because of the context of the movement in a patriarchal society that favors men over women, especially in leadership roles. What kind of message are we sending if men are leading the women’s movement? Their help is necessary, as everyone’s help is necessary, but we must maintain the focus on women in the movement.

art. said...

I believe that the root role for male bodied people who want to be active within feminist identified movements is to listen. As male bodied people, we are taught to dominate; we are not born men but learn to become men.

Taking a step back from attempting to smash patriarchy from a position of privilege will hopefully allow men to begin to understand that interconnected nature of their privilege.

Think about ways in which the gender dichotomy dominates or privileges people. In the text, Human Sexuality there is a section on cross dressing. In the section the book reads that it is harder on men to cross dress because much of what was once considered cross dressing for women is now accepted as normal gender expression.

The text fails to mention, however, the idea that the acceptance of what was formerly seen as female cross dressing is a product of male centered ideology/society. It is acceptable for a woman to be like a man, but not for a man to be like a woman. When put this way, it reads to me like the difference of norms is much more rooted in sexism, as well as homophobia, rather than a double standard against men.

Considering how complex and interconnected these issues are, I think it's high time that those of us with male privilege take release the reins on discussion.

taco said...

As the question denotes, feminism is primarily concerned with the status of women, but I don't think this fact should exclude men from the movement. Feminism does not exist in a vacuum - inherent in the question of women's status in society is a question of men's status in society. And even if every woman stands up and demands equality, men are the ones who have to concede power in order for equality to be gained. In order to do this, men must first become informed of the ways in which they are affected by and perpetuate patriarchy (just as women become informed of the ways they are oppressed by the patriarchy and the ways that they, too, perpetuate it). Then, they can change their own behaviors and inform other men. These actions are actions which align mostly with the abilities of feminist men. While feminist women work every day to inform both men and women of the effects of patriarchy, I would imagine that feminist men acting as liaisons could be effective in different ways or among different groups than feminist women. They also have access to different groups and different situations than women. As with Greg Bortnichak's situation in Starbucks (ML 171-173), feminist women will not always be there to challenge misogynistic behavior. If a feminist man is present and can speak up in a situation in which no female feminists are present, I think he should. If he doesn't, sexism goes unchecked. The important thing is that feminist men not speak for women, but rather speak for themselves as feminist men: as people who are also genuinely angry about the treatment and role of women in society, as people who have an opinion that is valid and important. Also, men can do a very specific thing which women cannot do: only men can inform themselves (as men) and only men can change their own individual misogynistic/sexist/patronizing actions and attitudes. As Kyle Brillante wrote in "Engendering the Classroom", "By prohibiting men's involvement as women's studies students through disavowal and neglect, women in women's studies programs make themselves the only ones knowledgable [sic] and capable of fulfilling feminism's goals. A women's studies class comprised of most, if not all women, precludes the opportunity for all of us to achieve feminism's goals in our daily lives" (MSO 224).

And as patriarchy is perpetuated by all members of society, it seems silly to me to assume that women alone can dismantle it. If we as feminist women don't allow men to join our ranks and participate in feminist action, debate, and learning, we hurt not only ourselves and other women, but we hurt also the men who could, through feminist studies, come to a greater self-awareness and understanding of their own function in an inherently unequal society and be exposed to new, exciting, egalitarian alternatives for self-construction.

Cristina said...

Like most people have expressed, I too am very excited about this course and after doing the readings and watching Tough Guise I am just ecstatic! I am also glad that we have some of our male comrades in this class, so that we learning collectively with them rather than studying men and their actions. I think men now more than ever should know how their tendencies, feelings and actions have been influenced by our society and see how in some ways they too have been oppressed.

I really enjoyed the article "Caveman Masculinity" and how it unveiled the truth about evolutionary science and how it has influenced our society and become part of our popular culture. I found it to be insulting to men how they undermine their abilities and actions to that of a primal being, "Not much has changed in human sexuality since the Pleistocene" (4). I highly doubt that, since that was over 12,000 years ago! The idea that ogling women is in men's DNA seems absurd and demeaning. But who is going to argue with science? Not the dominant class who just got all the validation they need for their powerful, aggressive behavior. Like the article mentions, this seems awfully familiar to the scientific propaganda that was peddled to middle class suburban women of the 1950s. So the mystique is back, making men feel "stripped of his connections to a wider world and invited to fill the void with consumption and a gym-bred display of his ultra masculinity" (4). Just like women's magazine editors, during the time of the happy housewife, felt that women would not care to read about current events unless they were over simplified and directly correlated to the woman and her home, since that’s all they care about, men's magazines do the same. But for men the correlation has to be to sex, comparing a man's sperm to that of a vast amount of poker chips and telling men that, "What you think counts for almost nothing. In the environment that crafted your brain and body...the only thing that counted was that your clever neocortex be turned off so that you could quickly select a suitable mate, impregnate her, and succeed in passing on your genes to the next generation" (5). This isn't the Stone Age and the caveman mystique gives go ahead for men to go against their better judgment and give into their conquering, primal, 'biological' urges whenever they see fit. Is this mystique now a loophole for consent?

So if men are being manipulated to believe and act out these masculine traits and being oppressed by having to stay within the limits of the "act-like-a-man box"; we as feminists should welcome men and let them learn our struggles, and how they too can overcome their oppressors. Jackson Katz discusses this point, "...a commitment to gender justice entails deep concern for the wounds of boys and men- wounds that are inflicted by the same oppressive, sexist system that does such harm to women" (MSO xxiii). Isn't feminism fighting for gender justice? So then shouldn't men be involved in this fight? I definitely think so. If we don’t then men like Kyle, in Engendering the Classroom: Experiences of a Man in Women and Gender Studies, who believe in what we stand for and want to march alongside us will be, in a sense, marginalized by feminists, one of the many things we try to prevent. As Kyle said, “Feminism is not solely a single-gender interest. It is a process, a way of learning and thinking that continually invites us to reconsider its purpose and meaning” (MSO 226). So let us try and embrace the enthusiasm others have for feminism, while also upholding the ideals that makes feminism unique.

Lauren said...

It's a little long... eh. I'll fix that in the future.

PART 1:

Toward the end of my Third Wave Feminisms course last semester, when we were talking about the next horizon for the feminist movement, I felt like I was the only one eager for the men to get on board, so when I noticed this class finally getting a chance to see the light of day, I jumped in, and already with the reading accompaniments and the general feel of the class, I look forward to it.

I feel like the very issues that we claim exist to separate men and womyn ideologically are the same things we wish we could fight against, and change. So where does the refusal come from? Messy attempts at past political cooperative actions are a start.

During the first wave movement, particularly during the beginning of the quest for suffrage, many of the womyn involved were inspired by abolitionists and yet, as time went on, lost a great deal of support from those they had first worked side-by-side with, when they decided to pursue their own freedoms. During the second wave, a similar thing happened in regards to the Vietnam War. As Rob Okun explains in “Confessions of a Premature Pro Feminist,” “There was a blindness among the male, anti-war movement leaders, a presumption that as men they were entitled to be in charge… little room for women’s ideas, women’s ways.” (185). I feel like after these womyn gave into causes that would not reciprocate social support, we became disillusioned to the idea of ever having others help us, outside of our gender. However, womyn were not completely innocent either, when you think of how predominantly white and middle/upper class that feminism was for so long. But just as bringing in sisters of color has allowed the feminist movement to thrive, I think that bringing in socially responsible men could do the same and I believe it to be the time.

Lauren said...

PART 2:

There is a common fear that if men are allowed membership, so to speak, they will come bearing white privilege or generalized male dominance issues, and attempt to seize control. Greg Bortnichak (“The Starbucks Intervention”) writes about his experience in which he, as a feminist, witnesses a man basically sexually harass his girlfriend with his eyes and be unapologetic about it. Instead of notifying his girlfriend at the time, he attempted to handle the matter himself, and that had conflicting thoughts about it. The main issue comes down to men understanding how to handle women’s strength within the movement. “The problem lies in knowing when it’s okay to intervene; in knowing when to act on my personal feminist beliefs, and when to hold back…[f]eminism is something I embrace because it helps me think more clearly about who I am and how I behave as a man in this society.” (ML, 173). While it is true that we are not looking for males to come into the movement to be our knights, and the fear is a substantial one, the fact that a man who has chosen to make himself aware of feminism goes through this thought process and understands the repercussions in being on the protective defense is something womyn should look at and therefore feel confident about.

There are positives to be associated with the melding of both genders inside of the feminist movement. The sheer numbers are always a benefit to a social movement, and I cannot speak for everyone out there, but I would like to dispel horrible stereotypes about being a man-hater. Some of my most personal and important relationships have been with men, in and outside of romantic arenas, and I am tired of feeling like I bring these men into secret, backdoor feminist initiations because of certain corners of the movement possessing a great deal of hostility. Also, we can all agree that one of the major issues attributed to men is that of violence. Feminism could make the violence paradigm a community education talking point, instead of ammunition, and thereby help its own causes, and hopefully, lead to their end.

In every womyn’s studies class I have taken, the class ends with the classmates (usually mostly or all womyn) considerably closer to one another, and more comfortable around womyn in general when they understand why and how they are raised and spoon fed hatred and jealousy from advertisers and the media, and how they can escape it. The positive feelings towards womyn I have gotten (I could have seriously been considered misogynistic at a point in my life, even as a womyn) from this class could be altered and turned into the same positive rapport between men and womyn.

Gender equality isn’t all salaries and child care. They’re important parts, but it comes down to EMPATHY between genders. Allowing men into the movement is the ONLY way to get there.

Zen Lien said...

I may be weird for thinking this but I find the question of whether men can be or ought to be feminists almost funny. Maybe its because my understanding of feminism has always been that the movement is about gaining equality not separating genders or putting women above men. Why would we ever think men (about half the population) can't or shouldn't be a part of this? Feminism without men is like punching a brick wall.Caring,educated men are out there, and I think by excluding them we do so much more damage than including them and teaching them.

That being said, I liked Bob Lamm's speech in Men Speak Out. Here he acknowledged that in certain cases it is necessary for women to have a separate space in order to thrive. The women in his class broke off to form their own class because they were being stifled by the men, including Lamm their professor. Lamm said he learned that many times it is better for men to play a passive role and listen or get out of the way when women talk about their issues. However, he didn't say men should just run for the hills regarding feminism, passive roles still count as support and participation.I think it is important to know that many time when we fission (men in one place, women in another) that women may thrive from being together and away from male influence but men may just reinforce the patriarchal ideals already in place without female influence. Therefore female feminists are making it harder on themselves by isolating men.It simply becomes and us against them situation, not one of equality.

Kyle Brillante's account also showed the importance of men not just supporting women but also men supporting each other. This time in a different way. Not the typical "lets look out for each other so women don't take over" kind of way, but a sensitivity to each other's struggles of being part of the rare breed of male feminists. He claims during a speech about feminism with an all-female audience except one male, that he was most concerned with the support of the one male, not the women. Brillante makes a great point about perspective.A classmate of his(among many women) told him, "You don't understand". Meaning being a man he has no perspective on a woman's struggle.In response Brillante says "I can't help but feel as long as women...continue to remind me that I don't get it, that I can't get it,that I won't get it, I'll always remain distant in their eyes, my maleness forever and impediment....I am someone who is willing and wants to understand."(MSO 224)Men not understanding our experience is a given. If we think about it, no two people in the universe have the same perspective, all we can do is try. By telling people "you don't get it" or "well you're not a woman so how would you know?" just makes them feel unnecessary and furthermore less inclined to support out cause. In essence, its almost the same as what men have been doing to us through out history, "oh you're just a women, you couldn't understand." I'm sure we've all heard some form of that in our lives and it pissed us off. So lets invite men, to learn, to participate and most of all while we don't want them to walk in front of us, we'd be honored if they walked beside us.

Ross said...

“Is there room in the picture for men?”

Evidently, yes. I know this is a rhetorical question, but let’s take it at face value. I am a male women’s studies minor taking a women’s studies class about male identity. The matriarchs of the UCF Women’s Studies department have clearly cast their verdict. My male and female peers here have accepted me (as far as I can tell:)) and I have participated usefully in gender-related activism.

Beyond the anecdotal scale, men have worked with women continuously on gender issues for as long as those issues have been articulated. Men stood with women in the fight for suffrage, as even the high-school history books will admit. In the underground, Petr Kropotkin stressed that women’s self-liberation was vital to the fulfillment of anarchist goals. Despite this continuous, high-profile involvement of men the women’s movement has yet to self-destruct on a philosophical inconsistency. Rather, feminism keeps on growing. There must be some abstract theoretical reason for this, the kind that a masculine mind would crave (ML xiv), but the empirical evidence is enough for our purposes. Men have a de facto role in feminism. A de jure explanation for this would be nice, but it shouldn’t slow us down. A man paralyzed by indecision about his role in the movement does no one good.

Enough dry empiricism! Emotion and connectivity, and by extension fundamental rights, provide the entire basis we need for feminist men. Empathy is a wellspring in everyone’s chest, even if our culture frowns on men expressing it. We are all capable of perceiving injustice through empathy and yearn to correct it. Repressing this urge is emotionally agonizing.

Rights stem from needs. It would be agonizing for one to be unable to breath, eat, or choose his or her path in life. By this logic working to correct injustice is a right. On what grounds can anyone deny empathetic men this right? A women’s movement that excludes male associates commits an injustice by preventing these men from answering the demands of their nature.

Determining “what ought to be men’s role in this movement (feminism)” requires some platonic thinking. Other bloggers have already mentioned plenty of excellent roles that men play in feminism. I’d like to focus on Bortnichak’s story. Putting his after-the-fact doubts aside, Bortnichak was in a simple, archetypal situation: he could either do the right thing or remain indifferent to a wrong (ML 172). Men and women both see sexism every day. The basic job of any male feminist is as a moral actor in these situations. This is especially important because there are masculine spaces in this society where men are the only actors. Bortnichak was able to verbally ambush the creep because of the small fraternal space that the two shared. The creep would have probably not been so open about what he was staring at had a woman challenged him.

Men, both inside and outside the women’s movement, provide the selective pressure that helps feminist theory evolve. The defensive and clueless men in Lamm’s class forced their female peers to defend their arguments creatively and seek their own space (MSO 192-3). Brilliante’s presence in the classroom challenged his classmate’s assumptions about the inclusivity of their doctrines (MSO 221). Whether they are for or against feminism, men motivate philosophical growth and expose lackluster theories.

Kelly T said...

I don’t feel that feminism is necessarily concerned primarily with the status of just women any more. It has come to be more of a movement in which people are fighting for equality for all of those who are oppressed. This includes the GLBTQ community, disabled, elderly, different sized people, races, religions and yes… males. There is no clear cut “role” for men in feminism, just that they need to be active and involved. That should be their role, the same as the other feminists from within the movement. There is definitely room in the picture for men, but I understand that not all women feel the same way. When I read Engendering the Classroom, it made me feel bad for the men who are genuinely interested in feminism and helping to fight patriarchy. There are men out there who want to help out but encounter resistance from the movement because they are “what we’re trying to change in society” right? I love when I see men in my Women’s Studies classes and actively engaged in conversation about issues surrounding women’s (or really even human’s) rights. But then I start to think… why should it be a positive or negative thing for men to be involved. There are those women who think it’s better to have women-only spaces and then there are those who think it’s so great to see a man interested in this topic. Men should be interested in these issues, it reminds me of the scenario where a father is taking care of their child and gets praise for it while when the mother does it, it’s just normal because she is supposed to be doing it. It seems like the same thing to me, it’s normal for women to be involved, to learn the theory and to take action, but when men do the same thing their either looked upon with suspicion or talked about as being “the ideal guy” by others from within the community.
When we look at those males within the feminist community, who identify as feminists, I still can’t help but to feel a bit sad for them. I can’t imagine being so passionate about something and wanting to cause change but not being able to because what I wanted to change was a part of who I was. Another reading that stuck out to me was The Starbucks Intervention. The male in this story seemed like a very honest, caring, meaning no harm person who identified as a feminist in a very anti-feminist society. When he started speaking about not knowing when to take action or even what action he could take just because of his gender I realized that there are some guys I know that don’t identify as feminist who also struggle with this issue. Knowing me has changed the way a few of my male friends think and act and I know it has to be very confusing. Where is the line? When does something turn from being polite to being demeaning? Or when is a joke funny and when is it degrading? I still struggle with these issues within my own feminism, so I can’t even imagine what it must feel like for men. I think the first step to integrating men into feminism is showing them that feminism is not just a women’s issue and that it also affects them while showing women that men can be our greatest allies. :D

Gravityreigns said...

Men’s role in feminism is just as important of the role of women in feminism. Women do not live and work in societies without men. The very existence of men and their role in the oppression of women by necessity dictates their involvement in the movement. Women working amongst themselves is ideal in creating a women’s world or an isolated women’s sphere (which are important and needed) but not ideal in the integration of feminist ideals into normative society because women and men live and work together in normal society. Without men also understanding, researching, teaching, making examples, living with a feminist mentality the overall mentality would still be divided. Having all sexes within the movement heralds the actuality of total equality. Having men in the feminist movement (which in the name, I agree Ariel, denotes being female as a requirement) works to forge a community within the larger community working as an example to what the larger community can become. Neither only women nor only men can survive in a community (until technology becomes better) entirely unto themselves; eventually the sex would die out. Women and men are forced to interact and live together in the larger community and it seems only necessary to include all people in a movement focused on the equality of all people without the oppressions of life without privilege.

That being said I found myself continually outraged at various moments in the articles of men’s experience (Men Speak Out) relating the oppression of men within a feminist movement to understanding the experience of women in a patriarchal society. To myself I thought “Women have finally created a place of which to expand and grow without the worry of distractions and oppressions” and now some random men in those spaces feels outcasted because the women don’t value their words! Outrage! But then before I calm down I realize that regardless of what space any person holds there are always distractions and oppressions regardless of categorization. Women in women’s groups can feel pressured and sexually oppressed by other women, women can feel distracted or unvalued by other women, and women can be just as insensitive to other women as any person could be to another. Understanding this I realize that the people within the movement/space matter more than the gender of the people in the movement/space. Not all women are feminists. Not all women love other women. Not all women want to help other women. But, generally, people within a movement care about the movement and, I think, regardless of identification all people should be welcomed in a movement geared to create equal spaces for all people.

The best point I could have made to myself was reading the same articles I initially complained about. Reading about the difficulty of the male experience (within feminism and without) just proves the value of one outside the category learning about the category. Researching and reading more into the flaws of the masculine culture helps me understand the overwhelmingly overall patriarchy that does not just limit women but men as well. Reading into these men’s experience helped create an insight previously not available to me because as female identified female I’m limited to my own experience. But, if I could read just these few articles and realize so much more about my society then men reading about the female experience can be seen as a beneficial and positive movement as well.

Lisa said...

The question of whether male identified folks should play a role in achieving feminist goals and if so to what extent has been something that I have struggled to answer since my very first feminist theories class. My initial introduction to radical feminism completely altered my views of what it means to be a feminist; it was no longer simply a "fight for equal rights", rather an entire woman- centric philosophy in which men (no matter how empathetic to the cause) could play no useful role in smashing patriarchy. And I was so down. However, as time has progressed I've realized that this vision of an all female feminist utopia was simply not realistic.

Although I do believe that there should be a place for men in feminism, I continue to be very skeptical of what that place may be. Sometimes I feel that including men in the feminist movement may stem from some need of validation or approval from men, which is exactly what feminism seeks to abolish. Or that women depend on the support and participation of men in order to have a successful movement. While both of these insecurities may hold some truth, if the feminist movement is about ending oppression for all then there has to be a role for men.

I think that it's important for men as feminist allies to be mindful that most great movements have been spearheaded by men and in our society the opinions and actions of men are much more validated than those of women. I can't even describe my shock when I enroll for a course in women's studies and the three men in class completely monopolize the class discussion. So, if men wish to play a significant role in the feminist movement it's important that they recognize and do not actively exert their male privilege.

Also, male feminists may be able the empathize with the oppression of women and detest it, however they will never be able to understand what is is like to be conditioned as a woman in our society.

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

Also, I would hesitate to claim that men are oppressed as being men. Men of color may be oppressed for being of color, or homosexual men may be oppressed for being homosexual, but men do not fit the definition of being an oppressed group of people. Although the effects of being conditioned as a male may be detrimental (not being able to show emotion, etc.) to a person, men are not an oppressed or marginalized group in western society.

"The term oppression is primarily used in such instances to refer to the subordination of a given group or social category by unjust use of force, authority, or societal norms in order to achieve the effects noted above. When institutionalized, formally or informally, it may achieve the dimension of systematic oppression." (wikipedia)

Andrea said...

I feel that men in the Feminist movement is ideal, because in order to get the best results possible, we need to have all view points. That is a problem that is brought up so many times from evaluating the First and Second Waves, is that they were extremely exclusive and not inviting to the other womyn who were also feeling oppressed, and who were maybe not white and/or heterosexual. Since we are in the Third Wave I feel that it is our duty to include men in our mission to justice and equality. Yes, I know that it is extremely difficult to get passed the fact that men and womyn do not fully understand what both sides go through, but at the end of the day, we are all being oppressed in some sort of way and we want it to end. As long as everyone is “playing fair” and giving each other time to speak and express their opinions, then it should not matter. We as Womyn’s Studies scholars study gender all the time through our readings and discussions, and if we discriminate against men who identify with the male gender, then I feel like we will just be perpetuating what we are trying to stop. Also, I think that men bringing awareness to other men sometimes makes a bigger impact then womyn being the only ones doing it. I don’t see this as having men fight our battles, but I see it as men being real with each other. If their friend tells a rape joke that they don’t think is funny then having a response with, “dude, that’s messed up” as opposed to laughing at it and shrugging it off, but truly knowing that it is wrong.

I really enjoyed Caveman Masculinity, because I am so tired of people saying that things that men do are biological and natural when it is so evident that that is not the case. This theory of the caveman definitely underestimates men and their abilities, but it is also an easy way out when they do inappropriate things, and then the “boys will be boys” theory kicks in. This message to men comes from our media and society as a whole. The same way that womyn realized that they have working minds and abilities past the household; men will also realize that they have minds that can work past the chauvinistic mindset that has been instilled since they were young boys all the way through adulthood. Thinking that they must degrade womyn in front of their friends, and call each other “fags,” “wimps,” or female body parts, is viewed as being masculine and just “being a guy.” Constantly wanting to wrestle and challenge one another might slightly be biological, but for the most part it is learned behavior, according to Kivel, “Much too often we try to relieve our fears of being gay or effeminate by attacking others” (83). I know several boys in high school that would come over to the girl table at lunch to talk about their emotions, or when they didn’t feel like getting constantly teased by their friends. Why is this okay? Why is this seen as masculine? I also really enjoyed the “Act-Like-a-Man” box, because that is exactly what was addressed. In the beginning of the article, there is a part that says “Notice that many of the words we get called refer to being gay or feminine. This feeds into two things we’re taught to fear: (1) that we are not manly enough and (2) that we might be gay” (83). Men are constantly trying to get passed this fear, and if they say that they are proclaimed Feminists, then they also will get harassed, much like Greg Bortnichak in “The Starbucks Intervention,” just trying to be himself and stand up for what he thinks is right, but might not be considered “masculine” in society’s eyes.
So, in conclusion, men being part of the Feminist movement is critical, because womyn are not the only ones that are trying to overcome patriarchy, but men are also feeling the pressure of this patriarchal system that we are all engulfed in.

Sara N said...

Ross!

"I am a male women’s studies minor taking a women’s studies class about male identity. The matriarchs of the UCF Women’s Studies department have clearly cast their verdict."

*Feminist Theory is a PHM class: Philosophy of Man. (And they have made theirs!)

Ross said...

Well, I'll be damned! Feminist Theory is PHM and Theories of Masculinity is WST. What good is language in the first place?

Sara N said...

Haha, that is the question! I’m glad somebody else noticed that. The more I think about it the more it seems to say that these terms “Man” and “Woman” can only be understood in relation to each other. This is Derrida’s notion of the supplement, or in simpler terms a retronym. A retronym is, for example, a guitar. The electric guitar is invented so the original becomes the acoustic guitar. Hence we cannot understand acoustic guitar without electric guitar. Man and woman are the same.

If we are to study “Man” we must also investigate its constitutive outside “Woman” to borrow from Butler. The same is true for this phenomenon “Women Studies” in which we must investigate “Man”, no?

Leila said...

The PHM/WST conundrum is funny (and ironic). There is so much talk in Women's Studies departments at various universities about shifting from "Women's Studies" to "Gender Studies" or "Women and Gender Studies" or "blah blah blah" accompanied by heavy critique and debates about moving "women" back to the margin by shifting program names. Many people claim that "Gender" programs are more inclusive, but really, so are Women's Studies' programs (this class is a good example). The history of Women's Studies' programs (the need to put women at the center of academic inquiry) problematizes taking "women" out of the name even though "gender" certainly covers a broad spectrum.

Merritt Johnson said...

First of all, I think this class is really helping men's roles in feminism movement. From what I see, all of the men in this class are very open minded about feminism and what it's all about. They are willing to talk about the various discussions we have about it and even formed the men against rape group. I feel that this is the start to letting men join in and have a role in feminism. Of course, there is always room for men like the ones in our class to be in the picture. It has not been until recently that men have been interested and helpful. I found The Learning From Women by Bob Lamm to be very influential in feminist movement for men. He stressed the importance of men listening to women, especially their anger and feelings. He realized that before he taught this class, he barely listened to what the women were saying. But after the class the students in fact, taught him something. He also stated that how men are implicated in rapes, because men rape women, it's assumed all men rape women. This is the stereotype that men are labeled as.

Although there is room for men to join in with the movement, women must always stay in charge, to not let men take over. Then the whole thing would be pointless, and men would be overpowering. There is big difference in the gender gap, men assume women cook, clean, and raise the children. They often use the terms “you cook the dinner, your better at it", making it seem nice but yet still degrading. They use these lines for everything. Men could be just as good at these things if they tried.

It makes me sad seeing men tell their boys not to cry its "sissyish", I feel that men like these need to take a class like this. In Act Like a Man, it states that boys are taught to fear two things; not being manly enough, and we might be gay. Boy are taught from an early age to show no emotion they must "fit" themselves into this box of no love, excitement, sadness, confusion, anger, curiosity, pain, shame, ect. This is just pathetic in my view. I honestly would rather date and marry a man that is in touch with his feelings than an overpowering sexist man.

In #28 of the checklist, it pissed me of reading that a guy said "If I buy a new car, chances are I'd get a better deal than if a woman bought that car". It's weird how men's minds work, in thinking they are better than us, still after all these years of feminist movements. I honestly don't know how we can imagine new possibilities for men in this movement seeing how there is still so many differences between men and women. I hope that during this class I will find out more things and by working with men against rape, I will be able to help with this gap.