Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Week 13: Men's Movements/Male Feminism

How have your views on masculinities changed? Compare and contrast the ways you viewed male identified/socialized people within and out of the feminist movement before and after this course. Use the readings to aid in your analysis of where men are currently in the feminist movement and where they are going.


Claraine said...

I think Ravarino’s essay speaks to how my views on masculinity have shifted since the beginning of this class. Throughout the ten points he lays out in his article I found myself reflecting on how my impressions of masculinity have become layered and complex. I have know that gender is not as simple as some would like it to be, we do not all fit into these boxes of male and female; know this creates a more multifarious view of how we function as a heavily gendered and binary society. This has led me to the first point in Ravarino’s essay which is “1. Challenge the myths about masculinity, patriarchy, and sexual violence.” The first thing that popped into my head was don’t judge a book by its cover. I have come to realize that I, as well as many others, can quickly size up a room full of individuals and categorize them accord to how they present themselves. It is a behavior so heavily engrained in me but this past year I have made an effort to not classify people based on my perception of their identity. It’s very important that someone be given the ability to express themselves how they see fit. Individuals should be able to have the freedom to explore themselves and be happy with who they are, whatever that might be.
Another point from Ravarino’s essay that I would like to apply to myself is “3. Accept that men have a primary role in stopping violence against women.” This class had definitely showed me that women alone cannot end violence. It takes a lot of understanding and patience to make the effort of being a progressive thinker. Not everyone is going to be on the same level of understanding and that doesn’t me we should make anyone feel bad for not being 100% aware of the issues surrounding feminism or any of the other issues we face today. The best we can do is to educate one another about the issue we do know about and make sure we are coming from a place of love, not criticism. I am constantly trying to further my understanding of the ways in which to world works and what needs to change for us to have a better quality of life. I hope that my intentions are always for the best and strive to make sure that I continually have a thirst for change and improvement for all human beings.

Zen Lien said...

Ever since I started becoming more heavily involved in feminism and Women's Studies I have said that men were integral part of change for equality. We can't fight sexism with more sexism. Assuming man as the enemy all the time just perpetuated the notion that they actually are. If we allow them to have power over themselves instead of over us they're more likely to see feminism as noble force to work with rather than against. That being said, what I never knew how to do was show men why they should feel connected to feminism. Most them are not for a cause that asks them to abdicate power, nor a cause that has nothing to with them personally. Week after week of this class I realized men are trapped and hurt by their masculinity as much women are. So yes, to the guy who thinks its hilarious to make sexist jokes about women, you are making the situation worse for yourself too. You are alienating and objectifying women so you will never have a true and honest human connection with them (for example). Recognizing the inequality in both genders is at the heart of feminism.

In Jackson Katz's "A Few Good Men", he breaks it down in an almost how to guide to get men involved. I found this incredibly helpful to me. Honestly I found that many females (including myself) would spend a lot of time getting mad about men who DID care about gender equality and took no action. Mostly it was because none of knew what they could do, other than just not be sexist asses. He divided into sections, explaining each method of guiding men toward feminism. His focus was on violence against women,which oddly enough has been one of the most divisive, heated issues I have experienced in Women's Studies. You'd think everyone would be on board with ending the violence right? No. Katz invites men to really take responsibility by looking at themselves individually and as a whole community to change. He has reiterated and summed up all the way men can help, while his methods are for violence, they are applicable to all aspects of feminism. Support women and survivors, get help if you feel you may be and active contributor to violence,stand up against sexist jokes and entertainment and most importantly, keep educating yourselves. Don't let these issues fade into oblivion so you don't feel guilty. So in summation, we can't fight sexism with more sexism. We need to fight sexism with activism, and we invite men to stand beside us in doing so.

Ariel Dansky said...

After taking this class, I have learned to be more sensitive when bringing up gender related topics with non-feminist men. Before this class, I was often far too frustrated with what I myself would term as "hyper-masculine" men to even approach and engage them when given the oppurtunity. If anything, this class has given me the tools to effectively engage individuals and help them to think critically about the social system in which we exist. As Ravarino quotes in his essay, "It is important to remember that individual men are not the problem; rather, the problem is within our larger institutions. Knowing this allows us to maintain compassion and empathy for individual men caught in the system."

I used to be close friends with a guy at school. However, because of his harsh anti-choice and anti-feminist views, we drifted apart. I honestly could not stand being around him and listening to him voice his views which I so adamantly disagreed with (one of these was that feminists were anti-men). After an argument, he defriended me on facebook and wrote me a long message, claiming that I was a "baby killer" and that he no longer wanted to be friends with me. After this episode, though, he apologized. However, I believed from that incident that i could not engage him in discussion anymore because it would upset him. This upset me, so, seeing no more basis for our friendship, I decided to start avoiding him. However, he never ceased to invite me to social gatherings, and he still seemed like he wanted to be friends with me.

Fast forward a year later: I am now a member of Men Against Rape, and we are trying to recruit new members. Not long ago, I remembered that old friend of mine and how he rejected feminism because he, in short, did not see anything in it for men. But now, here we have a group that deals with so called "women's issues" but is primarily spearheaded by men! According to Ravarino, "...research idicates...that college men are more receptive to learning about rape myths and sexual violence if men provide the workshops or education sessions." At the time, I knew this must be true, so I invited my friend to come to one of our meetings. Initially, he seemed interested, but I have not yet seen him at any of our meetings. However, I will continue to be persistant! Who knows? Maybe this guy will discover that there's something in it for him after all. Indeed, as Ravarino mentions, "when others are oppressed, no one is free."

Merritt Johnson said...

I responded to this weeks blog off of what was on our syllabus before the promt was posted but it all ties in thankfully!

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. I talked about this before during the first few weeks but I still feel this way at the end of the semester…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. 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. Men should know that they will never be able to relate to everything a woman does, or fully understand us. But, they should be open to women and accept everything about women. Women and men are obviously different and in that sense, we can work together and can tackle different roles within feminism. Women will always be the central power in feminism. Before this course I didn’t know what exactly men’s roles should be and how they would fit in. After working with all of the men in our class and in Men Against Rape, it has become clearer to me that men want to be part of this movement. Not all men are open to this and I have to go about it in different ways with different people, while staying true to my views.

Like the “Big Tent” approach on page 580 of Men’s Lives, “as I have made clear in this book, there is so much that we can do to prevent men’s violence against women- if we collective will in male culture to make it a priority. I am convinced that millions of men in our society are deeply concerned about the abuse, harassment, and violence we see—and fear---in the lives of our daughters, mothers, sisters, and lovers.” This sums it all up to me, but why isn’t there change happening?! It then goes on to answer my question, “Clearly, a lot of men are uncomfortable with other men’s abusive behaviors, but they have not figured out what to do about it- or have not yet mustered the courage to act on their own.” I agree with this reasoning, yet men are “supposed” to be big and strong and not afraid of anything like seen in the WWE movie last week. So if they can pour vomit on someone’s head and beat the shit out of each other why can’t they say, ‘hey dude, quit doing that”?!

Jonathan in Being a Social Justice Ally pin-pointed why he is a part of the feminist movement and I thought it was great. He talks about what has become of him being a feminist; “The benefits are well worth the effort. I’ve gained a better understanding of my position as a man in interpersonal relationships and how to make choices that consider my community.” If only every man were to think like this. It took a long time to break the mold of feminism and for women to hold jobs that once were male only, blacks have come a long way also. I feel that if men like Jonathon and Matthue and even Farrais from What a Feminist Looks Like from blog seven, they are breaking the mold of men in the feminist movement slowly but surely!

Ashley Halpin said...

During this class, my definition of masculinity has changed in the fact that I now see there are many different types of masculinity. Even as Americans, the definition of masculinity varies greatly especially when viewing them through race and class, but variation exists even within these contexts. While I knew this already, it became clearer to me that masculinity is not permanently fixed and that it has been changing and will continue to change. Often times in class and when reading the articles, discussion emphasized that we can change what it means to be a man and to be manly for the better. I guess I learned that masculinity is not the problem; it is the negative things we define as masculine that is the issue, such as violence.

I do not think that there is a consensus of what exactly men should be doing within the feminist movement. However, I think most would agree that men should participate, but not lead. Jonathan Ravarino, author of Being a Social Justice Ally: A Feminist’s Perspective on Preventing Male Violence, said, “One thing I do is to take responsibility for my privilege by using it to work for good purposes. Emerging research indicates, for example, that college men are more receptive to learning about rape myths and sexual violence if men provide the workshops or education sessions.” I understand the reasoning behind this, but I also see the danger, as does the author.

First, if men only listen to other men about these issues, then we are perpetuating the male privilege of men not truly listening to women’s voices. If, however, a male speaker would address this issue by plainly stating if a woman would have given this same workshop or speech, then she would probably not have been taken as seriously, it might help to change this problem of male privilege. If not addressed, then we are basically still stuck in the same cycle.

Second, there is concern that men, using their male privilege, could take over the feminist movement. The author addresses this when he states, “At the same time, it’s important to remember that for centuries, female feminists have been confronting men’s violence against women. It’s not as if male allies invented this concern. We must publicly recognize the contributions and mentoring we have received from women who make up the feminist movement. Men must remain accountable to women’s leadership and be open to feedback at every level of the process.” This is a problem we have spoken many times about in class and it is a very valid concern. All issues pertaining to male privilege are interconnected and we cannot eliminate violence against women if we do not discuss the reasons violence against women exists; it is just not simply enough to say do not rape women because the issues of male privilege are still the same. Part of the male privilege is being respected and taken more seriously than women and this, too, is connected to violence against women.

To end on a positive note, I believe men should be welcomed into the feminist movement as allies, but should always remain aware of their male privilege. These are not just women’s issues, just like racism is not an African American issue or a Hispanic issue, etc… Most importantly, the more allies you have the more you can accomplish.

Ross said...

I don’t imagine that many men are born into feminism. For me at least the journey to feminism was long and complex, driven by a mix of abstract idealism and personal uncertainty. I identify with Matthue Roth even though very few details of our lives are the same. He is deeply introspective and honest when he examines his reasons for joining the women’s movement.

When Roth tells Ward that he’s in Womyn’s Issues Now because “They’re cool to hang out with,” he is dodging a question. But his evasion does contain a great deal of truth. He says earlier in the essay that he sought out “girl friends- that is, girl-space-friends,” people to whom he can relate but are separate enough in gender and orientation that becoming too entangled is unlikely. Many people of every gender turn to feminism in search of space. But while women enjoy space constructed around a common identity within the movement, men necessarily experience a different, more alien form of fellowship. Why is this distant relationship so comforting? From a positive point of view, the distance between men and women coupled with the self affirming atmosphere of the feminist group is a great recipe for personal growth. I don’t think that that is the whole picture, though. Roth admits that he enjoyed having queer female friends because it allowed him to have safe crushes. While I don’t think that any devoted feminist men stick with the movement to “pick up chicks,” the erotic tension that comes with being surrounded by many strong, often unavailable members of another gender is probably a factor for many feminist men, if only subconsciously. Furthermore, men’s entry into the women’s movement during times of personal uncertainty probably has some roots in deeply conditioned tendencies to view women as nurturers and healers of men’s ills.

Roth’s reason for feminism that he can’t admit to Ward, the sexual assault of a friend, fits what I see as a common theme amongst male women’s rights activists: “I’m doing this because something happened to a person I know.” It’s how I answered a “my first feminism” exercise way back in the day, and in a way it is true. A lot of men who are in feminism now would probably not have entered the movement had something not happened to them, their family or a friend. Nonetheless, this explanation is too simple. If the rape of a friend turned people into feminists, then in a society with such high levels of rape as our own feminism would be almost universal. Furthermore, with so many other ways to deal with a friend’s rape (denial, religion and the law, for example) why does a given man choose feminism? I think that acceptance of feminism depends on a number of antecedent variables. A traumatic experience can drive a person to look for solutions, but it is the disposition of the individual that determines which solution Sie arrives at.

Lauren said...

One of the reasons why I was intrigued by feminist when I first came to it was due to the ideal of “the personal is political.” That line alone made me feel better about confronting the injustices I felt, realizing their bigger implications that were rooted in a stubborn culture, and the fact that I could connect with very individualized pain, to a larger network of people. This point came back to me while reading Matthue Roth’s essay “Preaching to the Choir.” After discussing his vulnerable moment of recitation, he explains: “It was a different kind of activism…we weren’t fighting anything in specific and weren’t trying to save people’s lives, except maybe our own.” (146). Reading that made me recall one of the ways in which I have tried to make the most strides since enrolling in this class and learning about masculinities. I think it is easy to forget and resign to the main, general idea of masculinity: the thought that men need less nurturing, are more stalwart, and belong to a bigger group and pack mentality the majority of the time. I am moving away from that, luckily, through these readings.
I think it is important to bring the “personal is political” to men and encourage opening up. When I did my first independent blog from this class, about praise and self-worth amongst men, I pulled guys from a variety of places – interviewed men that I considered on different points of this supposed Masculine Spectrum that I had created in my mind. Nevertheless, I came back surprised when those I saw as confident and manly in an outward way having very similar answers to those I considered more reclusive and perhaps more self-conscious. With that, I realized that I needed to appreciate men and their sense of brotherhood in the same way I had embraced women and sisterhood since feminist “happened” to me. Here, with my simple question and answer format, I was introduced to intersecting ideologies, fears, and general soft-spots across many men from an assortment of backgrounds. It was vital information for me to have in my possession.
I became a great deal more empathetic during this class, especially to those I used to consider the epitome of “masculine.” While we have read and seen some horrible things (I would rather never watch the WWE documentary again or revisit the horrible statistics of violence and rape within this country or this world), I have realized that men are also oppressed by the ideals of masculinity in the same way women are oppressed by societal and patriarchal constructs. I think it was always easy to band together, but I realized during my class on the 3rd wave that, without men as equal partners, our cause would always be exclusive and make goals harder to attain.
I see only positive advancement in the future. Groups like Men Against Rape and Men Can Stop Rape’s existence solidify that in my mind. In a more progressive day and age, it may seem a ubiquitous belief set in America, but we must not forget that only since 1976 as marital rape been illegal in every state in the U.S. That’s younger than some of our siblings and definitely after our parents’ generation. We have made progress, and men are helping.

Sara N said...

How have my views on masculinities changed? This class really gave meaning to Sedwick’s assertion that “silence can be as performative as speech.” Taneja gives the example of the “glass cubicle” at his job. The women were afraid to collectively speak out that the manager was sexist because he was known for being moody. “The owner said that since no one had anything to say, there must not be a problem. All too often, silence is taken as a form of agreement when in reality the silence is saying a lot more” (MSO, Taneja, 159).

Ravarino comments that being a social justice ally involves potential hate and discrimination. But visibility is essential in demystifying and denaturalizing these prevalent ideas. “Silence feed violence and we must refuse to be silent. We will all make mistakes along the journey. We must keep working to improve on this” (MSO, Ravarino, 267). In my work with Men Against Rape, I have realized similar lessons about silence. “Myths about sexual violence silence sexual assault survivors and, at the same time, condone men’s violent behavior” (Ravarino, 265). This is understandable, albeit sad, because Ravarino correctly notes that “whatever a woman does before, during, or after an episode of violence is done in order to survive” (266). This includes remaining silent.

Growing up with a feminist mother I never fully understood what was at stake in proclaiming a feminist identity. It was only be examining masculine constructs I understood why so many people remain silent. That, and also how “one component of male privilege is that men do not have to think about how their presence impacts women” (265). So, what have I learned from this class? I have learned that the social justice ally is not a fiction and we, including the feminist collective, need to focus more on the “ally” part than the gender of said ally. I was guilty of this too, but nowhere was it clearer to me that this IS a problem which MUST remain on our radar than in the readings on male-identified women. But it is precisely because these voices are being heard and not silenced which allows for social change. We need to speak up. And, when people speak up we all need to listen to each other, including but certainly not limited to that widespread group we call “men”. We need to create more counterpublic spaces like Men Against Rape which challenge what it means to be a “real man” while simultaneously creating an environment where it is safe to speak up and be heard. Not just listened to, but really heard. Then maybe we can add to the existing scholarship on masculinity, men and men’s studies in a way that promotes new and shifts existing discourses. I mean discourses in the broadest sense of the term; silence is also a performative discourse. And Foucault will remind us that discourse shapes perception.

jorge mendoza said...

Often, male-identified people can see the inequality among genders and orientations and want to do something about it, and even try, yet can still feel alone in their efforts. I think it's a very important part of Ravarino's ten strategies when he mentions to avoid working alone. All people, no matter how they identify, will always need the emotional and physical support of others to accomplish those goals which are important to them. In this sense it's very important for men to understand that there are others who are willing to fight the same battles as they are willing to. With Men Against Rape @ UCF, this is exactly what we are trying to do, to create a community for men (yet welsome to anyone) where men can get together with the support of other men and women and transgendered people to work together and strive for greater equality, which for our group mainly includes raising awareness of sexual violence and rape, with the understanding of men's role in perpetuating sexual violence and rape-culture and what men can do to stop it and hold men accountable. This goal is obviously too much for one individual to bear, keeping in mind the society we live in. Men need assurance that even though they know there is inequality and that women and those in the GLBT community suffer alot because of the actions by some men in society, that they can and are making a difference. I'm thankful I can be part of this group amongst others who can help me better understand this unified vision.

Of course this suggestion is not the most important of Ravarino's, just one I thought was appropriate. Before this class I considered myself a fairly progressive person yet relatively lacking in the kind of knowledge that many of the wonderful and interesting people display when class gathers every week. It's been enlightening, to say the least, yet I don't think I'm that much more different than I was before, but certainly more aware of such things as male privilege and the role of men in these numerous social issues. I for the most part, had rejected a lot of what the media considered masculine already, while not really considering what is positive masculinity then? This class has certainly helped me in the direction of coming to understand that. This is certainly one of the most important things any man can come to understand, for men cannot always truly understand and/or identify with women. To formulate a better, more positive conception of masculinity is a good start. To identify positively as a being of worth who recognizes the worth of others, is a good start. And to help others realize this is the next best step.

Jo said...

Like some others have mentioned, before taking this class I had an awareness of the constructed nature of masculinity, including the box of hyper-masculinity that many men are forced into. However what I have gotten out of this class is an even greater awareness of its affects on every individual I come across in my life activities. Today when I “size up a room” as Claraine mentions, the way we all do, I include this awareness and I get a very different perspective than I would have months ago. It feels almost as though I know a secret, something deeper about the men that I encounter that they may not readily share about themselves or even recognize. It has given me a level of empathy that I most certainly did not have before. Not to say that I have mentally relieved them of their responsibility, but you know what I mean. This has been particularly noticeable in regards to black masculinity and the hip-hop culture. I have a new understanding of what that means to these men, of the pressure to continue putting up the specific type of hyper-masculine fa├žade. I am truly grateful for this understanding.

Another thing that I am grateful to be taking away from this class and this week’s readings in particular, is the knowledge that there are many men’s organizations out there now that are working in feminism and working to end violence against women. I had no idea that the men’s movements were flourishing across the country and even the world. I realize that part of my not knowing about them means that they still need to grow, but it has been very encouraging in a class where we hear about and discuss the overwhelming statistics regarding violence against women and can feel sometimes like the effort is futile.

I also have felt the way that Zen/Heather theorizes when she talks about having the ‘feminism conversation’ with men outside of class and discussing how it affects them. The Katz article was particularly important to me in the section about “Mak[ing] Connections between Men’s Violence against Women and Other Issues.” This is an area that I have long wanted to strengthen for myself – making connections to everyday situations for people who do not think that feminism or violence against women affects them. In this instance Katz is discussing violence against women, the patriarchy and definitions of masculinity and the interaction with the transmission of HIV/AIDS with an example in South Africa (p. 586). I have always thought that, for me, if I could make those connections better in conversation I would be less likely to be silent when the opportunity to spread the word, so to speak, arises. It is still an area I plan to develop for myself, but I do feel that after taking this class, perhaps I am a little better equipped.

taco said...

Would it be terrible to admit that I don't think my views on masculinities have changed much from the beginning of the semester? My knowledge base has broadened, and I've heard many different points of view these past weeks, but in a lot of ways my main thoughts have remained the same: masculinity (as our society defines it), like femininity, is a construct; this construct is problematic because it ignores actual men and instead imposes some flawed, gender-based 'ideal' onto them; the effects of this construct manifest in many ways harmful to men and women alike; patriarchy sucks. I still get frustrated with men outside of the feminist movement on one extreme; I still get frustrated with women inside the feminist movement on the other. Good grief, I still get frustrated with myself. But as Jonathan Ravarino writes, "Feminism teaches men something that patriarchy ultimately ignores; that when others are oppressed, no one is free" (MSO 264). And as I did in the beginning of the semester, I still think men have a ridiculously important role to play in the feminist movement. Men can definitely be feminists. We need women, we need men, we need change.

So where are men currently in the feminist movement? I would say they're in many of the same places as women in the feminist movement. They're deep down in it and on the outskirts, activist-y and not activist-y, broadening their understanding, taking women's studies classes, growing, stagnating, affecting change, being effected by change, listening, talking, and on, and on. I think the pieces in MSO, all written by men who have some relationship to feminism, demonstrate this striation clearly. There is no one monolithic answer to where men are. Men are individuals, and thus exist at all different places inside and outside of the feminist movement. I assume this is a trend that will continue.

Anita P. said...

Throughout the course of this semester we were encouraged to focus on the different effects and representations of masculinity in our society. The assigned readings from Men Speak Out and Men’s Lives offered a variety of insight from perspectives and experiences that I’ve never thought about in such detail. I, like many others, have learned that the construct of “masculinity” cannot be described or explained in a few sentences. Rather, it is a complex set of standards reinforced by white-heterosexual-male dominated institutions that have and continue to normalize destructive actions, like violence towards women, to prove their worth.

Before taking this class I was comfortable in my ignorant bliss and assumption that most men just don’t “get it” because they refuse to jeopardize acceptance of their own sex to join as an ally in a struggle for the opposite sex. I assumed socialization has caused men to act a certain way in order to feel accepted and “normal” in a society, which then rewards them by keeping them on top and reinforcing their “superiority”. I neglected to realize the intersectionality of oppression and the notion that just because you are privileged in one area of your life does not mean you aren’t oppressed in other parts. I know for some people this seems like common sense, and although I knew that nothing was ever black and white when dealing with oppression in society, I didn’t necessarily understand the extent to which they all cross over. A white heterosexual male has a way different experience than a black heterosexual male who has a way different experience than a black homosexual male etc. Readings in MSO like Daytona Beach: Beyond Beats and Rhymes by Byron Hurt and Straight Guys Can Dance, Too by Margulies exemplify these intersectionalities quite well (among most of our other readings too).

Furthermore, this class really gave me a reality check with how dominating and intrusive socialization can be in regards to people’s sexual orientation and identification. The week we spent on transgender really opened my eyes to how deep our society’s construct of gender and identity as something dichotomous is entrenched even in progressive minds. I considered myself well informed and all accepting of the GLBTQ community but I was quickly proven to be a product of my environment when we watched the film Venus Boyz and completed readings like that of Anderson-Minshall’s The Enemy Within: On Becoming a Straight White Guy. Experiencing even a glimpse of how everyday life is for transgender individuals is both unsettling and inspiring.

I feel many of us have taken the education we gained through readings/discussion/films in this class and applied it to our broader sense of what feminism is. I encourage men to be involved and have an active role in the feminist movement however they must be aware and conscious of the ultimate goal and intention in order to take part as allies and never the dominant voice. It is a movement for equality and must be treated as such, however as a representation of equality within the current social system it is essential for women to be the leading voices and feel empowered in a society where “normally” men would assume leadership.

art. said...

Taking this class has really helped solidify my views that oppression is everywhere. Whether it be in body language, how we talk to people, how that shifts based on who is talking and who is being talked to...et. al. It also has provided for more grounding in fighting oppression. "Being an ally requires taking serious risk in the face of possible ridicule and alienation--or even hate and discrimination--from others....Silence feeds violence and we must refuse to be silent" (MSO 267).

These quotes in particular represent how taking a lot of the readings and experiences from this class opened up the avenue for me as a male assigned at birth person to have a pivotal role in end violence and oppression.

Kelly T said...

My views on masculinity and what it means to be masculine have not changed at all. At the beginning of this course I stated that I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to define what it means to be masculine and that I don’t think we need to have such things as “masculinity” or “femininity” but we just do because of society and its constructs. Before taking this class I think I viewed most male identified/socialized people both within and out of the feminist movement as being the way they were because they wanted to regardless of what was going on around them. Little did I realize that society plays such a big role in shaping boys and men into whom they become and what they think masculinity is. I never thought about how socially constructed masculinity is and that males are just as pressured as women from the media and things that we hear on a daily basis, whether we realize it or not. After only two weeks of being in this class and doing only a few readings it was clear to me that I was viewing EVERYTHING significantly different than before. For example, the vitamin commercial for kids on tv that I’ve discussed before. It says in the commercial that these vitamins have everything that a young girl would need for healthy skin and everything a young boy would need for big muscles. When I first saw this ad I thought to myself, “why does the girl need to have healthy skin and why shouldn’t she have strong muscles?” I didn’t ever think that they were saying that guys couldn’t care about their facial appearance and that they need to bulk up in order to be the “right guy”. I saw this commercial again when I was a few weeks into this course and it hit me that when I view things I only view them from a women’s standpoint and don’t realize when there’s an injustice against men going on. It was in that moment that I knew I had to change my feminist lenses a bit because I myself as a feminist changed and grew and realized that I wasn’t fully comprehending all that was going on around me. Naturally I felt guilty for never realizing all the pressures around us that guys hear on a daily basis and that it’s really just the same severity as what women face. “Bulk up! Get the girl!” SO, if anything has changed with me about taking this class it’s that I now look at not only how things are presented to women and how women are represented, but also the men, which is important because men are not only allies and fellow feminists, but they are the other half of what shapes our society.

Kelly T said...

As for where men currently stand and are headed within the feminist movement. It’s easy to say that men are a part of the feminist movement but it’s easier to say that men don’t realize that they can be a part of and need to be a part of the feminist movement. Most men probably feel like Amit Teneja describes being a man “I was born with a penis and I was taught early on that this simple fact meant that I was inherently superior to about half the human population.” Maybe if men realized that they were just given this “superiority” then maybe they too would start to view our society differently. I agree with Ravarino when he says that “Feminism teaches men something that patriarchy ultimately ignores; that when others are oppressed, no one is free.” It is this that we need to point out to men who have this privilege of birth and are unaware of their privilege. I even said to the class that I sometimes forget about the privileges that I have over others, I can only imagine it’s the same with being a man, especially when there are so many perks. That being said, although they do have privilege they are (and can still) becoming educated in oppression, privilege, etc. I think that men are definitely welcome in the feminist movement not because we’re accepting, but because if we’re going to bring down a patriarchal society, we need everyone to be a part of it, not just women. Men will have crucial roles in helping to redefine masculinity and in being partners who reach out to the other males in the community where a male presence might make a bigger difference. The feminist movement is changing along with the goals that we have with the movement. It’s in our best interest to be accepting of men in the movement and treat them as equals while trying to accomplish our goals. After all, we’re all fighting for the same thing, right?!

Evan Wyss said...

I think if my views on masculinity have changed, they have become more attuned to how it's perpetuated by person to person. People are violently fed ideas about what ideal masculinity is and what it means to go against this, then people live their lives realizing their inability to live up to these ideals. To counteract this, they make decisions that end up hurting other people. I think cycle aspect is the most disturibing, because the more bad thoughts are planted, the harder it is to stem the tide.

I've always thought that men should not only be able to be a part of feminism, but that it is crucial to accomplishing many goals. I have developed these ideas through my own thinking as well as talking with feminist-identified womyn. However, my ideas were not very well developed, which is how this class helped. I began to realize more how a healthy dialogue between men and womyn will only lead to spreading enlightened ideals, because there is less of a "bubble".

Ravarino talks about how as a man you must "continually evaluate your goals and intentions" and I think this is the only way that men can be beneficial to the feminist movement. Men can never believe they reached the full understanding of what it is like to be oppressed as a womyn, obviously because they never will understand. Men must always know that they can learn something new at any time, as well as have a copernican revolution of sorts.

Lisa said...

My views on the role that male identified folks should play in feminism is constantly changing and will most like continue to change and evolve. My opinion that men should play a role in feminism will most likely be unchanging.

It is very problematic to say that "men should not play a role in feminism" because that would force us to define what is a 'man' and therefor what qualifies as being 'woman'- which is a major critique of the feminist movement and why many m to f transgendered folks do not feel that there is a place for them within the feminist movement.

It was mentioned in class that many people had a problem with referring to men as "feminist allies" rather than "feminists"- I however do see the importance of separating the two. The role of an ally in the GLBT movement represents a safe person who supports GLBT rights and actively works towards the goals of the GLBT community. However allies do not occupy the center of the GLBT movement and are not the voice for the GLBT community.

Male identified allies, I believe, should play a similar role in that allies should actively be working toward feminist goals- while keeping those who are sexually oppressed at the center and whose voices are heard the loudest.

Ani Reina said...

I can not say that my views on masculinity have drastically changed through this course. I can say that I have used the ideas presented and discussed to talk to men in my life about breaking out of the box.

The readings this week definitely enforced the fact that just like the varying views among women in feminism, men’s view/actions in feminism vary as well. I feel that men can definitely call themselves feminists I feel awful that men view feminism and violence against women as a women’s issue, when it is a human issue. Given that many men never think of their participation in perpetuating patriarchy I do not want to stop any man from reaching the eye opening realization of his privilege.

Cristoina said...

This course has helped me see that there are "more than a few good men," as Jackson Katz titled his article, and that we are fighting against a system of oppressions, not one another. I have seen now more than ever the effects of our society's social constructions of gender and how I and others act out our roles daily. In the past I feel that I probably spoke for men and made a lot of assumptions on their behalf, but now I realize that these assumptions and generalizations aided in perpetuating the stereotypical view of masculinity. I went through some different ideas of how I felt men should contribute to feminism, that maybe they should take the label of pro-feminist, or they should be on the sidelines, and what I realized that I was defining feminism for men, and who gave me that right? I would not want anyone to dictate my role in feminism, and if we as feminists are working to end sexism along with all other intersecting oppressions we need a movement that does not exclude but also does not dilute for the sake of quantity. Creating hierarchies,labels and criteria will not help, but uniting people in solidarity to one another and acknowledging our privileges as well as our oppressions (and how we may oppress others)and how our oppressions are linked will create a strong collective voice that is composed by diverse individuals.

I also never realized the turmoil we all go through in our daily lives, and how hard it is for us to break away from the norm. When reading Amit Taneja's essay, "From Oppressor to Activist: Reflections of a Feminist Journey," I saw that even at a young age individuals see sexism or have a sense that something isn't fair, but, "I knew that to questions the system would be wrong." So our society has created this gender dichotomy, with rules and boundaries and has instilled a fear in us to never question or resist these constructs, "the messages about gender inequality are a lot more covert in U.S. culture, but they have the same effect." I think one of the easiest and effective tools we have are our voices, and our critical thoughts can be expressed in so many ways, from verbal dialogue to a letter writing campaign, a petition or a blog. We must speak out otherwise, "silence is taken as a form of agreement when in reality the silence is saying a lot more."

Debonair said...

My views on masculinities have changed within this course, I have a better understanding that the movement needs to be all inclusive if it is going to have long term change. This weeks reading that I thought was very helpful was the article in Men's lives, More then a Few Good Men. The article speaks about different way men can help with the movement, more directly how they can stop rape and violence within our culture. On page 583 in the section "What can men do?", within the movement we often stop and ask what can men do in the movement and this section gives some great advice and examples. Probably one of the most important tips is that you have to have the courage to look inward, i often struggle with this. Sometimes it is hard to examine yourself and see that you are being sexist or that you are oppressing a certain group. I feel it is important to understand that you are not perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. I think this would be a helpful tip for stopping certain behaviors because sometimes we fall into what is comfortable and it is important to remember that we are constantly growing and that no one is born the perfect feminist.

Kevin Alvarez said...

I feel almost as if my views on masculinity has become a view of not having one. I have unlearned what masculinity is, this semester. When I think of masculinity I no longer think of the archetype unless that is what I am supposed to be conjuring. I feel as if this is how it should be when we think about masculinity and femininity. There should be no standard because in that way we will not constrict ourselves to anything. However, even without a definition of it for myself I am still subject to all the privileges of being male identified. The hardest part has been recognizing my own privileges in this system and desperately trying not to tokenize myself or exploit others. Ravarino, in Men Speak Out, puts it best, "Coming to grips with how we continue to experience prvilege that we have not earned is a challenge for men to work through" (268).

I don't know if this is warranted in this discussion but Katz's piece in Men's Lives reminded me not only of the need to incorporate men into the feminist movement but that not all women are in the feminist movement. Men can be great feminists, pro-feminists, or just sympathizers but the strength behind the feminist movement is ultimately women and I hope that we never forget that. No matter how many feminist boys there are it is up to the women to hold the flag up, start the riots, build organizations and coalitions, because without women helping women there really would be no feminism.