What men can do to support women's rights: RTFM

Originally uploaded by valicali.

Here’s some excellent advice for men who want to support women or feminists, written by Charles Johnson of radgeek:

What you can do to support women’s rights, Part three

This article continues Part I and Part II of What You Can Do to Support Women’s Rights, which dealt with three fundamental points of feminist activism — believing and supporting women, getting involved, and educating yourself — and three ways to bring the public fight home into your private life — refusing to abuse women, calling out other men, and acknowledging feminism.

Therefore, we must respect women’s-only space, avoid co-opting, and be willing to step aside.

I start with Part III because it seems the most relevant to recent discussions of men at BlogHer. (It also seems quite relevant for other forums I’m part of, like the WOMPO women’s poetry email list.) It’s a great starting point. It’s beautiful, clear, I agree with it 100%, and it made me cry. It explains how to be an ally.

I can see that even when I’m trying to be diplomatic, I have a lot to learn, and I have my own feminist rage, which is powerful and useful: but it makes it hard for men to hear the ideas. Even right at this moment I’m sure to a lot of men I sound infuriatingly patronizing. (As if I don’t get patronized constantly by men…. every day… really now! oh, whoops, I’m mad again.) ANYWAY. Since I want men to hear the ideas instead of reacting to me personally, it seems good to link to a man who is a geek and a feminist. I hope that all the very well intentioned, nice, interesting, and amazing Blogher-supporting geek guys like Robert Scoble, Dave Winer, Guy Kawasaki, Marc Canter, and other men who not only came to Blogher, but who followed up, kept thinking about it, and are still talking with women on their blogs, will read it if they have time. I appreciate their participation in trying to answer my criticisms at all.

(I also hope that guys like Hugh Forrest, who was so awesome of an ally at SXSWi — and Chris Heuer, who I admire for his wholehearted efforts to promote awesome conversations, will read this!)

Certainly if one has taken the painstaking effort to separate himself from the psychological and social structures of patriarchy, it is hard to accept being put back into the class of Men and excluded. Many male feminists experience it as a sort of reverse discrimination and feel that that sort of exclusion is just what feminists ought to be fighting against.

However, the exclusion of men by women and the exclusion of women by men are certainly not the same thing in the first place. (from Chris Johnson’s essay)

I did try to acknowledge the difficulty & challenge & complexity of all this. And am trying to do more of that. Without kissing anyone’s ass, backing down, pandering to the patriarchy, giving validation to specific behaviors I don’t like, or having to feel like I’m spending my energy paying attention to and taking care of the feelings of men (which I do plenty of in daily life). Also, I don’t care if you link to this or not, or whatever, am not talking about this for that. Anyway, since I spoke up I wanted to follow through, because I do take this kind of discussion very seriously and do not dismiss anyone’s feelings here although I tend to get mad as a hornet and shoot my mouth off. There are moments when I feel despairing and have that one reaction that is not very useful: “It’s not my responsibility to educate you.” Thus my post title…. RTFM.

I hope that helps and that now I can quit playing den mother and go back to talking about women, their work, and my own experience.

Peace, out.

2 thoughts on “What men can do to support women's rights: RTFM

  1. It is quite ok to lose one’s temper when talking about or arguing about a sensitive subject close to the heart (i.e. important). Just remember that in every conversation YOU have to take responsibility for the way in which the topic develops. Don’t count on the other person to follow logic. Adapt your speaking style to the specific audience and use “expedient means” to bring them around.

    p.s. Nice blog here.

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