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Uncle Steve

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Had enough of this. [Aug. 16th, 2013|01:52 pm]
Uncle Steve
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I’m male and a feminist.

I’m a feminist, because I believe in (and act on) feminism while also being a straight white guy. Yes, I totally understand that I still benefit from all the advantages men have over women in this messed-up society. And I recognise that my having feminist opinions doesn’t mean that any women have to listen to them, or that my choices should overrule any woman’s about her life. I accept that I don’t know what it’s like to live under sexism the way women do, that I don’t even see half of it, and that when they tell me something my first action should be to truly LISTEN instead of saying what I previously thought about that.

But recently, I’m encountering more and more (white, middle-class) voices telling me that I can’t be a Real Feminist. I have to be an Ally, and remember at all times that being an Ally is a journey not an identity, as though I must stand outside the room and continually to prove myself to not be the enemy. Well, fuck that shit. While it’d be easy to tell some over-privileged individuals to fuck off and get on with my day, it’s part of a growing trend that’s actually harming the cause.

The identity of the person talking does NOT completely dictate the value of their views. It’s clearer online, where I’ve seen people rip into others right up to the point that they discover the anonymous name they’re jumping all over belongs to a minority group they believe to be acceptable, at which point a magic line has been crossed and the shouted insults of ten seconds ago should never have happened. People don’t do the homework to find out who the person IS on the other end, and (for example) accuse trans* people of not being capable of being oppressed because they’re also white. As soon as they find out that person is trans, suddenly all the boundaries are moved.

They’re too hyper-focused on identity completely validating or invalidating what someone has to say, which surely isn’t an unfamiliar problem historically to feminists. They’re saying that people’s voices shouldn’t be heard because of a physical trait which MAY have led to having different life experiences, and they’re also playing oppression bingo. More seriously, lots of people are judging someone’s worth by their outward identity in a way that didn’t happen even ten years ago.

I’m a feminist. I’m not an ally, or someone who is not allowed to choose their ideals until given permission. You don’t need permission to have an ideology. My being male doesn’t take anything away from female feminists, or silence them, or dilute the term Feminism. I’m not looking for a medal, or to be the hero of a women's movement, or overrule anyone because I'm claiming a word, or gain anything at all by it in conversation with women or men. My feminism includes opposing the parts of the patriarchy which make men's lives miserable too, but feminism is still the correct term.

It’s no secret that feminists have spent more energy recently examining and tearing down their most successful voices instead of making change outwards. “This author said two things I disagree with in a whole book, so should never be able to speak about feminism again” they cry, of the people making the most progress in a generation.

We’ve got to stop it, generally, and I refuse to play that game individually. I’m a feminist. I’ll wear the t-shirt and expect no advantage from it. More buzzwords used solely to distance, alienate or silence your own side are not the way forward, and believing that everything changes when you find out one more aspect of someone’s identity is fanatical and infantile.

[User Picture]From: ghostpaw
2013-08-16 05:42 pm (UTC)
I'm not a real feminist. I've thought long and hard over this and come to the conclusion that as I'm White, cis and gender-conforming, able-bodied and neurotypical, skinny and conventionally attractive, middle class, educated, not a survivor of abuse or assault, and effectively straight so whatever minor nonsense I have to put up with for being female pretty much doesn't count. The establishment will for the most part stick up for me, and when it doesn't I've got an education and daddy's lawyer to work for me. I've never really had to struggle and I've never really worked hard enough as an activist to change things for other people. I'm an ally at best, but probably more like part of the problem.

But that's me. You certainly do more activism work than me, so you have more of a claim on feminism than I do.
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[User Picture]From: tyrell
2013-08-16 05:50 pm (UTC)
You're arguably not as *oppressed*, but whether you're a feminist or not is up to you. Do you believe in gender equality? Then it describes you. Having to qualify on the oppression scale doesn't come into it.

And sure, I know that men can take over a room and silence women's voices in a struggle which isn't about them, but I'm not talking about that here. I'm talking about policing people based on preconceptions of their gender, which is precisely what women have suffered from.

I'm a feminist, you're a feminist and Sir Patrick Stewart is definitely a feminist. You don't have to put in a minimum number of hours protesting.
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[User Picture]From: tyrell
2013-08-16 05:57 pm (UTC)
Seriously, it's like there's someone watching a database - "that person doesn't have enough hours built up, silence them!" The whole point of rejecting the patriarchy is that fuckers don't get to tell you who you can be.
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[User Picture]From: smokingboot
2013-08-17 09:02 am (UTC)
'The whole point of rejecting the patriarchy is that fuckers don't get to tell you who you can be." YES.

People get stupid when they are angry; and the angrier they get the more stupid they become.

Don't let them hurt you, Mr.
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[User Picture]From: bronchitikat
2013-08-17 09:33 am (UTC)
Trouble is the oppressed, of whatever nature, once they get nearer the top, can be every bit as oppressive as their forebears. Witness the current socio-political situation in Egypt.

They, the oppressed, could say it's the only model of 'ruling' they've come across, but honestly, knowing what it's really like to be oppressed, you'd think they could come up with something better and less oppressive!

I guess I'm kinda feminist. I support the right to vote, to education, to work, to equal pay etc, but also the right to be a stay-at-home mother properly valued by society.

Edited at 2013-08-17 09:34 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: gracewing
2013-08-21 09:12 pm (UTC)
Thank fuck for this post, I've been trying to write the same sentiment for weeks without opening myself to immediate Feminist-backlash from persons tearing down their own. I am a Trans* person and I've been treated as an outsider and a traitor by Feminists for my position in that regard.

Like Ghostpaw, I'm also white/educated/middle-class so I have 'no right' to complain about my own hardships, etc etc, despite the abuse I received at the hands of other white, middle-class males whilst I presented as my born gender.

I am a Feminist and not an Ally, but I do not agree with tearing down those within when the 'claws' should be pointed in more constructive directions.
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[User Picture]From: tyrell
2013-08-21 09:16 pm (UTC)
The post was partly inspired by seeing a trans friend of mine get shouted down asking a question on trans issues at a gender talk, *because they look male*. I mean... the level of bullshit silencing you need to be doing to not INVESTIGATE the identity of the person, but to make a 100% decision on their right to have a voice based solely on perceived identity, is incredible. And I realised I'd had the same thing for weeks now. We've gotta stop it. Imagine all that energy and determination facing outwards and demanding change from conservatives, we might actually achieve something.
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