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What qualifies a man to talk about an issue like feminism?

 
 
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 02:08 am
First off, let's agree that this is NOT a topic on the FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Let's start with everyone understanding that any man has the ability and right to speak on the topic.

I'm more interested in what types of things would make a man able to speak accurately and articulately on the topic. The reason I ask, is because I was recently invited to contribute to a feminist blog ran by a friend of mine. My reply was that I would if she thought I was qualified to do so. She seems to have more confidence in my ability to speak on the subject than I do. It's not like I don't have thoughts on the topic, I just tend to fell like it's not my place to speak on something I only understand in a second person perspective. Since I've agreed to do a piece, I wondered what topics I should write about.

This is either a very flattering offer that I could speak on such matters or a grand opportunity to illustrate exactly how poorly qualified I am. I've already made my introductory post. Hopefully, they chose the right guy for the woman's job.

Chi (That's me if you didn't know...) wrote:

Male Feminism
(Now With Wandering Metaphors!)


I'm a man.

However, that didn't stop Meg from inviting me to contribute to this feminist blog. My initial thought was if I was qualified to talk on the topic at all. It's not that I don't have ideas about feminism, or of its related modern battles. I've just always felt like it was good that the evolving dialog on feminism wasn't being refereed by men, and more importantly many women were creating new platforms to spread ideas (as opposed to being granted them by men).

I have been blogging for a few years now, and posting in forums for several more years than that. Often these digital marketplaces are my muse, and offer me an opportunity to hash out my ideas. It's kind of like a rough draft of sorts. It is then no surprise that when I was invited to write here and didn't know what to write about or what I could write about, I ran to the forums to ask.

Many people thought I should write about second person views of feminism. I after all have a sister and a mother; women's issues affect those that I care about. Others thought that I should non-dimentionalize the topic and write about inclusion in general. The idea here was that all of the things women are wanting are in some form things that we all want; human things. I received a minority of replies that basically demonized feminism and portrayed it as being the same as chauvinism, only it is the promotion of women above men.

The responses weren't the best at offering me a topic, but they did tell me one thing, It was okay for me to sit at the table. The only topic that came to mind was the original question: What can I talk about? Perhaps, my apprehension is not about what I can, but what I should talk about.

I'll just come out pistols blazing and polished clean (cause they've never been used). I'll just bypass that first hurdle now: I'm not talking about the right to speak on the topic. I have the right, and I'm not interested in unnecessary detour on free speech. Now that we've got that out of the way, I should charter a path of topics. The method that first comes to mind is topics that begin with little to no female interaction and gradually increase to male/female integration, and finally to topics that women overtake men in a battle of interest.

In the shallowest of waters male feminism must exist where there are no females present at all. Men socializing with other men or while by themselves have are faces with an abundance of women's issues. How men field those issues can say a lot about how we contribute positively or negatively. Music, film, literature, pornography and other popular forms of media and it's consumption exist here. The example I'll give (but won't labor on about) is women's sports. This year, the USA men's soccer team went all the way to the finals in the FIFA Confederations Cup! It was like nothing we've ever done before. Now, on the road to the 2010 World Cup, there is a nice buzz on the team that the Europeans refer to as "no longer an appetizer." Pretty great huh? It was being talked about as the US's serious debut into the competitive world of futbol, but was it? some might be surprised to learn that in women's soccer, the USA has been the definitive team for over a decade. So tell me then... Okay, I said I wouldn't labor on, but there is something there to talked about.

Moving on. About waist deep in the pool of feminism is where most men show either comfort or want to head back to shore. This level of interaction is probably the largest and contains topics ranging from workplace interactions, friendship, dating, sex, marriage, and all sorts of other interactions. At this depth, we see men socializing directly with women. The ways men contribute positively and negatively are mostly based on communication. Dating, most immediately comes to mind here for me. The words "hierarchy" and "roles" come to mind but don't find themselves worked into sentences so easily. Does a man seek an equal relationship? What does a man do if he finds himself in a relationship where he is not equal (be him the dominant or recessive partner)? More topics, I think a man can talk about.

At the point where the water is over a man's head, is there anything left that he can talk about in the pool of feminism (I didn't intentionally start that metaphor, but I ran with it)? Once our toes can't touch the bottom anymore, can I man have anything to share on things like child birth, rape, abortion, and other major topics? Is empathy enough for a man to keep from sinking at this depth? We'll find out, and if the water gets rough, maybe somebody here will throw me a life preserver.

I hope as I continue to write here that I am able to offer something worth reading and potentially original. I don't take it lightly that I was invited to write here, and I feels like an positive affirmation that I've done well advocating equality. I do not come well read in the literature of classical or modern feminism. I'm just a guy who thinks and writes. As long as my input is welcome, I will try to give my best.


~Chi


Am I in over my head on this one?

Thoughts?
K
O
 
dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 03:42 am
some thoughts...
I have given some thought to Artificial insemination and a woman's ability to bear a child without a fathers input.
Are men redundant? (Aside from taking the bins out that is.)

Some men are confused about their role in society. It used to be quite clear cut. A husband and/or father was the breadwinner and supported the family unit this is no longer the case. Some men feel confusion as to what role they are to fill in the modern family unit or partnership.

My body was designed for hunting and fighting. Please allow me to persue or involve myself in some related activity like body contact sports, white water rafting or mountain climbing.

0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 04:08 am
What qualifies a man to talk about an issue like feminism?

We all live in this world together. The actions and ideas of men affect the lives of women. The actions and ideas of women affect the lives of men. It is entirely reasonable for one group to comment on the other.

*******************************

My body has evolved through millennia to only move if i have to, and to seek out and consume vast quantities of rich foods, while avoiding the sink and the dishwasher.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 05:17 am
A man talking about feminism is the same as a woman talking about machismo.
0 Replies
 
Gala
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 05:36 am
@Diest TKO,
I don't think you're over your head, but you are treading lightly, timid. I've only skimmed your entry because it's long and wordy and too apologetic. If I were editing the entry I'd cut out a lot. I'd cut not cause I'm a girl and an expert on the topic, rather because you article represents to me an effort not to offend the entire population of women on the planet.

0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 05:42 am
This article is both silly and insulting. The soccer example is foolish. The idea that being male in a dating relationship is "negative" is mildly insulting. The belief that men and women aren't equally responsible for the relationships they choose to enter makes no sense. The continuing idea that men don't have a strong interest in child birth is maddening.

But I will answer the question directly.

Men do have brains... and that is what qualifies us to talk about issues like feminism.


Gala
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 06:18 am
@ebrown p,
you're entitled to your opinion, of course, however, i missed the point you picked up on because the water metaphor is too much, it gets in the way of his point. i read it as-- he's a guy and his opinions take a backseat when it comes to issues such as rape, abortion, etc.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 06:35 am
@Diest TKO,
Diest TKO wrote:
What qualifies a man to talk about an issue like feminism?

The fact that he has an opinion. Maybe something interesting to say.

Maybe you'll piss people off. So what? Maybe you'll learn something.
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 06:41 am
What would prevent me from talking about the subject I love the most?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 06:52 am
@Diest TKO,
Diest TKO" wrote:
I'm more interested in what types of things would make a man able to speak accurately and articulately on the topic.

Having a sister who is a woman?
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 06:58 am
@Diest TKO,
I don't think there's anything wrong with a man having/ expressing thoughts about feminism. Bring it on.

I think where men have felt pushback, and what might make them nervous as a result, is when they get prescriptive/judgemental. Like, "If I was a woman and some guy was trying to rape me, then I would fight like hell and do some real damage. I don't get the women who just lay there and take it. You women have to be more willing to fight!" (That's invented, but a variation of things I've heard.)

I think there are things that some (not all) men think they get, but without having first-hand experience as a woman, they just don't get.

I think that can be remedied though, and I know a lot of men who do get it.

I'm fine with a guy calling himself a feminist. (Especially if he actually is.)
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:09 am
@Gala,
Quote:
i read it as-- he's a guy and his opinions take a backseat when it comes to issues such as rape, abortion, etc.


I guess I read it that way too. I think it is BS that anyone's opinions on rape or abortion should take a backseat.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:11 am
@sozobe,
Quote:

I think where men have felt pushback, and what might make them nervous as a result, is when they get prescriptive/judgemental. Like, "If I was a woman and some guy was trying to rape me, then I would fight like hell and do some real damage. I don't get the women who just lay there and take it. You women have to be more willing to fight!" (That's invented, but a variation of things I've heard.)

I think there are things that some (not all) men think they get, but without having first-hand experience as a woman, they just don't get.


Men are victims of rape.

Quote:

I think there are things that some (not all) men think they get, but without having first-hand experience as a woman, they just don't get.


Would you say the same thing in reverse, that woman just don't get some things since they haven't had first-hand experience as a man?

sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:19 am
@ebrown p,
Quote:
Would you say the same thing in reverse, that woman just don't get some things since they haven't had first-hand experience as a man?


Sure.
0 Replies
 
Gala
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:28 am
@DrewDad,
Exactly, just hop in there and without a doubt you will piss people off-- it doesn't take much.
Gala
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:32 am
@ebrown p,
I don't think it's BS, I think he's treading lightly, that's all. Face it, a guy talking about womens issues can be delicate.

From my perspective, he can say what he wants and I won't get pissed off, but inevitably, he's going to piss off some hard-core whatever, who doesn't believe he's entitled to his own opinions.
0 Replies
 
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:36 am
@Gala,
Being so peremptory and adamant does little to make the cause of feminists advance..

Is it possible to have constructive dialog, instead of throwing the "truth" in men's face?

Remember it's not only ineffective but also self-indulgent..
Gala
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:45 am
@Francis,
I'm not being preemptory-- all I said was, inevitably, he's going to piss someone off, no matter what he says. Witness Ebrowns remarks, he got offended. Mine is more a comment on how easily pissed-offable people get.

The whole thing about "throwing the truth" in mens faces...this, to me, is the down-side of Feminism. Feminism isn't about being angry all the time, it's about strength, confidence.
0 Replies
 
Gala
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 08:28 am
@sozobe,
Well, I think men get dumped on by some women who are simply angry at the world and find men to be the convenient dumping ground.

When I was in school in the Midwest, Gloria Steinem came to speak. Not a single person in my graduate (yes, that's graduate level) class had heard of her. Oh, with the exception of one classmate and he was from Zimbabwe.

Anyway, I went to cover it as news with a very proper Christian girl who'd gotten married at 18. She was almost certain Ms. Steinem would be a bitter,unattractive vitriolic bra-burning sinner.

Among the less religious, but naive, they thought she'd behave badly as well, but were a little less fearful.

As it turned out, they were pleasantly surprised to find a happy woman who welcomed everyone in the audience.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 08:56 am
@Gala,
http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/76495/october-10-2006/jane-fonda-and-gloria-steinem
 

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