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pro-feminist?

For some time now, I've ceased identifying as any sort of feminist. Laziness has much to do with this, as I benefit from male privilege rather often. Even when I don't, it is my habit to behave in ways that reinforce male privilege. That said, I'm not exactly a huge promoter of all things masculine and mainstream, and I really think very little of enforced normative gender-roles.

Which brings me to the other reason I've ceased to pretend to feminism. I'm not a woman. Within feminist circles, talk is rightly centered on the social place of non-dominant genders, their oppression by the mainstream (patriarchy, if you like that term), and how to fight back. At first, this felt liberating to me, as it opened up all sorts of new ways to do gender, and I realized that being born with a penis didn't confine me to a lifetime of enacting somebody else's version of straight-masculinity.

That sense of liberation contained the seeds of its own demise. I was being attracted to feminism and queer culture not because I was taking a strong stand to uphold them, but because I felt alienated from straight-masculinity. I wasn't really trying to fight on behalf of women and queer folk, but rather just trying to find social acceptance, and an excuse to stop playing a game of competitive masculinity. I was making friends with people, and buying into values that -- in the way I chose to do it -- made me despise being masculine.

*CAVEAT* This is very much my experience of how I went about this. I don't think that cis straight men *can't* find feminism to be a fulfilling project, and I don't think that any of the feminists and queer folk I know reject me or cis-masculinity per se. What happened was that I tried to escape the worst parts of the streotypical hetero cis masculine by turning to the queer in a way that invalidated my own body and sense of masculine enculturation.

It didn't work. While writing this, I'm realizing that much of this has to do with my social life getting in the way of my political beliefs. Intellectually, I come close to being a cis-male feminist, but socially, I feel a sense of alienation from exclusively hanging around queer folks (most of whom are female identified) and from only feeling comfortable in queer society. I'm a little bit afraid of cis-men, (mostly due to my own sense of inferiority, but also due to how obnoxious mainstream masculinity can be). Since coming to feminism, I haven't bonded with any other cis-male hetero feminists. So the false dichotomy for me was to declare straight cis-men as the enemy, even though I embody much of that category myself!

Perhaps this leaves me as a budding pro-feminist man.

The xyonline site cited above says this in their FAQ:
Does being pro-feminist mean that you are anti-male?

No. We are anti-sexist, we are anti-patriarchal, but we are not anti-male. Pro-feminist men are hopeful about both men's and women's futures. We believe that men, like women, are perfectly capable of being loving, nurturing and non-oppressive human beings. We reject the idea that men are somehow intrinsically bad, oppressive or sexist. We believe that men can change and we support every man's efforts at positive change. We recognise the need to build close relations and supportive alliances among men, as part of the process of change.


Somehing I continue to hold onto from queer-feminism is a critique of essentialist gender and heteronormativity. It's something of a subtle position that I haven't yet fully understood. The pro-feminist men movement seems a bit *too* invested in being men, or a bit too implicitly heteronormative. Maybe I have yet to learn that straight men can be compassionate, and accepting of difference. As soon as I smell a straight man, I have memories of getting my emotional ass kicked in grade school for being a faggot or a pussy (even though I was nowhere near as much of either of those things as I might have liked!) For a straight guy to truly earn my emotional trust, he kindof has to let me suck his dick, or at least be ok with that in principle. :-p

Comments

sunjoy
Apr. 3rd, 2012 01:37 pm (UTC)
Part of it is homophobia and the way people are trained to be hyper-straight.

Part of it is the way gender roles play out. I met an old friend last week, after a space of about 6 years. In Jan, another friend of his, whom he'd known for 20-odd years, was stoned and attacked him with a knife, effectively ending the 20 year friendship. With most women, (indeed with most male freinds as well) I'd have talked about how they were doing emotionally after that. With this friend, we spent 90 minutes talking about martial arts, and ways to deal with knife attacks, and then parted with a really nice hug. The thing is, I was listening to him, and I was validating his emotions, and even though it was unspoken, the conversation wasn't really about martial arts, but about him telling me that he had a traumatic experience and me telling him that I understood.

So sometimes male-male intimacy exists under the surface like that.

And sometimes male-male intimacy can be entirely conflated or substituted for by sex.

Have you ever seen the movie "Thursday"? It's a super violent pulp-fiction type film, and there are two men in it that have a very intimate bond, in spite of and because of all that violence. They don't talk about their feelings (they are drug dealers who murder people routinely), but they are probably each other's most intimate friends. Fictional caricature, but there's truth behind it.

I'm not sure what my point is. Male male intimacy looks very different from male-female and female-female intimacy.

Most of us can be really cuddly with kids or dogs, but that's where it ends.

Actually it's funny. I just started seeing a male (straight-acting) psychotherapist, and it's downright unsettling when he tries to emote towards me or empathize, because it's so unexpected and unusual. Like hearing a robin's song come from an elephant's trunk.