Photo credit: The Telegraph
I think it’s safe to say that a critical mass of my friends would identify comfortably as feminists. The number is probably closer to a majority, but maybe some of them have never been asked to “officially” identify. Within that group is where a lot of my male friends, family members, and fellow activists live. And the reasons for this likely range from not knowing how to engage to not wanting to take up too much space.
This marks the official start of our Engaging Men blog series. I am so excited. I wrote a few weeks ago about why it’s important to have men at the feminist table. And I truly believe it. This is not because I believe feminist men are a rare species that need to be examined under a microscope, but because I am not really sure how we get to a point where more people can connect more comfortably with a feminist ethos.
As I’ve been talking to folks in the community, who all sit on different feminist perches, about why we’re doing this blog series, it got me thinking about why I believe this is an important issue to tackle from all angles. Aside from the obvious, “all hands on deck” message about why everyone should care about inequality, and why men should care about “women’s issues,” I’ve gotten some very natural hesitations to shining a flood light on men.
And I totally get it.
If the feminist movement has had to fight tooth and nail for decades to be exactly that – a movement – and has had to struggle to frame these issues as “women’s issues,” to give them the true exceptionalism they deserve, then isn’t it a digression to frame these issues as “everyone’s issues”? Or if broader work for women’s rights is largely under-resourced, why should that already tiny piece of pie get split even further?
However, when I talk to men about ‘women’s issues,’ most times I can feel us turning a corner. It seems like a no-brainer – equality is good for everyone, and when there is inequality anywhere, there is inequality everywhere.
But if it’s so no-brainer, why is misogyny still a THING? Or why is it that “women’s issues” – sexual violence, family planning, reproductive rights, intimate partner violence, income inequality, sexual harassment – are still something a few good men “help out with”?
What we’re trying to do with this blog series:
- Take a really long, hard look at misogyny, patriarchy, masculinity, and privilege.
- Reject normative notions of who is and isn’t a feminist.
- Put a jackhammer to the core of gender inequality, and make concrete suggestions about things that everybody can do, regardless of their gender, especially with regards to abortion rights and violence against women and girls.
- Celebrate feminist men and learn how they got here.
- Hear from women about why engaging men in feminist dialogues is crucial.
- Feature pieces geared towards gender newbies and gender theorists alike.
What this blog series is NOT:
- Men telling women how to be better feminists.
- A space for anything MRA.
- A men vs. women ping pong match, where women win and men lose.
We’re thrilled to partner with The Good Men Project and the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault on this series, and hope to spur on a good conversation to kick off Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We’ll be hosting a Twitter chat with partners on April 1 at 7:30pm EST.
Join the conversation. Add your comments. Join us on Twitter throughout the month on #feministmen