Monday, November 5, 2007

Tucson, Day 2: LUKE

Luke, who we are staying with, is one of Emma’s best friends from college and Liz’s younger brother. It is late, and we curl up on his bed in our pajamas, equally craving sleep and munchies. Through a cloud of smoke, Luke tells us his thoughts on male feminism.

“I hate when boys call themselves feminists. It’s not a term one should throw around. Lots of boys say that without thinking about what it means. It should be thought, not said. It seems misogynistic or patriarchal to claim that term. There is a lot of radical power in being separate, energy I feel from feminists. Equality doesn’t mean anything, anyway. We shouldn’t be giving power, we should be sharing it.”



Anonymous said...

"Equality doesn’t mean anything, anyway. We shouldn’t be giving power, we should be sharing it."

Isn't equality the same thing as sharing power?

I'm a little baffled by his response, and I think it is fear of being called a pussy, not fear of being considered patriarchal, that drives men away from considering themselves "feminist".

More than ever, we need to speak out loud and support one another completely.

Jessica said...

Does this mean this guy isn't a feminist? I don't know many guys who throw around the term "feminist" freely, and call themselves one. More often, guys ignore or scoff at the term.

Doug said...

Luke is an idiot.

Emily said...

I don't think Luke is an idiot. I think he's a smart guy who's thinking deeply enough that his ideas are a little too complicated to explain easily in a sound bite. If I'm reading his comments right, he's taking a swipe at the arrogance implied by the idea of possessing -- and then deciding, at one's own whim, to give -- power. He's suggesting that power is more like a natural resource that ought to be available to all people, regardless of who they are. That's the true meaning of equality, but the concept sometimes gets lost in the fog of politics.

I don't think it's fear of name-calling that drives men away from calling themselves feminist. I think men shy away from the word for the same reason a lot of women do: It's had a lot of baggage attached to it, and its original meaning has been drowned out by all the shouting around it.

Bravo to Emma and Nona for getting out there and trying to get a handle on what it means, what people think it means, and how to reclaim it from those who would turn it into a political football to advance their own personal agendas.

L said...

There are obviously many different situations, motives, and ways in which a male may identify as or claims himself a ‘feminist’. I say its dangerous because I feel one of the more common motives or situations is a demonically liberal attempt at mitigating a perceived threat (first on a basic socio-psychological level and only afterwards on a manifest political level) by claiming the others radical power. I say demonic because it not only subverts a certain radical inertia but keeps men themselves from thinking critically, complexly or deeply about what it really means to them to identify as male, let alone a feminist.

The State, in hindsight at least, doesn’t perceive MLK jr. as a threat because when he says ‘all men were created equal’ we read ‘equal’ as ‘white male’ - the empowered white male identity sets the standard of equality. We can apply the same thought to this question of males claiming themselves feminists - its not about ‘women’ ‘joining’ ‘men’ in their state of standard equilibrium (I wouldn’t use all the quotation marks if I wasn’t serious about them) its about facing, understanding and digesting, misogyny as the broad frame by which we locate our modes of existence and only afterwards attempting to strategize relational modes not determined by this frame. So, I think that a deep understanding of misogyny not as a collection of particular acts but as a mode of life and meaning-making is important for ‘men’ who feel inclined to claim themselves ‘feminists’(I meet a boy at a party, we take an interest in one another and step outside to talk and immediately the boy, in one way or another, goes out of his way to establish first that he is not a women and second that he is not gay - this is one mode of misogynistic relation (it should be noted that it takes the negative form ‘I am not’ rather than the positive ‘I am’)). One needs to attempt to affectively inhabit the normative female identity, as women are forced to do, as a first step towards thinking harder and more personally about gender - and I don’t think this is an easy or comfortable process for most self-identified males. And shouldn't one think deeply about gender before attempting to think clearly about feminism? To get through all the layers of entitlement that constitute the ego of a person raised male is a difficult process and, personally, not one that I see happening very often. So, yes, I'm skeptical of men claiming themselves as feminists.

Our generation has all the words and does none of the thinking, and to not think is to not feel. (And, yes, no feeling no meaning)