Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mid-Week Memo: Words from the Guys

detail from painting by Emma's mother, Susan Bee, titled "Girly Man,"
and the cover for a book by Emma's father of the same name

This week, we collected a few quotes from men on the topic of feminism--are they feminists, and what does feminism mean to them?

"I feel like men and women both need to be uplifted from where they're at, and in our society, women are more marginalized. So in the same way that I might be more aware of people that are poverty-stricken, or minorities that have had a harder experience in our country, I'd say I'm a feminist in the way that I'm aware that women are often subordinated in our society, or underappreciated. But I don't think you can uplift just women without changing the way that men approach it as well. The balance is very important, and it's a two-way conversation."
--Aaron, 26, production assistant and freestyle MC in New York

"I think I'm a feminist, but that doesn't mean that misogynist qualities aren't ingrained in me. I think that's true for women, too. I think I respect and am sensitive to women's issues, but I still find myself expecting women to act a certain way. I still say stuff like, "That chick is hot." I am feminist to the extent that I question how things exist now, but I'm still very much a product of mainstream 'guy' culture, whether I like it or not."
--Aaron, 27, waiter and writer in Chicago

"I am not sure how to answer the question of whether or not I consider myself to be a feminist. Of course, feminism means different things to different people, but it doesn't mean much to me. Do I respect people regardless of their gender? I would say yes -- at least I try to. If someone demonstrates themselves as worthy of respect, their gender really doesn't matter to me. However, I have a very different opinion of people who allow or choose to have the question of their gender (woman, man, trans, whatever) play too great a role in defining themselves." Matt took his thoughts in a more philosophical direction after this, wondering whether gender distinctions themselves create unbalanced power structures. He wondered: should we look past gender to find some mythical sexless human essence, or is there some merit to be found in embracing hierarchal structures? Click here to read his musings in his own words.
--Matt, 24, paralegal in Chicago

1 comment:

Matt said...

{Continuation of Matt's quote):

Personally, I think that a lot of people spend a significant amount of their time and energy devoted to questions of what it means to be a certain gender, what the power implications are, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. By this time most everybody gets it: there is power in the discursive, there is power in the normative. The question now is not where this discursive/normative power is and what all of its manifestations are (obviously there are infinite iterations), but how do we conduct our politics and behave towards one another on a personal level in light of our awareness of discursive/normative power loci like gender? I see two answers to both parts of this question. One is to effort to transcend such power loci in a search for the socratic Good. The other is to explore and embrace power as an end in and of itself. I keep my personal choice between these two answers private.

Where does that leave me in regards to feminism? I will leave that up to everyone else. It doesn't much matter to me.