What Men Dare Do! "O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!"

26Oct/101

You’re Probably Not a Feminist Yet

#1: You're Probably Not

If you think you're a male feminist, well, you're probably not.  Not yet anyways.

Let me explain.

If you're reading this post, remember, I'm writing from the perspective of a male feminist, writing to the newly awakened feminist.

As you're perhaps discovering feminism, I've found one of the more useful metaphors is that of the recovering alcoholic.  Perhaps you've had a epiphany, some moment, large or small, where you observed something of the patriarchy, something misogynist, or some chauvinist twit that just make you think, "Gee, I don't like that, and I don't want to be that."

Well, now that you've seen a glimpse, soon you'll see it everywhere.  And like the recovering alcoholic who slowly realizes that their personal life was structured around their disease, you might too begin questioning some of the ways your own life has gone.

You see, the difference between the male feminist and the female feminist is that we have a privilege, a privilege of not being subject to a system that subtly or brutally oppresses women.  It's a darn great privilege not to have to worry about that.  But for women, well it's staring them in their face, unblinking, from the moment they reach a tender age where they experience some discrimination, or violence, or some other manifestation of the system in which we live (so I'm told).

Most women, regardless of how whether or not they self-identify as feminists are the products of feminism.  Even a Sarah Palin or Ann Coulter, rabid anti-feminists both, could not have survived and persisted in the world of their mothers or grandmothers, though they might deny it.  We know (and perhaps they do too) that their positions in society aren't the same as their forbearers, and that they are breaking a mold in achieving what they have done.

But we men don't have that experience.  Feminism is rarely something that lives with us in our everyday lives from a young age.  We don't have many self-identifying male feminist role models, and we don't have the kind of experiences that deeply and profoundly affect us at a young age as women do.

So when a man comes to feminism, even with an "Aha!" moment, it's sometimes a slow progression of realization of the system.  Maybe you once made sexist jokes and catch yourself now.  Maybe you never really liked some of the activities you once did, or some of the TV, movies, books or culture you once consumed.  But as this realization slowly creeps up on you, remember, we're not really feminists, not yet anyways -- we're recovering chauvinists, striving to achieve a feminism we hardly know.

So take that with you, as you begin exploring feminism, and be cognizant of our ignorance, of our privilege, and the chauvinism that intentionally or not, we still possess.

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