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

7Feb/112

Being Unfeminist

At some point in the life of a feminist, you're going to be un-feminist. It's going to happen. I'm a feminist. I identify as one, and I try to live my life as one. But sometimes I catch myself doing or saying unfeminist things.

Let me be clear about what unfeminist is before I continue. It's not the stereotypical and unuanced attack that is sometimes leveled upon feminists -- it's not unfeminist for a guy to like football or a woman to wear high heels if that's a choice they make. When I'm talking unfeminist isn't that, but when you do something that upon reflection, you, your feminist self, would have done differently.

You can't beat yourself up when these things happen. You should examine yourself, think about why you did what you did or said what you said, and then move on. Too often, I think, we feminists can become hung up on self-examination and guilt associated with us having not lived our life precisely the way we want. I think feminist men are particularly prone to this, because we frequently come late to the movement, are still trying to be very conscious of our privilege, and want to appear appropriately sincere to other feminists. After all, we've lived our whole lives in a mostly anti-feminist world, and long before any of us could intellectually understand feminism, even if we accepted it unconsciously, we also consciously and unconsciously accepted the mores of our society.

Breaking free from those mores is a never-finished struggle, and I think it's important as feminists not to get too upset at others and most importantly ourselves, when we stumble. We're swimming upstream. We're going against the grain. What we're trying to do is not easy, and if you have not found yourself making a misstep or taking a tumble, I'd venture to say you might not really be examining yourself enough.

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