Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Feminism and me

So now that I have gotten the silly posts out of my system for now, I wanted to do a more serious post on something that I feel asleep thinking about last night, Feminism and me. I was inspired to start thinking about it, like I don't usually, but really think about it and my own thoughts and perspective on it after reading this post by Melissa over at Shakesville. And then I went there today to find this article again and well to read some more and I found this post by Kate Harding. It renewed much of what I was already thinking about when it comes to my own perspective on feminism.

To give you a bit of a background on my mother because this is important to my whole point, I would consider my mother to a first generation feminist, at least as I understand it. She has always been a strong female, she has always made of point of talking to my brother and I about the fact that men and women are equal which was reflected in my growing up and my parent's house. I can remember at one point, my mother making a point that we do not objectify women or their bodies in their house and that this was not acceptable behavior with my parents. This grew out of her seeing the album cover for a CD with a scantily clad women on the front. Now the fact that this was for a female rapper, which she had no way of knowing, did not change the fact that she and my father did not feel as though this was material that was appropriate for me. She did not ban me from listening to the music or censor me in any way, but this point was still made. This varies from other topics where I had teachers who felt that my brother or I were reading books that were not appropriate for us, Tom Clancy nnovels in my case and Bram Stroker's Dracula in my brother's case, both comments made by the same fifth grade teacher. My parents stuck up for mine and my brother's rights to read what we wanted to read. So when she told me that an album cover was not appropriate it stuck with me. Yeah I didn't totally understand at that point, but I did start to not make sure that albums that I thought they would not like, I covered more. This does not change the fact that I still listened to them, but I was more conscious of what I was listening to.

Fast forward to the present, well about mid-June to July when I started to blog read on a very regular basis and not just read some idiot my brother was friends with who did mostly self serving, egotistical fluff pieces most of the time. I started to read many writers who were women and were strong feminists. Sure, I was conscious of feminism and the desire of equal rights for men and women, but here I was reading more impassioned ideals. I was reading about the ways in which the patriarchy hurts not only women, but also men. I was reading about the subtle ways in which we have been so conditioned to not even realize that the patriarchy is still very strong. I guess I knew we still live in a very patriarchical society, but it took more than that for me to wipe the haze away from my eyes. It took people saying look at this advertisement, look at this comment, look at this whole notion of life and what it means and see how fucked up it really is. How much we hurt ourselves as fellow humans when we value one gender over another. And it was like a cloud lifting, I began to see the world around me in such a different way. Now it took a while for this to happen and I am still struggling to fight my own biases and misogyny, but I am fighting and I am noticing how my actions and the actions of those around me do affect the whole world. I am beginning to see that we still have a long way to go in fighting to truly create a society that is free from sexism, along with racism and all of the other -isms that we humans like to use to label others.

But I have to say though, that I struggle to consider myself a feminist, truly. I read on a blog (I don't honestly remember which one and it could have been on several) the whole idea that as a man it is hard to define yourself as a feminist. I am uncomfortable with this label for me. First, I generally dislike labels anyway, but this one I really struggle with. I find as a man, the world is still tilted in my favor. I find that I still have many of the advantages and that in many cases, I don't realize till it is too late that I have gained an advantage purely because I am a white male. I do not have the same fears when I am walking down a street late at night as I have heard women express, now part of this is that usually if I am out, I have Logan with me or I am in a very familiar area, but still... I don't have to think about the fact that those who have been in power, and hopefully this will change this year, have looked like me. I don't have to deal with society judging my worth based upon my looks, my weight or the size of my clothing. I am allowed to grow older and have wrinkles and even have my hair turn gray, although I am losing mine, but this is still more acceptable in men than women. I never have to deal with someone blaming my bad mood on hormones or "that time of the month."

And the biggest issue and the one that I guess I think about most is that I never have to worry about my reproductive rights. As a male, I am encouraged to reproduce and there is no negative stereotype attributed if I have had a lot of sexual partners, which I haven't, but still. I also can never get pregnant and so i do not have to worry about whether I would have an abortion or not. Now this does not absolve me of any responsibility, in fact I think, it means I have more responsibility. As I have to be able to be responsible for my own actions and not cause my partner to feel as though she has to make this decision. I would be there for my partner, but I have felt for a while now that as a male, my job in this debate is to help to support my partner. It is not my body hence I cannot and should not tell you what you can and cannot do with it. This is why I am pro-choice. I am male and so I have NO right to tell you that you cannot make this choice. The whole idea of pro-life as a male makes absolutely no sense to me. How can any man ever tell any women what she can do with her body? Now I would agree that no person, male or female, has the right to tell someone what to do with your body, but as a female at least you have the same "plumbing" and so have some idea, as a male I have no idea and cannot even begin to understand. So, am I a feminist? NO. But I consider myself on the same side.


FranIAm said...

Boxer- I completely love you. Tell GG not to worry as I am 50 and quite happily married.

None the less- I totally love you for this post.

That is really all that I can say- brilliant and moving and spoken from deep within your being.

Tell Ma and Pa Boxer they did good... you are a real mensch in my book.

BAC said...

Boxer, I agree with Fran. And for what it's worth, I think you are a feminist. You understand that as a white male you have privilege in this culture, but you try not to consciously take advantage of it.

It's too bad more men don't "get it." It really would improve their lives as well.


Boxer rebel said...

BAC and Fran- That means a lot coming from both of you. Thank you.

angry ballerina said...

I agree with Fran...I think i am in love with you.
Fucking awesome post.

Boxer rebel said...

Angry ballerina- thank you, thank you, thank you

Ronnee said...

Thank you thank you thank you

Maybe Ma Boxer made her point w/ her sons!!!

Ma Boxder