Men blogging about feminism
I’m often embarrassed by how little I write about feminism. I am more than happy to give my opinions here on Bright Green about a whole range of subjects. Clearly I’m not an expert in most, if any of them. As it happens, two of my modules for my degree were about feminist theory – one in political theory, one in philosophy. Now, that doesn’t in any way mean I am an expert in the subject. But I am more qualified academically in it than I am in almost anything else I ever write about. If that means anything.
And it isn’t because I don’t care about feminism. Gender divisions are an absolutely key part of oppression in the world. I don’t think you can understand how messed up our society is without understanding this, and without considering how both gender norms in general and the oppression of women in particular vastly impact on everything. As activists, gender is relevant to almost all we campaign on, and to how we go about campaigning.
Nope, as far as I’m concerned being a feminist is an important part of my political identity as being on the left, being an environmentalist, or being anti-racist. How could it not be?
I suppose one reason I rarely write about gender is that I sometimes feel as though there are many others who have much more to contribute on the subject – in particular, there are women. I can’t pretend to understand the nature of the oppression of women more than women do. But then I get into tough territory – I know some women who say they aren’t feminists. I think they are wrong. Does this mean I think I understand their plight better than they do? Or does it mean I don’t have any right to explain to them why I disagree with them – that I should leave this task to female feminists? Perhaps.
And then we can get into similar discussions about debates within feminist movements – I often have opinions in these debates. Do I have a right to those opinions?
Or, perhaps it’s slightly subtler than that. I never feel like I don’t have a right to *opinions*. I am just aware that, as a white man from a privileged background, society sometimes seems more likely to listen to my voice. But I don’t let this keep me quiet about other things. I won’t be hit as hard by cuts as many others. But I still write about and campaign against austerity all the time. So why do I let this fear stop me spouting opinions on the oppression of women – something about which I care deeply?
Is it, perhaps, the fear that I will be judged for doing so? Many female feminist activist groups I’ve come across have expressed the legitimate point that people liberate themselves, that men should be welcomed supporters of women’s struggles, but that we shouldn’t use the elbows that society sharpens for some of us to push our way to the front line. Others talk of how some women are less likely to speak in forums dominated by male voices, and so men should exclude ourselves from these forums.
But while these are all very good and well trodden arguments against me turning up at meetings of feminist groups and always speaking first and loudest, I am not sure that any of them are arguments against me writing the odd blog post about how I see gender oppression in the world – especially if I do so with an understanding of the position my background, race, gender and sex give me. Does it? I’d be interested in opinions. Perhaps these things give me a particular context from which I too can have a perspective on questions of gender – I have a particular viewpoint on some of the advantages society has given me. Maybe?
Let me know what you think, please. But, in the mean time, I’m going to write more here about gender. Now, blogging doesn’t change the world, and my random opinions on Bright Green certainly won’t. Frankly, I don’t know why you’ve read this far. But it will make me feel better about something that’s been bothering me for a while. And much more importantly, we’d certainly welcome people submitting posts discussing questions around feminism, or from a feminist perspective.
And while I’m in a reflective mood, we’d also love many more posts on all subjects from women. Because we are far too dominated by male writers here at BG. I’m sure we are doing something wrong – a very male dominated editorial team for a start. But for whatever reason, we very rarely have submissions from women. Please let us know if there are things we can do about that. And women, please do help us re-dress this imbalance. We’d be ever so grateful.