Saturday, July 22, 2006

Feminism - and Other Isms

I have heard others say that "Sexism" is "More Important" than racism, classism and therefore that being Female (or Male) is more important to our being as people as either the oppressor or oppressed class.

I believe that such a perspective is short sighted and counterproductive!

To tell a Black Woman - that her Gender is more important than her Race in what oppression she may face is presumptious. It may be true for some Black Women and in some circumstances. When We - who are White, Upper-Middle Class, (generally Het, not Disabled, not Elderly) Adult Males define what is most important for others we are demonstrating our privilige and tunnel vision.

I would guess that there are varying circumstances where various factors may be most important to individual people. Where Racism is quite visibly prevalent, it likely will be deemed more important by many than other areas where Sexism may seem more predominant ....

On a Practical Level - as Pro-Feminist/Feminist Men - I believe we should be More Responsible for helping reach and work with other Men to help end Sexism including: domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment as well as subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination against Women and Girls and similar.

Telling Men - that "You are THE Oppressor" particularly early in the communication is not likely to lead to a whole lot of positive changes in the behavior of other Men. It also makes us look very condescending towards other men and tends to cut off meaningful communication.

Helping Other Men confront our Sexism can be very different when we see ourselves as being similar to them, talk of our own issues and how we've Messed Up and struggled, etc. Part of this can involve talking about Racism, Classism and other Isms and how they relate to our lives.

Trying to listen to the stories of Men can be very revealing! Telling a man who was abused as a child by a parent or other authority figure that he is "The Oppressor" simply because he is Male is not very helpful. Talking about how we can take our own Oppressions and use them to relate to Others' struggles, rather than finding others to Scapegoat can be helpful when done in a Loving, Caring Way.

Today - 2006 - in the USA (and Canada most probably) there are plenty of people who are Hurting through Various Isms - as well as simple tragedies and unfortunate circumstances like job losses, the recent deaths of loved ones, etc. Certainly it may be true that statistically us being Male is "most important" among all the Isms we face. IF we really want to confront Sexism and bring about Meaningful Change we need to be realistic and effective in our work and day-to-day lives in general. Helping others - Particularly Men - work with us in Small and Not-So-Small ways is Most Important! Supporting Women (as well as Men) is also Important.

Thanks!

Geo - who is saddened and Angered by the destruction and bloodshed my fellow Jews and Americans have caused in Lebanon in the past several weeks (which isn't to say that they are the only people who've caused Death and Destruction in that Area.)
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