"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Equality, Misandry and Oppression: Part One:

Where We Agree, Where We Disagree and What We Might Want to Talk About

The comments on the list of ways that men might better participate in discussion in feminist spaces continue unabated; first we had lots of input from nobadges, and now PaleCast and others are giving us all a lot to chew on. Then Geo put some ideas out there about 'misandry' that seem to have interested some commentors as well. We've all been given a lot of food for thought, and some of my ideas around those thoughts are finally gelling into something that might be ok to post. I'm still thinking of a lot of these ideas as beginnings of conversations, not endings.

We've Got Some Good Commentors, Don't We?
I'd like to first thank both nobadges and PaleCast for their input here. I think both of these people have done more than their fair share of keeping a conversation going, keeping it interesting, yet keeping things quite civil. In a space where not too many of us agree on everything, having some solidarity in (at least) the idea that we all ought to be talking and thinking about all of this stuff is refreshing. I think this is a rare thing out here in the ol' bloggy world to have people intelligently disagree with such passion but without (much?) anger and bitterness, and it should be recognized as such. So, thanks to you both. I also encourage you both to get your own blogs--not because I want y'all to stop commenting here at all, but because I think there is plenty of room for all of our various opinions, and having many forums, however slightly or very different from each other, is almost certainly a good thing.

Where We Agree, Where We Might Disagree
Reading PaleCast's various comments, I am tempted to simply begin at the beginning, start quoting, and offer up a point-by-point list of disagreements. But I'm not sure that's the best way for the discussion to continue. Perhaps a better way (for me!) is to begin from a place of agreement, because it seems like there are a lot of things PaleCast (and others like him--hope I'm getting your gender right there, PaleCast, as I don't think you've explicitly given it) and I probably agree on.

Seems to me that we both would agree that both men and women are harmed by current structures of socioeconomic power, and of constructions of gender power, for instance. Can we agree at least on that? I think it's been clear from the start that I think that men are harmed by current power structures, and I've pointed out on various occasions how that happens, at least in 'small' ways, though my short little analyses on comic strips and advertisements. I think more in-depth discussions of that sort would be a benefit to everybody. For instance, an analysis of how men and women are treated differently in 'wartime'--whatever that word means in the present political climate!--from who-gets-drafted to who is 'in combat'--is something well worth doing. Not only would it highlight the harm that is done toward men by picking a fight, but it would be easy to show how 'the system' negatively affects everybody of every gender, and how 'the system' does that in different ways for different genders.

It's my intuition that, given possible agreement on the above problem, that one 'meta-conversation' that we might want to have surrounds not conceptions about whether or not current power systems harm men, but rather conceptions about:
1) Where discussion about how these power systems harm men ought to take place.
2) To what degree harm to men ought to take up time and energy in the larger discussion of power and harm, as well as in the 'smaller' particular discussions of power affecting women and power affecting men.
3) What are the various relationships between the harm done to women and the harm done to men (and those of other genders, too, actually) by current systems of power?

There are more possibilities of course, but it seems to me that we might agree that these are some of the questions we would like answers to, or that we have opinions on. Does that work so far?

For the next post: Where ought we be putting forth concerns about the ways that men can suffer from the current power structures around gender?
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