"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

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Male Pill

Years ago a partner of mine suggested that if I were as serious about not having children as I say I am (I am), and if I were as serious about feminism as I say I am (I am), then I would go ahead and get a vascectomy. I looked into it, and found that the expense at the time was more than I could afford, being without health insurance. And yet, years later, when my health insurance would cover at least part of that operation, I hesitate. Why? Likely in part because I'm acting from a place of (perceived?) male privelege. That is: I can't get pregnant.

It's more complex than that, of course, but she had a point, really. I can, of course, always wear a condom, but when in a closed relationship of some sort, both partners might not want that if there are other options. Up until now, as far as what men can do, condoms and/or vascectomy were the only options. (This is leaving out the fact that not all sex is penis-in-vagina intercourse, which is an important fact.)

It's looking more and more like men will have more options soon regarding contraception, and I just don't see how that can be a bad thing, at the outset. The newest news I've read (be sure to check out the article, if only to see the cheesy stud-taking-a-pill picture) is that there may be the possibility of a new pill which keeps a man from ejaculating, and may even be taken just hours before sex, with the effects wearing off in a way that a hormonal-based pill can't. It's interesting to me that the article at least touches on conceptions gender-based inequality when it comes to contraception:
Experts believe it could transform family planning by allowing couples to share the responsibility for contraception - a role that traditionally falls to women.

The new contraceptive is likely to appeal to women who are uneasy about the female Pill's ability to raise the risk of strokes, heart attacks and potentially-fatal blood clots.

I like the way the article puts this, actually, because it points to the fact that, in the near future, the impetus for contraception may in fact be 'more' on the man than on the woman--perhaps not as regards consequnces, but as regards who ought to be taking the pill; if men have a simple, non-hormonal based option, then it seems like the responsibility will more fall upon them, given various potential health problems regarding the sorts of contraception choices women have.

And, all-in-all, it seems to me that, when it comes to contraception, more choices is always going to be good.

(This discussion also leaves to the side the fact that it has seemed more important to come up with a safe, easy, 'comfortable' male pill than it has been to come up with something similar for women; it may be that biology may limit these possibilities somewhat, but it's likely that sexism has played a role there too.)

(Hat tip to Feministing)

Looks like Dave's intuitions were spot on, at least according to one article which quotes various doctors as being pessimistic about men wanting to use such a method of birth control:
"Whatever medication this is going to be, it's not going to influence the sperm," notes McGuire, citing the reported lack of hormones. "It's going to influence the ability of the sperm to get into the prostate to be released during ejaculation - and dry ejaculate is not preferable."

"Not a great idea," agrees Fisch. "The ejaculate coming forward is a significant part of a man's sexuality.

Although, I, too, wonder exactly how the pill may work--and, to get graphic, exactly what it would be like to orgasm without ejaculating--talk about 'the ejaculate coming forward is a significant part of a man's sexuality' cracks me up, and strikes me as one person's opinion that may not jive with the larger male population.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Relational Autonomy

False Dichotomies
Among the good discussions that we've had here (in my opinion, of course) at FA have included some interesting takes on what it means to be an individual chooser in a world full of other individual choosers, and how gender and gender inequality intersects with the concept of agency. In a discussion about what men might want to do in order to help create safer-feeling spaces for women (and others) in the world, it was remarked more than once that whomever is feeling unsafe, it is that person's choice to feel that way, or that person's choice to walk down a particular street, or that person's choice to walk down the street any way he wants, regardless of how that might or might not make others feel. Further, for some, the mere suggestion that we are not completely autonomous, rational agents seemed to imply some sort of slippery-slope argument where nobody is then responsible for anything. Eric, for instance, said:
To say that our social circumstances affect our choices to such a huge extent that we are not REALLY individual rational agents, but people limited by our social contexts that the choices are made for us, is to imply that there really isn't such a thing as choice to begin with.

I tried to point out that there was a false dichotomy at work here, between the idea that we are autonomous, atomistic rational agents and the idea that we are mere autonoma, compeltely created by our environment with only 'external' input and no input, so to speak, from the individual. But it can be a tough idea to get one's head around--if the choices we make are affected by our environment, indeed, if the very individuals that we have become isn't simply a matter of individual choice, then what happens to the notions of rights, to the notions of individual autonomy, to choice?

Feminism and the Ahistorical Self
arielladrake, another commentor, points us the way, by first also noting that the dichotomy is lame a false one, but also pointing to the way that feminists may conceptualize agency and autonomy:
Because, for most feminist theory, and phenomenological conceptions of the subject, it's not a case of 'individual rational agents' and 'choice doesn't exist' as the only two options. Because the idea of the individual rational agent in philosophy *is* predicated on this idea of an asocial, ahistorical, transcended subject. And, quite frankly, that's bollocks, because it fails to understand the reality of people. It's the people clinging to this that proclaim any criticism of this fundamental modernist flaw must mean that we are all completely determined and have no choices whatsoever.

But while I knew (and agreed with) various feminist conceptualizations of why ahistorical, atomistic selves aren't very good reflections of people in the world, I hadn't run across any theorhetical frameworks provided by feminists which would help to reconceptualize individual choosers, taking into account feminists' various critiques (except, perhaps, some understanding of the ethics of care, which seemed to me to be useful, but narrow in scope) until I ran across the notion of relational autonomy.

How Relational Autonomy Works
Relational autonomy isn't a simple concept, from what I've been able to glean so far, but we can understand it as consisting of two main conceptual arugments: First of all, 'autonomous' agents can only learn to be autonomous agents from within a social setting. Dr. Elizabeth Sperry, in her paper "Foucauldian Power, Relational Autonomy, and Resistance Through Friendship," points this out clearly and succinctly:
Relational autonomy theorists contend that autonomy is fundamentally social in nature. Far from requiring a complete independence from others, autonomy is made possible only thanks to forms of dependence and interaction with others. First, in our society potentially autonomous agents are constructed as such only through extended periods of dependency on others, usually in family settings. Indeed, insufficient or ineffective nurturing during childhood makes more difficult the attainment of autonomy in adulthood. Certainly others must provide food and shelter in order for young children to be able to attain autonomous adulthood. But young children are not merely physically dependent on others; they must be taught language, various behaviors, the rudiments of self-control, the concept of values, the resources of their culture, and the possibility of relations with others. The development of autonomy is thus not possible in the absence of social relations, including relations of dependency.

So, autonomy, if it exists at all, must develop from within social systems of interactions with others.

But that's not the only place that autonomy relies on relationships with others. The second main point of relational autonomy is that autonomy itself relies on interactions with others to provide the necessary 'raw materials' for decision making. As adults, being social is intextricably intertwined with being autonomous. Sperry explains this clearly:
Second, adult autonomy is maintained in relationships with others. It is difficult to imagine a would-be autonomous agent successfully maintaining her sense of self in the absence of all human interaction, not only because the psychological costs of absolute loneliness would be immense, but because an agent continues to work out her sense of self through social interaction. Linda Barclay notes that “our ongoing success as an autonomous agent is affected by our ability to share our ideas, our aspirations, and our beliefs in conversation with others. It is unlikely that any vision or aspiration is sustained in isolation from others.”21 We rely on others for emotional support, for intellectual interchange, and to supply the context in which many of our own projects can be pursued. Autonomous agents have various goals and desires—to publish a book, to maintain a healthy marriage, to invest wisely for retirement, and so on—which require cooperation from others. Additionally, each of us continues to alter our sense of self and our life plan in response to the input and actions of agents around us.

Finally, the self’s own concepts and values are made possible through social organization. This differs from the developmental point that we learn our culture’s language, concepts, values, and available life plans in early childhood socialization; the claim here is that these elements themselves are culturally created and sustained. The very words and meanings we use to reflect on our preferred path of individual self-development are “constituted by social practices,”22 as is the value of reflecting on our own self-development. Social practices are necessary for autonomy in that they produce its raw matter.

As Sperry goes on to explain, it isn't that we are cut off causally from others that can make us autonomous, or some innate quality that we possess, but rather it is the actual reflection on our environments that help to create autonomous beings. So, to go back to our original discussion about men and their possible responsibilities for behavior simply walking down the street in a sexist society, we might frame it this way: The men who do reflect on the fact that they live in a sexist society and make their decisions with that in mind are being more autonomous--not in the sense of being cut off from others causally, but in the sense of creating a self that makes decisions about itself taking into account others who are outside of itself--than the men who pretend that we're atomistic, that each of us is an individual chooser with no (or little) regard to the input that we recieved as we grew up, or the input we constantly recieve now as adults.

And What Does All of this Have to Do with Feminism?
To bring it back to the topic of this groupblog more explicitly, it's important to note that the entire concept of relational autonomy has as its roots the feminist criticism of the self as an ahistorical, causally atomistic sort of thing--which in part leads to a rejection of overly simplistic conceptions of self, free-will, and, as it turns out, autonomy.

[[edited out 'lame' per ariella's suggestion]]

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Street Signs and Stick Figures

I'm a bit late on this one, but apparently a community within Madrid has voted to replace street signs that currently feature traditionally male-ish, 'blocky' stick figures with some stick figures sporting skirts, ponytails and ribbons. There has already been lots of discussion about this at Feministing, Pandagon and Shakespeare's Sister.

The Stick Figure
It's claimed by some of the commentors that a stick figure is a 'genderless' sort of representation. I think this is one of those ideas that is touted as 'common sense' which doesn't really match up to the way the world is, or our daily experience in that world. First of all, there is the problem of whether we can currently see people, or representations of people, as 'genderless'. This makes me think of the automated computer-voiced announcements for incoming and outgoing trains on the BART train system here in the SF bay area. There are two distinct voices, one that I think most people would categorize as 'male' and the other as 'female'. It's hard to imagine a voice that one didn't put into one of those categories, even in the case of the voice being completely a computer generated sort of thing.

Gender and visual cues can be just as difficult to separate out, I think, though it is much more complex. One commentor says that a stick figure doesn't have a 'male' gender assignment because you don't see a swinging dick there in the picture--as if that were how one would represent a man with a stick figure. There are also women commenting who think that the stick figure isn't male or female--but I wonder how many of them would walk into a bathroom with a stick figure that was skirtless (so to speak). Men, of course, would not often walk into a room marked with a stick-figure-with-skirt...because that's not gender neutral--it indicates a women's restroom. So, I think that those who are advocating that the stick figure is gender neutral are ignoring the day-to-day workings of things.

Which is not to say that the stick figure couldn't be gender neutral. A stick figure could be a gender-neutral sort of signifier, but it doesn't happen to be, given the preponderance of men-as-norm in our conceptual reality.

One can see that it isn't gender neutral when we then try to 'genderize' the 'neutral' stick figure. If it's neutral, how do we show that it is masculine? One suggestion (and something that was done in Germany for a while, apparently) is to put a top hat on it. In a strange way, this would probably work--in what culture do women wear top hats? (Although I suppose it could be confusing in a girls-only bar.) But what else would signify it as 'male'? I think it's telling that it's much easier to 'genderize' the stick figure as female--we can add a ponytail, a skirt, long hair, or even, as one commentor suggested, boobs; that it's easier to provide the stick figure with a more explicit gender in the case of representing women shows that the man-as-norm conceptual reality is a pretty strong sort of thing. We can't as easily dress the stick figure as masculine because masculine is the default, conceptually. At least that's part of the reason why.

Skirts and Ponytails
I also think that this 'simple' act of changing the street signs points to the relative complexity of dealing with deeply-rooted sexism. Given that in our culture stick-figure representations are not gender neutral, but rather represent the male-as-default conception of representations, how do you change things? Well, if it were easy, you'd wave a magic want and have the deeply-rooted sexism go away--then perhaps you could just use some stick figures which would be gender-neutral. But, given the lack of magic wands in the world, you'd want to do practical things that may raise awareness and maybe even change some people's minds. One way to raise awareness of the male-as-default is to change the male-as-default stick figures to not-male-as-default stick figures. But this ain't easy, really. Dressing up the stick-figures reinforces traditional gender stereotypes, to some degree, and when you're trying to (in part) bring awareness that those stereotypes aren't universal traits 'found in nature' (i.e. some men have ponytails and some women don't wear skirts), you've got your job cut out for you.

I wonder if changing a sexist society necessitates doing so in a couple of stages. First, we change the signs to ponytails and skirts, and then we eventually go back to the stick figures, once we change lots of other stuff such that the stick figures are, then neutral?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Reproductive Rights

Not sure what the etiquitte for cross-posting is to be here at FA, but here's an excerpt from my own blog, detailing some of a panel on the history and future of the fight for reproductive rights that I went to last night. Not a lot of insight, but just some disucssion about how the evening affected me. It seems somehow appropriate to post at least some of it here, nonetheless.
I should say that I'm not much of an activist. One reason is probably some laziness. Activism is work, and lots of it, generally. Another reason is that I don't see myself as either a leader or a follower--I don't feel comfortable in either role--and lots of what has to happen to get things done, at least the way things are now, requires one to be one of these two things, or both, which I don't do well either. Sometimes I lament this side of my personality, the side which talks the talk but, in some ways, doesn't walk the walk.

Of course there are all sorts of ways to walk the walk. I try to walk the walk in my personal life. And I think that talking the talk (to belabour the metaphor) is walking the walk, in many cases. I think, for instance, that, while Feminist Allies hasn't caused a lot of change in the world or even changed a lot of minds, it has (so far) been a great learning experience for me, and (I daresay) for at least a few others. Theory, meet action.

Still. I'm not a marcher. Or a joiner. I don't have a dynamic personality along the lines of the personalities that I saw on the panel last night. But, as a good friend once pointed out to me, it may be enough to be thankful that there are such people, even if I never aspire to become one. I can do what I can do; I don't have to do what they do.

And there was something remarkable about sitting in the same room with these four women (plus the people in the audience), about feeling the leadership sort of emanating from all of them (albeit in various forms) as they spoke and answered questions.
The panel was pretty amazing. Elizabeth Creely from BAACORR moderated the discussion. She had quite a task, I think, and had an appropriate amount of reverence for the speakers without making the panel too formal for those of us listening to identify with both the speakers and the ideas they were examining. The first speaker was Patricia Maginnis, who was part of the "Army of Three" in the fifties and sixties--women who not only helped other women find ways to get safe abortions, but violated federal law (and placed themselves in danger) in order to do so. It was amazing and insightful to hear what she had to say about her own beginnings and the beginning of the reproductive rights movement in California. Plus, it's always nice to hear somebody bash the Catholic church in appropriately delightful ways. The thing that struck me most about Patricia was the strength of her anger toward people who think that they can limit reproductive freedom in the various ways that they have, and continue to do. Her anger was unbridled, sincere, and somehow not righteous in the negative sense; plain inspiring, really.

Next up was Ruth Mahaney, who has done great work for reproductive rights in Indiana (among other places). She had a lot of great things to say about how it is that things can get started, with a group of women sitting in a room together talking about (say) abortion; how the connections can form and a movement can build simply from doing one of the things the religious right has tried to shame women (and us all) into not doing--talking about abortion. Ruth had a practical-ness about her that made me think that, if I ever were going to become more of an activist/leader, her example would be what I modeled my own activism on. While she was an eloquent speaker, the doing of things seemed to be part of everything she talked about.

Finally we got to hear from Norma Gallegos from Radical Women. Norma was recently doing work trying to keep abortion available for women in Jackson, Mississippi. She was, frankly, the most inspiring to me. She kept returning to the ways that reproductive rights intersect our other civil rights, and reiterating that loss of reproductive rights are tied to losses of other civil rights. She also kept pointing out the intersectionality of feminist thought--that these issues aren't just issues around abortion and repreoductive rights; they are issues of race and class and gender, too, and should be addressed as such.

I think this may be key to developing a culture in which reproductive rights are respected; once people begin to see the connections, it seems like it will be more difficult to not advocate for reproductive rights--unless one is also willing to give up other civil rights. Norma seemed to have taken on the 'larger picture' part of all of this head-on, which I don't think is easy to do. When you're aware that your struggle isn't just against right-wing nutjobs but also the very centers of our current economic and political systems (i.e. capitalism), it could be daunting. She seemed decidedly not daunted.

Years ago, when talking to an organizer at SFSU regarding the teacher's union, I found myself trying to point out that I wasn't so sure that actual, physical meetings between people were necessary for political movements. Technology, technology, technology was my cry. Email lists. Bulliten boards. That was a way to connect with more people, more easily. But I now see that it's a false dichotomy. Sitting in a room with people who are activists (or proto-activists) is galvanizing. There's something about our social-ness that kicks in; it's motivating in a way that reading any number of feminist political blogs just can't be; there's a place for all of it, of course, but I was reminded last night that sitting in a room with people is likely a necessary component of causing political change.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Please go out and vote today (that is if you haven't done the absentee ballot thing, which I highly recommend!). And if you're a CA voter, remember to vote no on prop 85.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I Reinforce Gender-Roles

Though all these abstract discussion are fascinating, I'm attempting to Jeff's wish that we continue to discuss what feminists can actually do to help. Time for another personal anecdote:

I speak Japanese. Not fluently, but well. And I have taught Japanese in a variety of formats and contexts--most lately an actual classroom course. And in those classes, I have consciously, knowingly, treated boys and girls differently. And it is beginning to bother me.

You see, Japanese speech contains, on the whole, a lot more information about the status of the speaker and the addressee than English. There are actually separate conjugations--different tenses, in essence, of verbs--for formal and informal situations. There are at least a half dozen words meaning "I". There is the generic "I", the youthful masculine "I", the reserved and ladylike "I", the girly-exuberant "I", the course and macho "I". Simply by choosing a pronoun with which to refer to oneself, one chooses a station in life.

There are, as in any language, many subtly different ways to say the same thing, some more certain, some more hesitant, some more aggressive, some more passive, some more direct and some more circuitous. There are tiny little sounds that attach to the end of a sentence; some make a statement an affirmative declaration, others, a request for confirmation.

Japanese-speaking men and women speak, in effect, different dialects of the same language; there are many words reserved exclusively for female use, and some for male. (There are more for females; as in all cultures, one has to work harder to be feminine, while masculinity is the default) The same goes for certain sentence structures.

It should come as no surprise that female Japanese is more hesitant, more flattering, more deferential,and more self-deprecating than male Japanese.

What can I do about it? A major goal of my teaching is to help students not only be able to understand and communicate ideas--many already grasp vocabulary and syntax from self-taught textbook sessions or copious anime fandom-- but to help them be culturally fluent in Japanese--to convey not only the appropriate facts, but the appropriate feelings, and the appropriate mannerisms. I strive to teach my students to speak Japanese as a Japanese person would speak it.

I teach my students to speak in a gender-appropriate. I have even, on occasion, "corrected" my female students by suggesting ways in which their speech could be made more feminine. I would never, as a general rule, tell my female friends they need to be more "ladylike' but as a language teacher I have done so without even thinking about it.

I do explain what I am doing and why, and allow students to speak as they chose. But I definitely encourage students to conform to gender roles. I have reasons for doing this-- knowing how is, to my mind, part of learning the language "correctly", is a necessity for fluency is you define fluency as "speaks in a fashion not distinguishable from a native speaker"

This all seems to make sense to me, and yet when I apply the same logic to domestic affairs, the result is repulsive. The ideal solution, I suppose, would be to teach both ways of speaking and encourage students to choose carefully, and as much as I can , I do. But class time is limited, and students remember what I make them practice; for the students who are not motivated enough to study gender issues on their own, I am forced to make the choice for them. Making my students speak submissively seems like a great injustice.

On the other hand, teaching my female students to speak in a way that will mark them some combination of outlandish, rebellious, and ridiculous if they visit Japan isn't a great choice either.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Agency and Feminist Philosophy

Burden of Proof Tennis
I've been struggling a bit with this groupblog lately. It seems that a lot of what we do is spend time defending the very notion of what we're doing. Rather than exploring what men can do as feminists, we seem to tend to be asking the question and then spending a lot of time defending the very fact that we think these are good questions to be asking.

Not that we shouldn't have to defend our ideas, mind you. It's just that it seems that the burden of proof is always placed on us. I think the problem of on whom the burden of proof is placed is a difficult problem--when Geo talks about how girls play and how boys play, is it up to him to justify his assertions in a way other than anectdotally, or is it up to, say, Eric to justify his opposition to those ideas? Probably a combination of the two, of course, but still, 'burden of proof tennis,' where we bandy back and forth with "prove it!" doens't seem to be very desirable.

Theory, Anyone?
That said, I think this is where discussion of theory can often be helpful. Being a person who almost has an MA in philosophy (but doens't!), I am suspicious of theory-without-practice, and sometimes suspicious of theory in general, especially when it uses obfuscating technical language. But I think that there is a place for theory, and I think conceptual discussions are at bottom one of the ways that we understand how we understand the world. And, of course, 'the world' includes all of the things that we might want to understand better as men who support feminism.

For example, I wonder if a discussion of feminist conceptions of agency might shed some light on where I'm coming from in the discussion (or debate, depending on your point of view!) on the moral implications of simply walking down the street in a society where sexism exists in spades. I think that the place that a lot of people come to that discussion from is informed by conceptions of the 'rational agent'. This conception, whether one recognizes this explicitly or not, comes handed down from a long tradition. From the Standord Online Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Two views of the self have been prominent in contemporary Anglo-American moral and political philosophy — a Kantian ethical subject and homo economicus. Both of these conceptions see the individual as a free and rational chooser and actor — an autonomous agent. Nevertheless, they differ in their emphasis. The Kantian ethical subject uses reason to transcend cultural norms and to discover absolute moral truth, whereas homo economicus uses reason to rank desires in a coherent order and to figure out how to maximize desire satisfaction. Whether the self is identified with pure abstract reason or with the instrumental rationality of the marketplace, though, these conceptions of the self isolate the individual from personal relationships and larger social forces. For the Kantian ethical subject, emotional bonds and social conventions imperil objectivity and undermine commitment to duty. For homo economicus, it makes no difference what social forces shape one's desires provided they do not result from coercion or fraud, and one's ties to other people are to be factored into one's calculations and planning along with the rest of one's desires.

This is, basically, the subject that Eric and Malachi are invoking, I think, and the subject that a lot of us seem to have in mind when discussing morality. This subject supports the notion of the individual as importantly separate from whatever social forces help to shape him or her. This subject makes choices in various contexts, but the choices are always completely and utterly their own--the context affects them, but that (somehow, magically, in my mind) isn't seen as affecting their choices, except in ways that they also choose.

Lots of verisons of feminism take issue with this sort of conception of self and agency:
Feminist philosophers have charged that these views are, at best, incomplete and, at worst, fundamentally misleading. Many feminist critiques take the question of who provides the paradigm for these conceptions as their point of departure. Who models this free, rational self? Although represented as genderless, sexless, raceless, ageless, and classless, feminists argue that the Kantian ethical subject and homo economicus mask a white, healthy, youthfully middle-aged, middleclass, heterosexual MAN. He is pictured in two principle roles — as an impartial judge or legislator reflecting on principles and deliberating about policies and as a self-interested bargainer and contractor wheeling and dealing in the marketplace. It is no accident that politics and commerce are both domains from which women have historically been excluded. It is no accident either that the philosophers who originated these views of the self typically endorsed this exclusion. Deeming women emotional and unprincipled, these thinkers advocated confining women to the domestic sphere where their vices could be neutralized, even transformed into virtues, in the role of submissive wife and nurturant mother.

While this theorhetical analysis of the self and agency isn't exactly the discussion that we were having about walking down the street, I think it informs the discussion in a huge way. I think it is no accident, for instance, that it was suggested that it is irrational for women to feel threatened while walking down the street. And this word is used without a mind to all the baggage that comes along with it, as if it were an untterly objective claim, as if there's nothing more to be said after you point out that somebody is being irrational.

I think part of what is going on in the discussion is that I have a different conception of how agency works than the traditional Adam Smith-ish/Kantian model; I have a feminist conception of agency. In coming posts I will try to sketch out that conception in more detail.

If anybody is still reading, what do y'all think about the idea of including more in depth conceptual analysis, more theory, here at Feminist Allies?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pandagon Response I posted

We men are going to have to do an incredible amount of work with other men and boys to bring about substantive change. Probably we are going to need to do it out of self-interest as killing, injuring and intimidating other males (and being killed, injured and intimidated by other males) is more likely to be important to us than “helping women” (not that this is right!).

At the same time we find it very hard to work together towards substantive change! One need only look at small girls and small boys to see the beginnings of what I see as a core part of the problem. Group play among girls is much more cooperative and consensual than among boys.

As men we “bond” with other men talking of sports and women. Homophobia (including among Gay/Bi Men) and Classism both add to our difficulties working together. Though we spend time with other men, we don’t really talk and share in the ways that many women do with each other.

We have a peculiar sort of: “Attention Deficit Disorder” where we see Our Present Reality as the world around us. AIDS wasn’t an issue for the Het men of my generation (I’m 55) because we “weren’t getting it”). Fathering issues aren’t our issue until we become fathers (and then we are overwhelmed with our responsibilities and have little time to work to change things).

In the end we will need to work from self-interest to change our worlds around us. None of this is meant to minimize the incredible work that women do and have done!!! Feminism teaches us a lot!

Patriarchy and Classism will hopefully help motivate more men to do more! At the present time we are a teeny tiny fraction of men. Until we become a significant minority of men it will be hard for many efforts of Feminists to succeed in many, many areas.

I try to imagine a world where Domestic Violence and Rape were killing and maiming mostly Men and wonder if it would be tolerated? At the same time, how can we kill and injure each other as we do currently? Obviously, poorer Men and Men of Color in particular are disproportionately those who are hurt and killed.