"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

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Picking A Fight

Some recent comments have led me to do more thinking about what I want to get out of this blogging-feminism-as-a-guy thing, and what I want other people to get out of my writing. Some of my goals: Find some ways for men who don't identify with feminism per se to see how feminism may help them. Find some ways for men who do identify with feminism to better understand the difficulties involved in being a man while being a feminist, and to find and develop a community of feminists, as well as a community of feminist men. And, while I fail or succeed in these goals to various degrees, I seem to be giving non-feminist men the impression that I really, really want them to be converted in some way, that I want them to come over to our side of things or some such. Jim W says in the comments:
I can assure you, though, that if male feminists insist in adapting wholesale all the rhetoric and assumptions of radical feminism, we will convince very, very few of our fellow men.

Leaving aside the idea that I somehow espouse 'radical' feminist ideals (erm...have you checked out Women's Space/The Margins lately?--if you think I'm radical, then perhaps you haven't), I suppose on some level I am trying to 'convince' my 'fellow men'. I put forth ideas and arguments and paint a picture of my own world-view--implicitly I'm asking people who don't share my world-view to consider it. But changing the minds of men isn't my primary goal, though it is part of the larger picture; mostly, I want to have discussions with men. I want to discuss things with other feminist men (which is one of the sadder parts of this 'groupblog' being not so group-y at the moment). And I want to discuss things with other men who don't identify as feminist. And I want to discuss things with other men who share some of my own feminist ideals (Jim W. is a stay-at-home dad: Some antifeminists would consider this a feminist act) even if they don't share all of them. I'm up for discussion--and with that some minds may change (even mine!), but I don't think changing minds is my central goal here. In a good discussion of ideas, mind-changing may happen, but it may not: everybody may simply achieve a better level of understanding about their own beliefs and the beliefs of others.

'Good discussion' doesn't mean the same thing to everybody of course, and by 'good discussion' I don't mean 'any discussion'. I've enjoyed conversations with people here who disagree vehemently with some feminist ideals, and, yes, some of my ideas have changed as a result (I'm thinking here in particular of discussions around the invisibility of man-on-man violence in discussions of male violence through a feminist lens, for instance). I draw lines though, I pick my fights, and I sometimes chose to not put time into some potential discussions. If there is some common ground, if people are civil, I tend to be more interested in discussion.

Ultimately, I do hope that minds get changed, mostly because I see the ways in which feminism helps men and people of all genders. But this isn't a conversion blog. It's not my aim to create born-again-feminists. I just want to put my ideas out there, and let them be part of the larger realm of ideas. As such, appeals to change the way I'm saying things to make my ideas more palatable to the greater number of men will largely not do much good. There are men out there who will really listen and discuss (and when and if I think this is not so, I'll likely not continue this blog)--and on the whole, I'd rather spend my time discussing things with them--whether we agree on something or not.
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