"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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

More Than "Feminism 101"

Today I was reminded, in the best possible way, just how interesting and exciting it can be to start to recognize the complexities in the way the world works, in the ways that systems of oppression work. Every day (it seems) I learn something new about the complexities of gender (and race, class, and sexuality, among others) oppression, so I can tap into that excitement on a daily basis. It's easy for me to feel like I haven't learned anything yet, because I'm learning every day. But remembering back to when I was first being introduced to feminist theory makes me remember that the insights come frustratingly quickly when you're first learning about it, and that it was an exciting and scary period.

I was reminded by all of this by a reader who runs an introductory feminist course in South Carolina, who writes:
hello i came across your blog, i run a blog for an introducory women's and gender studies class. Basically the point of my blog is it is a safe area for students write what they think as they aproach the idea of feminism, which in most cases is new to them. i assure you most of the blogs that they post are interesting to read, and it would mean alot to me if you would follow our blog. the site is wearethewave.blogspot.com.

Along with having a perfect title, Wearethewave is a great read. The students are engaged, interesting, and are coming at feminism from an interesting perspective, often trying to reconcile deeply held Christian values with some of what feminist theory is telling them. And there are men in the class, to be sure--and since this is an ally blog for men who identify as feminists, I'd like to share a part of one piece with you, in the hopes that you'll go check out the rest of the blog. Stephen Long writes:
I am a white, upper-middle class, heterosexual male. I am also a Christian. In many ways my religion has perpetuated a patriarchal system of oppression. Sometimes I feel like an outsider in this Introduction to Women’s Studies course because of my privileged status. During class discussions, I feel as though I have had a hand in oppression although I cannot think of any oppression that I have knowingly caused. However, my status has provided me with benefits and protection in a society where race, class, sexuality, and gender intersect to marginalize and oppress women. I recognize that I benefit from a patriarchal system that favors men like me.

As stated in Bell Hooks’ Feminism is for EVERYBODY, feminism is “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” (Hooks 1). The fact that most people learn of feminism through a patriarchal mass media is reflected by the common misconception that feminism is anti-male. In actuality, feminism is committed to gender equality and “without males as allies in struggle feminist movement will not progress” (Hooks 12). Statements like this make me feel like feminism is a movement that easily includes men as well as women. I appreciate Hooks’ narrow focus for feminism, too; her definition is so specific.

It's inspiring to know that men (and, of course, people of all genders) are learning about feminism in positive ways, and are, like Mr. Long, really getting it. (And I'm happy that Feminism is for Everybody is being taught, of course!) So what are you waiting for? Go check out Wearethewave.