"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, January 04, 2012


For folks who read Feministe, Alas or Hugo Schwyzer's blog, it's been a kind of trying time. (I'm not going to replay the entire situation--some handy links are at the bottom of this post, for those unfamiliar with the situation.) Even though I haven't been posting much lately, I thought it is perhaps appropriate for me to say something, given this blog is still called Feminist Allies and all. But, while the whole thing has mostly got me thinking about survivors of violence, the nature of the problem also includes reviewing men's place in feminism(s), as well as my own place in feminism(s).  So, it's sort of an open question (for me) as to how I should write about all of this.  So my thoughts are still forming, and I'm trying to listen, and reflect.

Mostly I'm just sad about it all--people have suffered a lot of emotional pain, in addition to any physical pain, around all of this. 

Some things I'm pretty sure of:
  • One silver lining will be that The Revolution Starts at Home will sell a bazillion more copies, as some of us try to fill in huge gaps in our worldviews (thanks, privilege!).  
  • A lot of us will have a better understanding of how centering survivors of violence can be done.
  • Survivors will be centered more often when talking about violence. 
  • I will be more careful when talking about personal experiences, in all kinds of ways.
  • Some feminist and pro-feminist men will rethink what they ought to be contributing to feminism.
  • Some folks will stop reading Feministe, Alas, and/or Hugo's blog.
  • Suspicions around feminist and pro-feminist men, already pretty high (often justifiably) will increase.
  • Feministe, one of the feminist blogs that kept the ideas of how feminism also helps men in the mix, will likely do less of that.

Some questions I'm struggling with:
  • How can I center survivors when discussing violence?
  • When is it ok to call out violent words when they're used against men who have done violence, if ever?
  • What happens when perpetrators of violence are also survivors of violence?
  • If men shouldn't be "leaders" in feminist movement, what practical roles ought they take on? 
  • Is having an "ally" blog (like Feminist Allies!) harmful? Is it helpful?
  • Men are socialized to be sexist; this includes being socialized toward thinking violence is ok, or that certain kinds of violence aren't violent at all, etc. Any men who are doing feminist work have had to work to recognize and begin to overcome that socialization--I do worry that we can all be thought of as "former abusers" by some folks, and as such our voices don't matter, or aren't welcome, in any feminist spaces.  

Hopefully more later, as things evolve.  I'm going to work on reading The Revolution Begins at Home, and some other works...

The original interview:  http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/17/sex-drugs-theology-men-feminism-interview-with-hugo-schwyzer/
Thorn's response post: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/23/on-change-and-accountability/
Feministe's Apology Post: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/24/a-different-take-on-accountability/
Response to Thorn, on Feministe: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/31/on-change-and-accountability-a-response-to-clarisse-thorn/
Response to Thorn, on Alas: http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2011/12/28/on-change-and-accountability-a-response-to-clarisse-thorn/#comments

Post a Comment