Monday, July 22, 2013

bell hooks Monday: On Feminist Masculinity

http://kfffunk.tumblr.com/post/1087141310/portrait-of-bell-hooks-i-adore-her-work-and-i
Wonderful drawing by k funk. Please go buy stuff from them. 
"As interest in feminist thinking and practice has waned, there has been even less focus on the plight of men than in the heyday of feminist movement. This lack of interest does not change the fact that only a feminist vision that embraces feminist masculinity, that loves boys and men and demands on their behalf every right that we desire for girls and women, can renew men in our society. Feminist thinking teaches us all, males especially, how to love justice and freedom in ways that foster and affirm life. Clearly we need new strategies, new theories, guides that will show us how to create a world where feminist masculinity thrives."--bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love
 Yet another passage that demonstrates why bell hooks is a favorite writer of many a feminist man!  (I would also add that "feminist masculinity" isn't something that only men can benefit from, but people of various genders who think that traditional masculinity is long overdue for some seismic conceptual shifts.) 

I think it is interesting to re-read The Will to Change, a book that is only 8 or 9 years old, and to see how things have changed as regards men and feminism (and also, of course, how they haven't).  Certainly online feminism seems to have upped the ante as regards including men and addressing issues with traditional masculinity.  An article from 2012 on Feministing even addresses the issue that hooks is talking about directly.  Shira Tarrant's book, Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power is now in its second printing (full disclosure--I have an article in the 2nd edition).  I also see a lot of change coming online in the twitterverse--there are myriad feminist and pro-feminist men on twitter who are doing the day-to-day work of online feminism.  And IRL feminist men exist in some of what one might think are the oddest of places.  For instance, I had the good fortune to attend the "allies track" of the Ada Initiative's Ada Camp not too long ago, and met a bunch of feminist and pro-feminist men (and other folks!) who work in open source technology, and are vehemently interested in getting more women to work in open source software fields.  

All of which is not to say that hooks' point doesn't still hit home:  One of the reasons I'm still (occasionally!) writing on this blog is because there need to be various places where men and feminism get discussed, in part so that men don't "take over" feminist spaces that women create, but also simply because the more the merrier (and the more work we'll get done).



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