"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

Monday, August 12, 2013

On Ally Work, and Men Creating Community

About a year and a half ago, I slowly, quietly, stopped reading Hugo Schwyzer's blog.  Over a few years, I had enjoyed his writing, though I so very often disagreed with him.  I liked that he appeared to want to build some bridges between folks who usually disagree; once I learned about his past murder/suicide attempt, of course, and how he reacted to the criticism of him as a "leader" in feminism given this past, there just wasn't enough good there to outweigh the fucked up stuff for me to keep reading his stuff. Hugo's meltdown has caused many folks to voice examinations of men and feminism that are always already in the background in feminism.  A lot of the questions I started asking in earnest a year and a half ago are, sadly, more than relevant today: 
I don't have answers--and in some sense I should be the one to come up with these answers. Lots of folks are talking about men and feminism now (this is one of many perpetual conversations that happens with feminist movement, so it's not all a bad thing). I, too, am reconsidering what I'm doing here. (Again, I kind of think that's something ally-ish folks have to do again and again.)

This blog has been around a while. It was originally conceived of as a group blog. I know that feminism(s) can help men, but I also know that "What about the menz!1!!" is a real issue. I thought that having a space for men to do some feminist work, and create a kind of community, without being intrusive in feminist women's spaces online, was something we all desperately needed.

By any objective account, this space represents a kind of failure--partly because there were already places in which pro-feminist and feminist men were keen to build community, and partly because I simply didn't have the skills to recruit and keep men writing for the group blog. And now, of course, there are kinds of male feminist communities on social media--one reason I don't post very much any longer is that the awesome feminist-leaning men on twitter say most of what I want to say.  And men can be/are part of various online feminist communities--there are good words for men on just about any feminist blog, and pro-feminist men are mostly welcome in comments sections. 

I still think men haven't yet created their own feminist communities (or I haven't found them!) in the way that I would like.  It's definitely possible these communities exist and I'm just not part of them, of course, but I think feminist men doing the work to create online feminist communities is inextricably intertwined with the work that feminist men need to do--without community, we are solo voices shouting out our opinions, aping a kind of traditional masculinity (a real man doesn't need anybody!) that we ought to be working on shifting away from.
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