"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, June 05, 2014

You Don't Get to Be Kathleen Hanna

It hasn't quite even been a year since the whole Schwyzer meltdown, and we already have the newest "top feminist dude" showing his true misogynist colors. When Schwyzer's truths became impossible to ignore (and, sadly, I did ignore them for far too long), I began some deep rethinking of how I go about practicing feminist ideals in my daily life, and online. Clymer's bullshit has pushed me back into rethinking things, yet again.

I came to feminism through theory (women's studies classes), through lived experience (raised by a bad-ass single mother), and through folks like bell hooks who provided both theory and insight into practice (Feminism is for Everybody).  I knew enough women who wanted men to do some of the hard work of feminism that I began to consider myself an ally. Enough women thought I was an ally that I felt justified in that. Now I see lots of women supporting a dood like Clymer who (to me) clearly isn't fit to lead a gender equality site that I'm starting to doubt (as many other have before me) whether "ally" is even a useful term.  For quite a while I didn't see why men can't be leaders in some feminist fights, but I'm starting to get it now, with slow, dawning understanding. 

And after all the good ideas put forth by many people around why men shouldn't lead anything in feminist movements, it was finally this rather simple analogy that brought it home to me, for which I'll forever be grateful to @heatherurehere on twitter:
"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 Hanna."--@heatherurehere on twitter
Sure, sometimes men listen more to men, and that's one reason why men have to be a part of feminist movement. And patriarchy harms men, which is another good reason for men to be pro-feminist. There are myriad important reasons for men to support feminism. But do we need men to lead gender equality sites? Nope. Do we need men to lead Slutwalk? Nope. 

I still think that men need to connect with other men, and folks of all genders, to build communities, to support each other, all while doing feminist work. I still haven't found that supportive community, really, though lots of new friends on twitter do a good deal of that work.  So I'll keep blogging, and talking with people in Real Life, and amplifying the voices of women, but I'm not even comfortable calling this thing Feminist Allies any longer. I'll call it Feminism Helps Men for now, and see where that takes me. 
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