Commenter Valerie Keefe, a feminist, posted this comment to an article here. It was a re-post of a comment at the site she mentions below, where the blogger had posted a list of supposedly pro-male posts by feminists.
Most of the comment thread is interesting, worth a read, although in the end it dissolves into a bunch of puerility.
Valerie Keefe on October 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm said:
It’s politically and anthropologically interesting to find an anti-oppression group that’s still at the stage where they are willing to engage in intersectional oppressions with people they don’t like. It’s not a good habit, by the way.
Oh, you guys might find this interesting. I got asked by a feminist about how to find ‘legitimate MRAs’ with which to ally. Here is my slightly edited reply from http://brutereason.net/2012/09/20/in-brief-do-feminists-care-about-mens-issues-a-handy-list/#comment-4934
Thing is, my unidirectional-feminist friend, there’ve been a lot of burned bridges. Finding MRAs who don’t have an instinctual (and well-earned) distrust of feminism as currently presented would be like trying to find trans radfems… you can, but even most third-wave feminists find their output suspect. Just like with the second-wave and those in the third-wave that give them a pass, and trans women, don’t expect feminism to get a pass.
You want MRAs to ally with you? Good. I do too. But expect that they’ll disagree with you on some things, and expect to agree or at least dialogue non-dismissively with them on some core points:
1. We erase a fucktonne of male victims of rape (and CAMAB victims of rape) and female perpetrators of rape (and CAMAB [CAFAB?] perpetrators of rape)
2. The workplace-related death gap, the overtime gap, the elemental exposure gap, etc. All get erased in discussion of the wage gap. If you’re going to blame men for creating an environment where 83% of workplace-related fatalities (that’s about 43,000 extra men than women per year), are men, then you’ve done so in ignorance of safety-oriented unions, and women making up a majority of the electorate since 1964.
3. Our justice system relies on a lot of sexist assumptions about fitness of a parent, danger of an offender, veracity of a victim’s account, and exacerbates and reinforces those assumptions by maintaining social attitudes that make men less likely to report assault, sexual and aggravated, of any level of severity, even those assaults that should require medical attention. Of adults who were sexually assaulted as children, 64% of cis women describe what happened to be a sexual assault. 16% of men do. So if you can’t manage to be horrified that someone who was raped at thirteen (and thirteen-year-olds cannot consent, nor can one retroactively consent to what happened to oneself at thirteen) is made to pay child support to maintain his rapist’s child, you probably won’t get very far with MRAs.
4. Recognize, and here’s something you can do for your trans sisters too, so we’re not erased until the day that a slim minority of us finally come out: It’s not female presentation that invites femmephobic abuse. It’s femininity, the less socially acceptable the better, and that femmephobia intersects with cissexist norms, so if you think femininity is policed and derided in female-presenting people, you should try having the exact same attitudes, mannerisms, and speaking style, and then present male. Don’t worry, I’ll be there to pull you out of the trash can, and teach you which way to look at your nails so you won’t get abused (actually happened to me).
You should be concerned about what’s directed at cis men, if for no other reason than because a disproportionate amount of it happens to trans women (intersectionality again), and in a way that keeps many of us closeted. When someone is told to shut up, they’re taking too much space, and that silencing is followed by gendering someone as their presentation, they’re going to be more likely to focus any gender angst they have outwards, instead of being able to go on questioning who they are… but you don’t need to hear about my college years…
5. Don’t compare Western men to non-Western women when making the case for the rights of Western women. Just don’t. If you’re going to dismiss US circumcision of boys (and some girls, there’s another reminder, don’t erase trans people before they identify as such) then don’t compare that to what happens in Burundi or Cameroon or Afghanistan. There’s a lot of repression in those places that flows from economic privation. Compare Western circumcision to Western infantile clitoroplasty… even if it weakens your argument.
6. You’re going to have to drop the idea that straight cis men unidirectionally oppress straight cis women. That doesn’t mean there’s not choking clouds of institutionalized misogyny right now, but it’s not the only sexism in town, nor, is it really clearly the most prominent… it’s just the one you see most, because, well, you’ve trained yourself to see it. There’s a lot of confirmation bias in ciscentric feminism, and a lot of trans women learn to use that model, because, well, among other things, cis privilege means never having your gender questioned when you disagree with predominant feminist theory. My favorite example comes from a job I had, working overnights, where I had to say no to a lot of people.
I transitioned ‘in boymode’, which means I didn’t change a stitch of clothing as I transitioned, just took spironolactone until people started gendering me female. After that happened, the usual pleading-to-venom cycle went, “Can you help me sweetheart?” or dear or some other slotting form of address designed to gain my acquiescence, trying to make me be ‘nice’. Followed by calling me a fat bitch or cunt. Before I was gendered female, it was, “Can you help me buddy?” or pal, or some other slotting form of address designed to remind me that real men don’t let bureaucracy get in the way of being functional and potent… then when I had to say no again, they called me a fat prick, sometimes made reference to my lack of sexual prowess, etc… So what we saw was classism: Customers expecting service… but cloaked in sexist language.
7. Finally: Expect a lot of groping about. There’s no MRA canon.
Well, there’s Warren Farrell, but we’ve seen the impressive amount of effort expended in taking a thirty-five year old interview out of context… but seriously. There’s Spreading Misandry but that’s not really a work of theory… there’s Cocksure but that’s not really MRA stuff… just Richler taking the piss out of identity politics. While man may have got the default pronoun and been considered the default citizen in most works of the enlightenment canon, they were meant to be universal, and largely remain that way. Further, those that don’t, didn’t anticipate the extension of citizenship to the female-presenting, a change which occurred roughly 100 years ago, and, like those voting Republican now, was not a solely male exercise, so they’re hardly going to be relevant to men’s rights in a liberal-democratic society with a universal franchise.
My point is that MRAs don’t have universal positions on questions like abortion, not because they don’t buy the idea of personal bodily autonomy, but because they’re trying to reconcile a system of child rearing where one party has all the rights as to deciding when to commence a pregnancy (Mississippi excluded, but again, that exception’s not relevant to most of the Western world. See Rule 5), and the other bears all the responsibility for that decision (Save for a physical risk which is lower than that of taking low-dose aspirin for a year). They don’t have universal positions on women in combat roles, either, because, well… they note that a lot of feminists haven’t been chomping at the bit to equalize casualty rates. (I have, but it’s not high up on my list of priorities). They’ll disagree a lot, because, frankly, there’s not the intellectual uniformity that comes from having a canon and an academic discipline, where one may not have to follow the party line, but one will definitely have to reconcile one’s positions with the party line…
I think, actually, that’s where a bit of unidirectional-feminist ire at MRAs comes from… they expect MRAs to be like feminists, but they aren’t yet. The MRM grew up in the internet… the people preceded the books, and it’s not like you could get a university to help them write the books (though men are an abject minority of undergrads now) because the backlash would be more than any progressive university would want to bear. There’s not the same MRM party line that there is for feminists… there’s not the same level of intellectual coherence, and factionalism, and clearly identifiable intellectual tendencies… so when someone hears someone who calls themselves an MRA say something really disgusting, it’s not like we can slot them with the MRM equivalent of Mary Daly or Sheila Jeffreys.
You know how mad third-wavers get when someone quotes Daly or Jeffreys or Bindel, or Raymond at them, and the response is, “Most feminists aren’t like that”? Yeah… that’s the bind into which MRAs are put… only difference is, nobody in the MRM gets paid to be their noxious equivalent of a prescriptivist, trans-exterminationist, gender fascist, and moderate MRAs don’t come together as a community to mourn the loss of their Dalys… MRAs don’t have a death toll to celebrate, as Raymond did, when she got her work made into Reagan Administration policy… but I digress. They have no professional academics, no canon, and thus, there’s not the same handful of factions to point to… everyone’s a free agent in the MRM, and recognizing that is important.
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