Men as feminist leaders?

Posted by Saraline , Wednesday, April 28, 2010 11:20 PM

As I mentioned in my post about Boobquake, feminists don't always agree about everything. One of the things that we don't all agree on is the role of men in the women's movement. When Mary Daly taught at Boston College, she refused to allow men to attend her classes on feminism. Then we have bell hooks who believes that feminism is for everybody:

As all advocates of feminist politics know most people do not understand sexism or if they do they think it is not a problem. Masses of people think that feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And a huge majority of these folks think feminism is anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media.

When I wrote my last blog post, I credited Feministing with the idea of Femquake. Maymay commented to correct me; he had come up with the idea. He also informed me that he is a man. Upon learning the true identity of Femquake's creator, an anonymous commenter had this to say:

awesome. a man is leading the femquake charge. That's all great and lovely, but I guess I was hoping that it was a woman. If that makes me sexist, well, I guess maybe I am.

Not gonna lie, it means a little less to me now.

The point is still there and the point is a good one, but meh...some dude on the internet leading the charge on us uniting our boobs and our brains is just, IDK, ironic.

Thanks for the help, though.

When Maymay wrote about the anonymous comment in his blog, it sparked a debate about leadership, men as feminists, and whether or not a hierarchy exists within feminism. I had this to say in a few of my comments:

I think that Femquake was a good idea, but I can see where the anonymous commenter on my blog was coming from. Men have been the ones who have been the leaders throughout history, and while there are more women in government now, it is still made up of mostly men. Part of being a feminist (for me and I think for anonymous, too) is believing that women can be leaders as well, and when a man comes up with an initiative like Femquake, it doesn’t really strengthen that idea. When men step up as leaders for the women’s movement, it looks like we can’t even lead ourselves. I don’t think that the comment came from a belief that men don’t have good ideas and valid opinions, but from a desire to be independent. [...]

A leader can be somebody organizing a protest or it could be someone who says something that nobody else has said before. In the case of Femquake, you were leading; you came up with an idea and you asked people to participate in your event. Maybe you don’t feel that you were the leader of Femquake, but when you saw that I credited Feministing in my post, you did point out that you were the one who came up with the event. [...]

Men have been leading themselves for centuries and they’re still the ones who are making most of the laws. Our society is still a society where women constantly have to prove themselves as a whole. Men don’t have to prove that men are good at math and science or that men are capable of leading.

Here are a few excerpts from Maymay's blog post and comments:

...it’s absolutely baffling to me that when men stand up for gender equality, it somehow means less than when women do it. The reality is that no matter who is standing up for gender equality, it means the same thing: that we are all working towards the same goal of equality and opportunity for all souls on this planet, regardless of what body those souls inhabit. [...]

I have to respectfully disagree with you when you say that supporting ideas that men come up with makes it look like women can’t lead themselves. To me, that feels like a grave indictment of women, one I’d be uncomfortable making. Would you say that men who support women make it look like men can’t lead themselves? Sexism is sexism, and there is nothing I find worth honoring about sexism regardless of its source or its target.

Furthermore, the idea that somehow someone has to “lead” equality strikes me as faulty. Equality is by definition non-hierarchical. Leadership, by contrast, is necessarily hierarchical. To say that I am somehow “leading the charge” is misrepresentative of the ideal of self-empowerment that I tried to put forth in coining “femquake.”

In other words, for people to realize a desire to be independent, regardless of whether they are women or men, “following leaders” is not the way to do it.

I suggest reading the section of his post about the anonymous comment and the rest of the comments on the post before you read this next part. I'm responding to his last comment to me here, because I'm curious about what people who read my blog have to say, particularly the original anonymous commenter.

Did you hear me say that leaders weren’t necessary, or useful, or valuable, or important? If so, then, oops, either I misspoke or you misinterpreted or both! I’ll try to say things another way, next time.

What you said was, "for people to realize a desire to be independent, regardless of whether they are women or men, 'following leaders' is not the way to do it." What is the way to do it then?

It’s certainly a terrible thing, in my view, that black women are treated with less dignity than white women merely for being black and women. Does that make feminism or feminist ideals hierarchical? You seem to be saying so, and I disagree. Feminism is about gender equality, and that concept–even in an imperfect world–is distinct from racial equality.

It does make feminism hierarchal. So do homophobia, transphobia, and classism. I'm going to use another quote from your comment to illustrate this. "Is it oppressive for a woman who wants to be a homemaker to have equal opportunity to choose between homemaking and astrophysics? No. It is only oppressive when she is not given that choice, or is disempowered from enacting either reality."

Back in the day when middle-class white women were rebelling against being homemakers, they weren't thinking about other women who would have fewer options in terms of work that they could do. Not everyone has the option of having a wonderful career. They may not be able to afford the education that they would need for a career and they're stuck working at an unsatisfactory minimum wage job. When feminism was taking the "women should work" direction, women in lower income households weren't being empowered.

...adultism is discrimination against anyone who is not an adult. Would you say that black children face more discrimination than white children? I would say so, and while the intersections of adultism and racism are prevalent, I don’t think it’s helpful to view the concept of racial equality as hierarchical, just as I don’t think it’s helpful to view feminism/gender equality as hierarchical, either.

Is the concept of racial equality hierarchical? I'm going to quote bell hooks again, because I think she has a good answer to this one:

No other group in America has so had their identity socialized out of existence as have black women... When black people are talked about the focus tends to be on black men; and when women are talked about the focus tends to be on white women.

and:

What had begun as a movement to free all black people from racist oppression became a movement with its primary goal the establishment of black male patriarchy.

I admit that I'm not an expert on the black rights movement, but I trust that bell hooks knows what she's talking about.

Being good at math and science or that we are capable of leading does not mean that men don’t have to prove themselves as a whole. Feminism aims to liberate men as well as women. Feminism is wonderful because it can liberate the oppressor as well as the oppressed.

Men have to prove that it is okay for them to be ’sensitive,’ that it is okay for us to look ‘pretty,’ that it is okay for us to desire care and protection from our partners, rather than take assumed roles as “protectors” of women.

People looked at us funny when my girlfriend hugged me while I curled up into a ball in her arms on the subway in New York City. They aren’t used to such a scene. I feel that this is as much a sign of men’s oppression as it is of women’s.

I appreciate that I have privilege as a man, but that privilege comes at a huge cost. That painful cost is invisible to most men and, unfortunately, to many women who call themselves feminist, too. Please don’t belittle the negative effects gender inequality has on men when you speak of feminism.

I don't think that I was belittling the negative effects that the patriarchy has on men. We were talking about leadership. I said that men don't have to prove themselves as leaders. It's unfortunate that you aren't accepted when you show your emotions, but that goes both ways, too. Little girls are socialized to be sensitive, yet if a woman wants to appear competent in business or in politics, she must control her emotions so that others don't think that she's not up to the job. It's also important to remember why being sensitive is perceived as a negative trait; society views sensitivity as being a female trait.

Is pointing out misinformation the same as leadership? Is creation the same as leadership? These are distinctions I don’t see you making, but they are important.

Leadership is a concept devoid of intent and full of action: a leader is someone who rules, guides or inspires others.

I believe the misinformation that you're referring to is when I credited Feministing with creating Femquake. I didn't see that as leadership, but I did see it as taking credit for leadership. You were guiding and inspiring others by coming up with Femquake.

In segregating the “*quake” events from one another and placing me at the head of Femquake independent of the full context, it feels to me that you disavow the inspirational, necessary role that McCreight, Negar Mottahedeh, and Golbarg Bashi played in inspiring my actions. I view them as my leaders here. Please give them as well as the unnamed masses of courageous women (and men, in some cases) who participated that same courtesy when you discuss Femquake.

I'm not trying to discredit the creators of Boobquake and Brainquake at all. I was responding to your response to the anonymous comment on my blog, which was about Femquake being started by a man.

I think feminism’s allies–regardless of their gender–deserve equal support. They are your allies, and you are after equality, aren’t you?

Again, we were talking about leaders. Allies and leaders are two different kinds of people. One person can choose to be an ally in one instance and a leader in another, but declining to follow a leader is not the same thing as denying support to an ally.

Ultimately, the issue is that if one is more willing to hear support for “get everyone on an equal footing” from a woman than from a man, the issue is not really about leadership, is it? It is about gender.

That's a very black and white way to put it. It's not about these two genders being different from each other. One of them has historically made all of the decisions for the other and had had power over the other. The issue isn't about wanting to exclude men; it's about wanting to empower ourselves instead of letting somebody else do it for us. It's about women who don't want to rely on men and who want to be independent.

29 Response to "Men as feminist leaders?"

Anonymous Says:

I am the anon comment from the last post, just fyi.

But, to his comments on his blog entry:


OF COURSE it fucking means less when a man stands up for a feminist cause. Why the fuck wouldn't it? A feminist cause is made necessary BY man overall.

Saraline, your thoughts on my anon comments are spot on and while maybe I didn't articulate my points well enough in my knee-jerk anon comment, that was what I was driving at exactly. Like, help us lead our own cause, yanno, show us some support in numbers, but don't work to fucking unite us like some kind of goddamn peace keeper. This isn't the goddamn Ladies World Wrestling Federation. Thanks for the help, but sit down, please, maymay. We got this!

Sincerely,

Your Mom

Saraline Says:

I just want to clarify something because I know that she reads this sometimes; the anon commenter is not really my mom.

Anonymous Says:

Original Anon again

By "your mom" I mean the LOL INTRONERTS version of "your mom".

But I am still reading through this and collecting thoughts and I certainly don't want to resort to Nellie Olson nasally whinging here but maymay is really misguided on how the infrastructure of feminism actually works. I can tell that simply by his disbelief in a feminism hierarchical...of course, I'm just reading off this page and hasn't ventured into his blog yet. I imagine it's a lot of RAH RAH YOU ROCK and I'm sorry that I can't be the one, it's a sweet effort and I appreciate that his heart is in the right place but nobody wants to hear from the white man on damn near anything to do with fucking equality, okay?

Christian Says:

Anon,

I beg to differ.
While I don't believe in men as feminist leaders, I believe in men, on a one-on-one basis, taking a stand in the creation of an equal society. Skin color has nothing to do with it. Less than nothing.

While certain feminists will want nothing else than the abolition of capitalism and the patriarchy to get where they want to be, there's a balance that needs to be struck between feminism for women's sake and feminism for society's sake. There are so many, perhaps endless variants and interpretations of feminism right now, the last thing that's needed is for a man (like Maymay) to try and claim to be able to make some sense of it.

As a guy who's been close to feminism for 4-some years, I know it's not my place to say what needs to be done, and especially not HOW it has to be done. HOWEVER, I can certainly put other misguided men back into their places when they're in the wrong. If half the men in the world grew up a conscience, maybe that'd make it that much easier for feminism to take root in the higher spheres of government.

After all, it's not solely a gender issue, it's also a sociological issue. Everyone has a stake in building the future. As long as we know what's our purpose, we can expect things to get better.

Anonymous Says:

Christian, I think you should tell a black woman how to feel about the movement over all and see if their answers offer you any enlightenment.

Skin color, whether the white men want to believe it or not, has a lot to do with the frame work of the movement. WOC (women of color) have been let down by the movement all together, ask somebody that pays attention, they'll tell you. A black feminist has to be black and feminist, it's different. You would have no idea.

Anyway, get off my nuts b/c we're talking about maymay here and not me.

Nobody wants to hear how a man lead us to unite our boobs and our brains and that is the long and short of it here. Men are NOT feminist leaders. They can be active participants in the movement, but they have to take a back seat in the charge and that's just what it is. I'm sorry.

-Anon

Critical Masculinities Says:

The relationship between men and feminism is something I've thought about lots over the years, and it hasn't got any less complex for me.

But I honestly think that inclusion of men in feminism and the struggles of feminism is vital, and exclusionary politcs, of whatever particular flavour, is just reinforcing that 'ol binary.

Saraline Says:

Critical Masculinities, I think you're missing the point. This post isn't about inclusion or exclusion; it's about leadership. Including somebody in a movement isn't the same as choosing to follow them.

Anonymous Says:

CriticalMass,

No duh. I think everyone in this post (and the last two) are in agreement that men can HELP, but I am the anon that had the knee-jerk wtf comment about maymay being a leader of a feminist movement.

It annoyed me further to see that there is a wiki article about this now and the comments were all "I'm glad to see women discussing this, taking charge of this".

YEAH, ABOUT THAT. The brainchild behind Femquake is a fucking man, so we don't even have that glory hole, it's his...and that's why it means less to me.

As it should.

-Anon, but you can call me Anon.

Critical Masculinities Says:

@Saraline
@Anon

- No i got that your main objection is with males taking leadership roles in feminist campaigns, but I think that my point still stands.

It's problematic but I don't think that men should explicitly be excluded from 'leadership' roles in the feminist movement, if the undertaking of that role is characterised by a recognition of privilege, and the problems that can be had with such a position.

mz. aida Says:

I think it's *absolutely ridiculous* to say men can't be leaders of feminist movements.

There is no "One Feminist Movement," first of all, and ANYONE can be a leader of *A* feminist movement as long as they have the initiative. A movement, as long as it is led by a feminist and supports the idea of gender equality/justice, is A FEMINIST MOVEMENT. Also, yes, there are many flavors of feminism, so that complicates matters, but still.

Personally, I think we need feminist leaders of ALL stripes; it can only help to strengthen the idea of overall gender-equality/justice. Heck, we need MORE feminist movements/projects out there! Bring 'em on.

Feminist causes being made necessary by man overall = not accurate. It's made necessary by PATRIARCHY. Yes, this is tied to men, masculinity, and male privilege, but it's not because of the existence of males in the world. We need feminism because we have a system in place, upheld by people of VARIOUS genders and identities, that privileges masculinity and/or men in many spaces and devalues femininity and/or women. How you articulate it makes it seem like by virtue of there being men out there, holy shit, we have instant oppression, or that ALL men are equally responsible for the need for feminism.

Furthermore, "nobody wants to hear from the white man on damn near anything to do with fucking equality, okay?" is just...I can't even BEGIN to say what's wrong with this. This is the most infuriating part of the comments I've read. To conflate the institution, the idea of male privilege and patriarchy, with specific men is misguided and damaging for ALL people involved. To take one person, especially in this case, and make them a poster-child for white, male hegemony just because they're white and male is FUCKED UP. It's hurtful and inaccurate and useless. Furthermore, it's ALIENATING AS HELL!

Also, to ignore all the various sites of privilege and oppression is another problem. Racial and sexual (bio-sex or perceived-sex/genderID is what I'm referring to here) systems of oppression are not the only types of oppression out there. It's really blind to just imply all white men are equally privileged or equally oppressed (or to assume they just are magically not oppressed at all). This ignores educational level, socioeconomic class, gender presentation, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and a myriad of other pieces of identity and life that affect how a person moves in the world. To imply that one has equal mobility EVERYWHERE is a problem, too. We don't just go through life with a stable identity that's accepted equally anywhere we go.

mz. aida Says:

So yeah, actually, I DO think white men definitely have some good shit to say about equality. Perhaps not upper class, vanilla, heterosexual, cisgendered, Christian, [insert all other "invisible/normalized" labels here] Caucasian males in most U.S. contexts of institutional power, but still. The problem arises when people, not just white men, presume to know the solution to the problems of a community from which they do not hail. When people disenfranchise others, and pretend to speak for them from a position of authority and power "because they know best," then there's a problem. When people "from outside" a community are the ONLY LEADERS of movements presuming to represent that community, that's a big problem. However, THAT IS NOT THE CASE HERE.

And maybe it's just me, but the animosity here and on other blogs/posts is appalling and, personally, really annoying. Why do we have to attack folks with angry words and snarkiness? There's just no need.

Finally, this whole debate about "omg, who started it, omg it was a MAN, wtfxz0orzz!!" is..gah.. Yes, it does affect things, but to start to ignore the actual PURPOSE of the movement and its message in favor of discussing this FACT is to just fall back into a trap of inaction and lack of mobility due to a clouding of the issues.

--------
To respond to this: "The issue isn't about wanting to exclude men; it's about wanting to empower ourselves instead of letting somebody else do it for us. It's about women who don't want to rely on men and who want to be independent."

Yes, but we don't live in a vacuum; things are relational, and we NEED to interact with men, and it's great if we can empower ourselves *AND* if they can ALSO empower us, not by virtue of being men, but by virtue of being HUMAN. It has a lot to do with intention and positionality. If a man thinks his "empowering me" is "his" doing and it "means more" because he's a man, then that's mega fucked up. However, if a man is trying to empower me somehow, acknowledging that I can ALSO empower myself (or should be able to) and doing all this from, yes, a men/male perspective, but with that self-knowledge and the root of it all being a desire for gender-equality, justice, and the furthering of feminist ideals, I think that's fantastic.

Self-empowerment and empowerment from others = not mutually exclusive things, and I don't see why people keep presenting them as such.

Whew. That was long. O.o

Saraline Says:

These comments are making me wonder what people would have thought if a man had come up with Boobquake.

prisonerwithadilemma Says:

there are two prisoners - if one snitches, they go free and the other hangs, if they both snitch they both do 5 years, and if nobody snitches they both go free. best play for the scenario: cooperate with each other, unless you know the other person's finna sell you out.

this whole world and culture we've been born into has so much shit, but I'll be damned if 75% of what radicals spend their time doing isn't fighting with each other about trivial, feminister-than-thou mishagas.

the human thing to do is to form alliances, to trust and build solidarity. to say that anything that comes outta maymay's mouth is less valuable to feminists cos he's got a dick shows a toxic lack of imagination.

maymay Says:

@Anonymous:

Unsurprisingly, I disagree with almost all of your statements, except perhaps this one:

I didn't articulate my points well enough in my knee-jerk anon comment

@Saraline:

Thanks for taking the time to write out your thoughts. I feel like we're talking past each other, rather than with each other, and I'm unsure how to bridge the gap.

I didn't manage to address all your responses in my latest post, titled "Yes, men can be feminist leaders," but I feel like I managed to address the crux of the issue you are talking about, which I see as understanding leadership.

I'd welcome anyone's further input, so long as we are not mean to one another. :)

Anonymous Says:

Mz Aida,

You are long on words and short on sense, try to find a way to balance that out, would ya?

WAH WAH, the poor straight white man, I'll play the world's tiniest violin in your honor.

You lost me at about the 40th paragraph, but I sense that you're enraged by the idea that an anonymous person on the internet doesn't care about maymay's wahhing in his cheerios about women telling him to take a back seat.

Poor thing, I hope he can continue on to defend us. I know that must be a real chore for him.

Like someone said elsewhere and it applies here. It's exactly like he is saying in his effort to unite boob/brain quake (when even he himself said there was no animosity between the two groups):

GIRLS, GIRLS, STOP THE FIGHTING. YOU'RE BOTH PRETTY.

THE.POINT.IS.FLOATING.AROUND.IN.OUTER.SPACE.FOR.HIM...and apparently also YOU.

Have a good one, if you can. ;)

Anonymous Says:

and to prisoners,

A toxic lack of imagination?

haha. Otherwise I like your style and I get your point, but I don't think there is anything toxic or unimaginative in wondering from what left field maymay was coming from in all this. He was the first one to come in here and correct Saraline on the point that there was no animosity between brain/boob quake. Might I had kind of snerkily, too...so to that I ask, THEN WTF R U DOING TRYING TO UNITE THE TWO? He single-handedly perpetuated the idea in most people's heads that respectively they were not legitimate movements, that those movements must be one and if Ramble McRamble Pants up above you says that there are many different movements, no one movement, then maymay's point was, in fact, pointless.

But, whatever, probably wouldn't have cared one way or the other had he not been bawwwing all over the internet about it.

xoxo

Marty Says:

The arguments being used to discredit maymay are similar in form and substance to those used to exclude trans women from "real" feminist events/organizations/discourse (the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival's "womyn born womyn" policy being the canonical example). I won't rehash what's been said, but the basis for exclusion is basically the same.

To expand on what mz. aida said, in the same way that feminism is made necessary by patriarchy and not "men," the purpose of feminism should be to combat patriarchy, not "empower women." Patriarchy hurts everybody, not just women. Racial injustice hurts everybody, not just racial minorities. Transphobia hurts everybody, not just trans people. And to exclude men (or trans women) from positions of leadership implies that only (cis) women stand to gain from the goals of feminism, which is counterproductive both theoretically and practically.

mz. aida Says:

"These comments are making me wonder what people would have thought if a man had come up with Boobquake."

That would complicate matters, since boobs, brains, and women as a whole are not objectified and treated in the same way. The *intention* of a male calling for female sexual empowerment (through the vehicle of breasts) is not necessarily bad or anything, but it would've had a harder time catching on since people would've questioned the motives (due to the reality of female sexual objectification in NEGATIVE ways---I make the distinction here because I don't think all objectification is bad, but that's another essay entirely).

Due to the current gendered climate & how we value brains/beauty/sex, a (woman-desiring) man calling for female intellectual empowerment, or a man calling for female intellisexual empowerment, would not be questioned, since it doesn't seem objectifying and the man doesn't stand to "take advantage" or directly "gain" anything. Again, it doesn't seem "bad" or coming from a place of trying to exploit of women. Proposing sexual empowerment, though, could easily be construed as an example of men co-opting the language of female empowerment and healthy sexuality to further their own agendas, or take advantage of more "liberal" sexual mores in order to satisfy their desires (be they carnal or economic or whatever).

In short? In a culture with certain sexual stigmas and awkwardness around sex and sexuality, it's more "suspicious" to have a male call for sexual empowerment. Why are Brainquake and Femquake different, then? Because they advocate for full expression, for womanhood as a whole, for choice,

Also, is it just me or does the phrase boobquake sounds like some weird iPhone app, or videogame, or something like that.

Saraline Says:

@Marty

"Racial injustice hurts everybody, not just racial minorities."

As somebody who is white, I don't feel that racism hurts me. If it does, the effect is very minimal compared to the effect on racial minorities. While I will support them, I'm not going to go and make a facebook group where they can all come together. I don't feel that it's my place. My reasons for this are similar to the reasons why I don't feel that men should be feminist leaders and similar to the way that I now feel about an American woman starting Boobquake to stand in solidarity with Iranian women.

@mz. aida

"The *intention* of a male calling for female sexual empowerment (through the vehicle of breasts) is not necessarily bad or anything, but it would've had a harder time catching on since people would've questioned the motives"

Femquake didn't garner as much support as Boobquake and Brainquake, two events which were started by women. I wonder why that is?

maymay Says:

@Saraline:

Femquake didn't garner as much support as Boobquake and Brainquake, two events which were started by women. I wonder why that is?

Could that have anything to do with the fact that Femquake was proposed in the afternoon, USA time, on Sunday, April 25th, after both Boobquake and Brainquake had already gone viral and Monday was almost over in some parts of the world?

Anonymous Says:

no, maymay. That's not why you only got 300 members. It's probably more to do with the point that I'm trying to drive home to you here.

Apparently more feminists agree with me than you and Aida want to accept.

As for my language being the exact language used to hate on trans women. Well, it's a complex issue and I support you, please don't hang that shit on me. It's disingenuous to do so and you know it. You're a friend of maymay, I presume, and so you're defending him when you know in your heart of hearts that he simply has to sit down and support but not lead.

Maybe he can see if the NAACP lets him lead them anywhere. I imagine they'd LOL in his face much like I and many others have.

Saraline Says:

@ Marty again

I don't see how the arguments here=excluding trans people. This is about whether or not the oppressor should lead the oppressed and trans people are not the oppressors here. They're not a part of the patriarchy.

mz. aida Says:

Sigh, Anonymous. There's apparently no way to have a civil dialogue with you, so I'll stop trying. Congratulations on hampering any semblance of ACTUAL conversation by resorting to snarky, dismissive comments. Very mature.

@Saraline: I think when they went viral has something to do with it, and how easy it is to market one over the other. It's easier to go with A or B than to go with C (which is A+B), esp. when you're presented with A and B before you hear about C.

"This is about whether or not the oppressor should lead the oppressed and trans people are not the oppressors here. They're not a part of the patriarchy."

I think what he's getting at is how transwomen, as having (presumably) had male privilege at some point, are not seen as "real women" in many circles. Thus, the leadership of transwomen is rejected (since it's seen to be coming from a place of male privilege and entitlement). This is something I've also been present to witness.

Sara Says:

Hey, found you through maymay's blog. You're super. Thanks for speaking out. I read his posts and most of what I wanted to say could only be made coherent as OH MY GOD, BITE ME. BITE ME FOREVER. BITE ME FOR THE REST OF TIME.

... which I did actually say, so, I'm glad that you were intelligent about it.

Saraline Says:

Hi Sara. Thanks for your comment. I've pretty much given up on the whole thing at this point. He doesn't get it, and he's never gonna get it, and I don't think there's really anything else that I can say about it now. :)

learn Says:

I am reading all this with my jaw dropped. Surely it is simple. A good idea is a good idea no matter who came up with it. Clearly it was a good idea or else you wouldn't have all jumped on the idea and carried it forward. You saw the brilliance in the idea. Why not give yourselves credit for that and continue to stand proud instead of feeling 'weird' about it? It shows incredible insecurity in your stance.
Now it's his fault because he's a man. Unbelievable. Slagging on the brilliant man who came up with it because you didn't come up with it first is just pure 'sour grapes'. It's petty. Honestly as a woman I find this incredibly embarassing.
How about coming together as humans and supporting good ideas once and for all and getting over yourselves? The nerve of telling anyone with a good idea to shut up because you want to 'own it'! You want to be leaders at the cost of silencing voices that aren't 'yours' even if they support your cause. It really does show you haven't a clue what true leadership is. That much is clear.
Yes white male privilege, yes more female voices, but you're pointing the guns in the wrong direction here. More women with voices shouldn't have to mean less men with theirs. We just need more voices period. Support the people who support you and GET OVER IT.
Sorry, I find it hard not to get emotional in the face of such mean-spirited pettiness.

learn Says:

I am back because I still feel quite incensed by this, though I am a little more calm.

I do want to thank you for bringing up this discourse because I feel it really does come back to our idea of what leadership is.

Leadership is not coercion. Leadership is not dictatorship. Leadership is not ownership. True leadership is not even power. (The power is in the people who follow.)

Leadership is spark, leadership is getting the ball rolling, leadership is facilitating. When you lead someone you do not do anything more then wake them up to what they already knew about themselves.

In this Web 2.0 culture we have begun to understand that is not the authority of any one person who speaks, but the authority of our collective evaluations of each other. We should be beginning to understand it is not the identity of any one person who sways us, but the authority of a sound idea. The authority of what we already know to be right or wrong.

Since the civil rights movement was mentioned, I want to bring up this quote from Martin Luther's 'I Have A Dream" speech:



The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.




Would Martin Luther's speech been as moving if he had been white? Probably not. Of course it can be more moving when a women speaks up for her injustices because of the authority of her direct experiences. Of course women should be encouraged to lead. But men speaking up for us and men joining in with their leadership can only add to that power, not take away from it.

Malcolm X woke up to this eventually too. We can be independent without being cut off. We can be independent without hating blindly. We can be independent and not have to stand alone. Being independent does not mean we need to estrange those who support us. Our destiines are tied in one humanity, it would benefit our movement so much to remember that.

PS I am sorry for the length of this comment. I should probably just go get my own blog but I do appreciate you giving me this space to say it.

Phil Mole Says:

As a man, and a feminist, I agree with you.

The focus of feminism needs to be on women for a change, and that has to involve women occupying most or all of the positions of leadership. There may be limited times and places where men can be leaders, but if men begin to commonly hold leadership positions we risk institutionalizing male privilege in feminist circles, and that's disastrous.

Any male feminist has to understand that while there are many things he can actively be involved in, he has to respect and support the efforts of women to lead themselves.

Phil Mole' Says:

As a man, and a feminist, I agree with you.

The focus of feminism needs to be on women for a change, and that has to involve women occupying most or all of the positions of leadership. There may be limited times and places where men can be leaders, but if men begin to commonly hold leadership positions we risk institutionalizing male privilege in feminist circles, and that's disastrous.

Any male feminist has to understand that while there are many things he can actively be involved in, he has to respect and support the efforts of women to lead themselves.