09 July 2009

Male Feminists

I notice in the comments on David Schlesinger's blog posts about RMS's "EMACS virgin" tangent at Guadec/Akademy a lot of folks telling him to stop being a "pseudo-feminist" or implying that he thinks women are defenseless and need a big strong man to protect us, or whatever.

We don't need knights in shining armor, but we do need allies. For example, if someone has demonstrated that they are a misogynist, do you really think they will listen to a woman when she says that was offensive? Um, no. They'll call her oversensitive and try to blame it on PMS or tell her she just doesn't belong in that group and should go back to her knitting circle. This is where the male feminists come in. Being male, they have a chance of actually being listened to. That is, if they aren't dismissed as gender traitors first. The traitors have to be discredited. And that's why one of the first things you'll see in a comment or hear is that the male feminist needs to stop treating women like delicate flowers who can't defend themselves.

And this isn't the first time I've seen these sort of comments. Oh, and Matt just sent me a link for guys wondering about how to behave in feminist discussions.


Emil.BB said...

Yeah that's a problem for male feminists - it's easy to point fingers and say we just threat women like porcelain. Good blogpost, important topic.

Kahomono said...

You forgot "dismissed by women as being 'up to something' " to go with being "dismissed as gender traitors" by the men.

When only the cat is listening, you're not doing much good.

Mackenzie said...

Fair enough. I haven't seen that as much online as I've heard "he just took Women's Studies to be in a class of girls," but makes sense. On the other hand, sometimes guys get up specifically because a woman has said "they're not listening, you try."

Eivind said...

I find it's easy. I'm not a merely a feminist -- I'm a supporter of equal rights across the board.

So, if someone discriminates against women, or treat them without respect, I'll protest, but I'll do exactly the same thing if the one being unfairly attacked is gay, a muslim, or african.

Hell, I'll even protest, equally loudly, when white average males are discriminated against. This happens too, but fairly seldom. (I do experience sometimes being automatically treated as at best a "competent helper" when taking care of my kids, for example)

I don't treat anyone like porcelain. I'm just of the opinion that I've had enough discriminatory bullshit for a lifetime, and I don't care who it's directed at -- if it's unfair, it's unfair regardless.

Adam said...

Interesting... I've been accused of the "up to something" by women before a number of times, myself. The thing, from experience, that I run into that goes along with that is there seems to be a feeling that "all guys just want one thing." Honestly, that's about as far from the truth as possible. I happen to be an example. Honestly, I fit in better, and get along better with females than males.

And I am one who will point out to another guy how wrong a comment he makes is. Or I'll purposely not laugh at a joke even though the whole rest of the room is laughing because I've found it to be distasteful towards women. No really, I have. In fact, I think I got a weird look from a female one because *I* mentioned how bad a joke was, and she had just kind of blown it off.

I also get weird looks from people when they realize that my BFF is female. She and I have basically been inseparable friends since high school through both of us moving to different cities, multiple times, her getting married, my mega break-up from a LTR. We're like family. Honestly, i forgot where I was going with this...i'm half-asleep.

Lefty said...

Thanks for posting this, Mackenzie, and thanks for your comment on my posting. People tend to forget:

When they came for the Communists,
I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then... they came for me...
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

--Martin Niemoller

Mackenzie said...

For anyone counting, this post has been invoked in a comment in response to http://blogs.gnome.org/patrys/2009/07/12/once-again-on-rms-and-sexism/

alvare#ClrnD said...

Look, I only separate people in "stupid" and "normal".
People who are sexists are in my "stupid" list.

In order to conceive a woman it's needed two X chromosomes, and for a man a X and a Y chromosome.
So if someone asked me who is smarter I would say the woman, cause it has more genetic info, even though it has almost nothing to do.

But in society women are trained from very little to be stupid (at least here in Argentina), so the prejudge is not that unfunded, although it's indeed stupid to rely on someone's education.

Also in the hacker culture women are usally discriminated just because those men are usually nervous with women arround, so they fight back their shyness with sexism.

Then I peeked on your profile to judge you in a little more fair way than RMS.

I really hate "Harry Potter" for being a comercial novel with no intelectual value at all. But "Hackers: Heroes of ..." is a really good book, so I really don't know, altough you haven't seen any good movie.

Sorry for my english and my apparent hypocrisy xP.

Mackenzie said...

I haven't looked at my profile in a while... Oh wow, I left Tamora Pierce and Lynn Ewing's books off. I have a "recently read" widget on the side of the blog though. That should be more up to date with current reading habits. I'm reading "The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie currently. In truth though, I prefer novels that are simply entertaining stories. If I want intellectual, I'll read reference books or the newspaper (not saying I don't do that, just that I wouldn't list them as favourite books).

And yeah...I tend not to watch too many movies, though I should add "Apocalypse Africa: Made in America" to it.

Cap Slog said...

Very nicely put. And I think I'll use your suggestion of "allies" in future. Yes males and females are different in some ways but we ought to expect the same kind of respect.

I like to think I do stand up for the common sense view when I hear guys who still think it's the 1400s "women can or can't do......" and all that rubbish.

SasiPrize said...

Users do not run OS. They run Applications.
Hence it is imperative to compare GNOME/KDE/FOSS Applications on Usability, Performance and Functionality with Microsoft Applications.

Miriam Ruiz said...

I agree with you, Mackenzie. In fact the problem are not the guys, but the sexist and stereotyping attitudes, whether they come from males or from females. I think that males are also handicapped by the patriarchy, even though in different ways than us, and I find it absolutely logical that some of them want to fight against it too. In any case I really thank those who, without any paternalism and without patronizing us, are fighting against sexism by our side.

Anonymous said...


you know that you really hit "Godwins Law" very hard?
A comparison between this topic and killing people during NAZI times in Germany is really hard.

Eventually you never read the original lyric of this poem. Could be wrong, but this gives really a bad taste.


You can find the original wording of this poem on the german version of wikipedia.