Jul 21 2005

How To Be A Feminist Fella After Getting Lambasted By Feminists

Pork mole taco from Tacodeli, South Austin. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more porkly, and more vesuviate.

For the sake of Truth on the Internet, if that’s not an oxymoron, allow me to clarify a small point: I have not, repeat NOT, sworn off fried shrimp tacos. But this does not mean I can refrain from composing lyric odes to the pork mole taco at Tacodeli. Pulled pork copiously augmented with onion, cilantro, queso fresco and a fairly transcendent mole sauce, for some reason it weighs about 32 pounds, which is nearly big enough to quell the taco-pangs of today’s busy spinster aunt-on-the-go. Bonus: every time I go to Tacodeli, which sits adjacent to the Barton Creek greenbelt, I swear I see at least one hippie in a woolen Guatemalan beanie crawling out from the verdure, blinking and gasping like the first lungfish to climb ashore out of the primordial ooze.

Meanwhile, Res Publica’s excellent comment (from yesterday’s what-about-the-men pile-up), in response to LeisureGuy’s having expressed seemly contrition over his unfamiliarity with the customs of the local squaws, deserves its own post. You go girl!

As someone who tries to live as a feminist man, let me offer this in response to your "What next?":

Trust what women say about their experiences. Let them interpret the meaning of those experiences without unwanted male "help". Understand that patriarchy is one big monster with a lot of little manifestations, so you can’t let "little things" pass. Sexist and degrading jokes are on a continuum of behavior with rape and wife-beating. Never let that shit pass without comment. Use the "F word" – say that you are a feminist. Don’t take women’s frustrations about men personally; understand that there’s 10,000 years of oppression behind their anger, and they are fully justified in it.

The hardest thing for me has been to own up to the degree to which patriarchy has both shaped my thinking and granted me male privilege which I may refute, but from which I have still benefited. That’s not fun to think about, but it’s important work, similar to the realization that whether I like it or not, as a white person, I benefit from our racist culture. It helps one move from a position of noncommittally affirming one’s personal goodness to a more active stance of owning one’s participation in the system and declaring one’s intention to undo the very system by which one has benefited.

That’s just my two cents, anyway. I don’t think it’s about staying away from women. I think it’s about realizing that patriarchy is the cultural field in which we all live. You can support it, or you can fight it, but there’s no neutral stance.

[Res P. does some fine food-o-centric patriarchy-blaming at his own blog, too]


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  1. res publica

    Hehehe thanks! Oh, and….SWEET GOD ALMIGHTY that taco looks good!

  2. res publica

    And yeah, Austin suffers from a pretty severe hippie infestation. I love to go there – and then come right back home. San Antonio is a cornhole of a city in many ways, but it is mercifully hippie-free.

  3. deja pseu

    “at least one hippie in a woolen Guatemalan beanie crawling out from the verdure, blinking and gasping like the first lungfish to climb ashore out of the primordial ooze.”

    Hee hee. This is the funniest thing I’ve read all week. Thanks for perking up my Thursday.

    How’s that new coffee machine? Would you recommend it?

  4. Twisty

    You should not ask me about espresso machines, because I am passionate to the point of a medical disorder about’em, and will go on and on.

    But, since you did ask, the “Impressa S8”–I can’t type that name with a straight face–makes an excellent cuppa. Fragrant crema, perfect temperature. It turns out to be a redesign of my dear old C-1000, eliminating a really stupid design flaw, which was that the spout was too low-slung to fit an 8-oz cup under. I have no information yet as to its reliability, but based on the bipolar performance of its progenitor I’d have some difficulty recommending it to anyone who isn’t an incurable addict/risk-taker, since the fucking thing costs about a thousand bucks and who knows when it’ll decide to throw a rod.

    Yup. I’m that wacked-out on coffee.

  5. deja pseu

    Thanks. The only espresso machine I’ve ever owned was one of the crappy $200 Krupps variety, which was just a pain in the ass to use, didn’t force water through the grounds, and never had enough steam to get the milk really warm enough for a capuccino (for company, not for me!). I keep toying with the idea of investing in a good one, but no one I know has one, so no reviews forthcoming IRL.

  6. Dean

    Mmmmm….pork tacos! Looks tasty. But a $1000 espresso machine? A little rich for my blood.

    I do like what Res Publica has to say re: being a feminist male, it seems very sensible. Twisty, you’ll recall that we’ve had variations on this conversation before on that music-oriented list, and at the end, I’ve always been left thinking, “OK, as far as I can tell, I’m not oppressing anyone right now. But what else can I do?” Res boils it down as succinctly as anything I’ve seen.

  7. res publica

    That’s because Res is da bomb! Oh….dang, I signed in under the wrong screenname.

  8. bellatrys

    And they say we feminists are humorless. I don’t understand it. Then again, I didn’t laugh once in American Pie, but “Vermin!” in Fawlty Towers had me suffering from an inhalation incident, so maybe it’s a cultural thing…

  9. CafeSiren

    Res & Twisty: would either of you mind if I printed this out & posted it on my office door? I’d like my students (especially the male ones) to think about this. Many of them, I’m sure, have no idea that men *can* be feminists.

  10. Tony Patti

    Puppies! Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!

    A word to those without the money or patience to buy a real espresso machine: The lowly beatnik mocha, when treated right, can summon forth a cup of decent espresso, as long as it’s just for mixing with hot milk. Otherwise, thank god for Starbucks. I don’t know how they manage to do it when so many amateur corner places fail.

    For a good mocha there are rules. Never clean it with detergent, just rinse it out and wipe it clean every day. Use Italian ground beans, unles you can grind beans as perfectly as they do, which is doubtful. I prefer Lavazza’s black “Bar” espresso beans. Fill the cup carefully, tamping lightly with the edge of the spoon to fill the corners, and mound it up high. Then make a little mountain with the bottom of the spoon in the middle of the cup – no need to smash it down, that happens when you screw the top on.

    Cook it on a hot flame until the first stream of coffee goes from black oil to black oil with cream, then cut it way back and watch it closely. It should produce more cream but excess heat will burn it off. Turn it off and take it from the fire when it starts to burble.

    My morning cafe latte sometimes tastes so smooth that it’s almost like chocolate.

  11. res publica

    cafesiren – It’s okay with me :)

  12. res publica

    Although I would like to consider myself a “feminist man”, I sometimes wonder if such a thing really exists, at least in sufficient numbers to be consequential. Also, though I do believe that patriarchy permiates and distorts all relationships within its field of influence, it’s probably worth explicitly stating that women suffer the brunt of patriarchy’s horrors in the context of heterosexual relationships. So what I’m wondering is, where are the HETERO feminist men?

    Of course, this culture being what it currently is, one sometimes wonders where all the feminist WOMEN have gone. *sigh*

  13. SassyCat

    all these taco pictures keep giving me the late-night, post-drunken munchies.

    damn you!!!

    (no, not really)

  14. sylvanite

    “Of course, this culture being what it currently is, one sometimes wonders where all the feminist WOMEN have gone.”

    It’s okay Res. We’re still out here, trying to keep our heads above water!

    By the way Twisty – LOVE your blog. It’s the first blog I’ve found to be laugh-out-loud funny. I found it from Pharyngula, so thanks PZ Myers! The post which really hooked me was “Twisty, Book Killer.”

  15. nicky

    Ewww, meat. That’s gross.

  16. BritGirlSF

    God damn you woman why must you keep reminding me of the entirely superior Mexican food to be had in Texas which I cannot have because I am in California! I want a pork taco too, dammit! Of course I shall now blame the patriarchy for my tragically taco-less state.
    Res Publica, you think Austin has hippies? I live right next door to Berkeley. I’ll trade you my hippies for your tacos any day.

  17. nicky

    And what on earth is wrong with hippies, anyway? Some of my best friends, and so forth.

  18. BritGirlSF

    Normally I am quite hippy-friendly, but right now I want a taco. Twisty has implanted a taco fixation in my brain. I wonder if I could get a friend to Fed Ex me some from Houston?

  19. Twisty

    I was under the impression that you couldn’t swing a dead cat in California without bonking some worthy taqueriador.

    Meanwhile, got nothin’ against hippies, I guess, but the jam-band/white-guy-dreads posture just isn’t what I’m personally looking for in a cult.

  20. BritGirlSF

    we have taquerias, but they’re not the same. I’m had both and Mexican food in Texas is just better.
    Worst then white guy with dreads is white guy with dreads that started out chalky while but are now an unfortunate shade of grayish, like a carpet that needs cleaning. I do not get the white dreads thing. It’s oddly Night of the Living Dead, and not in a cool way.

  21. Amanda

    I live in Central East Austin, which is pretty much hippie-free. Hipsters, on the other hand, are everywhere. But I love Austin hipsters, because most can’t be bothered to find the energy to be really pretentious. I’m definitely a laid-back hipster sort. I confess.

  22. deja pseu

    ” was under the impression that you couldn’t swing a dead cat in California without bonking some worthy taqueriador.”

    That’s certainly been my experience since moving to LA. (Northern CA, not as much. But hey, they have sequoias, so it evens out.) The hot spot in my neck of the woods it Tito’s Tacos. There’s usually a line a mile long outside that taco stand. I’m also hearing that the little trailer at the dinky family-owned car wash are excelsior.

  23. deja pseu

    Apparently I had a brain fart when typing that last sentence. Should be “*the tacos served* at the little trailer… “

  24. Twisty

    Hipsters! We got’em in South Austin, too. I am particularly sensitive to them because I used to be one myself. Those were good times. I’ve still got my white double-grommet belt!

  25. Anonymous

    It isn’t tougher to be unoppressed than it is to be oppressed. That’s a given. The ethical position a feminist man is in is, however, somewhat more difficult than Res Publica makes it out to be.

    When you’re white and male, you have nowhere to hide from your own power; you can’t throw up a smokescreen of oppression to defend yourself against charges of misusing it. When you do, it just sounds ridiculous. How many people have seen acquaintences in the movement use ‘one-sixteenth Cherokee’ or ‘black great-grandmother’ or ‘gay’ as an excuse to avoid examining their own power as men, as whites, as educated people, as Americans? It’s ethically simple to fight for priveleges you don’t have: you’re on the right side of history; you’re on the right side of the argument.

    Fighting against priveleges you do have is different. Suddenly, you’re on the wrong side. There are priveleges you can’t figure out how to intentionally reject. Certain privileges are useful in fighting others. How do you know when you’ve won a job interview because your boss is a sexist? Does your letter to the editor, or to your congressman, get published because your name sounds white? You can assume that everything you have is a result of privelege, but this has the problem that it’s not true.

    If you’re in an oppressed class, especially if the oppression that’s your primary target is your own, it’s harder to think about the ways in which you wield power. At best, not thinking about how to strip yourself of your priveleges takes away your empathy for people who do. At worst, it leads to intellectual atrocities like the otherwise rational Eldridge Cleaver racializing, then justifying, rape.

    At some point, not just me, not just males, but everyone that isn’t the disabled Jewish lesbian Inuit at the absolute bottom of the hegemonic totem pole is going to have to own the way they wield unjust power. Otherwise, the search for equality turns into a circular firing squad — white first-world feminists using white privilege to demand power from the greater culture, black male civil rights activists using patriarchal methods to exact their own equality — and the end result is that no one ever gets any.

    Denouncing male privilege and ‘renouncing’ my own does exactly nothing. To someone committed to patriarchy, my going over their words with tweezers and a dissection scope is only going to train them to use feminist language to produce patriarchal thought. The IWF should be proof of that. If I disapprove without explaining why, if they aren’t already rejecting some patriarchal principles, I’m not ever going to make any headway. If I need to fight, I need to fight.

    It’s more than just that, though. I need to think about what I *do*. If I’m going to muscle a weak argument through, I need to stop. If I’m going to interrupt a woman because I know she’ll stop talking when I start, I need to not do that. If I’m upset that my partner makes more money than I do, I need to examine why.

    All these things have happened to me.

    At some point, activism should put you at a moral equalibrium where no one has a right to be angry at you, personally; where you are causing no harm. I’m going to fuck up, I’m going to offend, but someday, I, you, or someone else is going to learn how to stop.

    At that point, please cut me some slack.

    — ACS

  26. Terry C.

    Yes, tacos in CA and TX are different. That’s because tacos in different parts of Mexico, not to mention all of Latin America are different. In fact, in some places they aren’t even called tacos. I grew up in CA, the grandchild of a woman from Colima, Mexico. I now live in Seattle. You want to copare the dearth of good Mexican food? I don’t care what style – Baja or Sonoran – I would take either after 5 years here! And that pork monster looks so good, I just can’t stand it! Must. Cook. Grandma’s. Adobo.

  1. insert witty comment here

    Being a blogreader

    see how short that blogroll is?

    And while you’re there, note that it’s one entry longer than it used to be. I’ve added Republic of Dogs…

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