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Apr 30 2008

Obnoxious Female Feminist Korner

This guy, writing at the Guardian, is under the impression that, not only is feminism about “equality,” but that he should be awarded “full membership” in the “feminist movement.” Why? Because of, apparently, his “remarkable imagination and sense of empathy.”

Yeah, and I’ll be a woman of color blogger, too.

Opinionator Khaled Diab purports to speak for all nice guys who don’t go around raping their sisters, but the tone of his essay suggests that his personal feelings are deeply hurt. The resistance shown by what must be the all of 17 or 18 diehards worldwide who still turn a skeptical eye toward “feminist” men has cut him to the quick, and he means to put a stop to it.

He drags out all the usual patronizing arguments in favor of his election to the Global Feminist Cabal.

To exclude him is “sexist.” Which is so “paradoxical.”

“Outsiders,” Diab points out helpfully, often “become the iconic embodiment of certain struggles, such as the privileged young doctor turned poor man’s revolutionary.”

Apparently there is a long tradition, in class struggle, of privileged young doctors bailing out poor men. Feminists are just shooting themselves in the foot if they deny one of these privileged young doctors the opportunity to fulfill his destiny and defeat sexism on their behalf, thereafter to erect a statue of this iconic embodiment in the town square.

Moreover, chides the sentimental Diab, chicks can be chauvinist pigs, too! Men “don’t have a monopoly on being domineering.” Seriously. Men wouldn’t dominate “the movement” any more than “obnoxious female feminists” do; remember, men are so remarkably imaginative and empathetic (hey, I know! The men could protect the nice feminists from the obnoxious ones.).

Diab complains that having “direct experience” of sex-based oppression shouldn’t really be the deal-breaker that those 17 or 18 feminists make it out to be. But. If we insist: it turns out men do have direct experience! Which Diab defines as the impact on the dominant class when people of lower status get screwed over. Clearly the male experience of “anger and frustration” on his wife’s behalf is qualitatively identical to enduring the persistent threat of violence that every woman suffers whenever she leaves the house (and often even when she doesn’t), or the fact that white dudes own several of her internal organs, or living in poverty with 3 kids and no healthcare.

His direct experience of women’s oppression so sorely chaps his hide that — although he allows that he doesn’t go to rallies or “shout from the rooftops” — Diab demands to “fight shoulder to shoulder” with women as a “fully-fledged feminist.” I suppose we can take that to mean that he won’t be kicking the shit out of Mrs. Diab. How iconic.

“You don’t,” he opines, by way of proving his progressiveness, “need to be [...] a member of a minority to appreciate the suffering caused by racism.” Well. You can “appreciate” it all you like, but that doesn’t mean you get to learn the secret handshake or come to the potlucks. For all Diab’s “direct experience,” the defining aspect of oppression appears to have eluded him. That is, the oppressed don’t trust him. What did he expect, the big whiner? He enjoys supremacy over them every day.

So appreciate away, dude. With the emphasis on “away.”

81 comments

1 ping

  1. Kandace

    Beautiful. It’s about time one of the ’17 or 18′ addressed this.

  2. Kathleen

    He also uses the word “frankly” in his essay. I have found that use of the word “frankly” on the part of a speaker should generally be interpreted on the part of the addressee as “run for the hills! I’m obnoxiously disingenuous!”. I started noticing it back in the days of Newt Gingrich, who began about 50% of his sentences with that loathsome word.

  3. Emily

    Moreover, men do have direct experience of sexism and a major stake in combating it. First of all, there are the women in their lives.

    That sound you hear is me slamming my head into the desk.

  4. Anastasia

    he does have direct experience with sexism: he’s complicit in it because he benefits from it. if he’d like to talk about that, I’m listening.

  5. Megan

    I don’t actually have a problem with men calling themselves feminists. I do have a problem with men who WANT to call themselves feminists, but they have to make a big deal out of whether they can and their defense of doing so because look how much they understand and how compassionate they are and what stakes they have in the equality of women and it’s important to defend these things because those OBNOXIOUS feminists aren’t going to understand and GOD PLEASE won’t somebody consider teh menz.

    A simple, “I’m a feminist because I think women are human beings” goes very far with me.

    This is, “why can’t feminism be all about me, since everything else is.”

  6. Emily

    This is, “why can’t feminism be all about me, since everything else is.”

    Exactly, Megan! He wants everyone to look at him and acknowledge how great he is, and be so glad that he isn’t a rapist or abuser. Thanks, guy! We’re so glad that there are men like you. Maybe you can come to our meetings and be so great and suave there and get laid as a bonus!

    Jackass.

  7. OM

    Twisty, I’d say actually women are threatened with more violence in the house than outside of it. This whole “I have a girlfriend I care about” is not any different than the “I have a black friend” assertion. In most cases, when the rubber hits the road, the privileged person is driving the offending vehicle over the “loved one.”

  8. Lauren O

    Megan, I would like to present you with a prize for saying the most perfect thing ever.

  9. Twisty

    “I’d say actually women are threatened with more violence in the house than outside of it.”

    True. However, I was trying to get at the idea of the persistent, gnawing, low-level threat with which all women who show themselves in public are intimate, even those who aren’t terrorized at home.

  10. TP

    You want to be a feminist, pal? Then you can’t be a man any more.

    Never again.

    The best you can do if you need to somehow distinguish yourself from the humans directly oppressed by misogyny is call yourself a person with a slightly enlarged genital area, or a person with an extended flesh-encased urethra. And even then, you can’t pretend to understand an oppression you’ve never felt.

    I’ve been reading John Stoltenberg’s essays “Refusing To Be A Man” and it’s really hit home. Why is it that radical feminism just makes so much plain common sense?

    Anyhow, there’s no such thing as a feminist man. There are people who refuse to be men who sympathize as best they can with the other people they know who are systematically oppressed, but no feminist men; drinking their beers and yelling loudly about how much help they could be if only those bitches would shut up and let them help them, for Christ’s sake!

  11. Not a Whisper

    Hello from across the pond, Twisty – I love reading you.

    Count me among those giving props to Meghan.

    BTW, the Guardian’s columns are extremely hit and miss. Every now and then you get a good article you can really get your teeth into: but mostly it’s a great big echo chamber of trumped-up teacup thunderstorms, of interest only to journos trying to get one over one another. The CiF commentariat on feminist issues is especially poor in quality. You could fill an entire blog, not just a post, of P-blaming with just one thread…

  12. Amber

    In fact, some claim that men cannot be regarded as feminists – a view which strikes me as paradoxical, since feminism strives to end sexism, yet this exclusion strikes me as sexist.

    As Elliott rightly points out: “Centuries of patriarchal hegemony has harmed men too.”

    True. Being told that, as a man, you cannot make feminism all about you, is pretty much equivalent to hundreds of years of systemic oppression. His dudely right to be the center of the universe has been, like, totally violated, and I think it is a tragedy. A tragedy I tell you!

    Likewise, progressive men should be allowed to regard themselves as feminists. Despite my aversion to the limiting effects of labels, I would certainly define my views on gender issues as being “feminist”.

    Translation: I find your “feminist” label limiting (I am a Humanist! I care about all people (except the female ones)!), but I will be damned if a bunch of women are going to tell me I can’t use it.

  13. delphyne

    I like the fact that the author of the original article he was objecting to called men in feminism “entryists”.

    Most sincere male supporters of feminism call themselves pro-feminists.

  14. Izzy

    “I don’t go to rallies, nor shout slogans from the rooftops, but I strive to apply the principles of equality in everything I do. (emphasis mine)

    Perhaps I’m biased, but this comes across as incredibly self-congratulatory, as if he should get some kind of membership card for acting like a decent human being.
    I can see it now: “Feminist Membership Card. Conrats on not being an ass. This card entitles the holder to one free cookie.”

  15. Izzy

    Sorry about the bold. Forgot my closing tag. Oops.

  16. Merry

    Well, lets start with the fact that this guy is a douchebag. And even if he explained himself poorly, he’s gotten everything wrong.

    But men should be feminists. Or men should advocate feminism, however you want to put it semantically. My high school’s motto was “Upon the education of women largely depends the future of society” and for a private Catholic school, it was pretty feminist. And that’s all great, but the boys that we socialized with knew nothing about feminism and didn’t think that they should care. And it’s not like co-ed schools teach for feminism either. Obviously feminism is for and about women, but how is oppression ever going to stop if the the people who do all of the oppressing (men) are never expected to know about feminism or identify with feminist causes? Men need to have a stake in feminism.

    As a fiercely feminist young woman, a college student, let me tell you about guys my age. The don’t understand. They’re completely out of the paradigm. Talking about the Feminine Mystique in my Capitalism class, asked “Are women’s live still like this?” They say “Well, no. I mean, my mom makes more money that my dad does. My dad does the dishes and the laundry. Even my grandmother went to med school.” They think its just about equality (and it is partially about equality). They don’t see oppression. We, every girl in the class (and at NYU, that’s often 2:1), try to explain. I say “That’s great, I’m glad your family is equal and progressive. But if you want to see oppression, look outside your family. How many of your friends laugh when someone tells one of your girl friends to ‘Get in the kitchen?’” Etc, etc.

    I think we should EXPECT them to be feminists, EXPECT them to understand female oppression, EXPECT them to give a shit.

    If you want to read me and another former-Catholic-school-girl curse, and scream and rant about feminism, politics, and the environment, check out our blog snark-nation.blogspot.com.

  17. MarilynJean

    I agree with Megan’s point.

    But I am always wary of men who want to be part of the feminist movement. Just like I question straight allies in the LGBT movement and the white people who try to identify with the struggles people of color are trying to overcome. I mean dude looks like a man of color to me, so how would he feel if a white man wrote the same article instead asking why colored folk won’t just let him help them help themselves?

    I didn’t have overwhelming problems with his column (despite the whole condescending help ME help YOU tone). However his conclusion makes me wonder if he even gets what feminism is all about:

    “To my mind, feminism is about gender equality and the freedom of choice to enable girls to be boys, and boys to be girls, and girls to be girls, and boys to be boys, and all the shades in between.”

    If only feminism were that simple….

  18. TP

    Feminism has a most important and ongoing highest function: To liberate women from oppression. The first step is still just an ideal: For women to understand and want to put an end to their oppression. Too many women still need to be taught that the reason they feel the way they do is because they are oppressed by a worldwide system of male supremacy. Until the joyous day is here that all women get this, men will be secondary.

    As a person who has just recently, over the past decade or so, become aware of radical feminism, I went from being a Nigel, to a Nice Guy, to pro-feminist man, to whatever I am now, which is a person who is strongly in favor of not identifying myself as a man at all, since I’ve always hated men. I’ve never hated myself, mind you, just masculinity. And while I love my men friends and family dearly, I have to admit that I still love the things about them most that have nothing to do with their cultural attachment to being men.

    I agree strongly that the revolution will someday have to deal with men, and I use my superficial identity as a man that the culture has bestowed upon me to speak feminist truth to men. And I know well that women can speak it better than I can. My role is perhaps one of understanding the ignorance of privilege and being able to work around it a little. But I’m nothing compared to Stoltenberg – after all, he was a good friend of Andrea Dworkin’s, and he was living this back when I was still enjoying porn magazines as a kid.

    The men have to come around eventually, and the more men who don’t have to be convinced of the basic truths of feminism the better, but the needs of women come first.

    I hope I don’t sound too argumentative or shrill. I’m just kind of passionate. It’s that “Dear god what about the men?” tag that makes me lose all self control, Twisty!

  19. CafeSiren

    Izzy, closing tag or not, that’s just perfect. I think I should start carrying around a box of cookies, just in case.

  20. Joselle Palacios

    MarilynJean, what do you suppose straight allies, white people, and men do then? I can’t remember which feminist blog (Feministing? Feministe?) I read yesterday where a commenter said, “I hate the term ‘of color’ but understand what its shorthand for.” Basically, as an “of color,” myself, that term gets on my nerves just like when people describe Thai food as “ethnic.” What person isn’t of color or of some ethnicity? But yeah, you’re trying to separate that person’s racial and ethnic identity from the default, which is white. Fine. I’ll play that game.

    What I don’t get though, is what is the point of being progressive if we’re all to stay in our corners, as it were. When you’re wary of feminist men, well, what are we to do? I’m not saying I have answers. And I’m not saying that the selections Twisty chose to quote in this post aren’t a bit entitled and “douchebaggy” (I thought the term douchebag wasn’t feminist, y’all). What I’m saying is, I’ve learned a lot about racial identity politics from white feminists, stuff about animal rights and queer rights and my own personal world from feminism, too. I didn’t even think feminist men existed until I met my boyfriend but hell, he was a women’s studies minor in college; I only took one class in WS in college. I know in my heart that he is absolutely committed to being a decent human, so of course he’s a feminist (and a vegan and a community activist and just generally awesome).

    What I’m wondering is, where is the line between hijacking a movement that isn’t yours and truly being interested in dismantling all forms of oppression? What’s the difference between an ally and an douchebag? What’s the point of all this blogging and theorizing if we’re all too different to ever truly meet?

  21. Kay

    I’m cool with men who want to be feminists, as long as they’re not making a big deal of it and making it about them. This dude did not succeed in doing that in this article. He deserves not even one cookie. But he did grasp the basic concept of “women are human beings”, and not one of us managed to get that right on the first try. What’s the good in berating him for that? Someday maybe Mr. Diab will be enlightened enough to see the problems with WATM? arguments. But give the guy a break as he unsteadily tests out his first feminist ideas.

  22. Jen

    I don’t agree with some of the above posters, because I do think that men can be feminists. However, there has to be some sort of guidelines. We have already established that women that wrap themselves around poles naked for a living are not feminists in our sense of the word, so I see no problem with purposing some rules for male feminists.

    How to be a Male Feminist:
    (1) You may not lead the movement or bring in your “saving women by holding doors open” mentality.
    (2) You may not refer to any woman, ever again, as uppity, a bitch, any euphemism for female genitalia, weaker, a chick, a girl if she’s over 18, a whore, a ho, hysterical, shrill, or PMSing
    (3) You may not accuse any Feminists of hating men, or being paranoid
    (4) You may not refer to the “differences between men and women” constantly to defend any sort of anti-feminist sentimentalities or behaviors
    (5) You may not allude to how much you like women because you “love the female body” and suppose that this gets you a feminist card. Furthermore, you may not assume that simply wanting to have sex with women without raping them or telling them they are too fat means that you are a feminist.
    (6) You may not sympathize or apologize for rapists, sexist pigs, bigots, and pedophiles. You also may not engage in any sort of victim blaming whatsoever.
    (7) You may not deny the existence of your priviledge nor may you apologize for it
    (8) You may not apologize for your friends and acquaintances when they are pigs. You also may not engage in such behavior ever again.
    (9) You may not consume porn or play video games that over-sexualize women. You may not take advantage of groupies, prostitutes, drunk women, or lonely women. You may not use your penis without thinking about the consequences and the feelings and desires of the person engaged in a sex act with you.
    (10) You may not ask women to educate you, nor imply that it is their duty to assist you in becoming a feminist. You may not get upset and sulk when your socialization as a man is inadvertently displayed in a Feminist space and Feminists take you to task for it.

    Any other ideas? I am fairly sure that our Guardian writer violates most of these, making him something that is not a feminist and sounds like bigot.

  23. Feminist Avatar

    I think I would give him more of a break if he wasn’t testing out his ideas in a national newspaper and, thus, legitimising those ideas in popular culture.

  24. Hippolyta

    Amen, Feminist Avatar.

  25. Twisty

    “What’s the difference between an ally and a douchebag? What’s the point of all this blogging and theorizing if we’re all too different to ever truly meet?

    You bring up a popular point.

    I happen to believe we can truly meet. Look at TP’s comment above. TP is a dude, yet he seems to get it. If Khaled Diab had written an essay half that perceptive I’d be inviting him over for margaritas. The difference between them is that, over a period of years, TP has made a study of radical feminist theory and has actually integrated it into his worldview. Whereas Khaled Diab thinks having female relatives, whose “plight” he views through his own lens, makes him some kind of hero (or iconic young rich doctor-man). He’s empathetic with the suffering of others? Great. Should his next step really be to stamp his foot and, based on those lame-ass dude-centric arguments, demand to be taken seriously as an enemy of patriarchy? He doesn’t even seem to get that he is patriarchy.

    A thoroughgoing grasp of the enormity of the culture of domination can take radical feminists years to attain. I have yet to hear a single one of them assert that feeling sorry for female relatives is any kind of substitute for assiduous scholarship, activism, or even patriarchy-blaming.

  26. dj shiva

    Izzy sez: I can see it now: “Feminist Membership Card. Congrats on not being an ass. This card entitles the holder to one free cookie.”

    PERFECT!!!!

  27. Twisty

    “I see no problem with purposing some rules for male feminists.”

    Well I do. Because it’s putting it all on you, Jen. You’re falling into the whataboutthemen trap. Look how you’ve tried to cover every little contingency; that’s just the sort in absorption in male-centric minutiae that gets women all fucked up. Because some wiseass dude is always gonna find a loophole in your manifesto.

    Either a man can grasp that women are human or he can’t. It’s as simple as that. Once he grasps it, he can figure out all by himself the startling implications.

    Most will tell you that they have grasped it when they haven’t. These dudes, to which species Khaled Diab belongs, must be told to blow it out their barracks bag. That’s why I wrote this post, to illustrate just such an instance, and to advocate against giving this dude a break just because he seems to be “trying.” He’s not trying; he’s calling vocal feminists “obnoxious” for chrissake.

  28. TP

    Wow! I got namechecked by Twisty! How cool is that?

    Yeah, I seem to get it, but I know how damaged I am by my training. I have a certain amount of peace with the world because, at the end of the day, I’m not being directly oppressed.

    I love the list of guidelines above, too.

    I welcome any man I meet to call himself a feminist, I’ll tell you that. It’s kind of lonely.

  29. DeNatured

    And it’s not like co-ed schools teach for feminism either.

    You just reminded me of something. When I was in grade 6 or so, the principal called a special assembly because she was concerned about the amount of sexism she was seeing around school every day. The message was basically, “I’ve got the girls’ backs, boys, so smarten the hell up.” She also very publicly fired a teacher for discriminating against his female students. But yeah, that’s pretty rare.

    Here’s the thing about the cookies. I’m with you, but the message loses some of its snark when the rest of the world is thrilled to fling the cookies off the rooftops. My Dad has received several lifetimes worth of cookies just for filling the coffee pot and emptying the dishwasher at work. Dad has no illusions of being a feminist, because he doesn’t get it, because he can’t. He’s a big, burly dude with a deep, commanding voice. He’s also a decent human being, so he supports feminism. But whether or not he particularly wants the cookies, he eats them anyway.

  30. Jen

    Actually, you’re pretty much spot on, Twisty. I’m guilty of facilitating men the very way that I criticize with my guidelines.

    Oh my socialization–it hurts. Thanks for pointing out that I was doing exactly what I am not supposed to be doing.

  31. delphyne

    If Khaled Diab thought women were human, he’d pay attention to and think about Cath Eliot’s article and her point of view instead of dismissing it whining about hard done by he is.

  32. atheist woman

    Guh, enough with the superfluous Che references. His cheness has been rubbed in my face so often by honky men activists in order to make themselves seem ‘down with it’. Cheness may only continue if I get to walk around in high heels, a beret, and a smoking jacket and call myself Kerouac. At which point the universe will explode because Kerouac was a uber-manly rethug and had nada in common with Che except for the same idiotic cult.

  33. Lara

    Atheist woman, I would refrain from describing Diab as “honky” as it appears to me that he is Arab or North African (Diab is a popular name in Egypt, for example, and he looks Arab or North African).
    Yeah, Mr. Khaled wants cookies for sure.

    Dear men who think they’re feminists:
    Shut the hell up and listen to women.
    End of story.

    I mean the guy thinks he can vicariously experience sexual oppression through his female relatives for Maude’s sakes. That’s like, I dunno, white people thinking they can vicariously experience racial oppression by touching a Black person’s hair. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph :/
    I can’t describe to you how many men I have met or talked to that think they are just as “oppressed” as women are. They criticize feminists for being exclusionary meanies while asking for cookies from said feminists in the same breath.
    Get over yourself Diab et al.

  34. atheist woman

    Lara
    I was not talking about Diab. As far as I could tell, he is neither an activist of the brand I was referring to or a honky. I was talking about specific experiences in my lifetime with specific honky men activists who use Cheness like some men use aftershave.

  35. atheist woman

    In all correctness, that should be ‘nor a honky,’ in continuation of the ‘neither.’

  36. Chai Latte

    What a tool.

    He wants credit for not being an ass to women and grasping that they’re human? UGH.

    By the way, that ‘slluuuurp’ sound you hear is my brain leaking out my ears.

  37. PhysioProf

    But he did grasp the basic concept of “women are human beings”, and not one of us managed to get that right on the first try.

    I didn’t perceive him as grasping that basic concept. I perceived him as wanting to sound like he had grasped it, yet failing at both.

  38. Shira

    Joselle Palacios said, “(I thought the term douchebag wasn’t feminist, y’all). ”

    Why? It seems like the perfect insult to me for men like this. Douchebags exist because several companies conspired to make women think they needed to douche to be acceptably feminine, and would therefore part with their hard-earned seventy-cents-on-the-dollar. All this for the joy of yeast infections caused by needlessly irrigating your genitals with scented detergent.

    So, a douchebag would then be a existentially worthless misogynist who insults and lies to women in order to get into their pants and harm them.

    And then there’s the added benefit that the stupid douchebags of the world will assume that they are being called a woman (which as we all know, is the worst thing such a man would think he could be called).

    Douchebags aren’t feminist, but the term douchebag is effective on so many levels.

    Either a man can grasp that women are human or he can’t. It’s as simple as that. Once he grasps it, he can figure out all by himself the startling implications.

    It is that simple isn’t it! Yet they somehow manage not to get it. Men hate us, every last one of them. The only thing that varies is how much and whether they are aware of it.

  39. Rachel

    My problem with this article was in the first sentence. “‘Woman’ is a biological distinction. ‘Femininity’ is that group of personality traits women are traditionally expected to exhibit.” I was taught in a general education gender studies class that Female is the biological distinction for XX chromosomes, Woman is a gender distinction for people who associate themselves as such (and all the baggage that comes with that) and femininity is how people do gender. If I’m mistaken correct me.

    Diab contradicts himself soon thereafter “If you’re a man, obviously you cannot be a woman – at least not without major, and quite painful, surgical intervention. As a man, you can be feminine, or, like most people, exhibit a mix of “feminine” and “masculine” characteristics. Likewise, progressive men should be allowed to regard themselves as feminists.” Males cannot become females (yet) but men CAN become woman and not only through surgery! What really makes a ‘real’ woman? Someone who thinks they are a woman? Someone who looks like a woman? I say both and either. We’re not at the point yet where one must have their genitals showing through clear underwear and pants perhaps, so that other people ‘can tell.’

    Also problematic is Diab’s use of the aforementioned passage to justify why men should be allowed into the feminist club. Just because a man can be feminine or at least part feminine does not mean that men can now automatically, magically(!) become a feminist. He displays such a shallow understanding of feminist ideology he should be fart-in-an-elevator embarrassed.

  40. mearl

    If this man really WERE a feminist, he wouldn’t have even opened up his laptop to BEGIN writing the article.

  41. panoptical

    First of all, the dude opened with “‘Woman’ is a biological distinction.” Seriously? Call me old-fashioned, but I thought we were still using “female” and “male” to refer to parts-based differences. If you really want to be considered a feminist, a passing familiarity with the lingo might help. Male feminists would invite less skepticism if there were a few good examples, so if you want to be let into the club, maybe you could, you know, provide one?

    As for the question of whether there can/should be male feminists, it comes down to a discussion of the role of males in the feminist movement and the feminist cause. If we can agree that socialization is at least partially responsible for certain forms of sexism, for instance, then feminist males can provide anti-sexist socialization to non-feminist males (for instance, not tolerating sexist language, comments, or jokes in all-male social settings.) Males don’t have to directly experience oppression to be able to lend a hand. So why not drop the pretense, stop being so defensive, and get to work?

    It’s not like there’s nothing constructive that Diab could have said about the topic. What bugs me most is that he doesn’t even realize that he is guilty of exactly the kinds of things that he is claiming male feminists wouldn’t do. He says that men wouldn’t try to dominate the movement, but two paragraphs later he pronounces that all one needs to be a feminist is to “apply the principles of equality,” and that going to rallies and shouting slogans from the rooftop is overdoing it. In other words, don’t get hysterical, just calm down and let a man take care of it.

    I sort of wished I’d stopped reading after that first sentence.

  42. Rachel

    A good example of a good feminist ally would be Alan Johnson who wrote “The Gender Knot.”

  43. Lisa

    That article was hilarious.

    Waah! I want to be in the feminist club. Look! I don’t beat and rape my wife! What more do you want? So let me in, you paranoid, shrill, sexist bitches!

    The comments are even more disturbing. I had to quit reading after the fifth one.

  44. ate

    I’m one of the ’17 or 18′. I don’t think men can be feminists. They can advocate all they like, they can learn all they like, they can try as much as they like. And I’d like it if they did, very much so. But feminism isn’t a theoretical or sporting or academic study to me, it’s my life. Fighting for feminism and as a feminist is fighting to live. Every male benefits from the patriarchy whether he likes it or not and no male can ever understand my intense personal need to be a feminist or the intense persecution i am put through daily as a woman. I don’t hate men but I damn well hate the patriarchy and I’m not going to let it co-opt something, whether well intentioned or not, that is sometimes all I have. I don’t need men to save me, I need them to stop hating and hurting and beating and silencing me.

    People like Diab think they are so clever. They are so smug. They make me so angry! They are just another tool of the patriarchy. He calls himself a feminist and comes up with a couple of weak reasons why he is and think it means he can tell me what to do and think and accept?

    Just because I put milk in a glass doesn’t mean I made a fucking milkshake.

  45. ate

    Plus, if he really supported feminism why isn’t he using up Guardian pages advocating (specific) feminist issues? Not talking about himself, a dude.

  46. Lara

    Ah, atheist woman sorry for the misunderstanding IRT your use of the word “honky.” :P

    “I’m one of the ‘17 or 18?. I don’t think men can be feminists. They can advocate all they like, they can learn all they like, they can try as much as they like. And I’d like it if they did, very much so. But feminism isn’t a theoretical or sporting or academic study to me, it’s my life. Fighting for feminism and as a feminist is fighting to live. Every male benefits from the patriarchy whether he likes it or not and no male can ever understand my intense personal need to be a feminist or the intense persecution i am put through daily as a woman.”

    Well said ate, I also think men can only be pro-feminist, but not feminist themselves. Because it takes experience being born and raised and living as a woman your whole life to really understand how oppression plays out in your personal life, used against you.
    Oh, and I hate men, and the patriarchy. Sadly, I am hetero, so that makes hating men kinda awkward, dja know? It’s like in claiming that they are so supportive of feminism they try to make it all about themselves and thus are anti-feminist. I didn’t even read the whole damned article I couldn’t take all the flapdoodle (rubbish or empty meaningless talk).

  47. Al

    Long time reader and fan, first time commenter. As a 40 year old male who has identified specifically as pro feminist since my undergraduate years, in response to the suggestions above for men regarding how to be a feminist, I’d like to add two points.

    One: It’s not about the label. I personally don’t use the term feminist, as I see it as appropriation of a word that is not one I have a claim to, but that’s just me. The vast majority of women who I know don’t seem to care how men define themselves in relation to the movement, just as long as their actions and behaviors mirror that identity consistently in their daily life. Meaning much more than mere lip service to the cause. My own experience tells me men who fixate on the label usually don’t meet the mark in the lived reality areas of their lives.

    Two: What is often the most difficult, the most courage requiring, and more than anything else, the most effective thing men can do to help women realize equality and put an end to their oppression, is to say something! To directly and assertively call other men out on their misogyny and sexism, whenever and wherever they demonstrate it. That is never something that is easy, but it does get more comfortable the more often you do it. It can be as simple as casually pointing out how a joke about domestic violence, is actually something that if seen on a continuum, actually supports domestic violence. Or, it can be the very needed action of questioning the frat boy who’s dragging the semi conscious and intoxicated girl back to his room, while all others present laugh uncomfortably.

    Anything that intentionally serves to subvert the dominant patriarchal paradigm, in my opinion, is a radical, pro feminist statement for a man to make.

  48. eve

    Okay, I have to say I think Lisa really distilled this guy’s article for me so I don’t have to read it or see any vicious comments that might show up afterwards. Thanks!!

  49. calendula

    Guh, enough with the superfluous Che references.

    OT, but if I ever have a little girl I totally want to name her Che.

  50. Veronica

    I also was tempted to stop reading after the very first sentence. When the opening statement induces a slap to the forehead, that’s a bad sign.

    But to me, this was the real gem:

    History is replete with examples of “outsiders” who become the iconic embodiment of certain struggles, such as the privileged young doctor turned poor man’s revolutionary.

    There are so many problems with this statement it boggles the mind. Social movements have always had the problem of (rich, white) people wandering over, making a bunch of noise, then being regarded as luminaries. And of course, the poor woman will never be iconic of a struggle.

  51. Karen

    Re: “the privileged young doctor turned poor man’s revolutionary,” didn’t he mean someone specific? I thought Ghandi. No wait, he was a lawyer. Chekhov? He was a doctor, but not a revolutionary. OK, maybe he didn’t mean anyone specific.

  52. tinfoil hattie

    The Guardian — bastion of feminist thinking since 29 April 08.

  53. tinfoil hattie

    Okay, Twisty, I get your point about Jen inadvertently tripping into “what about the menz” territory, but THIS quote belongs in the blamer hall of fame:

    …you may not assume that simply wanting to have sex with women without raping them or telling them they are too fat means that you are a feminist.

    I’m going over to put it on the message board right NOW.

  54. Twisty

    Rosa Parks is a struggle’s icon.
    Joan d’Arc.
    Susan B.

    Discuss.

  55. Feminist Avatar

    The priviledged young doctor referred to Che Guevara (but it actually works for Marx as well (phd not MD)).

  56. Hawise

    Re: “the privileged young doctor turned poor man’s revolutionary,”
    I think that he was referring to Norman Bethune during the Long March in China.

    re. this dude- ewww but funny. I laughed ’til I cried, suddenly realized that it wasn’t supposed to be funny and so just hit head.

  57. Veronica

    No, no, I know that there are poor female icons of struggle. Hell, in the right circles, the poor female is the icon.

    What concerned me is that the example he uses to explain his desired relationship with the feminist movement is that of the outsider-turned-icon, because typically icons get all the attention.

  58. Not a Whisper

    There is another headache-inducing comments thread in response to an article in today’s Guardian about a revolting act wherein a stand-up comic groped a member of the audience on stage. The page is infested with dudes claiming that “until you ASK the girl how do YOU know whether SHE thought it was sexual harassment or not… maybe she was PERFECTLY HAPPY to be felt up… how DARE you exploit her experience for your own twisted agenda…”, thereby illustrating exactly why the Twisty doctrine which removes the concept of “consent” desperately needs to be implemented.

  59. Not a Whisper

    There is another headache-inducing comments thread in response to an article in today’s Guardian about a revolting act wherein a stand-up comic groped a member of the audience on stage. The page is infested with dudes claiming that “until you ASK the girl how do YOU know whether SHE thought it was sexual harassment or not… maybe she was PERFECTLY HAPPY to be felt up… how DARE you exploit her experience for your own twisted agenda…”, thereby illustrating exactly why the Twisty doctrine which removes the concept of “consent” desperately needs to be implemented.

  60. Bushfire

    Tinfoil hattie, I want to second that. I loved Jen’s comment about men thinking they are feminists because they don’t rape women. That just shows how much they don’t get it. It reminds me of the guys who claim to ‘love women’ because they ‘love their wife and daughter’ except they also think that rape survivors were asking for it and that feminists are nasty bitches who want to oppress men. Not being a rapist is the first rung on a nearly infinately tall ladder. Some men want ‘a cookie’ just for getting that far, even thought it’s inches from the gutter.

  61. atheist woman

    Thinking that you are a feminist because you don’t rape women is like thinking that you are a good person because you haven’t killed anybody yet today.

  62. Ron Sullivan

    Diab demands to “fight shoulder to shoulder” with women as a “fully-fledged feminist.”

    What the hell’s stopping him? Does he think it’s like an official national army, that anyone not in uniform will get booted off the front lines?

    Come to think of it, I suspect that wouldn’t happen in an army either; nobody’s going to waste time excluding anyone whose gun is pointed the right way. Maybe that’s the problem.

    I am just the wee tiniest bit impatient with people who think that feminism is something they can join—or “leave.” You do it or you don’t, and quit with the costume changes already.

  63. musidora

    hello, I am from buenos aires, and I read you very often. you bring so fresh air to feminism! in this part of the world we have such opinators and sympathizers
    hate my english, how could i get a proficiency, eh? and i didnt cheat!
    a lesbian kiss 4u

  64. AngryYoungFemme

    Twisty, I know this is completely off topic, but is there any chance we can get your take on this whole GTA4 blogosphere war? Those commenting at Feministing seem in desperate need of a spinster aunt’s cut-to-the-quick analysis of obvious misogyny. Have you seen the trailer that started this debate? As Jon Stewart said in response to the fact that abstinence only education doesn’t work: kindly “un-blow my mind!”

    Please offer a voice of reason in this nonsensical debate!

  65. su

    Yeah if he wants to be a fully fledged feminist he needs to sprout some feathers and then get out of the damned nest, instead of sitting there with his jaws stretched wide demanding to be fed. Call me a feminist! Acknowledge me! Peep, peep.

  66. Twisty

    “this whole GTA4 blogosphere war?”

    I haven’t even heard of it. Already my vow to stay on top of current blogular events is in the sewer. I still haven’t recovered from the white-feminist-bloggers-are-asshole-racists blogosphere war. If blogosphere wars upon which I am expected to opine keep erupting with this kind of frequency I’m gonna have to throw in the towel.

  67. thebewilderness

    No, please, hang on to the towel. When the hot flashes hit you a towel and a blog are just the thing.

  68. Silence

    Re Twisty’s earlier question:

    Joan d’Arc was a Frenchwoman who fought for France. She did not presume to know the woes of Poland and fight for Polish freedom.

    Rosa Parks was a black woman who fought against black opression. She did not represent herself as an advocate of Native American rights.

    Susan B. was a woman who fought for the rights of women. She did not advocate the cause of homosexuals.

    These women were all successful in what they preached because they were part of the opressed minority they represented. So, the lesson (one of the lessons) we can take from this trio is that people believe ‘you know how it feels to be opressed’ when you have genuinely been opressed. Which is why all this ‘feminist man’ stuff is bullshit.

    Of course men can be sympathetic. I have a tremendous respect for TP. But he does not know what it is like to be a woman and he will never know, can never know. I respect him because I think he understands that.

    The only time when you can speak up for an opressed minority and not risk being (quite so much of) a hypocrite is when the opressed minority has no voice, such as in the case of animal rights.

  69. Cass

    “What the hell’s stopping him? Does he think it’s like an official national army, that anyone not in uniform will get booted off the front lines?

    “Come to think of it, I suspect that wouldn’t happen in an army either; nobody’s going to waste time excluding anyone whose gun is pointed the right way. Maybe that’s the problem.”

    Maybe Diab should put his energies towards the creation of an “International Brigade” in the struggle against patriarchy. Of course, he and his comrades would be so busy designing their uniforms and boasting of their solidarity they’d never catch the train to Madrid.

  70. gzur

    Yes, some of us nice guys think that somehow we can shed the mantle of oppression with which we are spoon fed from birth.

    Personally I don’t go around calling myself a feminist – the reason for this is simple, though I agree that Patriarchy exists, as “a violently tyrannical but nearly invisible social order based on an oppressive paradigm of class and status fetishizing dominance and submission”*, and see it’s effect everywhere I deign to look – I also see how entrenched I am within it, being a white middle-class male. If the matter comes into the discussion, it usually results in me being labeled a feminist by the people with whom I am conversing- but as this is done, I immediately realize the preferred status I am given as a male feminist. That is to say, that people who call me feminist do not do so with the slight sneer of condescension that usually follows the use of the word when applying it to female feminists.

    As a man, I can call myself a feminist free of charge. There is little social impact, I am not expected to act in any particular way nor have any particular views. In fact, the response I get is that of the benign towering monarch, stepping down from his ivory pedestal to slum it with the proletariat in all his immaculate grace. Cue swooning.

    This is why, though I might uphold feminist ideals, I don’t call myself a feminist.

    *verbatim from The Twisty Weltanschauung

  71. Cath Elliott

    Hi Twisty

    Thanks for this. As the author of the original piece that Khaled Diab based his article on, I have to say it’s so nice to come over here and find so many like minded people who actually ‘get it.’

    Keep ‘em coming.

    Best wishes

    Cath

  72. Michael

    I realize I’m late to the party with this post.

    I’m not at the point yet where I’d put a label on my role with respect to feminism. But one thing I do know is that as a man, the only time I could call myself feminist is when I’m supporting feminist issues. If I’m in a debate about feminism, and I’m arguing a different point of view, I don’t get to go “I’m a feminist, but I’m opposed to your particular feminist viewpoint.” If I think your viewpoint, proposal, philosophy, argument or whatever has issues, I get to oppose it on its merits. And if my opposition is ignored or devalued because I’m a man, I have no right of complaint.
    Mens voices get diminished and ignored in feminist movements, for good reasons.
    Womens voices get diminished and ignored everywhere else. IBTP.

  73. lalla

    Call me strange, but I don’t get your objections. Why exactly shouldn’t men be allowed to be feminists? I do believe you underestimate the ability of at least some men to understand the situation (and not only rationally).

    I especially didn’t get your analogy that feminist men would be like you being a woman of colour (I assume you aren’t). The correct analogy would be saying it’s like you being anti-racism. He doesn’t want to be accepted as a woman, after all. Feminism is not a divine right of women only.

    I’m sorry if I misunderstood you or didn’t explain myself well, as my mother tongue is not English. By the way, I am a woman, and I don’t mind men being feminists. Actually, I firmly believe that not even nearly enough will be accomplished before all men hold feminist views. I mean, how else would you get equal treatment?

  74. Wreck

    In a previous post, someone noted the following, “What’s the good in berating him for that? Someday maybe Mr. Diab will be enlightened enough to see the problems with WATM? arguments. But give the guy a break as he unsteadily tests out his first feminist ideas.”

    I think part of the problem is that Mr. Diab’s ‘first feminist ideas’ get to be op-eds in the Guardian. As if there weren’t, you know, actual feminists to consult. Why is his voice the one receiving international print attention? When I have my first ideas about nuclear non-proliferation, I don’t get a slot in the op-ed pages of the NYTimes. It’s another version of the idea that anything women do requires no skill or thought or experience. And that men are better at it.

  75. Yeny

    ‘We have already established that women that wrap themselves around poles naked for a living are not feminists in our sense of the word’ – Jen

    I think a woman who wraps herself around a poll can be a feminist. What she does for a living is not, obviously, but sometimes we all do shit that is anti-feminist. I hate the way I look and sometimes wish I could afford plastic surgery, does that mean I’m not feminist? I sometimes smile at a man when he tries to chat me up even though inside I want to punch his face in. Patriarchy fucks us all up.

    Back to the main topic, I agree with everyone saying that men can’t be feminists, although they can be allies.
    Also, I’ve encountered many an asswipe who believes that he is feminist because he thinks women should be allowed to vote and have a job outside of the home.

  76. Lara

    Yeny I think there is a tremendous difference between wearing lipstick, for example, and supporting the “sex working” industry. It is on a continuum, yes, I agree. But when women willingly work in strip clubs (this total willingness is rare) they are actively contributing to the idea that women are sex objects. I am not sure how one can do that so blatantly every day and still call themselves feminists. The personal is political, and if one is to be a feminist she has to at least TRY to live up to what she believes in.
    I wear red lipstick and a tight skirt sometimes, for work. If another feminist was to tell me I am capitulating to the patriarchy and not being such a great feminist, I wouldn’t get defensive or have a fit about it. Because the fact of the matter is that she’s right.

    “Also, I’ve encountered many an asswipe who believes that he is feminist because he thinks women should be allowed to vote and have a job outside of the home.”

    I second that! Men who like to believe they are the most feminist are the ones who never even question their own privilege and sexism. About two years ago I was walking to my car from class with this guy (he was in my class) and somehow the subject of feminism or women’s rights came up. He then started bragging about “oh, I’m not sexist, I’m totally a feminist!” blah de blah blah. :P
    It’s annoying.

  77. Pant-Hoot

    Lara: “I wear red lipstick and a tight skirt sometimes, for work. If another feminist was to tell me I am capitulating to the patriarchy and not being such a great feminist, I wouldn’t get defensive or have a fit about it.”

    wait- *another* feminist? How come you get to wear patriarchy-pleasing drag to work and still get to call yourself a feminist (albeit one having an off day), but someone who wraps her legs around a pole is not a feminist by definition? Geez Louise, with the entitlement.

    Pointing out that there’s a big sexist continuum you fall into is great- good on you for your self-awareness. Arbitrary line-drawing on that continuum (‘I can wear lipstick and a short skirt to work, but I’m still a feminist because… it’s not my *job* to do that, so it’s ok!’) is pointless and hypocritical.

    I think sex work is poison. I also think you shouldn’t kid yourself. (Thanks in advance for not getting defensive or having a fit about this.)

  78. Lara

    Me in my previous post:
    “But when women willingly work in strip clubs (this total willingness is rare) they are actively contributing to the idea that women are sex objects. I am not sure how one can do that so blatantly every day and still call themselves feminists. The personal is political, and if one is to be a feminist she has to at least TRY to live up to what she believes in.”

    I am not sure where you missed this part Pant-Hoot? This is why I think there’s a difference between the being a stripper and occassionally wearing lipstick to work.
    And I think it’s rude to imply I am an entitled snob and then say:
    “I think sex work is poison. I also think you shouldn’t kid yourself. (Thanks in advance for not getting defensive or having a fit about this.)”
    In order to place me in some sort of argumentative trap (I can’t find the right words for it). Don’t personally insult me by calling me an entitled hypocrite and then expect me to not get defensive.

    What am I kidding myself about? What entitlement? If you’re going to make comments and assumptions like that, explain yourself. I have no problem with being told that I am not really living up to my feminist potential, but I DO have a problem with someone telling me I am “entitled” or hypocritical for thinking sex-working is not feminist. Did I say wearing a skirt and lipstick is feminist, for Maude’s sake? No.

  79. SoJo

    My psychology professor today told me that he’s a feminist because he supports affirmative action -but only when, and I quote “the women are the majority in that field.”
    And he wasn’t being sarcastic.

    I do hate that feminism is seen by “pro-feminist” men as just using the word ‘sexist’ gratuitously and referring to women these days being ‘career oriented’.

  80. Yeny

    Lara, but i happen to think that wearing make-up and clothing that is more attractive than it is practical send the same message that women exist to satisfy male sexual appetites. Of course it’s more subtle than wrapping yourself around a pole, but when you see practically every woman on the street made-up in this way the message is deafening.

    None of us can be perfect feminists because we exist within patriarchy. I would rather BTP than other women.

  81. Lara

    “None of us can be perfect feminists because we exist within patriarchy. I would rather BTP than other women.”

    Well if I came off as blaming individual women for patriarchy than that was definitely not what I meant, and not my intention. I agree, I definitely don’t think it’s women’s fault that stripping or sex working, or wearing makeup, for that matter, even exists. It’s the patriarchy’s fault, it’s men’s fault.
    And my response was pointing out exactly that: that we cannot all be perfect feminists. I guess my writing came off in a way I didn’t intend it to.

  1. Men can’t be feminists « The Bleeding Heart Show

    [...] it shows how futile an exercise it is that despite his best efforts, he still deserved this searing bit of snark: Moreover, chides the sentimental Diab, chicks can be chauvinist pigs, too! Men “don’t have a [...]

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