“The Feminist Male”

The following was left anonymously in our office, and thinking that it was an attempt for the individual who left it to have their voice heard, we felt it appropriate to share on our blog.  In the future, however, we would ask that all submissions include a name so that we are able to provide proper attribution.  Also, if the author would like us to credit him, let us know and we will do so as soon as possible.

 

The Feminist Male

 

Before I Begin, I feel the need to tell a little bit about myself.  First off, I am male.  More elaborately, I am a white, middle-class, straight male who is currently working towards a college degree.  In many parts of the world, I would be among the few who have unfairly been selected to be one of the most privileged people in the world.  Despite the fact that I have more opportunities than most, I strive to bring equal opportunity to everyone.

 

Now that that’s out of the way, let me begin.

 

A few semesters ago, I found myself sitting in an introductory Women’s Studies course.  On the first day of class, the professor gave a simple homework assignment: we were to mention to at least five people that we were taking a women’s studies course, and then we would discuss the various reactions to the statement during the next class.

 

When beginning the first assignment, I expected to receive the extreme reactions from the appropriate stereotypes.  Thus, I did not hesitate when my hipster friends from art class responded with the anticipated nod of approval.  And I understood that the frat-ish guys were expected to respond with either a look of slight disapproval or a modest fist-bump indicating they approved of my assumed “elaborate attempt to meet women.”  And of course I expected the men throwing Bibles at people in front of the student union to condemn me to hell – which they did without hesitation.

 

Stereotyping, however did not prove to be entirely accurate.  I approached my incredibly independent female friend expecting to receive her standard high-five.  She, like me, was the age of a sophomore, but she was a few semesters ahead in school.  Outside of kicking ass in class, she was also working as the editor of a local magazine and getting published regularly in numerous nationally recognized ones.  It made perfect sense to me that this obviously progressive, intelligent woman would applaud my open-mindedness.  Much to my surprise, however, she instead responded to my simple statement with an equally simple one: “Fuck women’s studies.”

 

Her response threw me back for a moment.  Though she was content in abandoning the conversation with that conciseness, I was not content yet, so I asked her to please elaborate – I could not wrap my head around the idea of a white, straight male being more accepting of feminist values than an outwardly successful female.  In my mind, it was feminism which allowed her to get to where she is now.  But not only was she brushing the subject away absent-mindedly: she was condemning it more than anyone else I had come into contact with.

 

She matter-of-factly explained to me, “Chris, society’s had it out against women forever.  It’s about time for us to suck it up, quit bitching, and learn to work the system, already.”

Thus was my succinct introduction to post-feminism.

While I may see more value in feminism than my friend, she made her point understood.  In many circles, women have come a long way.  They are finally able to attend school, they can be taken seriously as writers and scholars, and they can hold positions of authority.  I am able to see and appreciate this battle.  What my friend failed to recognize is the fact that in more circles than not, women’s rights are closer to jokes than realities.

 

What I’m trying to get at is this: even if you think that the push for equality is coming to a close, just look around for a second.  You might be well off, but others aren’t quite as lucky.  Many women throughout the world are nowhere near as privileged as you are.

 

So please keep fighting for equal rights.  If I – a white, straight male – can admit that there’s still a need for women’s studies, I’m sure you can, too, if you look hard enough.

 

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About etsuwomenstudies

This blog is a collaborative effort from the students, faculty, and feminist souls in the East Tennessee State University Women's Studies Department. We simply want to share daily thoughts with the world and encourage not only feminist thought, but awareness, tolerance, diversity, equality, justice, and social progress. Women's Studies is an exciting, interdisciplinary area of study that celebrates women's lives. It examines how diverse women have contributed to history, social processes, culture, politics and economics, as well as how all of these have shaped women's experiences. Our program provides new ways of looking at common assumptions about femininity and masculinity and teaches students how to connect what they study with how they live and work. We also explore how gender intersects with ability, age, class, culture, ethnicity, nationality, race, religion, and sexuality. Our Leadership through Diversity focus promotes a creative struggle for justice and equality. We train graduates to be leaders in both civic engagement and the workforce. The Women's Studies Program at ETSU is comprised of dedicated faculty and staff and socially conscious students coming together from a wide range of disciplines.

Posted on February 8, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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