Some ideas of today's talk:
- Defining feminism as women-only means putting up gender barriers instead of destroying them
- Feminism is a way of thinking - the gender of the person thinking it shouldn't matter
- There should be another word than feminist to describe men who support feminism
- Men shouldn't call themselves "pro-feminist" instead of "feminist" because it reinforces exclusive gender divisions
- In some social situations, men have more to lose from standing up against sexism - because they can lose their position of privilege which women don't have in the first place. But is this an excuse for failing to do so?
Other issues and arguments
- If feminism is women's liberation movement, then it must be women only. Men involved in women's liberation movement would be problematic because it would be very patronizing ("we'll liberate you").
- Also, by calling what they are doing "feminist", men appropriate what belongs to women. It is argued that "feminist" is a term that ought to be reserved for those who have lived the embodied experience of growing up female and choose to resist the oppression that they experience as a result of this fact. Those who support that struggle should not colonise the term feminist but instead call themselves "pro-feminist" as their struggle is not the same as that of "feminists".
- Alternatively, men can be feminists if feminism means being anti-patriarchy (bell hooks). Patriarchy is seen as the system of binary gender that oppresses everyone, albeit to very different extents, and anyone who resists this system of oppression can legitimately call themselves a feminist.
- Seen more pragmatically, men need to be somehow involved in feminism for it to achieve its goals, because men are the ones who need to change the most.
Remaining open questionsShould we call ourselves pro-feminist or feminist men (or something else)?
And, to open another can of worms: If feminism is a way of thinking, and if it means destroying gender categories, isn't a "men's group" reinforcing those categories and thus sexist?