By Jen Thorpe
I’ve seen a few images lately that got me thinking about whether FeministsSA should continue to publish posts by men.
I agree that men can be committed to the values of feminism and gender equality. I agree, that they have valuable insights about the way that men can address patriarchy and inequality. What I’m not so sure about is giving them the space to do it here, on FeministsSA, when they should be doing it out there in the world where it actually has more potential to make men uncomfortable. I started thinking about this in relation to this picture.
What it made me think about was the fact that men writing about feminism on FeministsSA.com are essentially preaching to the choir. We’re all going to agree and be receptive to what they’re saying. In essence, it doesn’t disrupt. It doesn’t challenge the chauvinists that are out there on more mainstream websites.
Of course the same goes for women writers writing about feminism. But, FeministsSA was also started to make more space online for women writers to have their say, in an internet that is filled with articles written by men. If FeministsSA becomes a space that gives more space to male writers, is it living up to its aims? I’m not sure it does.
I also thought a lot about this picture.
Feminism does certainly hold that men are capable of more than rampant harassment and sexual denigration. It holds that men can and should do better, and that gender equality will be better for both men and women. The question I wonder about then is ‘If men are only trying to do better in women’s spaces, is that enough?’
I guess what I have started to become uncomfortable with is the ‘exceptional’ essence of what men on feministssa become. They become the good men that are the exceptions, right? They become the men we accept and support. But, are they also saying this stuff to other men? This is what I’m asking. I see that contributors like Gcobani Qambela, Thorne Godinho, and Kameel Premhid are also writing about these issues on other sites like Thoughtleader and News24. This is, I think, more valuable than men contributing to FeministsSA. Because it opens them up to the possibility of challenge and debate from other men – and it is other men that male feminists need to challenge most.
Part of this thinking also stemmed from the #notallmen hashtag and how common it is for men to come to feminist gatherings and feminist spaces and to continue to be the first person to put up their hands or speak the loudest. How they are desperate to assert that they are a ‘good guy’, the exception, and they just want to dominate the space to make sure we as women know how much they support us. The bottom tweet in this last image sums it up.
It got me thinking about whether these good guys, and I really do believe that they are good, are also having the difficult discussions in other public spaces about what it means to be a good guy. And whether, by giving male feminists, the good guys, a space on FeministsSA means that they don’t have to do that.
I’m not decided. And so for this week I’d like you to tweet back to FeministsSA using the hashtag #feministssamen and let me know what you think. You can also comment on the blog, or post on the Facebook Page (see the link on the right of the page). Let’s discuss this. Or, vote in the poll at the bottom of the page. And that means you too men.