feminism is for everybody (part two) / by mrm

Until quite recently I hadn't been aware of much out there for men interested in feminism and gender equity. I suppose there are a lot of reasons for this: I'm most interested in things that are written for me (a woman), and I already have enough trouble keeping up with those things. And I suppose because I feel feminism is so embracing, I hadn't really thought it would be necessary for there to be a separate place for men. Although of course I can see how it might be alienating or even terrifying for a lot of men to spend time on a website called "bitch" with the tagline, "a feminist response to pop culture" (my personal favorite antidote to the patriarchy). Ok, I'm sold: To ensure that men are being reached, let's get excited about more accessible spaces.

It wasn't until I stared dating my boyfriend that I heard of The Good Men Project. I was immediately intrigued. What is the titular project? They want to talk about "men’s roles in modern life. We explore the world of men and manhood in a way that no media company ever has, tackling the issues and questions that are most relevant to men’s lives. We write about fatherhood, family, sex, ethics, war, gender, politics, sports, pornography, and aging. We shy away from nothing. Our content reflects the multidimensionality of men — we are alternatively funny and serious, provocative and thoughtful, earnest and light-hearted. We search far and wide for new stories and new voices from 'the front lines of modern manhood.' And we do it without moralizing and without caricaturizing our audience; we let guys be guys, but we do it while challenging confining cultural notions of what a 'real man' must be." Which sounds pretty awesome. Which is why it was it was a pretty big bummer when the founder of the project got into some unpleasant feminist bashing lately (tidily summarized here). It lead one of their frequent-contributor male authors to resign. Shortly thereafter, that same contributor was surrounded in a different controversy which caused him to decide to "withdraw from explicitly feminist spaces." It's a big controversy, and complicated. It's also clear to me that Hugo Schwyzer is an incredible and articulate feminist ally, and it's sad to me the way so many have resorted to name-calling. In sum: I am bummed out that The Good Men Project does not seem interested in committing to making space for feminism or treating feminism and feminists respectfully, and I am bummed that so many feminists would so fiercely turn on a male ally.

I remain firm in my belief that there is a place for men in feminism. In fact, I think it's really important that there is. Bitch media recently posted an awesome article about this that pretty much mirrors everything I'd want to say on the subject, but the short version is that feminism is for everybody because the patriarchy hurts everybody. Sure, it hurts some people a lot more than it hurts others; but it hurts everybody. What saddens me about all of the controversies above is that the willingness of people to turn on allies. There was a lot that went wrong here, but when a bridge is broken, you need to repair it, not burn it down. It is a bridge. It is the thing that connects you. We have to support each other. There's far too much worth uniting over to set out to destroy the people who are already on your side. Where is the go-to place for men in feminism now? I'm not sure.

I want to end by saying while most of the feedback I've been getting about this series (which ain't over yet, y'all!) has come from the ladies in my life (encouragement, questions, Facebook "like"s), I'm really, really happy that I've gotten some responses from my male friends, too. I mean, on the one hand, if you're friends with me, you kind of already know what you're in for. So I guess my final thought is a question: Fellas, what do you see is your role in feminism? And what do you think it could be? I invite your comments (ladies, too).