(This post is actually part of my homework in Women’s Studies this week. I hope I get a good grade.)
How to convince men to be allies to women is something I have been trying to master for more than a year now, most actively since I started my blogging project with the new year. It’s honestly not an easy task. The biggest response I get is a lot of apathy from other men, and then I get the occasional outright enmity from some die-hards I can only call misogynists.
As a man we have a lot invested in our oppressive society. Not only is our dominant position a comfortable one but our privilege makes it easier for us to present ourselves as “real men.” One common model of present-day masculinity has been called Marketplace Man: “Marketplace Man derived his identity entirely from his success in the capitalist marketplace, as he accumulated wealth, power, status.” (Kimmel, 75) When you explain privilege to a man who cares about his masculinity you are, in effect, emasculating him by the implication that he didn’t triumph over quite as much adversity as he maybe thought he did.
In January I wrote a critique of the popular blog “The Good Men Project” where I argued that the disturbing and increasing trend on that site of anti-feminist and outright misogynist articles was due to the sites basic premise of manliness or masculinity as something especially admirable. I suggested that we’d all be a lot better off if we didn’t keep comparing ourselves to the social yardstick of gender conformity.
I was surprised and pleased when TGMP asked to republish my piece on their own site. I agreed to it and suddenly found my inbox flooded with angry, hateful comments from dudes who took my suggestion that maybe masculinity wasn’t the best thing ever as a direct personal attack on them. The comments that made it through moderation were bad enough, but also saw the ones that didn’t get make the cut, which were far worse. One guy with poor reading comprehension assumed I was a woman (Because what man would say being a man isn’t the best thing ever?) and threatened me with rape if I didn’t shut up.
I haven’t shut up, but I did learn something very important. The first step to getting men to be allies to women is definitely not by critiquing masculinity. I suppose that, until I figure out the best thing to do, knowing what not to do is a good start.
Kimmel, Michael S. “Masculinity as Homophobia.” Gender Relations in Global Perspective. Ed. Nancy Cook. Canadian Scholar’s Press Inc, 2007. 73-82. Print.