Actually, this fabulous blog post by my feminist friend Xenologer is less of a collection of tips and more of a comprehensive guide to understanding how male privilege can negatively affect the interactions of well-intentioned men with women. Using simple language and concrete examples, and packing a ton of links for further reading, Xenologer unpacks how guys who don’t perceive themselves as sexist can have happier and healthier interactions with not just women, but everyone around them who’s impacted by patriarchal power structures – which is to say everyone, really. Here are some of my favorite points from her post (though really, you should just go read the whole thing):
Recognizing your privilege is important – and perhaps more importantly, you don’t have to feel bad about being privileged. When feminists point out instances of male privilege, we’re not trying to shame you for having it: “You are definitely not a bad person for having male privilege, and you don’t need to be a sexist male to have it. It’s not ‘misogynist privilege,’ after all. Continue Reading →
I’m not a sex educator, but I am a sex geek and I love to talk about sex. There’s nothing like having a discussion with your mates in a pub, while the rest of the world moves around you and you’re discussing the latest thing you’ve learned, then some random walks past right at that part of the conversation and you get a weird look. So in response to Debby’s post about advice for women, I compiled a male set of advice that I thought could be helpful to MSP’s readers. 1. You have penis â€“ learn to live with it. Continue Reading →
I’ve been researching and writing about masculinity recently (as my current dissertation chapter is on masculinity in fairy tales), and Charlie Glickman’s blogging has been really thought-provoking for me, both intellectually and personally. Starting with his post on the performance of masculinity and proceeding to his post about selectively performing masculinity by choosing attributes from the “act like a man box,” I’ve been thinking about why masculinity has such a pervasive, compelling presence–and what we can do about its negative aspects. By viewing masculinity as a set of traits contained within the “act like a man box,” Glickman has helped give us a language for discussing men’s behavior that is not, as much feminist language is, either very theoretical and abstract or condemning. And yes, a lot of masculine behavior should be condemned as violent, aggressive, misogynist, homophobic. But only using critical language ends conversations rather than starting them; telling a dude off for being a dude shuts down dialogue, and doesn’t give him a way to constructively participate in the effort to fix what’s wrong with hegemonic masculinity. Continue Reading →
In my work as a director for a boy’s camp, I was able to see some of the best examples of male leadership, compassion, and care. I was particularly touched by the multiple times I saw college-aged young men helping to comfort homesick ten-year-olds. These young leaders were some of the most caring and fun guys I’ve met, busting outside of gender norms to help be role models for the next generation of men.
Which is why it worries me to see articles like this one in the Wall Street Journal. To summarize, Lenore Skenazy shares stories from around the world that point to society’s growing distrust of men as caregivers. While I understand how men are the primary perpetrators in the majority of crimes, I think there are better ways to protect children than constant suspicion and vigilance towards half of the population. It’s quite concerning to me that we demonize men like this, when there are many examples of positive male role models and caregivers in our society (one only need look at the White House to see that). While attacks, sexual assaults, and misogyny happen, we need to be aware that there are just as many men out there fighting against these things than who perpetrate these acts. The trend pointed out by Skenanzy also relates to growing suspicion of other people in general, with folks locking their doors and avoiding neighbors. We as a society are more distrustful in general. Ask any typical parent today whether they’d let their kids go to the park down the street by themselves, and I’m guessing they would say no, for fear of their kids going missing from the “strangers” in their neighborhood. What can we do? We need to remember that the potential for good and bad can exist in all people, and living in paranoia is an unhealthy practice both for us and for our community. As a staunch supporter of using a community to produce social change, this idea is difficult for me. When you and your neighbors (especially the male ones) lack a mutual sense of trust, it will be impossible to create those special communities that take care of each other. Let’s make sure that any males in our life are treated with cautious respect when it comes to children, and acknowledge that while any given male may be a sexual predator, the vast majority of them are not. Continue Reading →