Home > Manly Men, Positive Actions, Resources, Why Aren't You Reading This? > What Should a 20-year-old Proto-Feminist Guy Be Reading?

What Should a 20-year-old Proto-Feminist Guy Be Reading?

In the midst of a vigorous discussion on my last post, reader Deatkin expressed his frustrations as to how he might engage in a positive manner in a discussion of feminist issues. In this case, it was not the hairy-legged man-hating feminazi Zuska who was intimidating; it was Comrade Physioprof.

Now, I’m perfectly willing to accept that the problem lies with me on this… In sum, I may simply be too immature (I’m 20 and a mere undergraduate) to think broadly and imaginatively enough on feminist issues in order for me to reach a conclusion that somebody such as [Comrade Physioprof] would find satisfactory… But instead of attributing comments that you perceive as off-base to some insidious, malignant strain of male paternalism, isn’t it more likely that the person is someone like me, genuinely troubled by all the ways in which women are inhibited and made uncomfortable by men in society, but uncertain as to what attitudes we could hold that women would appreciate? Isn’t it possible that people like me are actually afraid that self-described male champions of feminism such as yourself will ridicule our attempts to communicate solidarity with feminism and embarrass us in front of the women we are trying to support? That’s definitely the case for me.I feel that most men (in my age group, at least) want to support women’s issues, and maybe it is our fault if we support them inappropriately, but it is definitely your fault if we persist in our ways because you mocked rather than enlightened us. I would appreciate, but am certainly not demanding, a comment, detailing some of the ways in which you explicitly and constructively promote feminism in general and women in academia in particular, and providing some sort of template from which a male such as myself could go about doing the same.

I will not go so far as to agree with Deatkin that it is CPP’s fault (or anyone else’s fault) if he “persists in his ways” because of mocking or anything else. If one is committed to social justice and equity, then one must proceed down that path no matter what obstacles, mocking included, one runs into. Getting your feelings hurt is not sufficient cause to stop educating yourself about how to be a better human being.
But I do think we can make the effort to lend a brother a hand now and then, no? Pass along some good advice, point them to sources of information. I’m not suggesting we baby them and spoon feed them every bit of information they need to have. Just sayin’, I didn’t come to my gloriously enlightened feminist state all on my own. I had teachers. I took classes. I had books. I had a biweekly reading group of fab feminist babes who pushed me to think.
So, Deatkin, here are Zuska’s Guidelines For Dudely Proto-Feminist Development:

  1. Get thee to a bookstore. Or online to Amazon, and purchase for thyself a copy of Allan Johnson’s The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy. You may also wish to read his Privilege Power and Difference. Mr. Johnson explains to d00ds how being a feminist man does not make your balls shrivel and penis drop off. He explains how patriarchy is actually bad for men, too. I think it’s good for men to hear another man talking about these issues.

  2. Taketh thee an introductory women’s studies course. And while in said course, try to listen more than speak. When speaking, try to ask questions to clarify points and learn more, rather than to pontificate and explain things to the ladies. If you behave in this manner, you may find that the ladies will occasionally ask you for your perspective. Even if they don’t, you will learn a hell of a lot just by listening and reading. I’m not just talking pie in the sky theory, either. You may learn, for example, as one young man I know did, about the existence of the clitoris and its central role in the female orgasm. Women’s studies classes are life-changers, I’m tellin’ ya.
  3. Read thou freely and often amongst the feminist blogs. You will want to read the women-and-science blogs, of course, if you are a scientist (see here and here for a comprehensive list of links) but you will also want to read others. Bitch, PhD is a good one. Feministe (and anything on their fabulous blogroll), Shakesville, and, let us not forget, Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog. Read Echidne’s Feminism Series.

This should give you a good start. Try to remember that it’s more or less a lifelong process, this un-learning of the prejudices and stereotypes we breathe in daily, that our brains have bathed in since birth. It’s a little like gardening. You work the soil, you put in the best-looking plants you can get your hands on, but it’s all going to go to hell if you don’t water and weed regularly. It’s so very easy to fall back into old stereotypes; gender schemas aren’t obvious unless you are on the lookout for them. (And check out these tutorials on gender schemas.)
Readers, I ask you: what other resources would you recommend to a 20-year-old proto-feminist d00d? What have you read that was helpful in developing your own feminist viewpoints? Dudes, how did your own feminist journey begin? Leave your stories in the comments, please!

  1. May 11, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Read thou freely and often amongst the feminist blogs.

    Once you manage to read the feminist blogs linked by Zuska without succumbing to the urge to tell the little laydeez that, while what they say makes some sense, what would *really* be useful for them to do is blah, blah, blah, you should check out I Blame The Patriarchy. If you can read that, and still not succumb to your urge to tell the little laydeez what’s what, then maybe you have started on your way to a glimmer of understanding.
    Three further thoughts:
    (1) If you go to I Blame The Patriarchy, keep your fucking d00d mouth shut and *LISTEN* until you are absolutely certain you understand what is going on. THIS COULD TAKE MONTHS! And if you open your fucking mouth and make a fucking ass of yourself, for fuck’s sake don’t admit I sent you!
    (2) The dumbshit d00dely comment fuckwittery that Zuska and Isis tolerate on their blogs–like Fucklington leaving as the first motherfucking comment to a “Letters to Our Daughters” post at Isis’s blog the assertion that it shouldn’t be limited to letters from mothers but also fathers–doesn’t even get *published* on most feminist blogs, and rather gets summarily deleted. So quit your fucking whiny-ass titty-baby shit and sack the fuck up.
    (3) In relation to commenting on feminist blogs, here’s a fucking hint: If your comment contains any of the words “men”, “fathers”, or “sons”, it is nearly certain that you are fucking up.

  2. Mecha
    May 11, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Tekanji has a number of solid links on her blog, and some solid articles which I found both useful and challenging/distressing when I first started walking down this path (this was before Finally, Feminism 101.)
    http://blog.shrub.com/archives/tekanji/2006-03-08_146 is probably the central one for people who want to walk into feminist spaces and have some of what that really means explained to them.
    My ‘feminist journey’, which is to say, when I went from notional humanist ‘I don’t think of women as lesser, and think everyone should be equal, hooray, that was easy’ to grappling with the really tough stuff that challenges your perceptions (rape culture, privilege, etc.), started as roughly six months of recovering after an argument with a close friend (and a bunch of other people, hooray LJ) that I really screwed up. It left me estranged from her, but not from the core of what people were trying to get at. And so I managed to pick through and around it to get more or less here.
    -Mecha

  3. May 11, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Excellent post, and excellent advice from CPP.
    I would also recommend “Female Chauvinist Pigs,” by Ariel Levy, which is subtitled “women and the rise of raunch culture.” Levy’s main point is to encourage young women and men alike to question the ways in which contemporary youth culture and college life sexualizes and objectifies women in ways that are shocking to old feminists like Levy, me, and (I’m guessing) Zuska and CPP. (That is, people who are 33 years old on up.)

  4. May 11, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    The dumbshit d00dely comment fuckwittery that Zuska and Isis tolerate on their blogs–like Fucklington leaving as the first motherfucking comment to a “Letters to Our Daughters” post at Isis’s blog the assertion that it shouldn’t be limited to letters from mothers but also fathers–doesn’t even get *published* on most feminist blogs, and rather gets summarily deleted. So quit your fucking whiny-ass titty-baby shit and sack the fuck up.

    I am sure I’ve got a post in here somewhere about this, but what has me up in arms even more than the fact that the boys want to play is that many of the boys think that there is sufficient gender parity in academia and society that this project isn’t necessary. I am realizing that this is because there is a level of patriarchy that is even more infuriating than regualr patriarchy — white patriarchy. In this brand of patriartchy, white men fail to realize that the patriarchy that white women are subjected to is different than the patriarchy women of color are exposed to. There is a whole hot of hot bullshit that comes with, for example, being raised in Cultura Macho.

  5. Carlie
    May 11, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    My advice for reading feminist blogs would be: Don’t comment, don’t comment, don’t comment. If you feel yourself starting to comment, especially if it’s a question, back away from the keyboard. The feminism 101 blog explains the situation pretty well, but it’s very common for people to barge in and ask very basic questions because hey, that shows I’m interested, and if they really want me to understand they’d explain it, right? There is little that is more exasperating than someone going into a conversation and asking for everyone else to go back to the beginning and spoon-feed them every bit of background information before going on with the topic. Even worse is when they are shown resources, but then whine that no one will just TELL them already. Honestly, if you wait a dozen comments or so, your question will probably be answered. If it isn’t, doing a little Googling yourself on the topic will get you there. I know it’s difficult; I’m the type who likes to participate and finds it hard not to throw my 2 cents’ worth in. However, your particular contribution isn’t all that necessary, really. If you think it is, stop a minute and think about what makes you think that the thread cannot exist without the contribution of your brilliance. I’ve been lurking quietly on womanist blogs lately (yep, it’s different than feminist), and turns out that reading but NOT COMMENTING really is a good thing to do. It reminds me that I’m not the center of the universe, and it serves to teach me much better than asking 101-type questions all the time would.
    Also, wrt to reading the blogs in the post, try checking the category lists in each to be more efficient than just starting out and reading chronologically. Some have categories/series that encapsulate certain topics very well (I’m thinking of series like “this week in disembodied things” at Shakesville, for instance.)

  6. SKM
    May 11, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    My other comment’s stuck in moderation (it has links in it), but in response to one of the things that Aaron wrote, I’m not sure starting with “men and women are different” is such a great idea. It only reinforces the gender-essentialist ideas we are all raised with and feeds the idea of women as some mysterious “other”. Furthermore, in my experience men realizing that men and women are not as different as society makes out can lead to more empathy and a clearer understanding of what women deal with.
    Shorter: the men I know who most “get it” when it comes to feminism are NOT of the “men and women are just soooo different” school. I figure it’s no coincidence.

  7. May 11, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Shorter: the men I know who most “get it” when it comes to feminism are NOT of the “men and women are just soooo different” school. I figure it’s no coincidence.

    I don’t think it is either, mostly because the differences that tend to be pointed out by d00ds in such contexts are the ones that reflect–SURPRISE!!!!!–patriarchal gender norms: “Women like to cook and clean and suck dick, and men like to drink with their buddies and watch sports and feel boobs, because evolution and cavemen and sabre-tooth tigers and stuff!!”

  8. May 11, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    I don’t think you can go past Robert Jensen and his attitude toward men involving themselves in the feminist movement. Read his latest book, Getting Off, which has a large section on the creation of masculinity and what men can do to help resolve violence toward women, or see his homepage for articles: http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/%7Erjensen/articles_gender.html
    I agree with Historiann, Levy’s “Female Chauvinist Pigs” is also a good one – my male partner is enjoying that right now.
    Anything re antipornography, (ie Captive Daughters’, “Pornography: Driving the Demand in International Sex Trafficking”) is also a good place to start…
    What about that recent book by the Canadian journalist Victor Malarek, “The Johns, Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It”.

  9. Aaron
    May 12, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Let me clarify what I mean by “men + women = different” really quick. In no way does this support the status quo; rather, to think that it would is status quo. Difference doesn’t imply that there’s a better and a worse, which I think is sort of the point. That’s certainly a contentious standpoint, and a good discussion for another blog, but I think it’s a good one for people to start with. Learning is all about shifting your perspective, and I think that the perspective should be dealing with difference itself, both for practical situations, and also for abstract, egalitarian philosophizing.
    While I’m on learning, I’ll say again that I think CPP is not doing anyone a service as he’s discouraging learning and exploration. Any d00d who reads his posts is only going to more fiercely hold onto his (probably) poorly thought out opinions because of the whole opposition thing. I only return to this because I’ve come to expect quite a bit from these blogs in general, and I hope that by shaking the tree a little, something useful might come out.
    Again, all the best

  10. May 12, 2009 at 6:38 am

    (3) In relation to commenting on feminist blogs, here’s a fucking hint: If your comment contains any of the words “men”, “fathers”, or “sons”, it is nearly certain that you are fucking up.

    Addendum: If your comment contains the words “should” or “useful”, it is nearly certain that you are fucking up.

  11. Hope
    May 12, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    @Carlie: My advice for reading feminist blogs would be: Don’t comment, don’t comment, don’t comment.
    That sounds dangerously close to saying that men on feminist blogs should be seen but not heard. Increasing numbers of young women today refuse to call themselves feminists, and this kind of nonsense is a big reason why.
    @Becca: Despite appearances, this is not CPP’s blog; nor does he need to be given the consideration a woman does in a feminist safe space (I’m sure he can handle himself).
    How do we know that CPP isn’t a woman? How about we stop making assumptions about who needs “consideration” or not based on gender?
    And finally, concerning this dichotomy: HEY! You’re just a nasty bitter feminist and you’re actually Hurting The Cause by being so nasty and bitter; you should be sweet and give me cookies.
    So those are my choices? If I’m not nasty/bitter, then it’s the equivalent of offering someone cookies? I don’t think so….

  12. May 12, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Some of the men on Zuska’s blog have been made to feel ashamed by the way in which they were called out. I see it as no different than the shame I feel everytime one of my male colleagues gives me a pet name, touches my hair, or referred to me while I was a graduate student as his “arm candy” at a major event and then extended me his arm knowing that I have to take it or risk offending the dude who decides my career. This mild pseudonymous shaming is much less uncomfortable than the in person shaming many women face in real life. The difference is, these d00ds were shamed in the privacy of their home/cubicle as opposed to in public.
    If they really believe they were in the right, then I suggest they deal with it the way women do. Think to themselves, “that guy’s a dick” and move on. Personally, I think the world needs more men who are willing to tell other men, “Hey! You’re really acting like an asshat right now.” We can continue to try to educate each other, but there is also something to be said about telling someone they’re being an ass.

  13. becca
    May 12, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Hope- I forget I shouldn’t assume everyone knows the appropriate backstory to understand everything.
    “How do we know that CPP isn’t a woman?”
    You don’t know, because you haven’t been reading his comments as long as I have, and because you don’t click his name and go through to his blog.
    I first “knew” because I was exhibiting heteronormative privilege and assuming he and PhysioWife (mentioned on his blog) are not from Iowa/another state that allows gay marriage. (there’s actually quite a bit of other data I’ve gleaned from his various comments that is suggestive, as well as his own introduction from when he was guestblogging at a feminist blog).
    I could always be mistaken. He could also be trans (either direction), which would complicate the gender question. In which case I would encourage him to come out because we probably need to challenge cis-gender scientist assumptions even more than we need to challenge male scientist assumptions.
    “How about we stop making assumptions about who needs “consideration” or not based on gender?”
    Actually, I assume he doesn’t need consideration because his whole MO is anti-CareBear (long history there), IOW he doesn’t offer consideration.
    However, it would be perfectly valid to consider gender in terms of understanding who we need to be particularly careful to listen to in a feminist space. Mecha’s link might be helpful if you are confused by this.
    “So those are my choices? If I’m not nasty/bitter, then it’s the equivalent of offering someone cookies? I don’t think so….”
    No, no, these are not your choices. The characterture was of a certain species of commenter that seem to occasionally show up expressly to tell Zuska how to write her blog. bill was lumping Aaron in with them, and I was explaining why I saw Aaron’s comments at CPP as different.

  14. Hope
    May 12, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Jay, Becca: I don’t care if CPP is a man or a woman – I wouldn’t cut him any more slack if he were a woman. Even in a feminist space. I am not “confused” on this matter, Becca; I just don’t agree with you.
    I think it’s rude to tell someone “don’t comment, don’t comment, don’t comment.” Especially someone who has stated that he rarely comments, as this guy did at the beginning of his letter. Who’s to say when he will be enlightened enough to be able to speak?
    Jay, no one is forcing you to do anyone’s work. If you don’t want to address a particular comment, don’t. You’ve found that lurking on certain blogs has been a valuable learning experience for you? – good for you! That doesn’t work for everyone. Deciding when and how to comment is every adult’s prerogative.

  15. May 12, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    I’m just going to make an observation: it often seems to me that many more people get more worked up and more offended, more frequently, by “foul language” than they do by instances of sexism or racism or homophobia.
    CPP’s way of expressing himself may not be for everyone, but the things I find truly offensive are not the frequent use of the word “fuck”. Take a step back for a minute and ask yourself: why does one person using the word fuck a lot get you more incensed than, say, hearing someone tell a racist joke, or observing your colleague behave in a sexist manner toward another colleague, or hearing one of your d00d pals police another d00d’s masculinity through homophobic comments and taunts? What are the forces in society that encourage us not to get all hot and bothered by those sorts of foul language and behavior, and encourage us instead to save our sanctimonious rage for the use of George Carlin’s seven dirty words?
    Why do you suppose, in this discussion of what d00ds could be reading and doing to develop their feminist proclivities, we are getting derailed by concern over CPP’s choice of language? You know, if only he would phrase things exactly right, every d00d would suddenly see the light and start walking down the garden path with him.
    What does it say about you, to say “I would have been receptive to your message about how to be a better human being except that I didn’t like how you said it, so I’m not going to listen and I’m just going to go on with my usual ways and it’s all your fault”?
    Just something to ponder…

  16. May 12, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    One thing I’ve noticed in reading feminist blogs is that there are always some commenters who get very bothered by “tone” and “language.” It doesn’t matter if they’re presenting on-line as male or female (because, of course, who really knows, right?)–but it’s only on feminist blogs that I see lectures about what’s “appropriate” and what’s not. This happened to me recently when I called a dead historian a “tool” for publishing a book review in a prominent publication (not a history journal) that was extremely condescending about women’s history. A bunch of young grad students flew in out of nowhere to inform me that I had crossed a line and that I was completely “inappropriate.”
    http://www.historiann.com/2009/03/10/lawrence-stone-classy-classy-guy/
    More often than not, it’s a strategy to shut down the discussion of sexism or racism or other biases. It reminds me of the child in the alcoholic family who stands up to tell the truth, and then everyone in the family rushes to the defense of the drunk.

  17. May 12, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    This happened to me recently when I called a dead historian a “tool” for publishing a book review in a prominent publication (not a history journal) that was extremely condescending about women’s history. A bunch of young grad students flew in out of nowhere to inform me that I had crossed a line and that I was completely “inappropriate.”

    That means the dead d00d probably was a total fucking tool!

  18. Carlie
    May 12, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    You’ve found that lurking on certain blogs has been a valuable learning experience for you? – good for you! That doesn’t work for everyone. Deciding when and how to comment is every adult’s prerogative.
    So it’s all about the commenter? If they find they learn better when pestering other people to spoon-feed everything to them, that’s what they should always get to do? My advice to stfu and listen wasn’t just to be a “valuable learning experience” for the learner, it was to remind them to be respectful of other people’s time and energy and the topics of discussion. Of course it’s your prerogative to jump in somewhere you’ve never been before and yell I DON’T GET IT SOMEONE EXPLAIN IT TO ME whenever you feel like it, it’s just pretty damned rude. A good general rule of any blog commenting is to read it long enough to get a feel for the place before diving in, and then start off nicely.

  19. k
    May 12, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Hope, it’s not just about Deatkin. This is a blog post addressing an entire group of people (men who’d like to be supportive or involved but don’t know how). If it were all about Deatkin, Zuska would have sent him an email.
    The advice not to comment until you’ve thought is *great* advice. There are many who won’t follow it, male and female, and they will be heaped with scorn. That’s life.

  20. Hope
    May 13, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    So it’s OK to be rude to Deatkin and others like him because other men have behaved like ignoramuses? Are we really going to pretend that there’s no difference between “try to listen more than speak,” or “think before you comment”; and “stfu and listen,” or “don’t comment, don’t comment, don’t comment”? That the way in which things are said is not important? I find that really ironic in the context of this thread, since the letter at the center of it was prompted precisely by how certain things were being said.

  21. Hope
    May 13, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    Carlie, I have no problem with you thinking that “watching a discussion for an entire thread or ten without trying to give any input is a good idea.” I have done this myself; I often do it on this blog, in fact. What I don’t believe is that you have to be rude in order to get other people to listen to you.

  22. May 14, 2009 at 4:29 am

    The process sounds about right, though personal mileage may vary on whether or not the reader is ready for the blogs you linked to. Depending on background and culture, even ideas that seem simple and non-offensive can seem a little too radical to easily digest.

  23. MPL
    May 15, 2009 at 4:25 am

    My (limited) advice for other men:
    1) It’s not about you (not specifically). Unless you’re a major jerk who’s being trashed, what is being written is not a personal insult.
    2) Not everything bad is done by bad people. If someone labels something sexist, that does not (necessarily) mean they think the author/creator/person who repeated it did so is sexist, but that the idea/art/action itself is harmful.
    3) If what you read makes you feel bad, it can get better without ignoring or dismissing it. It may take time, and thought.

  24. Rob W.
    May 15, 2009 at 10:19 am

    @Carlie #40 — I’ll throw my 2 cents into that bucket, that it’s important to have the aggressive voices present as well; they definitely serve a purpose.
    Self-observation, but for what it’s worth — in my life, the largest adjustments in my worldview have come about when I’ve run afoul of people are are:
    a) undeniably intelligent and articulate (so I can’t just write them off)
    b) really angry about something that I didn’t think could warrant high emotion
    c) ready to express their anger, frustration, etc. in very forceful terms; not willing to “just talk around it”.
    I can check off just about every box in the “over-privileged categories” list (I think if I were extroverted and my parents were wealthier, I could check them all), so there have been a lot of adjustments, and there are probably more to come. But they don’t happen in calm intellectual conversations. I can build complicated rational structures around what’s not quite right in the world, and what could be done to fix it, but it’s all abstract, and it stays in the realm of “this is interesting to talk about”.
    It’s kind of like painting detailed representations of the evils of the world around without ever raising my head, to notice that I am a physical being *living* in this world, with responsibilities to it. At some point someone has to slap the painting out of my hands and say “look! LOOK! It is not *their* problem, that you might help them with by understanding it more; it is *your* problem!”
    It’s certainly uncomfortable to be wrong, but my ego survives, somehow.
    The rational exploration serves a purpose, too, and possibly more so after I woken up a bit, so I’d never say “everyone should take this approach” — particularly because that just makes it easier to slip into easy grouping (“ah yes, now you’re feeding me *that* carefully prepared line…”), rather than having a bunch of different conversations, with individuals.
    So, I… have no wrap-up advice? Just don’t tell the angry people to quiet down, I guess.

  25. EM
    May 15, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    FWIW, Bitch, PhD, and IBTP have some history of (allowing) transphobic behavior and I personally would not recommend them.

  26. Carlie
    May 15, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    And unfortunately, Bitch PhD made it pretty clear that she didn’t give a shit. That was depressing. Still, some of the stuff in her archives is reading that is very accessible for n00by d00ds. I’m not of the d00d gender, but in particular her pair of posts on “Do you trust women?” were the first ones to make the lightbulb of rights regarding abortion go off in my head.

  27. May 15, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    And unfortunately, Bitch PhD made it pretty clear that she didn’t give a shit.

    Yes, she did. That is why I limited my comment to IBTP.

  28. RichB
    May 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Well, as a 40-year-old proto-feminist, thanks to all for the links. I have frequented IBTP (lurk-mode only), and some of the other blogs mentioned here. Still I do appreciate the help.
    As for my own journey, it began with a mousepad. It was my first “real” job out of college, as a computer programmer. I had a mousepad depicting the Barbi Twins in not a lot of clothing (oh hell yeah, I know now….). I sort of felt it was not right, but I dismissed such feelings, and of course, some of the other male geeks gave me respect because of it. Nobody said much about it until we had to have one of our internal applications upgraded, and someone (a female) from another group had to do it. She flat-out REFUSED to work on my computer, and sent around an email to the group to the effect that everyone else was done, except for me, and she would NOT do it as long as I had “that mousepad”. My first reaction was, much like the reaction to CPP, anger. How dare she call me out like that? But it did not last long, and the feeling was replaced with shame and embarassment. I realized I had deeply offended her. Instead of immediately taking the right action, though, I approached three other women in other groups, and asked them if they agreed that the mousepad was offensive (As if I expected them to say “no problem, d00d” — ugh! I am a moron sometimes). They were all very patient and nice with me, but also very firm and unwavering: it had to go. As it sat in the trash, the guy in the cube said “You getting rid of that??? Can I have it???”.
    That was a long time ago, and though I have come far (in my estimation, though not in others I suspect), there is a long way to go.
    If I have sounded like an ass, please tell me🙂
    RCB

  29. deatkin
    May 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Saying that Comrade PhysioProf would be to blame for men failing to wade into the world of feminism was probably a shade too far. It seemed at the time to be a convenient, emotion-heavy conclusion my argument, but it should probably have gone unsaid (un-thought, even). Sorry, CPP. There are by now far too many comments for me to address them specifically, but know that I have read them and am humbled by your attention and care. And thank you Zuska, for giving voice to my small frustrations. You recommend that I, or somebody like me, read Allan Johnson’s: “The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy” in another post as well, and I think I will.

  30. May 16, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    One follow-up thought:
    One of the cultural pressures laid on men is that they’re supposed to have opinions about everything, and that they need to let others know what these opinions are. The “no comment” advice is a training exercise for breaking that. In fact, the members of any privileged group (say, me when it comes to race or class, so that this doesn’t sound like dumping just on others) need to realize when we’re really not entitled to a firm opinion right now, and that the world won’t break if we just listen and learn for a while.

  31. Azkyroth
    May 16, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I will not go so far as to agree with Deatkin that it is CPP’s fault (or anyone else’s fault) if he “persists in his ways” because of mocking or anything else. If one is committed to social justice and equity, then one must proceed down that path no matter what obstacles, mocking included, one runs into. Getting your feelings hurt is not sufficient cause to stop educating yourself about how to be a better human being.

    While I agree that mockery and other obstacles do not excuse one from slacking off in pursuing social justice and equity, the fact that some people seem to be physically incapable of answering a question, earnest or otherwise, simple or otherwise, and instead give a few fragments of an answer smothered in belittlement of the questioner – apparently under the impression that “everyone knows” the right answer to the question and the questioner therefore MUST either be “slow” and need their memory jogged, or otherwise be asking in bad faith – is really goddamn distracting and confusing. So, to these people: what is it you think this approach gets you?

  32. Azkyroth
    May 17, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Azkyroth: I don’t see anywhere where CPP is saying that fathers should not be involved in giving advice to their daughters. What he’s saying is that when a bunch of women get together to create a role model project for young women in science, the last frickin’ thing we need is a some d00dly d00d whining about how the menz ought to be allowed to play, too. Like as if men never get 5 minutes in the limelight.

    So, maybe a reiteration of the goal of the project and some kind of practical advice to men about how to do the role-model thing for their daughters in a way that wouldn’t trample on women’s efforts would be more useful and productive than “quit your fucking whiny-ass titty-baby shit and sack the fuck up”?

  33. Azkyroth
    May 17, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Yes, because explaining to men how they can be role models to women is exactly the definition of useful and productive when discussing a project aimed at addressing the dearth of female mentors in academia. It’s not at all derailing the discussion.

    Since the issue’s already been raised, some positive suggestions for what to go do instead of pushing the point would actually help globally, even if it’s not as immediately gratifying as hitting people over the head, even if they belong to a group which has, on average, earned it.

  34. Carlie
    May 17, 2009 at 9:41 am

    What MissPrism said.
    So, maybe a reiteration of the goal of the project
    The goal of the project was crystal-clear. There should be no need to reiterate, seeing how it’s in writing right there and all. That’s the good thing about writing – you can go back and refer to it at any time. That’s what is meant by ‘do the research yourself’. Asking a question halfway down a comment thread that is answered either right in the original post or in something directly linked to in the original post is lazy and disrespectful of the time and energy of everyone else participating in the discussion. It also derails the entire thing while the conversation stops to drag you up to speed.
    and some kind of practical advice to men about how to do the role-model thing for their daughters in a way that wouldn’t trample on women’s efforts
    NOT the goal of the project. Every action that is taken by any group does not have to come pre-installed with options for contribution by every other conceivable group that may intersect with it in some way. That may be something that portions of the group eventually want to tackle, but it certainly isn’t something they have to do, and is absolutely not something they should even think about when the project is first started. Really, it’s not always about you.

  35. eddie
    May 17, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    “What should a 20yr old proto-feminist d00d read?”
    A Milly Molly Mandy story – to see what your sister had to put up with while you got The Hobbit.
    An Elizabeth Moon sci-fi novel – to learn that macho is not just a boy thing.
    Iain M Banks’s The Player of Games – Everyone read this!
    Also; “If you’re commited to social justice… a little mocking…”
    What if they’re not? How to make them so?
    “I would have come round to your point but I didn’t like the way you made it.” – frame over
    Who’s gonna break the news to the nisbeteers?
    Remember, the debating club plays by the patriarch’s rules.

  36. Katherine
    June 17, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Ooh, a reading list (seeing as I keep being yelled at in the comments on blog posts about feminism, I am apparently a female d00d or something). I’d like to just mention that I find it very hard to find anything at feminism 101, I’m not sure why I find it so confusing.
    I took Deatkin’s comment (I know, he has retracted it) to mean that if everyone persists in mocking instead of explaining or pointing out references, then it is pretty hard for anyone to gain an understanding of anything. So if any particular person refuses to explain or point out a good source of info, then they (regardless of their intentions) are perpetuating this incredible difficulty for people to understand. This thread I’m sure will be incredibly useful and I wish more people would link to it.
    And someone said that the problem of people coming into the debate asking to have the entire issue being debated explained to them in great detail, even though it has been explained many times before, is a uniquely feminist problem. It isn’t. Visit a website that debunks alternative medicine or the autism vaccine myth sometime. They get just the same types of questions: people asking to have things explained that have been explained many times before. And do you know why? It is quite hard for the layperson to figure out whether an internet source (or a book source for that matter) is credible or not. Especially when all their friends confirm the viewpoint that the site is trying to disprove (that vaccines are bad, or that the patriarchy doesn’t exist).

  37. jennygadget
    June 25, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    “And someone said that the problem of people coming into the debate asking to have the entire issue being debated explained to them in great detail, even though it has been explained many times before, is a uniquely feminist problem. It isn’t.”
    The comment you were referring to (I believe) was specifically Carlie’s. I thought she made it pretty clear that
    1) she wasn’t talking about newbies asking for definitions to technical terms (which are provided in the FAQs of most feminist blogs, btw) but rather questions that derail the current coversation. I’m guessing that the websites you are talking about tend to be forums rather than blogs. Which means they are a place where you can start a new conversation easily without derailing the current one. That isn’t case on most blogs.
    2) she wasn’t talking about people that ask one simple question, but people who seem to expect everyone to drop the conversation they are having and talk about what the newbie/d00d wants to talk about, in the manner they want to talk about it.
    I’ve been witness to both the kind of converstations you are describing and the kind that Carlie is describing, and I have to wonder how much time you’ve spent on feminist blogs because I have a hard time seeing how anyone who has seen both could confuse the two.
    Also, I don’t think anyone here thinks this type of derailing is limited to feminist blogs. As many have already pointed out, it tends to be more of an issue of privilege/expectations, so it tends to come up on all kinds of blogs that question/challenge the status quo.

  38. Katherine
    July 2, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    jennygadget:
    I can’t actually find the post I was replying to. I guess it was just an overall feeling I got. Can I retract the whole last paragraph of my comment at 69 please? It happens on other types of blogs but clearly I’m derailing to mention it as no-one said what I thought they said in my earlier comment. I’ve read a fair bit of stuff on this list since that comment.
    So to 1) I’ve seen it on blogs, not forums, especially blogs here on scienceblogs. It is definitely attempts to derail, but as the blogs I’m talking about are defending the status quo, it is easier to blow off/ignore people talking about pseudoscience as they are clearly cranks. I guess medicine is privileged over alternative medicine (as it should be). Woot I am learning as a direct result of this list.

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