In response to The enlightened sexist, published October, 24, 2012.
I am a male feminist… Is this possible? After reading “The enlightened sexist” by Carlen Jupiter, it would appear not. However, Bell Hooks’s book The Will to Change argues men can be involved in eradicating patriarchy.
Jupiter’s point that we need to get serious about holding men accountable for patriarchal behavior is true. Patriarchy needs to be something that we fight against daily in every situation, as feminist writer Diana Majury puts it. But as Hooks argues on page 24, both womyn and men propagate patriarchy.
Hooks writes that with the advent of militant feminism, “hatred of men was voiced, yet there was no meaningful attempt to offer ways to resolve these feelings.” Jupiter argues that it’s only womyn that are made uncomfortable by invasive advances, calls men to prioritize a womyn’s orgasm; while condemning men’s knowledge of Tantra, regards a man’s interest in a womyn’s health as sinister and calls for men to fight womyn’s battles in the bar while viewing men’s sage advice as patronizing, scheming or having ulterior motives. Hook’s insight is manifest.
Hooks argues that “when feminist movement led to men’s liberation, including male exploration of ‘feelings,’ some women mocked male emotional exploration with the same disgust and contempt as sexist men.” Jupiter’s disposition towards men who do not fit within the male prototype by bicycling, “utilizing female sexuality to garner attention,” having interest in creative healing coupled with her expectation of men to be comfortable with confrontation, reflects this insight. Jupiter fails to acknowledge these activities as worthwhile and meaningful.
Jupiter’s article lacks any acknowledgement that men suffer from patriarchy as well as womyn (can anyone deny the effect patriarchy has on a gay man?). Womyn cannot bear the burden of dismantling patriarchy alone, and need to get men on board, something male bashing doesn’t achieve.
Jupiter writes that the way forward is with compassion. I agree. Feminist zeal such as Jupiter’s is infinitely valuable; we need passionate feminists to attain gender equality.
Male and female feminists need to balance passion with compassion, and avoid being a pot calling a kettle sexist.
– Riley McMurray