first fig

my candle burns at both ends…

Category: men

How Not to be a Feminist Rocker-Man

As I have stated in some of my previous posts, I am interested in exploring the ways men contribute to the fight for equality between the sexes. One of the bloggers over at The Pursuit of Harpyness posted the lyrics to a song that I thought provided a good example of how to fail at being a feminist man.

This is a song by Ben Lee, entitled “I am a woman.” (You can see a video here).

It’s true, it’s true
I’m a woman too
I move with the flow of the seasons

I do, I do
Cause I’m a woman too
I don’t make sense but I got my reasons

So hear me roar
I will not be ignored
If you’ve ever had to fight
You’re a sister of mine
If you’re heart’s got something to prove
Then you’re a woman too

It’s here, it’s clear
Is what can be unfair
There’s always someone being kept down.
It’s true, it’s true
Cause I’m a woman too
So shut me up and I’m gonna get loud

[chorus: So hear me roar, etc.]

The African he’s a woman too
The American he’s a woman too
The Palestinian he’s a woman too
The Jew? He’s a woman too
The freedom fighter, he’s a woman too
The messiah, he’s a woman too
This planet, he’s a woman too
And you you’re a woman too
You’re a woman too

Now I know that this song makes about as much sense as the language that spews out of my baby monster’s mouth, but apparently Mr. Lee is using the word “woman” as a substitute for the word “oppressed”. I suppose he deserves credit for recognizing that women are oppressed but he would have won more points without the whole “women are irrational” stereotype.

mr. mraynes hates when I tell him he doesn’t understand something because he’s a man. I totally understand why this bothers him, it’s the ultimate trump card and its hard to have a productive conversation after I’ve played it. But I need mr. mraynes to be a man; I need to understand his male experience and thinking much more than I need him to understand what it is like to be a woman…I already get that.

So I guess what I’m saying to all you feminist men out there is be men and be proud of it! Us women-folk have the woman thing down; we need you to confront the gender problems from your male perspective.

Oh, and if you want to write a subversive feminist song, this is how you do it!

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Egalitarians vs. Patriarchalists

I saw this quote over at Feminist Mormon Housewives and thought that I would share it here to go along with my exploration of the different ways Mormon men are helping move the Church in a more progressive direction:

“The world of men is dividing into egalitarians and patriarchalists–those
men who are trying to learn the language and customs of the newly emerging
world, and those who are determined to keep that new order from taking root. The
former group welcomes these changes, seeing that though they are painful in the
short term, over the long term they provide the only route to intimacy and
peace. But the latter group sees only loss…. The patriarchalists’ world view,
shared by women as well as men, is battling the emerging egalitarian world view,
which is also shared by people of both sexes.”

~ Naomi Wolf

So what do you think? Also, go read the discussion over at fMh, it’s fascinating.

Weekly Anti-Woman Wacko: Hopeful Edition

I got an interesting response to my post “Hope in Feminist Sisterhood” over at the Exponent from somebody calling themselves Holder86:

Mormon feminism? Why does it have to always be about women? Why can’t there
be Masculinism? Feminism is what women use to feel superior to men. There is no
need to be superior. Accept that men and women have different roles for a
reason. Mom’s and Dad’s. Dad works and Mum looks after the children. This is the
Mormon Culture. You can’t change the culture. You don’t like the culture then be
a feminist in another religion. There are many talks by Apostles about how there
is to be no feminism in the Mormon Church. Leave political beliefs to politics
and leave religion to religion. Be a feminist in politics if you want some
action but not in a religion…especially the Mormon one.

My first reaction was, “What? Are you kidding me?” I truly think that Mr. Holder86 was just trying to stir the pot and bring to boil the feminist blood. Seriously, who thinks like this anymore? Normally I don’t respond to people like Holder because, what’s the point? But then mr. mraynes made this excellent point that bears repeating here:

I guess holder86 has highlighted the uselessness of the term feminism. It’s
not useless because of its ideals, but because of the way a few have used it at
times to push a female superiority agenda. And the word itself does smack of
such a doctrine. But that is not its true aim!

Holder86, were I to extend your logic to its conclusion, I could argue that
our church does in fact practice “Masculinism”, better known as patriarchy. Men
run this church, especially its public face. I mean, it is 2009 and TWO women
share talks at General Conference alongside dozens of men. Am I the only one who
finds this ridiculous, especially when we already have an entire session devoted
to the priesthood? Couldn’t we at least hear from one woman at each of the four
general sessions?

At its core, feminism is no different than the set of teachings we call the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. Feminism, like the Gospel, espouses the fundamental
(spiritual) equality (rather than equivalence) of all souls, both male and
female. We all have the same value in the eyes of our divine Parents and
especially our Savior. All deserve love, respect, and happiness.

This is why I have called this week’s anti-woman wacko the hopeful edition because men like mr. mraynes exist and are thinking and saying things like this.

I think these two comments present an interesting illustration as to what is going on in the church today. Holder on the one hand, takes the traditional point of view and thinks that feminism is damaging and sinful, at least in a religious context. He believes that Mormon culture is just as true as Mormon doctrine and any questioning of that culture is an affront to our way of life. Unfortunately for Holder, those who hold his opinion are dying out. His understanding of marriage and the relationship between men and women is rich in its immaturity and lacks a complex world view.

Times are changing and I would venture to say that a large part of the church cannot follow the “Dad works and Mum looks after the children” paradigm, especially now in this time of economic crisis. In fact the apostles themselves have distanced themselves from this paradigm by using the convenient word, “primarily.” The previous paradigm was stifled in immaturity; women remained dependent and men were trapped in a dogmatic system. So yes, I believe culture can change; culture is no excuse for not becoming all that we can be. We are here on this earth to become like our Heavenly Parents and any step towards equality is a step towards them. The apostles and prophets are nothing, if not pragmatic and they understand that most men and women today expect equality. The fact that they have endorsed this kind of existence says to me that our leaders now expect men to be more mature and women more assertive. Though they may not explicitly use the word feminism, the apostles have increasingly turned to the rhetoric of equal partnership and shared housekeeping/childrearing responsibilities…all of which are primary tenants of feminism.

Mr. mraynes, on the other hand, recognizes the potential danger of feminism (like any ideology, it can be taken too far) but realizes that the true ideal of the word is something that is very much backed up by our doctrine and by the leaders of our church. You can find the gospel mr. mraynes espouses in our scriptures and in the words of our prophets. There are more and more men who recognize that there are inequities in our church structure and are open to ideas on how to make it better (mr. mraynes came up with a fantastic idea!). And there are more and more men like my husband who truly do want to be equal to women…Who want to be equally present in the home and to fully share in beauty and complexity of life with their partner. The good news that I see in this illustration is that it is men like my husband, feminist men, who are going to rise up and make the changes with women by their sides.

Over the next couple of weeks I would like to explore ways in which men can join the fight for true equality between the sexes. And to Holder86 and the other anti-woman wackos like him, you might want to start swimming because there is a tidal wave coming.