There are a couple of follow-ups to Sunday’s post that should definitely be read. DuWayne read Comrade PhysioProf’s post much the same way I did, and he has some pretty smart things to say about the role of men in demolishing harmful gender constructs. I’d excerpt it here, but it’s one of those posts that really should be read from start to finish. Go. Read. Read the comments, too.
I will pull most of my own comment, because it’s as close as I’ve managed to come to explain something that’s fairly important to me.
I think it’s absolutely critical for females who want to see gender equity (since CPP seems to have, ironically, co-opted “feminist” to mean something even more specific) to listen to men more–on the subject of men. If a guy is going to try to tell me what it means to be female, I’m going to laugh in his face at the very least. However, on those rare occasions a guy wants to open up about what it means to him to be male, damn straight I want to hear it. I can’t get that from my own experience.
One of the most educational evenings of my life was spent hanging out with a couple of drunk sailors the night before one of them got married. It wasn’t all introspection, by any means, but even funny stories can tell you a hell of a lot if you’re listening (and not trying to match the sailors beer for beer). Ditto for talking to guy friends who are dealing with pressure to “succeed” when they’re already doing something they love, or who are primary caretakers for disabled kids, or who have suddenly found themselves head of a family due to a matriarch’s decline, or who are trying to play a role in their kids lives after having been too terrified to be there earlier.
No, these stories and perspectives aren’t more important than those shared in the cathartic safe spaces, but they are important, to women as well as to men. I worry that safe spaces sometimes get too safe, and that we feminists (nope, sorry, CPP, still my word too) don’t step out of them enough to challenge ourselves to listen more broadly. And when one of the major requirements of standard male gender roles is that one doesn’t talk about these things, where are we going to find guys sharing this important stuff, if not with us?
Greg decided to put his reaction to my post on his blog. He makes some things explicit about the original post that maybe I should have, or maybe he needed to because he runs a much higher risk of being accused of misogyny than I do. He also speculates much more than I do about motivation in rule-making. Also worth a read.