The “Q&A” posts on this site are snippets of discussions I have had, or questions I have answered, in person, by email, or on other social networking platforms, which are collated here for ease of reference.
“If feminism is about female privilege, why are there male feminists, too?”
If the BNP is racist, why does it have a Sikh member, too? If the EDL is Islamophobic, why does it have a Muslim member, too? Tokenism is the making of a perfunctory gesture to include members of a target group, in order to create a false appearance of inclusiveness, and deflect accusations of discrimination, without ever actually relinquishing authority or control to that member. A Sikh could support the BNP, but he could never lead it. A Muslim could act with the EDL, but he could never direct it.
Similarly, men can back feminism, but they can never front it. This is solely due to the fact that they are male; men are disqualified from informing feminist discourse because they do not have the “female life experience” that feminists require for such a project. So, regardless as to why they might support feminism, male feminists still cannot call the shots for feminist ideology or strategy, simply because they are men.
As to why feminism attracts any male members in the first place, some may claim that it is because feminism “liberates men” from “masculinity” and from the expectations of male typical roles, others may claim that those men empathise with the “plight” of women, or feel that they have a duty to help, or even force, other cultures to “achieve” the same status for women that feminists have “won” for women in Western societies.
Ultimately, however, the reason that feminism attracts any of its male members in the first place, is for the same reason that it attracts many of its female members in the first place: feminists cloak their agenda for gender privilege in the language of liberalism, through invoking seemingly laudable concepts – such as “equality”, “freedom”, and “empowerment”. It is no surprise then that, in a society inculcated with liberal values, and in a society where it is considered virtuous to endorse liberal values, feminism can superficially attract both male and female advocates.
Just as feminism shares the language of liberalism, so does it share its contradictions. Calling for “equality”, “freedom” and “empowerment” is like calling out “rock”, “paper”, “scissors” – each intrinsically limits the other. If all are equal in the eyes of the law, then empowerment (i.e. conferring advantage) negates equality; equality constricts freedom (by imposing uniformity); and maintaining individual freedom denies the empowerment of others over them.
Yet, whichever movement is hosting the interplay of these values – be it feminism or any other form of identity politics – all use the same buzzwords to project legitimacy within a liberal framework. Even though feminism is about female privilege, it is its public lip service to liberal values that makes it difficult for “right minded” individuals in a liberal society, male or female, to disown a movement which seems only to be affirming values that ought to be considered the norm in a liberal society – “equality”, “freedom”, and “empowerment” – even when these movements are plainly advocating advantage for one group of society to the disadvantage of another group of society, and even when these values in of themselves are self-defeating.
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