(Made rebloggable by request)Anonymous asked: “Why wouldn’t it be appropriate for straight males to comment on feminism? If feminism is a movement about gender equality then it surely can’t run on just the input from one gender.”
Well, of course men’s ideas about gender inequality matter. And yes, it’s appropriate for them to comment on the wider phenomenon of gender. But feminism is a movement about gender equality based on the realization that women are disempowered, and thus, no, men don’t have as much right to comment as women do on feminism. Let me quote a friend here, someone’s who’s been thinking and writing about this for 30 years:
“There’s still a radical asymmetry in the weight and authority culturally given to people’s voices. In the wider culture, men’s opinions are still normative and authoritative; men are still speaking from a privileged social position, on a playing field that’s still not level. Ideally, comments from men would start from that awareness of privilege, men’s understanding that they have certain structural privileges because their experiences are still taken to be the norm. The very fact that this person would assume that men have an inherent right to speak about feminism illustrates that men’s voices are still thought to be normative and essential to any subject. Of course their input could be useful, but when you’re talking about women’s experience of a largely female phenomenon, then to insist on the essential importance of men’s voices is to reinforce the notion that their voices are normative.”
Now here’s an interesting question: does it matter that those sentences are from a man? Because that’s my partner, speaking from his understanding and experience as a straight man invested in this conversation. “The fact of the matter is, my voice has been privileged, and in many ways still is for structural reasons, and in most situations this makes it much more likely that people are going to hear what I have to say.”
Straight males can of course have useful things to say about gender, but I must assert, not as much about women’s experience. And here, I’m primarily invested in women’s experience of fandom, though of course I hope for useful input from anyone.
What a fantastic, eloquent post.