A guy on Reddit Feminisms has raised an interesting question: As a feminist man on reddit, I’m compelled when confronting male, sexist redditors to say I’m a straight man, hoping my words won’t be “written off” as self-interested. Is this legitimate sharing of privilege, or propogation of patriarchy?
When you argue a feminist/womanist perspective, some of your opponents often dismiss you as a woman who’s just out to better her own lot in life. If I were a straight guy, I’d be very tempted to let them wander innocently into that trap, then yell, “Surprise, you silly! I’m a straight guy!”
The arguments against this are pretty easy to sum up, so let me start there: the kind of posters who assumes everyone arguing for women’s equality is just some self-interested woman are the kind of people who will call a man who stands up for women’s rights a “gender traitor.” Basically, it doesn’t matter what you say to these individuals, because they absolutely do not perceive the potential for equality among different kinds of people. They so firmly believe that some group or another must be on top that they can’t perceive talk of women’s rights as anything but a bid to steal social superiority from men and then wield it over hapless men as they have wielded it over women.
The other major argument is that if a man reveals his gender for any reason, it could be perpetuating the very ideas he wants to break down: “I’m male , so my opinion matters.” Or, “I’m a guy who supports feminism – gimme a cookie!”
But there are arguments for a man revealing his gender in the setting of a pro-womanist argument:
- There are decent young people who have been taught that feminists are just out to become superior to/have it easier than men. These people – young women included – might listen to another viewpoint more carefully if it comes from someone who can’t possibly benefit from the scary feminist world they’ve been envisioning.
- The “surprise, I’m a man!” tactic I mentioned in the first paragraph can really toss a cherry bomb up the tailpipe of your opponent’s credibility.
- If you’ve got privilege and you use it to undermine the structure that handed you the privilege, that’s kind of cool. I speak up when white people say racist things around me, or when homophobes say anti-queer stuff. I don’t want a cookie for it – I just feel I should use my privilege to make the world a better place (as I see it).
What do you think?