This Shakesville thread, “For the Discerning Gentleman: You, Too, Can Decorate Your Life With Disembodied Boobs “ has been a laff riot.
The thread devolved into a circle with several men at the centre, the men shouting about how they were the only truly objective people in the room, and about how women would only just listen to them, they would finally understand that women are what’s wrong with feminism, that we’re giving the movement a bad name, that we’re sexless and humourless and weak and too quick to feel subjugated, and that men really need to take feminism over with their scientific, objective, reasoned opinions and make it better, and that they were sympathetic to our point, and they would have been the Great Male Saviours of our Movement, but that now they’re put off, and it’s all our fault. And some evpsych justifications of boobie bongs. You know, the usual.
This moved on to a discussion of the ways in which men can participate in the feminist movement as allies, not as opponents. Some great reading, but take a cuppa, you’ll be there a while.
Here’s one comment I particularly liked, by The Portly Dyke (you can find her blog here). Bold is mine.
“What is the role of men in this societal evolution?”
IMO, the first role of anyone who is a member of an oppressor class who wants to be an ally is to begin to embrace full awareness of their privilege. Which means that they have to understand their privilege (which is usually invisible to them).
The first step in that, for me, is to understand the daily life experience of a person who is part of a societally oppressed group (of which I am not a member) is probably completely different than mine. I cannot assume that my experience/opinions reflect their truth, and the only way I will actually find out what their experience is like is to listen to them, and come to know them.
Second, I think I have to deal with my internal absorption of the oppression (racism, antisemitism, etc.) — even if I don’t think of myself as “racist”, or whatever. This is MY job, not theirs. If they are patient enough to help me with it, that’s hugely generous, in my opinion. They deserve my gratitude.
Third, I have to be willing to join their struggle, rather than imposing my own, and, at the same time, continue my struggle with my own internalized oppression, and confront people who share my particular type of privilege when I see them acting or hear them speaking oppressively.
Does that help?
And this spectacularly snorfulicious update from TPD:
When employing critical thinking skills, first apply to yourself before assisting others.
One of my remarks, nowhere near as wise and perspicacious as TPD’s, but here it is anyway, since it sums up my take on disembodied boobnovelties and the idea that finding their ubiquity creepy and offensive is a “denial of one’s own sexuality [you hairy-legged frigid lesbian you]”:
“this seems very close to the idea that sexuality is demeaning to women”
And this is where you’re veering away from the reality of the situation. This isn’t whole-person sexuality; it has nothing to do with women’s enjoyment of sex, with their participation in sexual activities with other humans, with their existence as sensual beings.
These are disembodied representations of women’s body parts, removed from their context as part of a human being, and placed all over completely unrelated objects, as bits and pieces for men to huh-huh and slaver over. This is all about creepy, demeaning, objectifying homosocial leering, not about women’s sexuality.
Categories: gender & feminism
Sigh. Few things make me sadder than the men who don’t understand that objectifying women’s bodies is not the same thing as “female sexuality.” Except for the women who don’t understand that.
Good comment from you on that thread!
When last I checked that Shakes thread, late on Friday before I went away for the weekend, it actually seemed to have turned around and was engaging in an interesting discussion. Quite cheering to see that such a thing is possible.