Friday, September 25, 2009

You're a man and you just learned about feminism. What do you do?

This is what I wrote in an online discussion about whether a man should call himself a "feminist."

When you are a man who agrees with or at least sees as reasonable the arguments feminists have made you tend to freak out a bit because you've had everything you thought was good about your gender identity destroyed, and you find yourself left with only the bad things. This is more than a little painful. Then again, it's not up to our feminist sisters to heal us, too (though if they felt bad for us and decided to help us anyway, that would be awesome and stuff.)

But, really, what can you do, as a man? You didn't create this world, so you don't need to bear any guilt for that. But you do now have the responsibility not to make things any worse than they are already, so what can you do?

You can't do anything meaningful by yourself. You could start by reducing the harm you *do* cause (a good start would be, for example, not raping or beating up your girlfriend). But that just contains the harm--how do you make things better for both yourself and the world?

The answer? First, start thinking. Start thinking about how your behavior impacts the other people around you. Take it as far as you can. Then when it overwhelms you, stop. Figure out what harms you can prevent right now and what harms you can't. And then, act naturally, taking care to prevent the harms you can prevent. If you do this honestly, you will do better than your forefathers. If you keep doing it, though, you might accidentally change the world for the better. But you might not, so on to the second step.

Second, convince other men to start thinking. Don't tell them *what* to think, just get them to start thinking in the same way. And invite them to share their thoughts with you, and with others. Together, you might eventually figure out how to create a male identity that serves yourselves and other men, and even women, and even those who have ambiguous gender, and even those who aren't human.

By the way, this technique isn't just for confronting feminist issues. It isn't just for men. It is for everyone. About everything. It works for *everything*. Everything. It's the dirty secret that the overculture doesn't want you to know.

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