The other day I posted Emma Watson’s address to the UN, promoting the #HeForShe movement. I was happy to signal boost without comment. Her speech was excellent written and performed, and I felt stood on its own.
The same day, as I was making my way through some social media sites, I saw a friend post the Emma Watson video, and in the comments two people were explaining how they hated feminism because it was just anti-male non-senses, or tried to degenerate women who assumed traditional gender roles but that they were all for gender equality. So I did something that I rarely ever do. I commented back, explaining that anyone who calls themselves feminist and espoused anti-male sentiments or disparaged other women for taking traditional gender roles was ignorant of what feminism actually is. I received angry responses in kind. Excessively angry. I don’t know if these commenters were having a bad day, have anger issues that they need to seek treatment for, or were intentionally trolling. I personally felt their anger seemed to belie their arguments. After all, you’re getting angry over what comes down to a semantics argument.
Still, it was a new experience for me. I told myself as I was writing my response that I would not “feed the trolls” by making any comments back. I was expecting hostility. I’d made my point, rationally, for others to see. There was someone else on that post, defending feminism as it should be, not as its detractors want to define it to be. Still I felt an anxiety about doing this and it took me awhile to figure out why. My anxiety stemmed from two parts. One part was from confronting angry people on the internet, which common wisdom says is never a good idea but which I’ve recently learned is far too much pacifistic to be effective in countering the growing trolling evident across most of our online culture.
Another was talking about feminism in a public space.
It wasn’t until I read I read Chuck Wendig’s latest blog post that I realized why the last one bothered me so. The follow are experts from Chuck Wendig’s post: #HeForShe: Yes, I Am A Feminist. It pretty much sums up most of my thoughts on the issue.
For a while, I was really hesitant to call myself a feminist.
Not because I dismissed the idea of feminism or the cause of feminism or the history that is baked into the movement — but because I didn’t feel like it was a title that I had earned. I didn’t feel like it was my space to share. I didn’t feel like a very good feminist, really — I got things wrong then, still get them wrong now. I still possess the privilege that comes with being male and sometimes that means my privilege blinds me to behaviors or language that can be hurtful (not merely offensive, which I accept and embrace, but hurtful, which by my mileage works to diminish and damage others). And so it felt a bit fakey-fakey, like I was a heathen in a church pulpit, a meat-eater at a vegan restaurant. I thought, oh, you’ve actually struggled with the mantle of feminism. Me, it’s no struggle at all. I can waltz in, put on the hat and the nametag, give a couple of thumbs-up and boom, FEMINIST. It costs me nothing. It’s so easy. Too easy.
I was more comfortable calling myself an ally, then — as if I was a member of another nation entirely willing to support your nation’s coalition. “Yes, of course I’ll vote for that,” I say from my mountaintop lair at in the capital of Mansylvania. “Please place your feminist agenda in front of me and I will rubber-stamp it. Whatever you need, please, consider me your ally.”
But that’s horseshit, really.
Not the part where I support feminism, but the part where I consider myself separate from it.
Because of course I’m not separate from it.
The correction of the imbalance isn’t about bringing men down, but lifting women up.
So, let’s just put this right here:
I am a feminist.
Not just an ally — though, I am that, too. But a feminist.
Not always a perfect one. Certainly not the one you asked for. But here I am.
I think male privilege is real. I think it’s imperfect and not absolute, but that doesn’t change its reality — male privilege is ever-present and difficult to deny.
I think that privilege is blinding.
I think there are real issues affecting men, and that doesn’t diminish the need for feminism.
I think that feminism is a many-headed, many-hearted movement. Feminists don’t all get together in a room once a year to determine the agenda for the next 365 days.
I think that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. As noted: many hearts and many minds.
I think it’s more important for men to listen than it is for them to speak on the subject of feminism. (And I recognize the irony here — I’m using the blog to speak, but the blog acts as a much better mouth than it does an ear. But I promise, I am listening. This blog is a direct result of me listening — and, as Anita Sarkeesian notes, me believing your experiences are real.)
I think it’s more important for men to signal boost than it is for them to take over the signal.
(But I also think it’s vital for men to be a part of that signal, too.)
I think a lot of this begins with teaching our kids this stuff — yes, I know, blah blah blah children are our future, but seriously, this is critical if we’re to overturn a lot of the nastiness that’s been institutionalized, that’s been stamped into the mud of our history with hard boots.
But I think we must also be active in social media, in politics, with family, with friends.
I think that it’s very easy to dismiss feminism and claim egalitarianism instead, but realize that the two are not mutually exclusive — and, by denying feminism, you misunderstand that the imbalance here is particularly and troublingly one-sided.
There’s far more that Chuck Wendig says in the article that I agree with and I urge you to read the entire thing, but the above really stood out to me, in regards to my experiences the last few days online. Because he effectively outlined what was causing some of my anxiety about talking about feminism. I read about it quite a bit, I try to understand the issues. There are times when I see people on the net scream “misogyny!” and I look, and can’t see it, and I fret over if the internet is wrong, or if I’m blind to it. And do these weaknesses, and my place in society, make me ineligible to be a real feminist.
Which is obviously silly. Everybody makes mistakes and everybody starts off ignorant. I’m no ally of feminism so much as I am a feminist, even if I sometimes get it wrong, and while I may never be John Scalzi or Chuck Wendig, willing to exclaim to an exceptionally large audience and all but invite the trolls and nay sayers, I’ll still do my best to listen, signal boost, and discuss.
He also has sent up the call for people to tell the FCC how horrible of an idea their current attempts at smashing Net Neutrality really is.
Bring Reading Rainbow Back for Every Child, Everywhere
LeVar Burton is attempting to raise funds to re-start Reading Rainbow as a multi-pronged internet venture, targeting tablets and the internet. Which seems incredibly smart to me. I’ve seen the recent upcoming generations and at least a good portion of them are being weaned on tablets. Being on the web will make it very accessible for schools to incorporate it in the classroom. Not that this campaign mentions it, but this could also be the step to getting it back on television.
Either way, look it over, and see what you can afford. This is definitely one of those projects worth donating to.
Muzzled the Musical
Never mind the premise, which seems both silly and awesome, the music is super catchy and the cast list is full of amazingly talented and funny people. Kevin Sorbo (Yes, Hercules/Captain Hunt), Lisa Foiles, Ashly Burch (Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’), Jeff Lewis (The Guild), several actors from the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which I’ve never seen but is supposedly hilarious and awesome, and many more.
So here is a hilarious video about a technology someone is developing that needs some financial support.
Personally I’d love to see this, or something like this, instituted. We are at a time where technology can solve a significant amount of our problems but we’re being held back by commercialism and the need to make a profit. For profit corporations, who have the capital do things like this, can’t because it wouldn’t be economically feasible, but we, as a society, can use crowdfunding to give money to the people who are willing to make today and tomorrow a better place, even if they don’t make a profit.
That isn’t’ to say I’m not hesitant myself. Their prototypes honestly look kinda ugly close up, and the LED idea is really neat but I’d like to see actual pictures of the LED system, in broad daylight, and up close. But when I think about it, asphalt really isn’t all that pretty either. And there are questions of maintenance. How often will streets need to be cleaned to keep them energy-efficient, for example? Plus there are people who staunchly feel solar technology is the savior people like to make it out to be. What happens when newer technology comes out?
The best I can say is that these questions will be addressed, or this will never catch on, but we won’t find a perfect solution, nor any solution without trying. Solar panel technology been progressing steadily in both efficiency of energy gathering and efficiency of cost over the last decade. The proposed hexagonal system appears modular enough to be upgradable as newer breakthroughs are made. Cleaning might be easily done with current street sweeping technology.
Ultimately I think this could be a significant investment in the future, and it is worth taking a gamble on.
This video is rather long, for an internet video, but well worth watching. It will help you understand an aspect of U.S. society you may or may not be aware of.