I confess, the title of this article is somewhat of a misdirect. It’s true, I don’t consider myself a feminist, however, this isn’t to say I’m not a supporter of everything that feminism stands for. On the contrary, I fully back the entire cause. That does not make me a feminist.
I’m male, I’m white, I’m heterosexual. I’m so middle class I have small talk down to a fine art, you have to take your shoes off before you can enter my room, and as that should have shown, my sense of humour is rapidly morphing into the awkward jokes of a distant uncle at Christmas. Why is that relevant?
Apart from the small minority of people who know what number in line they are for the throne, I’m near the top of the privileged white heteropatriarchy. Throughout my life, the discrimination I’ve faced has been purely based on my ability, and I’ve never known what it feels like to be held back based on gender, race or sexuality. I have no concept of how much an attack on something I was born with and something that is so much a part of me can hurt, and to pretend I can relate would be patronising and misguided.
To then claim I was a feminist, it would be equally misguided. It’s an unfortunate fact that all feminists will share the hardship and the discrimination that I’ve described above, and for me to claim to be one of them without having felt this would certainly lead to me misunderstanding what the point of feminism is all about. It also leads to another problem.
If I self identify as a feminist, what stops me from talking to other feminists and deciding that I disagree with their particular type of feminism? On the outside it’s a feminist discussion, but fundamentally, is it not just a male lecturing a female based on what he thinks is right? That is back to where we started. There is nothing wrong with a male and a female discussing feminist policy, but once that male himself has the badge of feminist, there is the danger that it just becomes another patriarchal lecture. Discussion is great, but no truly supportive male should have the ability to tell a feminist that their brand of feminism is right or wrong. That is not my job. I have no experience that qualifies me to be a feminist. I can observe, I can suggest, I can learn, but I myself am in no position to preach or condemn any new doctrine.
I’ll be honest, this article is not really aimed at feminists. I consider myself in no position to write any article telling feminists what to do. All I would say is if there is anything I have written here that any feminist disagrees with, I’m more than open to being contacted and corrected. As someone who is a supporter of not only the feminist cause, but any cause of the not privileged majority, I’m always happy to listen and learn.
This is an article to people in a similar position to me; the conscious, educated, or otherwise guilty privileged. I think (though it may be delusional) that the majority of males are good people, but they react badly to being told they are wrong or are in the wrong, and react worse to ideas that on the outset they simply do not understand. With a little bit of effort this response can be more supportive and accepting, being aware of privilege, provided time is given to digest more unfamiliar statements.
You may ask why is it my job as a male to put this work in? You may think that because in your head you don’t discriminate against non males, or non white people, or non straight people, that you aren’t doing anything wrong. However, whether you like it or not, you’re part of a system that favours you. By doing nothing, you’re simply allowing the system to give you a one up, and you’re therefore complicit in the pushing down of less privileged groups.
I realise that I tread a dangerous line of coming across as high handed and doing the thing I set out to try to prevent. If you take nothing else from this article, at least do the following: Find a feminist friend, or even a female friend, or any friend who is not white, straight and male and see what they have to say on the matter of discrimination. You may be shocked at just how strongly they feel and how much they offer on the subject.
I am no feminist, and it is not my job to be one. I still have a job to do, and I hope you have realised you do too.
FEATURED PHOTO/ msmornington