Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real and Imagined)

April 18, 2011
By

Last spring, I offered a “Feminist Theory” course, and a startling thing happened. More men signed up for the class than women. When I saw the class roll, I was boggled and, truth be told, terrified. Was this a delightfully uncanny scenario, or was something more sinister going on? Had male students organized to undermine the teaching of feminist theory?

It’s true. I turned to conspiracy theories because my wildest dream—that a large number of men might be interested in feminism seemed too good to be true. Can you blame me? What seems more likely in this socio-historical moment—that our culture is rapidly evolving to make room for transformative notions of gender or that anti-feminist organizing is popping up to undermine the very spaces carved out to do feminist work? Can you imagine a situation in which a Planned Parenthood employee is baited to respond to questions regarding a truly awful and very complicated situation while being secretly recorded only to have the video deceptively edited and released to the public in an effort to de-fund the only nationwide explicitly feminist healthcare provider? Oh right, that happened. (P.S.: Trafficked women need healthcare too, and trying to figure out how to get it for them is not an endorsement of human trafficking but rather a feminist conundrum. To be sure, the employee in question seemed rather unfazed, but I wonder how I might have responded in the same situation if I thought that being complicit might produce better health outcomes for women whose bodies were being so thoroughly discarded already.)

I spent winter break strategizing (just in case), and yet that strange and inexplicable roll yielded an enchanting pedagogical moment. Men showed up, read feminist theory and wrestled. One wrote a letter to his girlfriend apologizing for the ways his consumption of porn had shaped how he looked at and responded to her body. Another thought about how to undermine dude culture within the confines of the informally sex segregated world of competitive road biking. A different student wrote a song which included the gem, “The way to my heart is not through my penis.”  It took me a minute, but after listening, I got it. Circa 1950s housewife caricatures who can cook their way into your heart are so out, but twenty-first century girlfriends with porn star sensibilities are so in. In short, the experience was a feminist teacher’s dream.

I find it interesting that men are seemingly self-identifying as feminist at higher rates at precisely the same moment in history in which female college students are visibly repulsed by the label. Partly, this makes sense to me. In an era of heightened militarism and disaster capitalism, isn’t it more obvious than ever how we—men and women alike—get screwed by “patriarchy” or rather cultural values that are particularly hegemonically masculine?

While I am ecstatic about the cultivation of feminist masculinities, I worry that sometimes self-identifying as feminist is for many men more style than substance. In particular, I wonder about the degree to which self-identified feminist men are engaging in real grappling with male privilege and feminist issues. It’s true. I’m calling out feminist men’s authenticity, but I am biased. I know faux feminism intimately.

I became acquainted with faux feminist men in graduate school. I encountered academics who wielded their knowledge of postmodern feminism like a badge of courage and told tales out of school about sleeping with said theorists. Something about these disclosures always felt oh so un-feminist. Maybe it was the fact that these stories violated the privacy of the women in question, or maybe it was because the tone of these anecdotes was smug in a way that suggested, “Yes even Ms. So&So yields when confronted with a bastion of masculinity such as myself.”

Recently, I have watched a man who has spent the last twenty years deeply engaged in feminist politics use modes of physical intimidation to bully the new boyfriend of an ex-girlfriend. Faux-feminism plays out in breaking tried and true feminist rules—Don’t use threats of violence…ever— but also via old fashioned misogyny. I will not be the first nor the last to point out that sexism is bound up with queerness in bizarre ways. The last several folks to comment uninvited on my “ass” (which is alternately referred to as “fat” or “hot”) were gay “feminist” men. As many women and feminist men have pointed out, gay does not insulate one from male privilege. And, by the way, commentary on women’s bodies guised as “compliments” still produces the dehumanizing experience of being under surveillance.

Unsurprisingly, privilege is what gives birth to faux feminism. In certain circles, claiming “feminist” as an identity does actually grant one a kind of status. It’s a sub-cultural currency. The problem is that “feminist” is not simply an identity. It’s a politic, so retaining one’s grasp on male privilege while self-identifying as feminist is not just problematic but rather fundamentally untenable. We might be incredibly postmodern in our capacity to wrestle with tension and contradiction, but this is one uncanny coupling making for a particularly pathological kind of synergy.

Yet faux feminism is not simply the result of one’s desire to “be a feminist” and retain male privilege. Ironically, faux feminism is actually the bastard of the very culture that makes feminism necessary in the first place. Recently, I flipped through a conference program to see a paper with an explicitly feminist title authored by a faux-feminist man. I know that this man is a faux-feminist because I know him…intimately. A friend of mine, who happens to be a feminist, and I brainstormed about possible feminist interventions. We toyed with the idea of protesting the session with signs painted with the following slogans: “Down with Faux Feminism,” “Feminism is a Verb Not a Theory,” and finally, “Sometimes Men with Nice Thoughts Have Mean Hands.” Finally, she suggested we attend wearing shirts that simply read “FRAUD.”

I will save all of us the gory details about how I, a feminist, was intimately involved with a man who publicly declared himself a feminist but privately resembled a kind of hypermasculine (and decidedly not feminist) cliché. Telling those stories, while juicy, would not facilitate what I hope for him, which is deep self reflection and messy transformation. Revealing them most certainly does serve my greatest good. It is important to understand though that he was a practiced expert at those behaviors chronicled on feminists’ trusty “Power and Control” wheel—denying and minimizing abusive behavior, using jealousy to justify controlling actions, employing looks and gestures to evoke fear, etc., etc. He also knew feminism backwards and forwards—theory, politics and culture. His faux feminism was not the result of his reluctance to release his grasp on male privilege, though maybe that was part of it. The explanation of his faux feminism is infinitely more complicated and more heartbreaking than that.

Over coffee with a feminist man deeply entrenched in the processes of identifying his own privilege and actively working to confront men’s (primary) role in perpetuating sexual violence, he remarked about how inexplicable the phenomenon of faux feminism among men is. And then it clicked. Faux feminism should come as no surprise at all.

Looking across the table at a feminist man, I recalled why I and so many of my friends and colleagues were drawn to feminism in the first place. The consequences of misogyny and hyper-masculinity structure our life stories. Many feminists know what physical violence feels like in our bones or how walking on proverbial eggshells for fear of emotional assaults effects a deep and sustained cost to our wellbeing.  We are feminists because we know the costs of living in a non-feminist world. And by “we” I mean women and men alike. There’s the rub. Men come to feminism for many of the same reasons that women do.

This is certainly the case for my faux feminist ex. He had tasted what home sweet homey violence felt like. He understood maybe more than many men, why feminism exists in the first place. Of course, there was the sub-cultural cache of identifying as a feminist man too, but it was more than that. There is the tricky little fact often cited in our discussions of violence and abuse—that “victims” become “perpetrators.” Of course, we mean this quite literally. Those that experience threats to their person often violate another’s person. This is the cycle of violence. What this explanation fails to clarify is that these dynamics potentially produce two long-term effects—the embodied knowledge of how to use hegemonic masculinity as a life skill and the desire to change the world so that the violence endemic to masculinity is eradicated. Why then didn’t my ex embody feminism in an authentic way? Why was his feminist “faux” and not simply just feminist? Because as much as he wanted to embrace feminism, his toolbox for coping with everyday life was chock full of anti-feminist strategies.

Currently, the unicorn has extraordinary cache. In some measure, this is because hipsters who were children during the early 1980s (another moment in which unicorn imagery was all the rage) are now the adults designing the bric-a-brac featured in the home section at your “local” Urban Outfitters. Partially though, there is something particularly compelling about unicorns. The unicorn is a unique kind of figment. They are magic and not in that ephemeral kind of way, but in that almost real way. Face it. Unicorns are just horses with a horn. Almost real but not quite.

Surely, I could conclude by suggesting that faux feminist men are akin to a particularly dark figment of our imaginations. One could argue that faux feminist men are a kind of monster who work their way into the emotional, political and intellectual spaces that are cultivated in the service of transformation and safety. One could argue that faux feminist men are the kind of monsters who wait for you underneath your bed to debase sweet dreams of egalitarianism and justice and love. But in my imagination, faux feminist men are figments of another sort. Like unicorns they are almost real, almost but not quite. And I don’t mean they are almost monsterous men. I believe that faux feminist men are almost feminist but not quite feminist. Sometimes the “almost” is a result of a deep reluctance to interrogate male privilege, but sometimes the “almost” is an outcome of experiencing and reproducing the very dynamics feminism is built to challenge. Unicorns have captured our popular imaginations. My hope is that these particular men capture feminist imaginations because there is something magical that could happen by not immediately dismissing faux-feminist men as not real feminists.

I think it’s fair to say that the men who registered for my Feminist Theory course were not feminists when the semester began. It’s fair to say because I asked them if they were feminists, and most of them said no. It’s also the case that they changed. They changed because they connected some of their own traumas and hurts—both the violence of bullying and the cost of never being able to do “man” quite well enough—to a culture that is structured by and celebrates a particular kind of masculinity. But their transformation was not simply self-serving. The men in that classroom came to see their own status as “not-feminist” as part of the problem, and ultimately, they chose to use their powers for “good.”  As a teacher and as a feminist, I believe that most of us will make that choice when given the opportunity. Feminists (real ones men and women alike) might invest more in providing those opportunities. That would be magic.

 

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43 Responses to Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real and Imagined)

  1. Rachel M. J. Ray on April 18, 2011 at 7:08 am

    English…I need a translation please… :-?

  2. Nicole A. Spigner on April 18, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Heather,

    Thank you for this! You give a fair assessment of the very tension that serves to stop, frustrate, and derail so many of our feminist efforts (not to mention our senses of self and agency).

    So many thanks,
    Nikki

    • Heather Laine Talley on April 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

      much appreciated!

  3. Carolyn on April 19, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Heather,

    Thanks for this article. I resonate with it, and think it also has important implications for how male 'feminist' often interact with their female graduate students.

    Carolyn

  4. Sue Lange on April 21, 2011 at 7:42 am

    I think you're touching on something that is not obvious. It is very hard for someone to know him or herself. You can believe something intellectually, but still react emotionally. And where do those emotions come from? Even observing yourself as unbiasedly as possibly is not going to yield absolute truth about yourself.

    I think there may be a difference between your ex and his well educated motives, and the males that took your class. First off, generalizing about a group of men is as bad as generalizing about a group of women. There were probably sensitive men that were already in the choir taking the class. Whether or not they were "faux-feminists" or not, I don't know. You probably know.

    Then there were men who didn't have a clue about the word "feminist" and probably thought they'd meet a bunch of women who needed to get laid.

    There there were probably men who had been coming across the term "feminism" on the web, noticed that there's a large segment of the population engaged in conversation about it and thought maybe they'd better educate themselves on the subject before yet another trend passed them by.

    Whatever the reason was that the guys were taking the class, I'm impressed that you took advantage of the situation to learn something new and communicate with people that just might have been open-minded enough to let some light in.

    • Heather Laine Talley on April 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

      Thanks for your thoughts! I didn't mean to suggest that any of the men in my class where faux-feminists. I don't have any reason to question the authenticity of their process. What my experience with those male students led me to think about was the relationship between men and feminism more broadly and this tricky thing I could never unravel–why did I know so many men (and women) who talked feminism while simultaneously engaging in basic practices critiqued by most brands of feminism (i.e. abuse, flagrant disrespect, etc.).

  5. Heather Laine Talley on April 21, 2011 at 8:10 am

    I too can have this feeling when reading other people's work. Can you let me know what in particular is unclear, and I'd be more than happy to talk it through.

  6. Heather Laine Talley on April 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Absolutely! I hope more women (and men) are finding feminist mentoring in grad school!

  7. Michael on April 21, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Please don't be too surprised when men show interest, study, or claim feminism. Discrimination, institutional violence, male privilege, and heterosexism hurts the people we men love, and it hurts us too. Most of us have mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, lovers, neighbors, coworkers, and others in our lives who are women. And most of us are either directly or indirectly hurt and limited by the cultural flexing of masculinity as well. Granted as your article describes there are many men who don't get it or do get it but don't live it, etc, that can be said for (a much smaller number of) women too, who are not afraid to use emotional violence etc. I'm not making excuses, just explaining that male privilege DOES make it harder to 'get it' and to 'live it'. The thing is, I think there's a better understanding today of the definition of feminism than there was in the past. I believe learge numbers of men want to embrace "equality" or just the opportunity for everyone, people they love and people they don't know yet, to be engaged in the culture and the conversation. There's much to be gained by everyone to include everyone.

    Thank you for the article!!!

  8. Rowena on April 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

    This was really interesting, Heather.

    I teach at a computer games college, where the males outnumber the females about 65% to 35%. (It was higher previously). I teach with a woman who has worked in the games industry and is in her late 20s. She doesn't like it when I bring up anything to do with feminism in story structure or characterisation during lectures.

    Feminism is old hat. We're equal. It will turn off the male students. etc.

    This seems to be a common attitude in females of her generation.

  9. EKS on April 22, 2011 at 1:38 am

    While some of us may look on with surprise at men in women's studies classes, it's really no stranger than the multitudes of white suburban kids immersing themselves in courses about anti-colonialism, or African studies in college. It's a good thing when people want to learn to be allies.

    However, without much in the way of describing your ex's "faux feminist" behaviour, I'm left slightly clueless with what such behaviour is. I know you think it's fraud…but?

    I proudly call myself a feminist, but know many in my generation who abhor the term. To them, feminism means angry and man-hating. And not just angry about specific things like violence against women (of course everyone should be angered by this) but a general negativity towards the world.

    I'm not sure I fully grasped the types of faux feminism you're trying to call out here. Gay men saying you have a hot ass could make some women feel objectified and uncomfortable, but – perhaps due to socialization that prioritizes looking good over many other things – many women like being complimented like this, especially from a source that they know is not trying to get them into bed with those words…

    I also think faux feminism exists, and I have seen it from "socially progressive" men who at some moments denounce objectifying women but then the next moment go on to talk about their body parts like cuts of meat. I know it's a real problem, but I'm just not sure this article gets to the heart of the issue; at best it doesn't focus on or dissect faux feminism, but at worst, it seems an angry commentary about an ex :(

  10. EKS on April 22, 2011 at 1:38 am

    While some of us may look on with surprise at men in women's studies classes, it's really no stranger than the multitudes of white suburban kids immersing themselves in courses about anti-colonialism, or African studies in college. It's a good thing when people want to learn to be allies.

    However, without much in the way of describing your ex's "faux feminist" behaviour, I'm left slightly clueless with what such behaviour is. I know you think it's fraud…but?

    I proudly call myself a feminist, but know many in my generation who abhor the term. To them, feminism means angry and man-hating. And not just angry about specific things like violence against women (of course everyone should be angered by this) but a general negativity towards the world.

    I'm not sure I fully grasped the types of faux feminism you're trying to call out here. Gay men saying you have a hot ass could make some women feel objectified and uncomfortable, but – perhaps due to socialization that prioritizes looking good over many other things – many women like being complimented like this, especially from a source that they know is not trying to get them into bed with those words…

    I also think faux feminism exists, and I have seen it from "socially progressive" men who at some moments denounce objectifying women but then the next moment go on to talk about their body parts like cuts of meat. I know it's a real problem, but I'm just not sure this article gets to the heart of the issue; at best it doesn't focus on or dissect faux feminism, but at worst, it seems an angry commentary about an ex :(

    • Heather Laine Talley on April 22, 2011 at 4:02 am

      Your response is interesting to me, and it raises a couple of thoughts.

      I specifically don't describe my ex's behavior in detail because I think that does more harm than good. This is why I'm surprised to see what feels a bit like a jab, specifically your thought that this is an "angry commentary about an ex." Nothing could be further from the truth. My intention in even mentioning this scenario is inspired by my feminist politic rather than personal anger. From my perspective, calling out behavior in the service of transformation (not humiliation) is a much needed approach if we are trying to enact feminist visions. This is why I don't tell specific stories. I want to give just enough detail for readers to have a general sense of this but not enough detail to identify this person. For me, that would not accomplish anything, except to alienate folks who are in the process of wrestling with feminism (which this person clearly is). Secondly, I take the premise that "the personal is political" seriously. To me that means being honest about the ways feminist women don't have it all figured out. More importantly though, I wanted to make the point that so many men who come to feminism are working out of there own experiences of victimization. This is something I (and I hope others) want to very empathetic about. This is where the conflict lies. The men need to be held responsible for their perpetration and empathized with too. I'm just starting to figure out how we might craft such an approach. My hope was that this piece would interrupt the bad man/good man binary and demonstrate how messy these tensions are.

      I hear your point about some women "liking" objectifying compliments due to socialization that prioritizes looks. I absolutely agree. My reflection was not about if women like it but rather if such interactions are feminist.

      It's true that faux feminism does need to be dissected. My thought was not that this piece would be the end all be all on faux feminism but that it would get the conversation started. I believe it's done that.

  11. [...] (The Guardian) North AmericaU.S. Sex Workers Hail Nation’s New Stance (Womens eNews)Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (The Feminist Wire)Don’t Let the Fight Over Contraception Distract Us from Access to Abortion [...]

  12. dan on April 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    very interesting. a friend of mine posted this on facebook – i myself was fully engrossed in political science/middle east politics during my time in college, so I never really engaged in any sort of gender theory, though I now kind of wish I had. I don't by any stretch of the imagination consider myself a feminist, though I also harbor a deep desire not be a shithead, and to be honest and genuine with women, though I often find myself lacking the tools (for lack of a better word) to naturally do so. Although I have a slight innate revulsion to refined academic language and analysis (I got out of poli sci and am now a writer of a more simple nature), I would like to read some basic material on the subject – I'm aware of male privilege and white privilege, and I've certainly benefited from both, but I would like to gain a deeper understanding. Any recommendations?

  13. [...] = {"data_track_clickback":true};Due to the high readership, commentary on, and sharing of “Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real and Imagined)” by TFW collective member Heather Talley, we have included an addendum at the request of the [...]

  14. [...] = {"data_track_clickback":true};Due to the high readership, commentary on, and sharing of “Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real and Imagined)” by TFW collective member Heather Talley, we have included an addendum at the request of the [...]

  15. [...] = {"data_track_clickback":true};Due to the high readership, commentary on, and sharing of “Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real and Imagined)” by TFW collective member Heather Talley, we have included an addendum at the request of the [...]

  16. [...] = {"data_track_clickback":true};Due to the high readership, commentary on, and sharing of “Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real and Imagined)” by TFW collective member Heather Talley, we have included an addendum at the request of the [...]

  17. Michael Flood on May 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Dear Heather,
    Hey there. Stumbled across your piece while looking at materials for a lecture I'm giving in my Men and Masculinities course. But, I wanted to ask if I can reprint your piece on XY – it's a profeminist men's website.
    Best wishes,
    Michael Flood.

  18. Michael Flood on May 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Dear Heather,
    Hey there. Stumbled across your piece while looking at materials for a lecture I'm giving in my Men and Masculinities course. But, I wanted to ask if I can reprint your piece on XY – it's a profeminist men's website.
    Best wishes,
    Michael Flood.

  19. Michael Flood on May 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Dear Heather,
    Hey there. Stumbled across your piece while looking at materials for a lecture I'm giving in my Men and Masculinities course. But, I wanted to ask if I can reprint your piece on XY – it's a profeminist men's website.
    Best wishes,
    Michael Flood.

  20. Michael Flood on May 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Dear Heather,
    Hey there. Stumbled across your piece while looking at materials for a lecture I'm giving in my Men and Masculinities course. But, I wanted to ask if I can reprint your piece on XY – it's a profeminist men's website.
    Best wishes,
    Michael Flood.

  21. Joe Morse on May 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Heather, I really like your article,the addendum and the great analysis. I don't believe men should be calling ourselves feminists for the very reason you cite in the article: we benefit in many ways large and small from male privilege a method of power and control provided to us by our culture and institutions. I think it is much more more helpful for a man wanting to be an ally of feminists to with call himself pro-feminist as Michael Flood has done. Furthermore, if men are feminists, we would get to define what is and what is not feminist analysis – clearly a problem.

  22. Joe Morse on May 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Heather, I really like your article,the addendum and the great analysis. I don't believe men should be calling ourselves feminists for the very reason you cite in the article: we benefit in many ways large and small from male privilege a method of power and control provided to us by our culture and institutions. I think it is much more more helpful for a man wanting to be an ally of feminists to with call himself pro-feminist as Michael Flood has done. Furthermore, if men are feminists, we would get to define what is and what is not feminist analysis – clearly a problem.

  23. Joe Morse on May 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Heather, I really like your article,the addendum and the great analysis. I don't believe men should be calling ourselves feminists for the very reason you cite in the article: we benefit in many ways large and small from male privilege a method of power and control provided to us by our culture and institutions. I think it is much more more helpful for a man wanting to be an ally of feminists to with call himself pro-feminist as Michael Flood has done. Furthermore, if men are feminists, we would get to define what is and what is not feminist analysis – clearly a problem.

  24. Joe Morse on May 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Heather, I really like your article,the addendum and the great analysis. I don't believe men should be calling ourselves feminists for the very reason you cite in the article: we benefit in many ways large and small from male privilege a method of power and control provided to us by our culture and institutions. I think it is much more more helpful for a man wanting to be an ally of feminists to with call himself pro-feminist as Michael Flood has done. Furthermore, if men are feminists, we would get to define what is and what is not feminist analysis – clearly a problem.

  25. after_hours on May 9, 2011 at 10:41 am

    "Unsurprisingly, privilege is what gives birth to faux feminism. In certain circles, claiming 'feminist' as an identity does actually grant one a kind of status. It’s a sub-cultural currency. The problem is that 'feminist' is not simply an identity. It’s a politic, so retaining one’s grasp on male privilege while self-identifying as feminist is not just problematic but rather fundamentally untenable. We might be incredibly postmodern in our capacity to wrestle with tension and contradiction, but this is one uncanny coupling making for a particularly pathological kind of synergy."

    Whoah, this article hit home in a big bad way. I recently objected to a male friend of mine to participate on a feminist panel and received nothing but overt hateful objection. Basically I was perceived, or at least labeled a sexist, a bigot, ignorant, etc etc…

    It made me wish I had never spoken up in the first place, but at the same time, the feeling was so unsettling with me how could I not object and speak up? I didn't go so far as to show up in t-shirts with FRAUD written on them, but it defiantly turned me off to speaking my opinion in the future. So how does one object without throwing the other person under the bus with claims agains’t character no matter how overt they may be, it seems in objecting you appear as the hateful person no matter what. Very tricky terrain…it's exceedingly frustrating in an academic setting to feel empowered as a woman, when in the presence of faux-feminist who are skilled in silencing you very quickly.

  26. after_hours on May 9, 2011 at 10:41 am

    "Unsurprisingly, privilege is what gives birth to faux feminism. In certain circles, claiming 'feminist' as an identity does actually grant one a kind of status. It’s a sub-cultural currency. The problem is that 'feminist' is not simply an identity. It’s a politic, so retaining one’s grasp on male privilege while self-identifying as feminist is not just problematic but rather fundamentally untenable. We might be incredibly postmodern in our capacity to wrestle with tension and contradiction, but this is one uncanny coupling making for a particularly pathological kind of synergy."

    Whoah, this article hit home in a big bad way. I recently objected to a male friend of mine to participate on a feminist panel and received nothing but overt hateful objection. Basically I was perceived, or at least labeled a sexist, a bigot, ignorant, etc etc…

    It made me wish I had never spoken up in the first place, but at the same time, the feeling was so unsettling with me how could I not object and speak up? I didn't go so far as to show up in t-shirts with FRAUD written on them, but it defiantly turned me off to speaking my opinion in the future. So how does one object without throwing the other person under the bus with claims agains’t character no matter how overt they may be, it seems in objecting you appear as the hateful person no matter what. Very tricky terrain…it's exceedingly frustrating in an academic setting to feel empowered as a woman, when in the presence of faux-feminist who are skilled in silencing you very quickly.

  27. after_hours on May 9, 2011 at 10:41 am

    "Unsurprisingly, privilege is what gives birth to faux feminism. In certain circles, claiming 'feminist' as an identity does actually grant one a kind of status. It’s a sub-cultural currency. The problem is that 'feminist' is not simply an identity. It’s a politic, so retaining one’s grasp on male privilege while self-identifying as feminist is not just problematic but rather fundamentally untenable. We might be incredibly postmodern in our capacity to wrestle with tension and contradiction, but this is one uncanny coupling making for a particularly pathological kind of synergy."

    Whoah, this article hit home in a big bad way. I recently objected to a male friend of mine to participate on a feminist panel and received nothing but overt hateful objection. Basically I was perceived, or at least labeled a sexist, a bigot, ignorant, etc etc…

    It made me wish I had never spoken up in the first place, but at the same time, the feeling was so unsettling with me how could I not object and speak up? I didn't go so far as to show up in t-shirts with FRAUD written on them, but it defiantly turned me off to speaking my opinion in the future. So how does one object without throwing the other person under the bus with claims agains’t character no matter how overt they may be, it seems in objecting you appear as the hateful person no matter what. Very tricky terrain…it's exceedingly frustrating in an academic setting to feel empowered as a woman, when in the presence of faux-feminist who are skilled in silencing you very quickly.

  28. after_hours on May 9, 2011 at 10:41 am

    "Unsurprisingly, privilege is what gives birth to faux feminism. In certain circles, claiming 'feminist' as an identity does actually grant one a kind of status. It’s a sub-cultural currency. The problem is that 'feminist' is not simply an identity. It’s a politic, so retaining one’s grasp on male privilege while self-identifying as feminist is not just problematic but rather fundamentally untenable. We might be incredibly postmodern in our capacity to wrestle with tension and contradiction, but this is one uncanny coupling making for a particularly pathological kind of synergy."

    Whoah, this article hit home in a big bad way. I recently objected to a male friend of mine to participate on a feminist panel and received nothing but overt hateful objection. Basically I was perceived, or at least labeled a sexist, a bigot, ignorant, etc etc…

    It made me wish I had never spoken up in the first place, but at the same time, the feeling was so unsettling with me how could I not object and speak up? I didn't go so far as to show up in t-shirts with FRAUD written on them, but it defiantly turned me off to speaking my opinion in the future. So how does one object without throwing the other person under the bus with claims agains’t character no matter how overt they may be, it seems in objecting you appear as the hateful person no matter what. Very tricky terrain…it's exceedingly frustrating in an academic setting to feel empowered as a woman, when in the presence of faux-feminist who are skilled in silencing you very quickly.

  29. The Week As We Read It | Canonball on May 20, 2011 at 8:40 am

    [...] Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real or Imagined) by Heather Lane Talley, The Feminist Wire. Talley says that more men are self-identifying as feminists, just as more women are avoiding the moniker. But are some men opting for style over substance? Unsurprisingly, privilege is what gives birth to faux feminism. In certain circles, claiming “feminist” as an identity does actually grant one a kind of status. It’s a sub-cultural currency. The problem is that “feminist” is not simply an identity. It’s a politic, so retaining one’s grasp on male privilege while self-identifying as feminist is not just problematic but rather fundamentally untenable. [...]

  30. The Week As We Read It | Canonball on May 20, 2011 at 8:40 am

    [...] Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real or Imagined) by Heather Lane Talley, The Feminist Wire. Talley says that more men are self-identifying as feminists, just as more women are avoiding the moniker. But are some men opting for style over substance? Unsurprisingly, privilege is what gives birth to faux feminism. In certain circles, claiming “feminist” as an identity does actually grant one a kind of status. It’s a sub-cultural currency. The problem is that “feminist” is not simply an identity. It’s a politic, so retaining one’s grasp on male privilege while self-identifying as feminist is not just problematic but rather fundamentally untenable. [...]

  31. The Week As We Read It | Canonball on May 20, 2011 at 8:40 am

    [...] Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real or Imagined) by Heather Lane Talley, The Feminist Wire. Talley says that more men are self-identifying as feminists, just as more women are avoiding the moniker. But are some men opting for style over substance? Unsurprisingly, privilege is what gives birth to faux feminism. In certain circles, claiming “feminist” as an identity does actually grant one a kind of status. It’s a sub-cultural currency. The problem is that “feminist” is not simply an identity. It’s a politic, so retaining one’s grasp on male privilege while self-identifying as feminist is not just problematic but rather fundamentally untenable. [...]

  32. The Week As We Read It | Canonball on May 20, 2011 at 8:40 am

    [...] Faux Feminist Men and Other Figments (Real or Imagined) by Heather Lane Talley, The Feminist Wire. Talley says that more men are self-identifying as feminists, just as more women are avoiding the moniker. But are some men opting for style over substance? Unsurprisingly, privilege is what gives birth to faux feminism. In certain circles, claiming “feminist” as an identity does actually grant one a kind of status. It’s a sub-cultural currency. The problem is that “feminist” is not simply an identity. It’s a politic, so retaining one’s grasp on male privilege while self-identifying as feminist is not just problematic but rather fundamentally untenable. [...]

  33. Lee on June 3, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Hi Heather

    I will be reading your posts more often after having the happy occasion of stumbling upon your site today.

    I have an observation I'd like to share with you. I am half way through doing my honours and I have chosen to undertake a feminist reading of a text. I have to share my readings and research progression with the class. In doing so, the comments I do get back are negative and usually pertain to feminisms irrelevance. I was quite shocked at this occurrence and almost want to quit. I had believed education (at university level) to be a supportive environment. It seems that the pendulum has swung a fair way since I finished my undergrad in 2000.
    Cheers
    Lee

  34. Lee on June 3, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Hi Heather

    I will be reading your posts more often after having the happy occasion of stumbling upon your site today.

    I have an observation I'd like to share with you. I am half way through doing my honours and I have chosen to undertake a feminist reading of a text. I have to share my readings and research progression with the class. In doing so, the comments I do get back are negative and usually pertain to feminisms irrelevance. I was quite shocked at this occurrence and almost want to quit. I had believed education (at university level) to be a supportive environment. It seems that the pendulum has swung a fair way since I finished my undergrad in 2000.
    Cheers
    Lee

  35. Lee on June 3, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Hi Heather

    I will be reading your posts more often after having the happy occasion of stumbling upon your site today.

    I have an observation I'd like to share with you. I am half way through doing my honours and I have chosen to undertake a feminist reading of a text. I have to share my readings and research progression with the class. In doing so, the comments I do get back are negative and usually pertain to feminisms irrelevance. I was quite shocked at this occurrence and almost want to quit. I had believed education (at university level) to be a supportive environment. It seems that the pendulum has swung a fair way since I finished my undergrad in 2000.
    Cheers
    Lee

  36. Lee on June 3, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Hi Heather

    I will be reading your posts more often after having the happy occasion of stumbling upon your site today.

    I have an observation I'd like to share with you. I am half way through doing my honours and I have chosen to undertake a feminist reading of a text. I have to share my readings and research progression with the class. In doing so, the comments I do get back are negative and usually pertain to feminisms irrelevance. I was quite shocked at this occurrence and almost want to quit. I had believed education (at university level) to be a supportive environment. It seems that the pendulum has swung a fair way since I finished my undergrad in 2000.
    Cheers
    Lee

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