Male Liberation Rant
Yesterday I had a rant with a female colleague about under representation of Women in the Church in which I work, particularly in visible positions of power, and the need for such things as the ever-infuriating “Men’s Weekend”. On top of the discussion of Men’s Clubs in Universities, this week has already had more than its fair share of thwarted Feminism and fail-Feminism, and I’ve had enough. And I’m male for crying out loud.
I realise it might be a little patronising to do this, but its at about this stage that I want to run up to all my female friends hug them and ask them how they cope, and probably beg for forgiveness even though the odd one or two have told me they think I’m better at taking their equality into account. Also, I just want to share my favourite joke of the last few weeks:
Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life.
Teach a woman to fish, and you’ll feed her family aswell.
On the back of the Men’s Clubs and Men’s Weekends rants, I’ve had or been party to debates on whether we need Women’s Officers, whether it should be Women’s Liberation or Gender Liberation, or indeed if its Liberation or Equality, and whether or not women have been liberated or not; I’m actually a little sick of all the ramblings, and even more so of the continuous insinuation that what little progress women has made has somehow hurt men and that this is somehow a bad thing.
On one level, Iike the idea idea of a Men’s Club or a Men’s Weekend. My ideal suggestion for a session for Men’s Weekend would be to get women in the church to do anonymous interviews on ways they feel the men in the church put them down, exclude them from decisions and leadership, or devalue them, taking them for granted or assuming the place would run without them. Then I’d select the ones that make me feel most crap, edit them into a nice 10minutes of gut wrenching public reading, and deliver it as a talk, a time of confession and a time of fresh commitment to humility and empowerment of others.
What I wouldn’t do is serve “man food” (whatever the fuck that is!) or allow the screening of Top Gear episodes (which seems to be a common thread running between Men’s Weekends and Men’s Societies. Perhaps Clarkson truly is the devil incarnate after all).
Yes, Men need liberating, but that liberation is entirely reliant on the liberation of Women. Like many situations where two groups exist, one continuously disempowering the other, both need liberating. Both have much to gain, but only one also has much to lose, making them the wrong candidates for adjusting the balance of power and freedom. When men get involved in setting a course for women’s liberation, more often than not they just make excuses and water down the impact.
Men’s liberation comes through the cold hard experience of losing the privileges that prevent us from being real people; for example, the demand of society to be women’s protectors rather than empowering them to protect themselves might seem like a privilege, indeed it is, but its not a place of freedom. It constrains men, forcing them to pretend to be strong and laying out a role that they must conform to. Ask a man to give it up, and he’ll probably say no, pretend he’s better than the rest or deny any knowledge of the problem. Give a woman the ability to choose to exist outside the ‘protection’ of her husband, brother, father, son or male friends, and she has nothing to lose in saying “yes” except the crap end of the deal.
I’m really not sure how to end this or where I really want it to head, but right now I’m getting worn out by all these arguments about men needing isolated spaces in which to find liberation. Men’s liberation can only happen through developing healthy, equitable relationships of respect and mutual benefit with women. They won’t do it by building up their sense of “stolen privilege”, eating stereotyped food and drinking stereotyped drinks or watching movies and playing games about violence, destruction and a wanton lack of respect for anything and everything around them, be that the planet, other people, or anything else.