I used to teach an undergraduate unit, Cultures of Masculinities. After the introductory lecture a male student approached me and asked if the course was 'feminist'. He told me that he was a committed masculinist and that he had struggled in other courses in which one Judith Butler appeared in the set reading list. I replied that disagreement with any particular argument or reading is fine, but that students are expected to engage with those ideas. (ie disconnected ranting can't pass muster). Afterwards, I thought about how my reply might sound like a cop-out with a 'pedagogical' response to what at first blush looks like a 'political' question. But more on that later.
When we think about violence against women, we imagine a slap, a punch, or repeated physical abuse. Violence, however, can be much more subtle. It can be in the form of an offensive word, a coercive act or a culture of sexual harassment. Recent media reports have drawn attention to the complex relationship between youth culture, gender norms and consensual behaviour. As a young man, these complexities invite us to rethink the subtleties of violence against women.
I am often struck by the way people say 'I'm not racist but...'. What is particularly humorous about such statements, is they are often based on racial assumptions and ideas that mark out (and marginalise) people based on a particular racial or ethnic characteristic. While most people define 'racism' as an institutional and systemic problem, it is often associated to how we think rather than how we feel.
For example, if someone were to say 'Whenever those Aboriginals are around, things go missing', quite a few people would (hopefully) jump and retort, that those statements are really racist. If, however, we held our wallets close to us, or hid our belongings while we were in the presence of indigenous persons, these bodily movements or actions would not be considered (as they are not often conscious) to be considered motivated by racial (or racist?) assumptions that we have internalised.
The Associated Press published a poll of 158 sports editors for Female Athlete of the Year. Two of the top 10 were horses. Tennis great Serena Williams came first, and the horse Zenyatta came second. While sports editors have a reputation for being sexist and chauvinistic, they also deserve a reputation for courting controversy through cheap stunts designed to bait feminists. And these efforts often work.
Unsurprisingly, online feminists were outraged. As one blogger wrote: "We live in a world in which animals are eligible to win 'Female Athlete of the Year' from one of the most important global news agencies. That's some shameful stuff. And for the record, none of the male athletes of the year were anything but human. That said, the winner was NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson. Given the AP's criteria, maybe his automobile should have won instead?"
I would like to interrogate maleness. But as I have learned from the now oft-heard and ubiquitous feminist rallying cry The Personal Is Political, I would like, as such, to attempt an essay which speaks directly from male-embodied subjectivity. I would like to give a personal account of how I experience maleness and what implications this may have on contributing to more egalitarian gender relations.
I have been reading Rosi Braidotti's book 'Nomadic Subjects' and it has inspired me to reflect upon the conditions and arguments over sex/gender difference(s). Considering the second-wave feminist positions that gendered experience is cultural rather than biological, I am reminded of Simone de Beauvoir's comment that 'one is not born but rather becomes a woman'.
While much theoretical and activist attention has been garnered by such an epithet, Braidotti foregrounds the problems with arguments that render the body obsolete or immaterial to the cultural processes which define it. When we are caught in a nature/culture or man/woman binary, what are the possibilities of shifting outside a system of knowledge that pays more attention to embodied difference(s)? This is where Braidotti provides an interesting response by thinking about the 'nomad' figure.
REVIEW: F Conference (10-11 April, 2010) at the New South Wales Teacher's Federation by Senthorun Raj
Today marked a historic occasion, a bringing together of 400 feminists and social justice activists to discuss the infamous F word- FEMINISM. Feminism is a term which for me evokes strong passions for justice, an emotional engagement with oppression/discrimination, an analytic tool to understand and deconstruct the notion of gender and political movement for social change. With such diverse histories and generations of experience that cannot (or should not) be marked by a single moment or cultural ideology, feminism becomes something crucial for the agenda setters of the future.
Religion has/is often seen as antithetical to women's rights. Judeo-Christian and Islamic religious traditions are often cited as patriarchal because they subject women to domesticity, reproduction and sexual chastity. Women become governed closely while men are more able to do as they wish. However, such mythic constructions of religion often miss the disparate and diverse religious philosophies and practices within any particular religious faith. Moreover, Eastern philosophical traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism orient women and men in different roles to Western religious traditions and consider men and women with different spiritual capacities. Some smaller religious or spiritual practices such as Animism also centre the divine in terms of the feminine rather than masculine, and position women rather than men as the spiritual leaders.
Are religions inherently patriarchal and/or male-dominated?
What (if any) are the differences between religious faith, philosophy and institutions?
Masculinity occupies a space of intense debate in feminist theory, politics and activism. Is it a bodily trait or a cultural performance (or both)? Masculinity is associated as aggressive, active and dominating, which relies on the repudiation or expulsion of femininity. However, there is greater scope for thinking about different forms of masculinity that do not recuperate a binary investment in the masculine as the antithesis or 'lack' of the feminine.
Is there such a thing as “masculinism”?
Would that be synonymous with upholding patriarchal ideology?
Or is there a way of construing masculinity or ‘masculinism’ which does not do a disservice to people of any gender/sex?
Queer politics has a relationship to feminist politics. These social movements and theoretical engagements emerged at an intersection where categories such as sex, gender, class, sexuality, race became understood as not natural or fixed, but dynamic cultural productions with deep political investments. While feminist politics took gender as an analytic category, queer theory deconstructed the way sexuality functioned as a mode of organising bodies within society. In taking different aspects of identity, feminist and queer activists demonstrated the discriminatory way certain kinds of people had been marginalised in both domestic and public domains. Taken together, feminist and queer politics connected heterosexuality and patriarchy, suggesting that the two were intimately linked in the formation of hierarchical binaries such as, public/private, man/woman, heterosexual/homosexual, white/black, which privileged only a very particular kind of person (such as the white middle class heterosexual male).
Does being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and or queer-identified automatically mean being predisposed to feminist ideas?
Does being gay mean you are serving patriarchal or male homosocial interests?