It's not that I consider myself anti-feminist, but there are a lot of common (or at least significant) feminist practices and opinions that make me shy away from identifying as a feminist. One example: I see a lot of (women) feminists get offended and indignant whenever anyone mentions feminist men. They say that it's impossible for men to be feminist because men have not experienced the oppression and subordination that women have. While I do agree that for the most part, men are not subjected to subordination that women experience on a daily basis, whether direct or indirect, is it not possible for a man to see how his loved ones are being treated and object to the injustices that patriarchal society inflicts on them?
There was a quote from a reading we discussed in class today that is relevant to this: "For me—and for many who share a similar historical location in white, professional middle-class, female, radical, North American, mid-adult bodies—the sources of a crisis in political identity are legion. The recent history for much of the US left and US feminism has been a response to this kind of crisis by endless splitting and searches for a new essential unity. But there has also been a growing recognition of another response through coalition—affinity, not identity" (Donna Haraway, "The Cyborg Manifesto").
Haraway is referring mainly to different types of women—women of all races, economic and social backgrounds—and to the inclusion of trans women, who perhaps some feminists would reject as being "true" women, but who identify as women nonetheless. But I think her call for "affinity, not identity" could apply to other groups as well—even to those who don't see themselves as women. Why do so many feminists reject the alliance of men who wish to align themselves with feminist ideas and values? Why can't people argue for rights for a person or group of people other than themselves or the group they belong to?
Something else that I liked from Haraway's piece: "A cyborg world might be about lived social and bodily realities in which people are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and machines, not afraid of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints."
In relation to feminism, I take this to mean that there is no need to, as so many feminist women do, struggle to find a definition of "woman" or to place themselves above other beings, above technology, above any group of people. But also, as a general life guideline: so many people struggle to find out "who they really are" and to have every part of their personality and beliefs contribute to the same, clearly-defined value system. But maybe we don't have to have that clarity. Maybe it's okay not to know yourself, or to have contradictory traits. I always see people beating themselves up for the parts of themselves that they can't understand, or that are confusing to themselves or others. Confusion is not necessarily bad, people! Or, to phrase it using Haraway's terms, there are many monsters in people and in society, but we shouldn't always assume that the monster is what we should fear. People classify parts of themselves as being either good or bad, but Haraway argues that in a cyborg world, there is no clear-cut boundary between human and animal, organism and machine, right or wrong, male or female, physical or non-physical.
Basically, both in terms of feminist ideals and everyday life, I wish people would be less attached to these strict binaries: right or wrong, male or female, this or that. Not everything has to have an answer. Going back to the feminism scorning men thing, I think there is something of a woman in every man, and, similarly, some masculine part of every woman. Just like sexual orientation doesn't have to be 100% gay or straight, there is room for variation in gender as well. You don't have to be totally man or totally woman in order to identify as a man or a woman. And therefore, I think it's definitely possible for a man to understand the wrongs that have been done to women and to want to fight with women against these wrongs.