Men and Feminism: A Primer

Balance is required in all things. And since we at the CFC are perfectly willing to check somebody when they get it wrong, we are also willing to give you some resources and pointers on how to get it right. But when it comes to combatting privilege, often folks are unwilling to acknowledge the privilege they have, until someone who also has privilege does the same.
With regard to male privilege, the discussions on choking during sex that we’ve been having have made this fact abundantly clear. So below is a list of readings, most of them short and accessible, and a couple of clips that men can watch if they want to know what it means to be a feminist ally.
In response to choking, men, and rape culture, I’ll quote this short piece from Nathan McCall:
“I’ve heard all the Macho Men’s room talk, and I’d say the number of boys and men who harbor blurry notions about the liberties they can rightfully take with a female is nothing less than mind-boggling. If truth be told, on some level of awareness or another, most men don’t get it.”
You can read the rest of this short essay, “Men: We Just Don’t Get It” inTraps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality edited by Rudolph Byrd and Beverly Guy-Sheftall.
Also check out
Shira Tarrant.  Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power. Routledge 2008.
Aaronette White. Ain’t I a Feminist: African American Men Speak Out on Fatherhood, Friendship, Forgiveness, and Freedom. SUNY Press, 2008.
Mark Anthony Neal. New Black Man. Routledge 2005.
Nathalie Hopkinson and Natalie Y. Moore. Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look At Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation. Cleis Press, 2006.
Gary Lemons. Black Male Outsider: Teaching as a Pro-Feminist Man. SUNY Press, 2008.
Black Male Privilege Checklist
Male Privilege Checklist
Byron Hurt. Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. [Documentary]Here’s where you can purchase a copy.
I hope this short list will help you get started.
I’m also very sure that I missed some useful resources, so feel free to share them in the comments section.

15 thoughts on “Men and Feminism: A Primer

  1. RE: the poster featured above. Where are the older men (all the guys look like either gay men or metrosexuals in their 20s)? Why do they all look like they’re in New York City? No shoutouts to rural areas or folks in other parts of the country? It seems like this campaign is speaking to a very narrow sliver of men. Otherwise, AMEN!

    1. I’ve seen posters like that at my university’s health clinic. If a line of posters were specifically produced for universities, then it could explain why 20-something models were chosen. But, if they were aiming for a public campaign, then a wider variety of men would help.

  2. Thanks for this post! I’ve desperately been looking for more black (pro)-feminist male voices in feminist conversation.

  3. I may not agree with everything on your site (the Nicki Minaj/Regis episode for example) but I do agree with your overall theme behind it.

    In my view feminism intends on giving the point of view how inequality happens on the level of gender (just as how inequality happens on the level of race, class, age, etc).

    It is difficult for many to see how inequality works on any level. More so, it is difficult for many men to understand that there is an inequality of gender (it wasn’t easy for me to comprehend at first myself, and I still struggle with it from time to time).

    But when the level of race is added (feminism and black feminism need to be separated to some degree) there is even a higher difficulty because as black people we tend to feel that we should stick together and we are a monolithic block. Unfortunately, that is not the case. And I am happy you guys are using the lens of black feminism to analyze both inequality that happens on the level of race and gender (with what appears to be a focus on contemporary issues).

    My only critique of the site is now WHAT you post but HOW you post it.

    From what it appears, you have a post every few days. And when you post, you may post things like Jay Electronica and a question that he asks at his stage show. Now I don’t think anyone is arguing that his question wasn’t a good example of (black) male patriarchy.

    I think the sideways look comes in when the fact remains if you only post every few days and then when you finally have a post you may be criticizing a rapper for a question that he asks or you are defending a female rapper who may not need that vigorous of defense (Nicki Minaj) the perception comes off as “is this what you are complaining about” or “do you have anything else of substance to discuss” (yes, I believe you do post about other subjects with other however, perception is reality for many).

    Do I believe the issues like those that you bring up in this vein are of substance? Yes. Because it does feed into an overall hegemonic ideology. So it should be discussed.

    But for many who may read your blog and may not understand that, (again see what I wrote in the beginning) YOU may come off as if you are dealing with fluff.

    I’m not sure how you deal with that.

    Post more frequently (twice a day maybe) to cut down on the perception that you may be singling individuals out and not focusing on the issue behind the individual.

    Maybe link backs to the issues that you broached in other articles so that people see that there is a trend to the issue you are speaking of at hand.

    Or maybe a bit more of an analysis. For example, a question like what Jay was giving at his shows with a proper discussion of how it leads to inequality over women. I mean that in the way of not just talking about the question and saying it can lead directly into rape culture (which, is the equivalent of saying a white man is racist if he doesn’t support a policy like affirmative action … you might be ultimately right, but it may not be the way to properly begin discussing the issue).

    In the end, I do not believe that you should marginalize your viewpoints. But it may be in your best interest to understand how to broach various issues better so they don’t keep falling on deaf ears. Preaching to the choir will only get you so far.

    My $0.02

    ….by the way I’m surprised that bell hooks wasn’t up there in the readings. Her critical analysis of mainstream movies are great way to introduce individuals to racial and gender inequality. One, in particular, I felt was great was her analysis of Spike Lee’s Crooklyn.

    1. Steve,

      While your advice to CFC may be well-meaning, I detect a lot of “tone argument” at its core:

      It seems you are saying, in short, yes sexism exists, but our concern should be with talking about it “appropriately” so that those who would oppress women are not offended or turned off by anger our zealousness.

      Jay Electronica’s behavior, to me, seems pretty damned nefarious, especially within the rape culture that exists. I don’t understand how the most important thing to address, following that post and this, is how CFC might more properly address sexism through more frequent posting.

      1. Tami I appreciate your engagement but I think you are misunderstanding.

        I am not saying that the site should change it’s “tone” (I think I explicitly say that should not marginalize their message even) but there are a few things that the site can do to change its approach practically to provide more context for the issues that they take up.

        I think I have lined that out by saying post more often to not seem as they are singling people out, link back to other instances of the issue to give context or be a bit more concise on the analysis of the issue at hand so that there is more of understanding as that many who may read the site may have difficulty understanding inequality on the level of gender.

        I am not speaking about “tone”.

    2. I do understand that your post is not about “tone” per se, but similar to the Tone Argument it focuses on HOW marginalized people talk about an “ism” vs. the “ism” itself, which is the greater sin. IMHO it is equally derailing.

  4. Great post. I’ve always felt one of the great short falls of feminist movements is the lack of a concerted effort to include male allies. Of course, patriarchal stereotyping has made it seem that feminism is about women and is inherently anti-men so I understand how the division has happened. But, if the idea and practice of gender equality is ever to become the norm, the other half has to play a more significant role.
    The additional challenge in communities of color here in the States is that sexism has (and continues to) be largely ignored in place of conversations about racism (as if the two aren’t inextricably linked!).

  5. Traps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality and Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power are both good reads. Informing people about resources they can educate themselves with goes a very long way to increasing awareness, and fostering much needed dialogue. Not surprisingly, I’ve never heard of some of those books, so I’m going to do some digging for them.

    I think the Black male privilege checklist is a good tool for the purposes of raising awareness in those who are unware…but most of the items on the list have to do with male rather than being a Black male. A lot of the items are very specious.

    Very good list of resources you posted.

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