Men: You are allowed to be feminists at Grumpy Rumblings

I guess that goes for our two male readers….

But if you believe in equality between the sexes, you may call yourself a feminist.

If you believe that society is structured in a way that favors white men, and you want that to change, then you may call yourself a feminist.

Of course, just thinking these things isn’t enough, we also expect you to *act* like a feminist.  (You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.)  Do at least half the chores if you’re partnered, listen to women at meetings and say things like, “Yes, that was the point Mary was just making” when a woman is talked over, question when women are automatically passed over in hiring “let’s look at this cv again,” and so on.  Be on the look out for systems that encourage disparities and work to change them.  There are many things you can do and may ways you can prove your feminist bonafides; be open to learning about what they are.

But if some crazy nutjob on the internet tells you that because you have a Y chromosome, you’re not allowed to be a card-carrying feminist… well, that’s just that crazy nutjob’s opinion.  The nutjob may say (s)he speaks for all women, but (s)he doesn’t.  She will also attack any woman who disagrees with her by telling her that she has too much privilege to speak on the subject, despite having breasts and no Y chromosome.  Just smile and disengage, but keep doing your good work and strive to do better.

Those of us who aren’t nutjobs appreciate it.  There’s a long way to go, and we need your help too.

p.s.  We would tag this post “debatable” except… it really isn’t.  We’re providing a definition for our blog.  Definitions, are, by definition, not debatable.

40 Responses to “Men: You are allowed to be feminists at Grumpy Rumblings”

  1. feMOMhist Says:

    no you can’t. JK, actually what you CAN’t do is f*cking appropriate feminist theory for your work while still maintaining your bullshit, male privilege attitude. umkay?

    p.s. where is my card? I’ve been one since, well one is not born a feminist. One becomes a feminist, and I date my becoming to some time in high school, maybe 15 or 16?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Well, no, that wouldn’t be feminist.

      #2 has a card. She had to apply for it.

      • feMOMhist Says:

        and yet so very very common

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Perhaps among historians. Feminist theory is not particularly prevalent in my field. But there are a minority of men who act like feminists rather than like asshats. They should be encouraged.

        I would in fact, argue that looking at the whole population there are more men who act like feminists than there are people who study feminist theory.

        p.s. In the last murder mystery I read, the archetype of that guy you’re talking about was the victim. He was also sleeping with students just like the guy CPP was talking about.

      • feMOMhist Says:

        in my world there are no non-academic people. It is expected that D00Ds will be feminist anti-hetero/white/class privilege. Thus much faking of it (particularly in dual academic marriages EEEKKKKK)

        were you reading an Amanda Cross mystery?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        No, though I have read Amanda Cross mysteries. This one was Joanne Dobson.

  2. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    There are moral and practical differences between (1) acting like a feminist, (2) being a feminist, and (3) calling oneself a feminist.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      What’s your point? We say if you’re (1) and (2) then you can do (3).

      None of that crap about how if you have a Y chromosome you’re categorically not allowed to do (3). That’s BS and helps the patriarchy win.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        Dunno about Y chromosomes, but as a practical matter, I have never seen anything good come out of those who identify and are identified as men making a big display of calling themselves feminists. Men are already at the center of attention of everyfuckenthing. Do they really need to make themselves the center of attention of feminism?

        Behave like a feminist. Call out misogyny and privilege when you see it. Assert your agreement with feminist theory and the work of feminists. But don’t make it about you.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        We must run in different circles. While I am sure such douches are prevalent in the humanities, where feminist theory is both accepted and mainstream, I don’t actually know any IRL. The culture in my field is such that it takes a lot of bravery to self-identify as a feminist. It’s not some sort of badge of honor so there’s no reason a man would do it unless he also walks the walk. Nobody gets career points for studying feminist theory in my social science.

        And it irritates the crap out of me when someone who is trying to do his best to be a feminist and become more feminist gets shut down by assholes who say he’s not allowed to even try.

        We, EVEN WOMEN, need to work at being more aware of the patriarchy and confronting it. Telling people to STFU because they’re not really feminist is nowhere near as helpful as pointing out ways that we can be more aware of the patriarchy and ways that we can counter it. When a colleague says, “good point” when I point out that a statement he or she has made is based on cultural assumptions about women (or minorities) and is thus potentially harmful, that’s a step forward and should be encouraged, especially when ze doesn’t do that again… and double especially when ze points out such statements when other people make them. And it means a lot more to my male senior faculty when a tall white guy is pointing that out than when a small female or minority is. A big tent focused on learning is how to change culture. Not a tiny exclusive tent focused on shutting down conversation. That’s just another form of bullying and power consolidation. And isn’t feminist in the post-modern sense.

      • becca Says:

        As a practical matter, I have never seen anything good come out of those who identify and are identified as men making a big display of not calling themselves feminists. Men are already at the center of attention of everyf*ckenthing. Do they really need to make themselves the center of attention of feminism?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I have never met anyone who has made a “big display” of calling himself a feminist (which is what I assume you were saying… there are PLENTY of guys in my male-dominated field who make big displays of not calling themselves feminists, in defense of the poor marginalized white man. They’re assholes.)

        We never said anything about men making themselves the “center of attention of feminism” either. We did, however, say unless we want the patriarchy to win, men and women need to be feminists. Everybody should be a feminist.

        On this blog, everyone is allowed to be a feminist. And one can be called a feminist if one believes and acts within accordance to liberal and/or post-modern feminist principles. Winning isn’t having some tiny ivory tower with the most radical of radical feminists getting famous spouting pure feminist theory. Winning is having men and women being treated as equals and society being a better place. That’s not going to happen if men are told they’re not allowed to be feminists just because they have penises.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        And it irritates the crap out of me when someone who is trying to do his best to be a feminist and become more feminist gets shut down by assholes who say he’s not allowed to even try.

        I’m not aware of anyone telling any men that it is useless for them to either try to intentionally behave in a pro-woman anti-misogynist manner or to try to be aware of and amleiorate where possible their unintentional privilege. Why do you continue to insist on conflating these things with actively promoting oneself as a “male feminist”?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        We never said ANYTHING about “actively promoting” oneself as a “male feminist” I, in fact, have never met anyone who does. Unless you think offhanded remarks, “I like to consider myself a feminist” when not coupled with displays of misogyny is considered “actively promoting” which seems to be the knee jerk reaction of many people on the internet. Those people with the knee jerk reactions are not welcome to knee-jerk react here. We are stating that loud and clear here. And it’s our blog.

        However, sometimes one is asked “are you a feminist?” (Or in my field, “What are you, some kind of feminist?”)

        Men are allowed to answer “yes” on this blog without being jumped on by assholes.

        And men are allowed to call themselves feminists so long as they believe and try to act in accordance with feminist as defined by our post. Scalzi– if he wants to call himself a feminist, we’re fine with that. And I think he has. Actively promoting? Well according to some of your readers, probably. Not in the same way a feminist theorist does.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        As usual, it looks like we are in substantial substantive agreement, and maybe are using words differently or whatever.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        Oh, and yeah, I bet we are dealing with different environments, because I have never in my life had anyone ask me “What are you, a feminist or something?” In all of the environments I encounter, the baseline assumption is that everyone accepts feminism. That is why *claims* of feminism don’t mean shitte to me, because even the most actively misogynist dickes claim they are feminists. And that is the context of this whole Schwyzer situ: a gross abusinve woman-hating shittebagge claiming to be a fervent “male feminist”.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Obviously he’s not a feminist. However, many fine gentlemen, including the ones we are partnered with, are. Just because one guy who calls himself a feminist is a douche doesn’t mean that no guy can be called a feminist.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        You’re still conflating, and I don’t understand why. No one said that “no guy can be called a feminist”. D00ds should behave in a pro-woman anti-misogynist manner and try to be aware of and amleiorate where possible their unintentional privilege. Everyone agrees about that.

        Why do you persistently refuse to acknowledge the difference between possessing some attribute and asserting the possession of that attribute?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        People have said that no guy can be called a feminist. You’re not the only person on the internet, believe it or not.

        Why do you persistently refuse to acknowledge that we’re not saying that people who assert the possession of the attribute

        Jesus, I need to draw you a fricking Venn diagram.

        Ok, honey… imagine there are two circles. One circle is “people who act like feminists and believe things that are consistent with feminism of liberal and post-modern types.” The other circle is “people who claim to be feminists.”

        We are talking about the intersection of the two parts. And how some people on the internet say that the intersection does not exist and is not allowed to exist for people with Y chromosomes.

        You keep talking only about the people in the “people who claim they are feminists” circle but are not in the intersection of the two circles. They’re not feminists. So what? They are a DISTRACTION. Move on. We’re not talking about them in our original post (see the “walk the walk” portion) and THEIR EXISTENCE does not mean that the INTERSECTION DOES NOT EXIST. We don’t care about them, we’ve never met them, and we’ve only heard about them on the internet (and in mystery novels where they are generally the victim). We’re sick of hearing “this guy says he’s a feminist but he acts like a douche, therefore men can’t be feminists” You may not have said that, but people do say things like that. And when they do, the patriarchy wins just a little bit more.

        Get it?

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        The people who have said that no guy can be called a feminist are (1) miles off the deep end and (2) eleventeen bajillion miles away from ever reading your blogge. I guess I assumed that you were speaking to the people who were plausibly reading what you were writing.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yes, they are miles off the deep (hence the term “nutjob” in the post). But they do post on blogs that our readers read. See: Cloud’s comment. If Micro Dr. O commented here she’d no doubt agree. Also, comments on your blogge that apparently you don’t read. Some of your readers fall into these categories.

        We are not trying to address the nutjobs. We are trying to address people who are negatively influenced by the nutjobs. The ones who are likely to start using the term, “femi-nazi” (Micro Dr. O has promised never to do that again). It’s post-modernist fighting the patriarchy. Increasing the tent size.

        You are actually not helping and are being a wee bit of a douche yourself. “I guess I assumed you were speaking to people who might actually read your blog” what a privileged and douchy thing to say. You’ve also been using a lot of divisive “You” language in order to bully and generally be an ass. We might have to revoke your post-modern feminist card.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        p.s. Not everything is about you. Even if you are one of our two male readers.

      • Comrade PhysioProf Says:

        I think we are substantively in agreement, and are using words differently.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Note that the post is providing a ground definition for our blog.

  3. Practical Parsimony Says:

    While I was working on MA in English, I was also working on BA in Women’s Studies. I had an English prof who did not call himself a feminist but sort of wanted to be in favor of feminists. He tried to walk the walk as he talked the talk. He just could not hack it. I called him down each time he made assumptions in literature readings. I had to deliberately speak softly to him, in wonderment of his exalted position and his not having a clue. Since I was in the throes of menopause and taking a course on Women and Violence, my rage was just under the surface.

    The poor man thought he understood and sympathized with women’s predicaments. He just wanted to sleep with young students and did. I pointed out things, attitudes, dialogue in women’s writings that he said he had never even seen or thought was important before, “And, I have been teaching this book for 25 years.” I think he learned more about Edith Wharton than he had in those 25 years.

    We flirted outrageously in the discussions. He was clueless. He listened as long as I smiled when I cut down his assumptions…lol. Okay, sometimes I was a little grim. Of course, the grad class was tiny and all held their breaths as we bantered. Only my friend who was gay dared to side with me. As the prof tried to regain the upper hand and explain what Archer said, the male friend would say, “Isn’t that what Linda said when she …..”

    This prof even suggested I repair/sew the lining that was hanging out of his coat! I think he thought he was flirting. ???

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Men who use their positions of power to get sexual favors are not feminists– that’s the “you have to walk the walk” part.

      Your friend who was gay is a good example of a male feminist. We approve.

  4. Cloud Says:

    I’m with you.

    Although, given what I’ve seen of some feminists online, I’m about ready to stop calling myself one. Just kidding… sort of.

    Anyway, in my little male dominated corner of the working universe, I’ll gladly accept a man who treats women as equals and works to fix the structural inequalities in my field even if he wants to call himself the Pope.

    • chacha1 Says:

      That’ll be the day.

      • feMOMhist Says:


        perhaps issue is why D00Ds wish to claim the label feminist, what the difference is between “being” a feminist and “doing” feminist theory, and distinctions between feminism as a philosophy v political position.

        you know the humanities people. we always answer a question with more questions or question the terms of the debate

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      YES. Those online “feminists” we believe are not helping the cause. Seriously.

      And yes, in my little male dominated corner of the working universe, I agree. (Though the Pope is probably the last person who would treat women as equals or work to fix structural inequalities. He doesn’t even care if helpless children get molested. It’s all about the white male adults with him.)

      • chacha1 Says:

        My point. Anyone who wants to call himself the Pope is, pretty much res ipsa loquitur, motivated by something other than a deep and sincere desire for the equality of rights of all humankind.

        Re: humanities people … this would be one reason I quit after the M.A. :-)

      • Cloud Says:

        Hee hee. Sorry, the Pope was a bad outrageous name to throw out there. Maybe I should have said “… even if he wants to call himself Mickey Mouse” or something like that. I certainly wasn’t implying any deep agreement with the Pope!

  5. Debbie M Says:

    Hmm, as I recall, social scientists are ALWAYS debating definitions.

    I don’t call myself a feminist, even though I am a woman. I think that term says that women are important, but it’s not clear how important compared to men. So I prefer to call myself an egalitarian.

    I like all your other points, though. Plus, I find that it’s a lot more fun to take the side of people who clearly aren’t me. For example, I like to think it means more to my ignorant senators when a straight person writes to tell them that gay marriage should be okay. (Although actually, I know it means nothing to them. But hey, they still have to add my opinion to their statistics.)

    Actually, it’s the most fun to take the side of people who clearly aren’t me, but then turn out to be me after all. (“Actually, I’m Jewish.” Heh. Although really, I’m not religious at all anymore, sometimes I can’t help saying that.)

    Oh, but at work, where you have to deal with people afterwards. Thank goodness I live in a different work world than you do. The only way I’ve seen anyone get treated badly for something that doesn’t make any sense is when someone thought another person’s tattoos might be offensive to some people. (I then had to take a look at his tattoos to see if I could guess the offending one. Maybe the devil?) But then, I am socially ignorant and maybe just am not noticing things. I’m certainly quite good at thinking up good reasons people do the annoying things they do so that I don’t have to be annoyed by them.

    Hmm, I know I do say, “That’s what _____ just said!” and that blank isn’t always filled with “I,” so maybe I’m still part of the solution.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      “So I prefer to call myself an egalitarian.”
      Makes you a liberal feminist under the grumpy rumblings definitions of feminism. I don’t like the way that a subsect of feminists has co-opted the word as if they have a trademark on it and are thus making people who don’t want to be associated with *them* not want to be associated with feminism. We at grumpy rumblings favor a big tent. Not just a tent for selfish bullies (of either male or female varieties).

      “Hmm, I know I do say, “That’s what _____ just said!” and that blank isn’t always filled with “I,” so maybe I’m still part of the solution.”
      You are!

  6. Ink Says:

    I like the big tent analogy.
    And I like Joanne Dobson’s books, too!

  7. Rumpus Says:

    I need a guide or something. I am either so brainwashed, or so socially clueless, that I miss misogynistic social situations (not professors sleeping with students, but e.g., someone re-stating comments from a woman as though their own). I don’t think I commit them, and I try to be aware of what’s happening around me in general, but I know I miss stuff because it’s been pointed out by other people around me. Anyway…a guide or something…preferably an app for my smartphone, but I’ll take a babelfish if need be.

  8. Sugel Says:

    Today’s woman isn’t a feminist. She doesn’t need to be, because she’s empowered. She may only earn 3/4 of what a man earns, but she damn well has the empower to look sexy doing it in her cheapcrap push-up bra from Victoria’s Secret. She has the empower to demand pink products from manufacturers. She has the empower to cry out ‘I did it for me!’ when she gets her boob job; maybe she even has the empower to believe it. The empowerful woman is saucy, yet feminine. Clever, yet feminine. In her early thirties, yet feminine. Heterosexual, yet feminine. Stays in shape eating Lean Cuisine and sweating blue Gatorade while kickboxing in slow motion, yet feminine. Yes, the empowerful woman is many things. Too bad powerful isn’t one of them. That’s because feminine is all of them.

  9. A somewhat late link love « Grumpy rumblings of the half-tenured Says:

    […] Hm, seems like feminism is in the air this week.  (And Scalzi, you are allowed to be called a feminist on our blog.) […]

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