Saturday, May 8, 2010

What Does Feminism's "Whiteness" Problem Have To Do With The Men's Rights Mo...


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via maia medicine on 5/8/10



Does the topic of this article (whiteness within the feminist movement) have anything to do with the comments under this one (the grievances of the men's rights movement)?

I think so. First, a disclaimer: I think the men's rights movement is terribly misguided in the way it portrays a supposed gender war in America and equally misguided in claiming that women are now so super-duper privileged that they just trample all over dudes and get away with it.

Nonetheless, many of the grievances voiced by men's rights activists (MRAs) are legitimate, even if said MRAs have no understanding that the root cause is not an overzealous women's lib, but a capitalist economic system that treats people as valuable only insofar as they can work.

So, what are some of the class- and race-stratified inequalities that would be valuable for mainstream feminism to address?

For starters:

  1. Homelessness disproportionately affects poor, single men. In part, this is due to the underdiagnosis of mental illness in men (which I would attribute to the historic gender bias in psychiatry). Why does the state not take an interest in eradicating homelessness? Because people who do not work do not matter.
  2. Poor, minority men overwhelmingly fill combat positions in the military. Why does the state not do away with unnecessary wars and prevent the deaths of its civilians? Because there is never an "enough" when it comes to accumulating resources within capitalism.
  3. One is much more likely to be targeted by police or incarcerated if one is non-white and from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background. Besides the racism obviously at play, why does the state not do away with arrests for petty crime? A better question: why does anyone engage in petty crime? Because despite being the richest country in the world, America does not provide for all its citizens and under bourgeois definitions of legitimacy, poor, minority men are expendable.

I don't know how earnest those MRA commenters are — and I find it extremely suspicious that the best-known MRAs are all white — but feminist discourse needs to take into account that being white, upper-middle-class and a woman still leaves you a lot better off than being a non-white man from a poor socioeconomic background. And that does not mean that gender inequality is a non-issue, but it does mean that the movement needs to recognize the extremely privileged position from which its leaders are speaking.

mm, this is a good summation of a thing that has been on my mind but i couldn't figure out how to express without coming across very WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ, which i think lena managed.


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