hooks. Comrades in Struggle

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 MEN: COMRADES IN STRUGGLE

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 5 Feminism defined as a movement to end sexist oppression enables women and men, girls and boys, to participate equally in revolutionary struggle. So far, contemporary feminist move­ ment has been primarily generated by the efforts of women­ men have rarely participated. This lack of participation is not solely a consequence of anti-feminism. By making women’s liberation synonymous with women gaining social equality with men, liberal feminists effectively created a situation in which they, not men, designated feminist movement “women’s work.” Even as they were attacking sex role divisions of labor, the institutionalized sexism which assigns unpaid, devalued, “dirty” work to women, they were assigning to women yet another sex role task: making feminist revolution. Women’s liberationists called upon all women to join feminist movement but they did not continually stress that men should assume responsibility for actively struggling to end sexist oppression. Men, they argued, were all-powerful, misogynist, oppressor­ the enemy. Women were the oppressed-the victims. Such rhe­toric reinforced sexist ideology by positing in an inverted form the notion of a basic conflict between the sexes, the implication being that the empowerment of women would necessarily be at the expense of men.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 4 As with other issues, the insistence on a “woman only” feminist movement and a virulent anti-male stance reflected the race and class background of participants. Bourgeois white women, especially radical feminists, were envious and angry birds at privileged white men for denying them an equal share in class privilege. In part, feminism provided them with a public forum for the expression of their anger as well as a political platform they could use to call attention to issues of social equality, demand change, and promote specific reforms. They were not eager to call attention to the fact that men do not share a common social status; that patriarchy does not negate the existence of class and race privilege or exploitation; that all men do not benefit equally from sexism. They did not want to acknowledge that bourgeois white women, though often vic­timized by sexism, have more power and privilege, are less likely to be exploited or oppressed, than poor, uneducated, non­ white males. At the time, many white women’s liberationists did not care about the fate of oppressed groups of men. In keeping with the exercise of race and/ or class privilege, they deemed the life experiences of these men unworthy of their attention, dismissed them, and simultaneously deflected atten­tion away from their support of continued exploitation and oppression. Assertions like “all men are the enemy,” “all men hate women” lumped all groups of men in one category, there­ by suggesting that they share equally in all forms of male privilege. One of the first written statements which endeavored to make an anti-male stance a central feminist position was “The Redstocking Manifesto.” Clause III of the manifesto reads:

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 6 We identify the agents of our oppression as men. Male supremacy is the oldest, most basic form of domination. All other forms of exploitation and oppression (racism, capital­ ism, imperialism, etc.) are extensions of male supremacy: men dominate women, a few men dominate the rest. All power situations throughout history have been male­ dominated and male-oriented. Men have controlled all po­litical, economic, and cultural institutions and backed up this control with physical force. They have used their power to keep women in an inferior position. All men receive eco­nomic, sexual, and psychological benefits from male supre­macy. All men have oppressed women.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 3 Anti-male sentiments alienated many poor and working class women, particularly non-white women, from feminist movement. Their life experiences had shown them that they have more in common with men of their race and/ or class group than bourgeois white women. They know the sufferings and hardships women face in their communities; they also know the sufferings and hardships men face and they have compassion for them. They have had the experience of strug­gling with them for a better life. This has been especially true for black women. Throughout our history in the United States, black women have shared equal responsibility in all struggles to resist racist oppression. Despite sexism, black women have continually contributed equally to anti-racist struggle, and frequently, before contemporary black liberation effort, black men recognized this contribution. There is a special tie binding people together who struggle collectively for liberation. Black women and men have been united by such ties. They have known the experience of political solidarity. It is the experience of shared resistance struggle that led black women to reject the anti-male stance of some feminist activists. This does not mean that black women were not willing to acknowledge the reality of black male sexism. It does mean that many of us do not believe we will combat sexism or woman-hating by attacking black men or responding to them in kind.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 1 Bourgeois white women cannot conceptualize the bonds that develop between women and men in liberation struggle and have not had as many positive experiences working with men politically. Patriarchal white male rule has usually devalued female political input. Despite the prevalence of sex­ ism in black communities, the role black women play in social institutions, whether primary or secondary, is recognized by everyone as significant and valuable. In an interview with Claudia Tate, black woman writer Maya Angelou explains her sense of the different role black and white women play in their communities:

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Black women and white women are in strange positions in our separate communities. In the social gatherings of black people, black women have always been predominant. That is to say, in the church it’s always Sister Hudson, Sister Thomas, and Sister Wetheringay who keep the church alive. In lay gatherings it’s always Lottie who cooks, and Mary who’s going to Bonita’s where there is a good party going on. Also, black women are the nurturers of children in our community. White women are in a different position in their social institutions. White men, who are in effect their fathers, husbands, brothers, their sons, nephews, and uncles say to white women or imply in any case: “I don’t really need you to run my institutions. I need you in certain places and in those places you must be kept-in the bed-room, in the kitchen, in the nursery, and on the pedestal.” Black women have never been told this …

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 1 Without the material input of black women, as participants and leaders, many male-dominated institutions in black com­munities would cease to exist; this is not the case in all white communities.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 3 Many black women refused participation in feminist movement because they felt an anti-male stance was not a sound basis for action. They were convinced that virulent expressions of these sentiments intensify sexism by adding to the antagonism which already exists between women and men. For years black women (and some black men) had been struggling to overcome the tensions and antagonisms between black females and males that is generated by internalized racism (i.e. when the white patriarchy suggests one group has caused the oppression of the other). Black women were saying to black men, “we are not one another’s enemy,” “we must resist the socialization that teaches us to hate ourselves and one another.” This affirmation of bonding between black women and men was part of anti-racist struggle. It could have been a part of feminist struggle had white women’s liberation­ists stressed the need for women and men to resist the sexist socialization that teaches us to hate and fear one another. They chose instead to emphasize hate, especially male woman­ hating, suggesting that it could not be changed. Therefore no viable political solidarity could exist between women and men. Women of color, from various ethnic backgrounds, as well as women who were active in the gay movement, not only expe­rienced the development of solidarity between women and men in resistance struggle, but recognized its value. They were not willing to devalue this bonding by allying themselves with anti-male bourgeois white women. Encouraging political bond­ ing between women and men to radically resist sexist oppres­sion would have called attention to the transformative poten­tial of feminism. The anti-male stance was a reactionary perspective that made feminism appear to be a movement that would enable white women to usurp white male power, replac­ing white male supremacist rule with white female suprema­cist rule.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 1 Within feminist organizations, the issue of female separa­tism was initially separated from the anti-male stance; it was only as the movement progressed that the two perspectives merged. Many all-female, sex-segregated groups were formed because women recognized that separatist organizing could hasten female consciousness-raising, lay the groundwork for the development of solidarity between women, and generally advance the movement. It was believed that mixed groups would get bogged down by male power trips. Separatist groups were seen as a necessary strategy, not as a way to attack men.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Ultimately, the purpose of such groups was integration with equality. The positive implications of separatist organizing were diminished when radical feminists, like Ti Grace Atkin­ son, proposed sexual separatism as an ultimate goal of femi­nist movement. Reactionary separatism is rooted in the con­viction that male supremacy is an absolute aspect of our culture, that women have only two alternatives: accepting it or withdrawing from it to create subcultures. This position elimi­nates any need for revolutionary struggle and it is in no way a threat to the status quo. In the essay “Separate to Integrate,” Barbara Leon stresses that male supremacists would rather feminist movement remain “separate and unequal.” She gives the example of orchestra conductor Antonia Brico’s efforts to shift from an all-women orchestra to a mixed orchestra, only to find she could not get support for the latter:

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 1 Antonia Brico’s efforts were acceptable as long as she con­ fined herself to proving that women were qualified musi­cians. She had no trouble finding 100 women who could play in an orchestra or getting financial backing for them to do so. But finding the backing for men and women to play together in a truly integrated orchestra proved to be impos­sible. Fighting for integration proved to be more of a threat to male supremacy and, therefore, harder to achieve.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 1 The women’s movement is at the same point now. We can take the easier way of accepting segregation, but that would mean losing the very goals for which the movement was formed. Reactionary separatism has been a way of halting the push of feminism … During the course of contemporary feminist movement,reactionary separatism has led many women to abandon fem­inist struggle, yet it remains an accepted pattern for feminist organizing, e.g. autonomous women’s groups within the peace movement. As a policy, it has helped to marginalize feminist struggle, to make it seem more a personal solution to individual problems, especially problems with men, than a political movement which aims to transform society as a whole. To return to an emphasis on feminism as revolutionary struggle,women can no longer allow feminism to be another arena for the continued expression of antagonism between the sexes. The time has come for women active in feminist movement to develop new strategies for including men in the struggle against sexism.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 2 All men support and perpetuate sexism and sexist oppres­sion in one form or another. It is crucial that feminist activists not get bogged down in intensifying our awareness of this fact to the extent that we do not stress the more unemphasized point which is that men can lead life affirming, meaningful lives without exploiting and oppressing women. Like women, men have been socialized to passively accept sexist ideology. While they need not blame themselves for accepting sexism, they must assume responsibility for eliminating it. It angers women activists who push separatism as a goal of feminist movement to hear emphasis placed on men being victimized by sexism; they cling to the “all men are the enemy” version of reality. Men are not exploited or oppressed by sexism, but there are ways in which they suffer as a result of it. This suffering should not be ignored. While it in no way diminishes the seriousness of male abuse and oppression of women, or negates male respon­sibility for exploitative actions, the pain men experience can serve as a catalyst calling attention to the need for change. Recognition of the painful consequences of sexism in their lives led some men to establish consciousness-raising groups to examine this. Paul Hornacek explains the purpose of these gatherings in his essay “Anti-Sexist Consciousness-Raising Groups for Men”:

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Men have reported a variety of different reasons for decid­ ing to seek a C-Rgroup, all of which have an underlying link to the feminist movement. Most are experiencing emotional pain as a result of their male sex role and are dissatisfied with it. Some have had confrontations with radical femi­nists in public or private encounters and have been repeat­edly criticized for being sexist. Some come as a result of their commitment to social change and their recognition that sexism and patriarchy are elements of an intolerable social system that needs to be altered …

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 1 Men in the consciousness-raising groups Hornacek describes acknowledge that they benefit from patriarchy and yet are also hurt by it. Men’s groups, like women’s support groups, run the risk of overemphasizing personal change at the expense of political analysis and struggle.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 1 Separatist ideology encourages women to ignore the nega­tive impact of sexism on male personhood. It stresses polariza­tion between the sexes. According to Joy Justice, separatists believe that there are “two basic perspectives” on the issue of naming the victims of sexism: “There is the perspective that men oppress women. And there is the perspective that people are people, and we are all hurt by rigid sex roles.” Many separa­tists feel that the latter perspective is a sign of co-optation, representing women’s refusal to confront the fact that men are the enemy-they insist on the primacy of the first perspective. Both perspectives accurately describe our predicament. Men do oppress women. People are hurt by rigid sex role patterns. These two realities co-exist. Male oppression of women cannot be excused by the recognition that there are ways men are hurt by rigid sex roles. Feminist activists should acknowledge that hurt-it exists. It does not erase or lessen male responsibility for supporting and perpetuating their power under patriarchy to exploit and oppress women in a manner far more grievous than the psychological stress or emotional pain caused by male conformity to rigid sex role patterns.

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 1 Women active in feminist movement have not wanted to focus in any way on male pain so as not to deflect attention away form the focus on male privilege. Separatist feminist rhetoric suggested that all men shared equally in male privi­lege, that all men reap positive benefits from sexism. Yet the poor or working class man who has been socialized via sexist ideology to believe that there are privileges and powers he should possess solely because he is male often finds that few if any of these benefits are automatically bestowed him in life. More than any other male group in the United States, he is constantly concerned about the contradiction between the notion of masculinity he was taught and his inability to live up to that notion. He is usually “hurt,” emotionally scarred because he does not have the privilege or power society has taught him “real men” should possess. Alienated, frustrated, pissed off, he may attack, abuse, and oppress an individual woman or women, but he is not reaping positive benefits from his support and perpetuation of sexist ideology. When he beats or rapes women, he is not exercising privilege or reaping posi­tive rewards; he may feel satisfied in exercising the only form of domination allowed him. The ruling class male power struc­ture that promotes his sexist abuse of women reaps the real material benefits and privileges from his actions. As long as he is attacking women and not sexism or capitalism, he helps to maintain a system that allows him few, if any, benefits or privileges. He is an oppressor. He is an enemy to women. He is also an enemy to himself. He is also oppressed. His abuse of women is not justifiable. Even though he has been socialized to act as he does, there are existing social movements that would enable him to struggle for self-recovery and liberation. By ignoring these movements, he chooses to remain both oppres­sor and oppressed. If feminist movement ignores his predica­ment, dismisses his hurt, or writes him off as just another male enemy, then we are passively condoning his actions.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 The process by which men act as oppressors and are oppressed is particularly visible in black communities, where men are working class and poor. In her essay “Notes For Yet Another Paper on Black Feminism, or Will The Real Enemy Please Stand Up?,” black feminist activist Barbara Smith suggests that black women are unwilling to confront the prob­lem of sexist oppression in black communities:

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 1 By naming sexist oppression as a problem it would appear that we would have to identify as threatening a group we have heretofore assumed to be our allies-Black men. This seems to be one of the major stumbling blocks to beginning to analyze the sexual relationships/sexual politics of our lives. The phrase “men are not the enemy” dismisses femi­nism and the reality of patriarchy in one breath and also overlooks some major realities. If we cannot entertain the idea that some men are the enemy, especially white men and in a different sense Black men too, then we will never be able to figure out all the reasons why, for example, we are be a ten up every day, why we are sterilized against our wills, why we are being raped by our neighbors, why we are pregnant at age twelve, and why we are at home on welfare with more children than we can support or care for. Acknowledging the sexism of Black men does not mean that we become “manhaters” or necessarily eliminates them from our lives. What it does mean is that we must struggle for a different basis of interaction with them.

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 Women in black communities have been reluctant to publicly discuss sexist oppression, but they have always known it exists. We too have been socialized to accept sexist ideology and many black women feel that black male abuse of women is a reflection of frustrated masculinity-such thoughts lead them to see that abuse is understandable, even justified. The vast majority of black women think that just publicly stating that these men are the enemy or identifying them as oppressors would do little to change the situation; they fear it could simply lead to greater victimization. Naming oppressive realities, in and of itself, has not brought about the kinds of changes for oppressed groups that it can for more privileged groups, who command a different quality of attention. The public naming of sexism has generally not resulted in the institutionalized violence that characterized, for example, the response to black civil rights struggles. (Private naming, however, is often met with violent oppression.) Black women have not joined femi­nist movement not because they cannot face the reality of sexist oppression; they face it daily. They do not join feminist movement because they do not see in feminist theory and prac­tice, especially those writings made available to masses of people, potential solutions.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 So far, feminist rhetoric identifying men as the enemy has had few positive implications. Had feminist activists called attention to the relationship between ruling class men and the vast majority of men, who are socialized to perpetuate and maintain sexism and sexist oppression even as they reap no life-affirming benefits, these men might have been motivated to examine the impact of sexism in their lives. Often feminist activists talk about male abuse of women as if it is an exercise of privilege rather than an expression of moral bankruptcy, insanity, and dehumanization. For example, in Barbara Smith’s essay, she identifies white males as “the primary oppressor group in American society” and discusses the nature of their domination of others. At the end of the passage in which this statement is made she comments: “It is not just rich and powerful capitalists who inhibit and destroy life. Rapists, murderers, lynchers, and ordinary bigots do too and exercise very real and violent power because of this white male privi­lege.” Implicit in this statement is the assumption that the act of committing violent crimes against women is either a gesture or an affirmation of privilege. Sexist ideology brainwashes men to believe that their violent abuse of women is beneficial when it is not. Yet feminist activists affirm this logic when we should be constantly naming these acts as expressions of per­ verted power relations, general lack of control over one’s actions, emotional powerlessness, extreme irrationality, and in many cases, outright insanity. Passive male absorption of sexist ideology enables them to interpret this disturbed behavior positively. As long as men are brainwashed to equate vio­ lent abuse of women with privilege, they will have no under­ standing of the damage done to themselves, or the damage they do to others, and no motivation to change.

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 1 Individuals committed to feminist revolution must ad­ dress ways that men can unlearn sexism. Women were never encouraged in contemporary feminist movement to point out to men their responsibility. Some feminist rhetoric “put down” women who related to men at all. Most women’s liberationists were saying “women have nurtured, helped, and supported others for too long-now we must fend for ourselves.” Having helped and supported men for centuries by acting in complicity with sexism, women were suddenly encouraged to withdraw their support when it came to the issue of “liberation.” The insistence on a concentrated focus on individualism, on the primacy of self, deemed “liberatory” by women’s liberation­ists, was not a visionary, radical concept of freedom. It did provide individual solutions for women, however. It was the same idea of independence perpetuated by the imperial pa­triarchal state which equates independence with narcissism and lack of concern with triumph over others. In this way, women active in feminist movement were simply inverting the dominant ideology of the culture-they were not attacking it. They were not presenting practical alternatives to the status quo. In fact, even the statement “men are the enemy” was basically an inversion of the male supremacist doctrine that “women are the enemy” -the old Adam and Eve version of reality.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 1 In retrospect, it is evident that the emphasis on “man as enemy” deflected attention away from focus on improving relationships between women and men, ways for men and women to work together to unlearn sexism. Bourgeois women active in feminist movement exploited the notion of a natural polarization between the sexes to draw attention to equal rights effort. They had an enormous investment in depicting the male as enemy and the female as victim. They were the group of women who could dismiss their ties with men once they had an equal share in class privilege. They were ulti­mately more concerned with obtaining an equal share in class privilege than with the struggle to eliminate sexism and sexist oppression. Their insistence on separating from men height­ened the sense that they, as women without men, needed equaity of opportunity. Most women do not have the freedom to separate from men because of economic inter-dependence. The separatist notion that women could resist sexism by withdraw­ ing from contact with men reflected a bourgeois class perspec­ tive. In Cathy McCandless’ essay “Some Thoughts About Racism, Classism, and Separatism,” she makes the point that separatism is in many ways a false issue because “in this capitalist economy, none of us are truly separate.” However, she adds:

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 2 Socially, it’s another matter entirely. The richer you are, the less you generally have to acknowledge those you depend upon. Money can buy you a great deal of distance. Given enough of it, it is even possible never to lay eyes upon a man. It’s a wonderful luxury, having control over who you lay eyes on, but let’s face it: most women’s daily survival still involves face-to-face contact with men whether they like it or not. It seems to me that for this reason alone, criticizing women who associate with men not only tends to be coun­terproductive; it borders on blaming the victim. Particu­larly if the women taking it upon themselves to set the standards are white and upper or middle class (as has often been the case in my experience) and those to whom they apply these rules are not.

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 1 Devaluing the real necessities of life that compel many women to remain in contact with men, as well as not respecting the desire of women to keep contact with men, created an unneces­sary conflict of interest for those women who might have been very interested in feminism but felt they could not live up to the politically correct standards.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Feminist writings did not say enough about ways women could directly engage in feminist struggle in subtle, day-to-day contacts with men, although they have addressed crises. Fem­inism is politically relevant to the masses of women who daily interact with men both publicly and privately, if it addresses ways that interaction, which usually has negative components because sexism is so all-pervasive, can be changed. Women who have daily contact with men need useful strategies that will enable them to integrate feminist movement into their daily life. By inadequately addressing or failing to address the difficult issues, contemporary feminist movement located it­ self on the periphery of society rather than at the center. Many women and men think feminism is happening, or happened, “out there.” Television tells them the “liberated” woman is an exception, that she is primarily a careerist. Commercials like the one that shows a white career woman shifting from work attire to flimsy clothing exposing flesh, singing all the while “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never let you forget you’re a man” reaffirm that her careerism will not pre­ vent her from assuming the stereotyped sex object role as­ signed women in male supremacist society.

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 1 Often men who claim to support women’s liberation do so because they believe they will benefit by no longer having to assume specific, rigid sex roles they find negative or restrictive. The role they are most willing and eager to change is that of economic provider. Commercials like the one described above assure men that women can be breadwinners or even “the” breadwinner, but still allow men to dominate them. Carol Hanisch’s essay “Men’s Liberation” explores the attempt by these men to exploit women’s issues to their own advantage, particularly those issues related to work:

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 1 Another major issue is the attempt by men to drop out of the work force and put their women to work supporting them. Men don’t like their jobs, don’t like the rat race, and don’t like having a boss. That’s what all the whining about being a “success symbol” or “success object” is really all about. Well, women don’t like those things either, especially since they get paid 40% less than men for working, generally have more boring jobs, and rarely are even allowed to be “suc­cessful.” But for women working is usually the only way to achieve some equality and power in the family, in their relationship with men, some independence. A man can quit work and pretty much still remain the master of the house­ hold, gaining for himself a lot of free time since the work he does doesn’t come close to what his wife or lover does. In most cases, she’s still doing more than her share of the housework in addition to wife work and her job. Instead of fighting to make his job better, to end the rat race, and to get rid of bosses, he sends his woman to work-not much differ­ent from the old practice of buying a substitute for the draft, or even pimping. And all in the name of breaking down “role stereotypes” or some such nonsense.

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 Such a “men’s liberation movement” could only be formed in reaction to women’s liberation in an attempt to make femi­nist movement serve the opportunistic interests of individual men. These men identified themselves as victims of sexism, working to liberate men. They identified rigid sex roles as the primary source of their victimization and though they wanted to change the notion of masculinity, they were not particularly concerned with their sexist exploitation and oppression of women. Narcissism and general self-pity characterized men’s liberation groups. Hanisch concludes her essay with the statement:

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 1 Women don’t want to pretend to be weak and passive. And we don’t want phony, weak, passive acting men any more than we want phony supermen full of bravado and little else. What women want is for men to be honest. Women want men to be bold-boldly honest, aggressive in their human pursuits. Boldly passionate, sexual and sensual. And women want this for themselves. It’s time men became boldly radical. Daring to go to the root of their own exploita­tion and seeing that it is not women or “sex roles” or “society” causing their unhappiness, but capitalists and capitalism. It’s time men dare to name and fight these, their real exploiters. Men who have dared to be honest about sexism and sexist

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 oppression, who have chosen to assume responsibility for opposing and resisting it, often find themselves isolated. Their politics are disdained by anti-feminist men and women, and are often ignored by women active in feminist movement. Writ­ ing about his efforts to publicly support feminism in a local newspaper in Santa Cruz, Morris Conerly explains:

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 Talking with a group of men, the subject of Women’s Liber­ ation inevitably comes up. A few laughs, snickers, angry mutterings, and denunciations follow. There is a group con­ sensus that men are in an embattled position and must close ranks against the assaults of misguided females. Without fail, someone will solicit me for my view, which is that I am 100% for Women’s Liberation. That throws them for a loop and they start staring at me as if my eyebrows were crawling with lice.

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 They’re thinking, “What kind of man is he?” I am a black man who understands that women are not my enemy. If I were a white man with a position of power, one could understand the reason for defending the status quo. Even then, the defense of a morally bankrupt doctrine that exploits and oppresses others would be inexcusable.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 Conerly stresses that it was not easy for him to publicly sup­ port feminist movement, that it took time:

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 … Why did it take me some time? Because I was scared of the negative reaction I knew would come my way by supporting Women’s Liberation. In my mind I could hear it from the brothers and sisters. “What kind of man are you?” “Who’s wearing the pants?” “Why are you in that white shit?” And on and on. Sure enough the attacks came as I had foreseen but by that time my belief was firm enough to withstand public scorn. With growth there is pain … and that truism certainly applied in my case.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 Men who actively struggle against sexism have a place in feminist movement. They are our comrades. Feminists have recognized and supported the work of men who take responsi­bility for sexist oppression-men’s work with batterers, for example. Those women’s liberationists who see no value in this participation must re-think and re-examine the process by which revolutionary struggle is advanced. Individual men tend to become involved in feminist movement because of the pain generated in relationships with women. Usually a woman friend or companion has called attention to their support of male supremacy. Jon Snodgrass introduces the book he edited, A Book of Readings: For Men Against Sexism, by telling read­ ers:

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 While there were aspects of women’s liberation which appealed to men, on the whole my reaction was typical of men. I was threatened by the movement and responded with anger and ridicule. I believed that men and women were oppressed by capitalism, but not that women were oppressed by men. I argued that “men are oppressed too” and that it’s workers who need liberation! I was unable to recognize a hierarchy of inequality between men and women (in the working class) nor to attribute it to male domination. My blindness to patriarchy, I now think, was a function of my male privilege. As a member of the male gender case, I either ignored or suppressed women’s liberation.

39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 My full introduction to the women’s movement came through a personal relationship … As our relationship deve­loped, I began to receive repeated criticism for being sexist. At first I responded, as part of the male backlash, with anger and denial. In time, however, I began to recognize the validity of the accusation, and eventually even to acknowl­edge the sexism in my denial of the accusations. Snodgrass participated in the men’s consciousness­

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 raising groups and edited the book of readings in 1977. Towards the end of the 1970s, interest in male anti-sexist groups declined. Even though more men than ever before sup­ port the idea of social equality for women, like women they do not see this support as synonymous with efforts to end sexist oppression, with feminist movement that would radically transform society. Men who advocate feminism as a movement to end sexist oppression must become more vocal and public in their opposition to sexism and sexist oppression. Until men share equal responsibility for struggling to end sexism, femi­nist movement will reflect the very sexist contradictions we wish to eradicate.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 1 Separatist ideology encourages us to believe that women alone can make feminist revolution-we cannot. Since men are the primary agents maintaining and supporting sexism and sexist oppression, they can only be successfully eradicated if men are compelled to assume responsibility for transforming their consciousness and the consciousness of society as a whole. After hundreds of years of anti-racist struggle, more than ever before non-white people are currently calling atten­tion to the primary role white people must play in anti-racist struggle. The same is true of the struggle to eradicate sexism­ men have a primary role to play. This does not mean that they are better equipped to lead feminist movement; it does mean that they should share equally in resistance struggle. In par­ticular, men have a tremendous contribution to make to femi­nist struggle in the area of exposing, confronting, opposing, and transforming the sexism of their male peers. When men show a willingness to assume equal responsibility in feminist struggle, performing whatever tasks are necessary, women should affirm their revolutionary work by acknowledging them as comrades in struggle.

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Source: https://wgs10016.commons.gc.cuny.edu/hooks-comrades-in-struggle/

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