Ah, so I feel like I’ve been away from the blog for awhile — and I have. So here I am, back from the windy mountains of Boulder, CO, to arrive in windy snowflakes tossing around and stinging my cheeks.
Some thoughts about pro-feminist men based on my research, in relation to g&t…
First off, who are pro-feminist men? The movement of pro-feminist men arose in the late ’60s and early ’70s in the US, UK, and Australia. Pro-feminist men support feminism (some call themselves feminists — see Alankaar Sharma’s “Feminist. Man. Feminist man.” but some not wanting to infringe upon the empowerment of feminist women call themselves pro-feminist). They believe in and promote gender equality and justice. There are many concerns within the movement, and, as is the case for female feminists, different pro-feminist men focus on different issues. A big one is male violence against women, but there’s also gender equality in school curricula, pornography, men’s health, masculinity, and many others. In some ways these last two are bringing back the focus to men, but the idea is to rethink gender roles and how they are constricting to both men and women — more as a shared front for action and a motivating force for men rather than as detracting from a women’s movement (though there might be such repercussions too…).
My research has mostly consisted of looking at websites for organizations for pro-feminist men, such as the White Ribbon Campaign, as well as reading articles written by or for pro-feminist men. Hence I’ve been looking at the technology of pro-feminist men — how they express themselves using technology, how they communicate and spread the message to others using technology.
Some of the discussion/articles has centered around the gender system itself, its current construction as a binary structure which reinforces strict gender roles for both women and men. Some interesting discussion about this by Alankaar Sharma (again, in “Feminist. Man. Feminist man.“):
I don’t feel embarrassed at calling myself a man, because in doing so, I believe I am taking power away from the social construction of the term “man”. […] And when I proclaim myself as a man too, I believe I’m helping pluralize the term “man” [, ….] shifting the terminology from “man” to “men”… “masculinity” to “masculinities”.
So he thinks that, in calling himself both a feminist and a man, he is stretching the definition of man, rather than enforcing the construction of stereotypical gender roles. Perhaps he still is upholding the gender binary, but pushing it. And he is reconstructing and rethinking the technology of gender by pluralizing and opening up the term man to encompass more kinds of men. Further, this was a repeated theme of the pro-feminist men websites, allowing men a way out of the dominant gender role which our society preaches (which, they note, is part of the feedback loop of patriarchy/male oppression of women) and into other definitions of being a man (yet all the while, still within the confounds of labeling oneself a man).
So. Engendering technology. I’ve talked a bit about how pro-feminist men are relating to the intersection of gender and technology, how they are rethinking the gender of technology (as part of the bigger movement to support equality between women and men). But, kind of like Rebecca, I’m attempting to think how pro-feminist men are engendering technology (by engender, I’m assuming we mean “make gendered” rather than the traditional definition of “producing, spurring on”), and not coming up with much
One thing I did come across which perhaps relates to engendering technology (and the gender-technology relation over all, too) is this one pro-feminist men’s website called XY. While this site is doing a lot to promote discussion/thoughts in terms of questioning women and men’s gender roles, I was disappointed by their choice of name. By labeling themselves “XY: men, masculinities, and gender politics”, they are 1) continuing the notion of a gender binary and 2) supporting the notion that having XY chromosomes makes someone a man, whereas, as we have discussed in class, being a man (as much as that has any meaning, since it’s just a label too!) can depend on gender identity, chromosomes, hormones, society, sexual parts, etc. I can see why they named it how they did: it’s short and catchy — which fits well with their technological medium of being a website. The nature of the technology they’re using, then, is informing their use of words.
Furthermore, are they gender-izing technology by naming a website XY? Does that make the website male? [OK that’s probably a bit of a stretch, but I’m trying to relate the genderizing of technology to pro-feminist men and just trying things out here, experimenting…] Is the website for men? By mostly men? If the website is mainly for men written mostly by men, then maybe they are genderizing the technology. And then that seems to be counteracting the goals of pro-feminism (I’m not sure if XY is so much is a pro-feminist site as a site questioning gender issues, where some pro-feminist viewpoints are placed). Or maybe it’s not?