I don't know if I have anything to add to Hugo's observations or Amanda's rebuttal -- or McBoing's remonstration -- or the zillions of comments on all these posts.
The most difficult thing about being a young pro-feminist man isn't just practicing one's feminist principles in all aspects of one's life, though that sure as heck is difficult enough. I told Pete last week that I'd found that the most difficult thing to do was to become clear on the difference between an attractive and compelling confidence and a privileged arrogance. Pro-feminism is not about turning men into eager and attentive servants or rescuing knights in shining armor. It's possible to learn to renounce male privilege while retaining a strong, bold, sense of oneself. Sometimes, in other words, a pro-feminist man can make decisions. As Jackie put it, "I don't want a man to always ask me where I want to go to dinner -- sometimes I want a man confident enough to pick the damn restaurant on his own."
In the end, I told Pete, there's more to life as a man than choosing between being a wimp or a jerk! Pro-feminism, at its best, is not "wimpy." Indeed, it's intensely courageous, as it involves the conscious and public refusal to live up to what our culture traditionally demands of men. It also demands that men stand up to other men, challenging their sexism even when no women are around. As most young guys will tell you, there aren't many things that are scarier than speaking up against misogyny when in an all-male group. Any young man who can do that is doing something exceptionally brave and impressive.McBoing:
1) Hugo Schwyzer is an apologist tool.
2) Olâ€™ boy who complains that feminism canâ€™t get him laid hasnâ€™t met the right girls. There are plenty of feminist women in the college atmosphere, he just has to give up the shallow girls to remember them. And, doubtfully, they may indeed lay him, but first it requires him to see them as people instead of fancy masturbatory tools.
It is a complicated relationship, I know. Tools all around.
Let me put it this wayâ€“youâ€™re not committed to womenâ€™s equality if you still think that women are obliged to reward you with a pussy avalanche for lowering yourself to treating them like human beings. And if you walk around with a chip on you shoulder, angry that women donâ€™t immediately take off their pants because you kindly point out that youâ€™re sure that their boyfriends are dickheads, because you know women like jerks, itâ€™s going to show.
And letâ€™s be frank, the niceness of â€œniceâ€ guys is highly questionable if they feel they are entitled to be buried under a mountain of naked cheerleaders for having what many of us would consider the basic decency of having good politics. If guys with these expectations actually get a girlfriend and then do something nice like buy her a present, what otherworldly favors do they want in return before they get angry? The essence of the â€œniceâ€ guyâ€™s whine is, â€œIâ€™m so awesome and the reason women donâ€™t see it is every single woman in the world is a secret masochist.â€
There is a point being missed -- or at least not being made: feminism is about women, not men.
Guys, if you're "pro-feminist," then you like self-actualized, empowered women. You don't wear a wimp jacket or generously grant rights and egalite to women in order to be "pro-feminist." I don't even think you're obliged to some sort of noble attempt to "renounce male privilege" -- as if you could!
Feminism is the radical idea that women are people. It has power as an idea, but it's an idea for women -- an idea about self-esteem, self-empowerment, self-respect.
A "pro-feminist man," it seems to me, is a man who likes and is drawn to women who are self-empowered, have self-respect. A "pro-feminist man" does not give a feminist her self-empowerment. Frankly, I feel there's one word that describes all this hand-wringing by men about how to best be "pro-feminist":