Thursday, February 19, 2009

Accountability and Profeminist Men

I have been thinking about the matter of feminist accountability among profeminist men, and how profeminist men speak honestly and challengingly about misogyny to other men without pretending to speak for women, or deluding ourselves that we can and do speak for women.

I thought about this matter especially when reading the following quote by Andrea Dworkin, which I most recently encountered here. For me, Dworkin is speaking to something that often goes unchallenged: men's ways of engaging women, men's attitudes about women and how they are expressed interpersonally to other men, and the ever-present issue of whether men think we know more than women do about women's lives and conditions under white and male supremacy, among other ideologies of inhumanity.

So, let's begin with the quote. Because Dworkin is so enthusiastically and misogynistically misread and misunderstood by so many men, in my experience, I'd like to note that she is CRITIQUING the matter of women being called stupid, when men who say or do exactly the same stuff, or worse, are called smart. THAT'S the issue. OK, boys, read on:

Women have stupid ideas that do not deserve to be called ideas. Marabel Morgan writes an awful, silly, terrible book in which she claims that women must exist for their husbands, do sex and be sex for their husbands. D H. Lawrence writes vile and stupid essays in which he says the same thing basically with many references to the divine phallus; but D. H. Lawrence is smart. Anita Bryant says that cocksucking is a form of human cannibalism; she decries the loss of the child who is the sperm. Norman Mailer believes that lost ejaculations are lost sons and on that basis disparages male homosexuality, masturbation and contraception. But Anita Bryant is stupid and Norman Mailer is smart. Is the difference in the style with which these same ideas are delivered or in the penis? Mailer says that a great writer writes with his balls; novelist Cynthia Ozick asks Mailer in which colour ink he dips his balls. Who is smart and who is stupid?

Andrea Dworkin, Right Wing Women, 1983

Next up is a review of Robert Jensen's book, Getting Off, the title of which repulses me, personally and politically. I know it's being marketed to white young men, but the whole cover design (which may have not been designed or chosen by Robert Jensen himself, but rather by the publisher as is usually the case) for me is counter-productive to the issue of men using pornography.

You can find the review here.

Conversation about this topic is welcome.