Saturday, June 4, 2011

Masculism and Feminism: Distinguishing Profeminist Philosophy from Propatriarchal Philosophy

image is from here

Parts of this post were added to and revised on 4 June 2011 ECD. The original post from June 2 has been deleted.

This is posted with gratitude to all Feminist Philosophers and Thealogians.

For me, thoughtful action in the world is not governed by liberal "humanism", although there probably are far worse philosophies to live by. For me, it's about "feminism". That means it's all about the radical liberation of humanity from CRAP--with women's liberation from patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism being a necessity. I've seen, over thirty years, all of the reasons people give for claiming to be humanist-not-feminist, and it always seems to me to operate from this premise: what happens to men that is awful is "equal" to what happens to women that is atrocious. I don't believe that for one second, while I know full well men suffer for being human--as do women, as does everyone. It's the level of systematic suffering I focus on here, and the ways it is structured into society's stories about itself, into language, into expression, into feeling.

While humanism is present in many people's views of humanity, so too is masculism, and it is that philosophy that usually goes unnamed, with people assuming that the ways men think that are pro-man, must also be pro-human and, in theory, also pro-woman. But it doesn't actually work that way in reality. In reality men are not the only synonym for "humanity" and the humanity of men is far too often inhumane. Enter feminism.

Feminism is a corrective philosophy--or, well, set of philosophies. Hard as it may be for men to digest this, there isn't just one. These philosophies are a necessary political interventions designed to reveal the masculism in humanism and the male dominance in women's lives. Focusing on men's lives, with men being the only ones who name their experience and effect in the world isn't likely to reveal much about how those ways of being and doing impact women.

I'd like to place a lens in front of the mental eye, with the hope that doing so makes it easier to analyse and apprehend the serious problems structurally embedded in thinking and acting of many privileged, college-educated white men who speak English as a first language. The problems aren't only there. Many men embody them in action and thought; women can too. But women can't do so in their own collective interests. Men do so, all too frequently accepting that it is best for everyone, ignoring the fact that men aren't everyone.

I offer this lens to assist us in noticing how thinking--the form of the thoughts, their structure, their content--is shaped by the values taught by dominant society, not usually naming what it is doing honestly or accurately. So, for example, men usually lie after committing rape, and men often don't understand when their rape of someone has occurred. There's denial aplenty. When men are brought information about their own behavior, they claim--callously and arrogantly--that women lie about rape and don't understand that it hasn't occurred nearly so often as women imagine it--as if rape is primarily imagined. (It is, primarily, endured and survived.)

It is my contention that the reason so many men who value patriarchy while denying its existence, who value male supremacy while denying it is a ruling ideology, who value misogyny while denying they ever express it, cannot intelligently read radical feminist writings is because their minds are structured in such a masculinist way (not biologically) that it is not predisposed to comprehending any other thinking that exposes masculism as problematic. (A variation of the term is "masculinism".)

I suspect that for many Western pro-patriarchal men--who will swear to their white male sky-god (whether dead or not) that they are all for equality--reading the political work of radical feminist philosophers and activists is so challenging because to adequately "listen" to what its saying, they'd have to shut down or shut up. In my experience, pro-patriarchal men do one or both, but try to appear to do them only on their own terms.

I want to be clear about something called philosophical dualism. It is one thing to promote it unconsciously, not even realising one is doing it, not realising the subtle or not-so-subtle effect it is having. It is quite another to use the device--one of taking reality and forming it, mentally, into two discreet camps--to illustrate aspects of life in patriarchal societies that normally go unnamed. What follows are not intended to be read as Absolutes. They are intended to be read by supple minds, capable of noticing nuance and multi-facetedness.

If what follows "doesn't compute" then read it like a poem or stare at it like a painting, and give up trying to cognitively understand it. Let it wash over you and soak in.

Feminism is a complex set of practices, values, philosophical investigations, social inquiries, and political challenges to the status quo in societies ruled and dominated by men in all or most spheres of human life.

Masculism is a less complex set of practices, values, philosophical assumptions, social and political postures designed to preserve the status quo in societies ruled and dominated by men in all or most spheres of human life.

Feminism, usually, is practiced consciously and conscientiously. Masculism, usually, is practiced unconsciously and far too frequently without conscience.

Feminism seeks a world in which it is no longer needed. Masculism shapes and re-shapes a world that cannot function (however unsustainably) without it.

Feminism is Indigenism. Masculism is the White Man's Ways.

Feminism seeks justice in the radical sense which means liberation beyond men's parameters of justice. Masculism reinforces in the conservative patriarchal sense, which means it reinforces injustice which it posits as just.

Feminism is open as to what human nature is and dictates about society's form and function. Masculism is closed, and dictatorial about what society's form and function should be.

Feminism is wild and unstoppable. Masculism is orderly and civilised. By "civilised" I mean this: savage with a veneer of sophistication, and dead-ended.
Feminism seeks new forms and new ways of thinking and being. Masculism rejects new forms and new ways of thinking, seeing them as threatening. They are threatening--to masculism.

Feminism is life-worshipping. Masculism is death-worshipping.

Feminism is not life-worshiping because mostly wombed people practice it. It is life-worshipping because it values freedom and liberation far beyond the imaginings of people like the Founding Fathers of the US of A.

Masculism is not death-worshiping because mostly men practice it with force and power. It is death-worshiping because it believes a use of power to dominate is necessary to maintain a good society.

Feminism is smart and intelligent. Masculism is not smart while thinking it is the definition of intelligence. (In doing this, it shows how ignorant it is.)

Feminism is smart because it acts from an integrated place consciously combining emotion with reason, feeling with thought, apprehension with comprehension. Masculism is not smart because it acts from a dis-integrated place of thinking reason is better without emotion, thought is better without feeling, and comprehension is better without apprehension (or receptivity to non-rational knowledge).
Non-rational knowledge is the foundation of feminism. 'Non-rational knowledge' is an oxymoron to masculism.
Feminism is subjective and subjectifying. Masculism is objective and objectifying.

Feminism is Audre Lorde's Erotic. Masculism is Max Hardcore's pornography.

Masculism is sadism and masochism, domination and submission. Feminism is intimacy, passion, and communion.
Feminism delights seeing how things come together. Masculism delights in seeing things blown apart.
Feminism is both/and. Masculism is either/or.
Feminism is possibility linked to promise. Masculism is probability latched to certainty.
Feminism is warm blackness and all the colors. Masculism is harsh and white, glaring and uninviting.

Feminism is welcoming. Masculism is violating.

Feminism is peace. Masculism is war.

Feminism is cooperation. Masculism is competition.

Feminism is assertion. Masculism is aggression.

Feminism is egalitarian in structure. Masculism is hierarchical in structure.

Feminism gives and takes. Masculism is vampiric, sucking the life out of everything it touches.

Feminism value sharing resources. Masculism values WINNING, owning, and possessing resources. (Charlie Sheen, take note.)
Feminism is a barter economy. Masculism is corporate capitalism.
Feminism sees sex as experience to be shared. Masculism sees sex as a thing to be had.

Feminism combines the knowledge of the body with the knowledge of the mind, realising there is no biological or spiritual distinction. Masculism regards the mind as in charge of the body, and the body as capable of betraying the mind. It believes they are relatively distinct biological and spiritual phenomena.

Feminism values logic and sensation. Masculism only values logic, which renders it hopelessly illogical and devoid of sensory meaning.

Feminism is infused with rational and non-rational knowledge of that which is deep within and also vastly beyond itself. Masculism is self-centered to its cold, cold core.

Feminism is self-aware. Masculism is self-absorbed.
Feminism is a belly laugh. Masculism is a snarky smirk.

Feminism is compassion. Masculism is conceit and condescension.
Feminism is an intransitive verb. Masculism is a proper noun.
Feminism is subject-oriented. Masculism is object-obsessed.
Feminism and Indigenism will outlive masculism. Masculism is withering as we speak.

Feminism is ocean, storm, and sky. Masculism is a dead idea washed ashore, disintegrating.

*          *          *

If you are masculinist in your thinking and behavior, it is not likely you will see feminism as valuable. Instead, you will see it as a threat to your existence. This sense of threat is at the core of men's opposition to feminism. They usually pretend their defences against it are due to other things. This is because they are not conscious of what they are feeling and why.

Because they feel threatened, and because they are fundamentally oppositional and hierarchical, they imagine women want to "take over" and "win". They cannot quite imagine women want something beyond competition, domination, and warfare. They cannot imagine a kind of human being--here called "humane being" that is not like them or that does not want to be just like them. This is because they are so self-centered and so self-absorbed.

(Pro-feminism enjoys this post as prose or poem. Pro-masculism compulsively wants to identify where it is illogical, hypocritical, or irrationally contradictory.)