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Co-opting Feminism: A How-To Guide for Men?

charlie-baby-momThe post below is the response I sent privately at 2:18am to Mr. Black Hockey Jesus regarding his post, “Letting Lean In Be: Fathering A Way For Our Daughters.” I post it here, now, to expose my lack of sleep and writing skill with his permission.

I have a great deal of respect for Jon (Shall I say Black Hockey? or Bizzle Hizzle Jay?) but his post raised an eyebrow for me. And it got me thinking. I felt compelled to respond for three reasons:

1. I have been part of the Lean In Stories movement at the request of those who convened it. I published an eviscerating post complete with overly dramatic headshot photo. Very proudly so.
2. As the son of a single mother, and human being, I am interested in supporting women to claim their space, however they choose to define it.
3. I am a dad and a blogger. Neither of those things will ever fully define me by themselves, but they will continue to be part of my life for a very long time.

-Charlie, HowToBeADad.com

‘Twas meant to be a comment on your post, Jon, but now I’ve gone and placed it here ere it became a novel of no value to anyone but me. Much less you…

Jon:

I got halfway through and had to start typing. This usually foretells a cursed sitting for me. My mental incontinence roars along from a lack of sleep and dollop of overwork. No good can come from it. This clacking on the keys portends better for you, I’d say, since it’s a damn fine thing you’re saying in your article on Babble about your lean-to. And I had a great many teachers who said I couldn’t write worth a damn and should take up work with my hands. So, f*ck all.

I sit here wanting to vomit from my hands, deliver ponderous pigeons, and all the other slough that I somehow find time to whittle in the wee hours at a southpoint in my day-to-day.

We need that tabula rasa of genderlessness. <– not a word

Some of us yearn for the day when there WILL BE equality, and not for some back-patty, lazy or otherwise disingenuous provocation — yearning in action as much as in thought. To say nothing of watching my own single mother punch her knuckles raw on that very thick, but very glass-blown ceiling as some man grabbed the hinds of women in her division. All this, and my father smoked his opiate and shook his fists.

The cronyism amongst men is thick and reeks. No question. I tire of it. I get bored with the self-congratulating. It’s as if we all graduate from an imaginary class over and over. We think tapping chains are applause. These boy scout troops of men, these gentlemen’s clubs of progressivism.

The mountain of inequity is undulating. It’s very slope is covered with historical residue, that tangles us up as we fight ourselves, inside and out. We want to lionize for the sake of the narrative. Demonize, for the very same. We pivot foes and heroes alike, molded from the same clay, the same forms.

The danger of iconoclasts is their overshooting the moon. Speaking in unknown dialects. We dance with the phantoms of thought. Our sameness, our mutual reality is all we have, lest I call a chair an elephant and no dialectical actuation occurs. Your article is both a kill-shot and narrow miss.

I wish you had emailed this article to me when you’d written it. I was not the intended target, mayhaps. I would’ve patted you on the back in the very ways I resist, ever so much. Which might’ve pushed you and looked like you were leaning in, ever so much.

But sometimes a lean, is actually an avant-fall. And sometimes a back pat is just light rapping on the body from someone you don’t quite trust.

There are no Good Guys. Just people who are trying to sort things out, and those who aren’t. I hope our bottled messages are one in the same. Because I damn well want them to be. And I damn well hope they reach someone.

I don’t lean in to push someone else out. I lean in to put my back into the work, to be a body to walk on for another to cross over. Let others lean in and collapse. I just want people to learn the difference.

Your anti-provocateur
c

I hope I’m not co-opting feminism in some unconscious way. I don’t mean to be chivalrous about it. I mean to pledge my support to women. Women rightfully deserve to be given the chance to achieve their goals whether measured by career success or otherwise. I mean to be an ally to the cause, if you’ll have me.

Otherwise, I’ll start my own campaign. It’s called “Fall Back” and it consists mainly of naps and saying the word “yes” a lot.

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