More mouthy male feminists please

Team Syntegrity 2017 light blue group: “It would be strategic to create feeling spaces where we can explore the masculine experience of patriarchy. Real democracy now!”

Richard Bartlett
27 July 2017

Author on twitter.'What are the 'potentials and needs for current and future-oriented "reformations"?'

Feminist movement advances on many fronts. I’ve visited many progressive spaces in the west, and discovered men taking sexism seriously. If somebody says, “there are sexist dynamics in this group”, it’s common to find at least one or two men in the group whose first reaction is humility rather than defensiveness.

Humility is a great place to work from. From a position of humility, I can pay attention to the experience of others, start to undo my sexist programming, and build new habits that bring my behaviour in line with my values.

However, to challenge patriarchy, I believe we need more than humility: we need courage too. I want to hear the voices of men, boldly explaining to other men how everyone would be better off without patriarchy.

I have heard many stories from women and trans people’s experience of patriarchy: personal stories of oppression and resistance.
Cis men have personal experiences of patriarchy, but we’re not sharing our stories. How does it feel to be raised to dominate others? How did you overcome the guilt and shame of your complicity? How do you challenge your friends’ sexism and still have friends? How does it feel to carry around this heavy fragile mask of strength all day?

I know similar conversations are happening in “men’s groups”, but I’m hungry to connect those conversations to feminist theory, and then to the feminist movement. 

As Carol Hanisch explained in 1969, the personal becomes political when we 1) identify patterns in our individual experiences, 2) discover the root causes of those patterns, and 3) rally collective power to demand structural change.
It’s wonderful that men are learning to shut up, make space, and listen. But next we need to learn how to raise hell.

Team Syntegrity 2017 Light blue group.

This was a response to a Goethe Institut invitation to comment, July 2017.

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