I have a several areas of my life that I’m looking hard at and reexamining right now. If this blogging experiment proves helpful, maybe I’ll follow up with a couple more personal explorations. I know I’m going to feel a little exposed, but here goes:
During my last few years in Mormonism, I self-identified as a feminist, and worked hard to highlight sexism. But during the past couple of years I’ve come to realize that no matter how hard I try:
- I’m a man, in a society in which men are the privileged gender.
- I’m a poor feminist. I feel I do as much to perpetuate sexism as I do to fight it. As a result, I feel like a hypocrite, which makes it difficult to advocate with sincerity and passion.
- I’m not the best or most appropriate spokesperson for women’s issues
- I’m afraid of critically exploring various expressions of feminism (e.g., “that’s very much a second-wave approach, embedded in a upper-middle class Euro-centric perspective, and ignores many of the needs of minority women and women in developing nations,” etc.)
The practical impact of this combined awareness is that I’ve become much quieter. I still consider myself a feminist, but I’ve shifted my advocacy more towards encouraging understanding and acceptance of a range of sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions. I’m not entirely happy with this shift away from fighting sexism (though I don’t regret my recent emphasis on gay rights).
Granted, we have to be selective about our causes (or perhaps they pick us); no one has the time to advocate, with equal passion, for the victims of or raise awareness of:
AIDS : poverty in Haiti or Bhutan or Sierra Leone : the persecution of gays in Uganda : education of Afghani women : acid attacks in Bangladesh : legalization of gay marriage in US states : sex trafficking in Cambodia : suppression of human rights in Burma : Native American rights in the US : child labor : climate change : illiteracy in US : crack babies : legalization of abortion in Central America : malaria : DPT immunizations : drug-resistant TB : animals in cosmetic testing : universal health care : overfishing in the Atlantic : creationist agenda in Texan public education : cancer : destruction of rain forests : the mistreatment of Koreans born in Japan : the suicide rate of closet gays among LDS men : nuclear test ban treaty : Child’s Play (a fave gamer’s charity) : immigration reform : the murder of women in Ciudad Juarez : etc.
But I feel like a part of me is giving up, throwing in the towel a bit on the feminist cause. I feel more and more that my place is to cheer my feminist female friends from the sidelines, and to do my best to root sexism out of myself, and in my immediate life experience. I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about abandoning my feminist values or my fight against sexism–this is about setting priorities in vocal advocacy.
I’m not sure what kind of response I expect to this post. I guess I’m seeking for a reality check. Maybe I need encouragement. I’m worried as I write that this post itself will be taken as whining rooted in my male privilege. Or maybe I need confirmation that, yes, I’m not a good fit for this cause, and it’s time for me to move on. I hope that you’ll take into account that this is something I’m sincerely wrestling with, and asking for help with. Thanks for listening.