Xiao mei, I'm very sorry for my insensitive comments linking child birth to feminism. It is a matter that regularly comes up in my women's meetings and with friends, and obviously is an important part of being a woman, however it was not my intention to neglect or offend anybody else. Things such as maternity wards closures or cuts are often addressed by feminist groups, and this was what I had in mind when I made the comment. I am not qualified to speak on the issue outside of natural childbirth because quite honestly I know very little about it, but I did not mean to dismiss anybody. I have perhaps a slightly extreme view, which is a product of my life, and I've maybe got off to a wrong foot with some people. Wasn't my intention. I'll try to address it better, and add my thought process to my comments.
When it comes to sexism and oppression of women, I honestly do not believe a male can really comprehend. Simply because he was born with the ability to become a catholic priest and one day maybe even be pope, and this is a door that has been closed because I wasn't born a guy. I think even that last sentence is read differently by men and women because experiencing something and reading something give you different perspectives. I've known what I can and can't do throughout my life, and its far more restricting than what you can and cannot do. Therefore we have different views. You add in our different biology, and even if our lives were the same, we'd see them in a different way.
I believe men can speak out and say it's not fair I can't be Pope. I believe men can want me to be able to be Pope. I believe men can support me in rallying to become pope (but may not always be welcome to, i'll get onto that). But I don't believe men can really deep down truly understand how it feels to have so many doors shut through gender. This doesn't really happen to men, it's the opposite for you. You get a field that is full of female participation such as cooking, and male publishers and businessmen still make sure the men dominate said field with the top restaurants and the best marketed cookbooks (10 male chefs all better than the 30 million female ones? really?). Top doctors in female medicine? Men (expert on vaginas, the man without a vagina?) Top coaches of female sports teams? Men (what a male basketballer brings to a netball team a former female netball player can't I'll never understand). It's a man's world, you dominate the male environments and you dominate the female environments. You did so originally by bullying and playing unfair and you continue to do so because you are unwilling to give it up. You've let women be doctors now, time to step down Mr. leading gynaecologist. You've let women coach, so let us coach our teams in our sports or let us go coach in the NFL and the Premier League. And if there aren't 10,000 women that would do a better job than Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey, I'd be stunned to be honest. Its time the positions men gained through bullying and corruption are given back to us.
I do not want men to help me to become pope, because the reason I can't do most of these things is because men won't let me. If I win the right to become pope, I do it for the most part in spite of men. While I know the path of "this man has blocked me, all men are evil" is the wrong one, it's actually a very tempting one sometimes. When a man claims I am sexist, i find it quite difficult to feel too bad about it, because this is something that has been vastly unfairly weighted towards me for all of my life, and my mother and grandmother before that. One or two politically incorrect comments on a message board that you dislike does not equate to, nor hold the same weight as hundreds of generations of women in my family being unfairly treated. This may surprise you, but there are women out there who feel a few hundreds years of male servitude still wouldn't be "equality". Women have been treat badly for a long long time now. Men saying "ahh but we support you now" doesn't make it alright to a lot of us.
Males who want to be feminists or support feminism need to kinda understand that the majority of almost any feminist issue originated with a man saying "they can't do that" or "they don't deserve that" or "they should do this" and wow do some of us resent this. While you shouldn't be all held accountable for the actions of other men, feminism in my view doesn't really want male support. It wants, and needs male action. Men need to make other men accountable for their actions and this starts at the top. You need to be locking up anyone that stops a woman getting anything because she is a woman, and treat it like people treat racism. Criminal activity. There are too many old boys clubs in the most important fields, politics, education, business, and they are holding women down as they always have, just using different methods to do so. What we need from men, is this stopped, not for you to cheerlead on marches.
The feminist group I used to attend, males were flat out not welcomed. Not even the staff. Many of the women there had been abused, held down, or were not comfortable in the presence of men. So we simply didn't let men join, and noone ever complained or questioned it. Is that sexist? It could be argued to be. But in that same vein, you could argue african american conferences are racist. Those women members that would have left if men were allowed in are more important to the feminist organisation than the male members because feminism is an ideal for and about women. It isn't just about equality or for understanding. It's by women for women, for issues that affect women. Empowering women and communities and helping women to help themselves and each other. We find out what women want and then we combine to make life better for other women. It's one of the only organisations that isn't about, for or influenced by men. And we've been shut out of so many organisations over the years, so like I said, the sexism argument doesn't really wash with me.
With a few of the "male feminists" I've encountered it seems like being a "feminist" is something to add another layer of depth to themselves, or they feel they are being right and just (and usually stand up for any liberal campaign there is). Thats a different kind of feminism to the lady who was raped in her teens, pushed into a shelter by an abusive partner, then disallowed promotion because she is a woman. I actually find men who say they have the same perspective as this woman, quite arrogant and insulting. It's belittling to her that you feel women's rights is just as big an issue and as important to your life as it is to her and hers. And also who are you to vote for that woman? To have a voice of equal importance to that woman? The moment men get a say in feminism, it isn't feminism anymore. No matter how much you feel you understand, you are bringing a male opinion and view to an ideal which is built on women's opinions and views.
I don't claim to understand men either. Everything I have said here, i would hold myself to when it comes to understanding the BGLT community, men, people from another culture. I can love them, I can support them. I can be hurt when something hurts them. But I can't ever truly comprehend them unless their situation is similar to situations I have suffered, and then like I said, I can relate, but never really understand.
So while I truly hope noone is offended, I feel some of you need to try to be a little less sensitive. Because feminism is for women and female transgenders where the rights cross over. Essentially it's fighting against male opinions, institutions and ideals. As such, you aren't always going to be made to feel welcome, respected or trusted as a "male feminist" and you need to accept there are valid reasons behind that. Men have after all held us back since the beginning of time.