I consider myself a feminist male. I don't go around telling every woman this because there are men who say this, expecting exclamations of "oh, that's so sweet!" But when I am asked my opinions by feminists of mine, I am sometimes told that I can't ever be a real feminist as a male and that my opinions on the matter are invalid because I don't experience what they do. I understand this, but I feel it sets a bad example to tell men they can not have opinions and alienates the listener. Thoughts? from ainsleyharriottmylordandsavior
To ainsleyharriottmylordandsavior, the asker, my response:
Well a feminist is someone who believes in equality for men and women, and if you agree with that then you are a ‘real feminist’, no matter what anyone else says.
I do think that if you’re not a woman you don’t really get an opinion when it comes to things that affect women and things in feminism, because you’re not affected by certain things and you don’t experience the things we experience as women.
For example, I wouldn’t feel “alienated” if a trans* person says that cisgender people don’t get an opinion on something concerning trans* people because I’m cisgender and I haven’t experienced the things trans* people have experienced, so my job as a cis person is to listen to what trans* people have to say, to listen to their experiences and not make it about me, the same goes with men and feminism or able-bodied/neurotypical people and disabled people.
I feel it sets a bad example to tell men they can not have opinions and alienates the listener.
This sentence here, to me, is highly reminiscent of one way that women are oppressed by society: our opinions are dismissed, discredited, and effectively silenced in most cases, and I for one do feel alienated when I have experienced this. I’m not sure what “example” you think is being set here, or who this example is supposed to be for. For men? That then seems to imply that women telling men not to speak would influence men to then tell others (women, I suppose?) not to speak. In my experience that already happens, so if this is what you mean then women setting this “bad example” for men is entirely moot. Actually, if this is what you mean, then I have to say, it rather reeks of privilege, so I hope that’s not what you meant. If on the other hand you mean that women telling men not to speak sets a bad example for other women, then…please clarify your thoughts on this.
My answer to your ask would be this. First, like anyone, it is of course your right to have an opinion. However, I would say that depending on what community you are speaking to/within, and what topic you are speaking about, your opinion may indeed be less valid than others’. For example, if you are speaking to women about women’s experiences, then I consider your opinion less valid than a woman’s on the same topic. Also, in such a scenario, I find it entirely possible that some of the women listening to you speak may feel that what you are doing is intrusive, that it is a manifestation of your male privilege. In such a situation, it may be better that you take on the role of a listener instead.
In other words, context is very important. A topic I would like your opinion on is masculinity (masculinity studies) in relation to feminism; I’d like to hear about your experiences there.