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I want to be a better person. But that’s a lot of work. I once told someone, “You know the right thing to do if you really want to solve your problem. But you LIKE your problem.” I hate when my own words ricochet on me.
I prize intelligence. And I’ve noticed some of the smartest men and women I know ascribe to feminism. I had a passionate dialogue with one recently, and what I took away from conversation with her was that (1) I am a misogynistic, sexist jackass, and (2) …well, the rest of the details escape me. But the gist is, I fail as a feminist ally.
As is typical, I withdrew into myself to consider whether she was right. And I have failed to come to the defense of women burdened by patriarchal demands. Their agency is systematically threatened by those who feel they “own” women. It’s mentioned enough that I want to get educated and stop being part of the problem.
So I looked over a list of “101 Everyday Ways for Men to be Allies to Women” and my eyes started to glaze over before I got to double digits. So many things you have to do in order to be right. It seems too much. Maybe White racists felt like this when the civil rights movement said Blacks and other minorities were legitimate human beings. If so, then too much is still not enough.
And then a friend sends me this video which is funny because it’s 100% what you should never do. It’s so over-the-top that I have to laugh at it.* But just that quick, I’m a caveman again… part of the problem… not taking a stand… and it’s back to the drawing board.
(*In this instance, the exaggerated depiction of violence against women tempers its comedic value, but for the record, real life violence against anyone isn’t funny.)
If you don’t have your health, you can’t really enjoy anything else. So I listen when vegans talk. The nitrites in lunch meat may cause cancer. Beware of ammonia in chicken nuggets. And they haven’t fully studied the danger of natural hormones in cow’s milk. Enough studies validate these claims that I should pay closer attention.
I have a good example in my mom. She’s not vegan, but vegetarian since a Daniel fast turned permanent 8 years ago. She’s not an obnoxious, carnivore-shaming vegetarian either. I admire that. She lives and lets live. Plus, she can still bake a knockout turkey without even tasting it.
And there’s a delectable vegan cafe near my office. I’ve started really enjoying steamed kale, watermelon fresca, tender quinoa, and seitan (wheat meat). I think to myself, “you know, this isn’t so bad and it’s better for me.”
But then bacon. It all comes back to bacon. Giving that up is too much. That’s where I quit, but… “No vegan diet? No vegan powers.”
On Christianity and hesitation
Not unlike feminism and veganism, Christianity requires hefty sacrifice and commitment to behavioral change. Hold on though. I don’t know about all that.
I like bacon. And suspiciously uniform chicken nuggets. And stylized violence. And ODB’s “Got Your Money.” And skipping 4-hour church services. And pornography. And almost every known curse word, plus some new ones I’ve made up. Pretty much everything that ain’t right. These are my problems. I like them.
But I constantly reconsider them. Even when I don’t do what’s right, I’m still drawn to what’s true. I regularly invite feminist friends to school me on male privilege. I let vegans drag me to restaurants where the bacon is made of plants and lies. And I’m reading Ray Comfort’s How To Know God Exists despite the elbow-nudging Christian propaganda he thinks I won’t notice. If you love truth, being proven wrong only brings you closer to what you love.
I’m not entirely sold on feminism, veganism, or Christianity. But that’s why the hesitation is good, because it means I’m still listening.
- 11 Ways Men Can Be Better Feminist Allies (rolereboot.org) — Someone told me the “101 Ways” list was a little ridiculous and that this list of 11 ways is much more ideal. I read it and it’s much more tenable.
- How To Be A (Male) Feminist Ally (feministcurrent.com) — If you have less patience, this top lines about 6 general ideas on supporting feminists. Quick and dirty.
- On Black Men Showing Up For Women At The Scene of the Crime (crunkfeministcollective.com) — Stories like this give some perspective on why feminists seem so angry. Probably because things keep pissing them off.
- “Swiney Swiney” by Monie Love (1990) — A fun take on why you should avoid pork from a legendary femcee.
- The header image comes from the art exhibit “Body Sections and Female Jesus by Juno.” Interesting exhibit challenging patriarchy in the Catholic church. Give it a look.
- 10 Ways To Be a Better Male Feminist (Huffington Post Women, November 6, 2013) — This has come out since I first published this blog post, but again it’s got some tenable ways to start embracing the movement. Baby steps first.
- 5 Things That Really Smart People Do (Inc.com) — Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” You’ll find useful stuff like that to challenge you in this article.