Hey! So you’ve realised that, probably as a MAB guy, and probably as a white, straight, middle-class one, you’re associated with a lot of shit… War, corporate greed, the destruction of indigenous cultures, rape and sexual exploitation, factory farming, the demolition of entire eco-systems, and the money-work system. Multisoz, I know this is a painful thing to realise. As a white, middle-class, cis-gendered woman I also share a significant slice in the world’s evil. I can see you are getting flustered. No one wants to accept that this is their continuing lineage on the planet. Luckily theories of privilege and power not only help us understand our role in perpetuating oppression, but have also been used  in the perennial quest to circumvent all that responsibility associated with privilege. Just like the Lady GaGa song, we can all at some point down the line claim that we were ‘born this way’. Just as Prince Charles was born into royalty, the  privileges we were ‘saddled ‘ with at birth  are often seemingly inescapable. That is, alas, our ‘cross to bear’.

>>So. You’re a MAB man, most probably white, most probably straight, most probably middle-class. It has been alerted to you that you might have a role to play in the formation and continuation of the system of patriarchy. You don’t know how you feel about this. I mean, you don’t *buy* porn and you’ve never had sex with a girl who was too drunk to walk, so you feel a bit uncomfortable with being labelled a ‘patriarch’. What gives? I mean, you try and try, you’re always polite, willing to engage in conversation, you’ve even read The Second Sex. Why should YOU be labelled an active member of the patriarchy? Some of your friends are women ffs. You’re accepted into Cambridge University. Omg you are so frickin’ clever I can’t even. Wow. I can’t imagine how your opinions could be wrong? Pretty much blows everything else out of the water, doesn’t it? You feel more assured in your discomfort around your role as an oppressor. You resolve to meet with like-minded people in Michaelmas and discuss these issues. Finally, a platform from which I can discuss the way these theories of patriarchy are affecting me! For so long I have felt so…. alienated! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS (Warning: extreme mansplaining, normative sexist language, general bullshit) ***

Harry Peto (member of Cambridge University Men’s Feminist Discussion Group):
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Does anyone else feel, man or woman, that the gender equality campaign is shockingly dominated by the question of whether a woman is losing out in some form or another?
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Does anyone want to found a Cambridge gender equality group? Our constitution will include never implying someone’s views is because they’re a woman or because they’re a man
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Either we offer support and are sexist, or stay silent- and are sexist.
Hmmm. This is a difficult one.
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I find the word mansplaining sexist
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Jiameng Gao (member of the same group):
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I see that I’ve forced one person out of the conversation and the group, I’m not sure why you have to keep on bringing up the point that she is a woman. In fact you’re doing so in a way that suggests that women are more vulnerable than men
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don’t even get me started on how wrong the presumption that a man’s voice is louder than a female voice in a men’s FEMINIST group is, Alex is completely without fault, since the fault, should the male voice somehow came out “louder”, lies with the listener
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Why exactly does an opinion (and clearly not on a leadership level) become worthless because of the gender of the speaker? Why isn’t THAT gender discrimination?
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Gareth Erskine (member of same group):
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You do the men in this group a disservice if you think that we conform to the ideas of Patriarchy, only pay attention to men’s comments and will only take a woman’s comment seriously if a man has agreed with her
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types of feminist militancy such as not being able to agree with women I believe only damage the feminist cause rather than progress it. Men will be reluctant to call themselves feminists or associate with feminism if such alienation continues
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I don’t understand what it’s like to be a woman but I think is paranoia. You do not represent all feminists or all feminist opinions. If anything you are calling on administrators to try and oppress the views of people that don’t agree with you, and you say you want equality? It just sounds like you hate men.
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“shame, scare, bully and force us into silence” you do love hyperbole don’t you. Please elaborate on how I have done all of the above please. I’ve only left a few Facebook comments, perhaps you need to grow a thicker skin.
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putting words in people’s mouths and once again playing the victim, this is getting old.
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There are many battles for feminism to take on. Men agreeing with women is not one of them. Stop wasting your time with such petty arguments!!
you’re a separatist?
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AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. That is all.
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I don’t go on blogs written by radical extremists!
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So a woman thinking that when a man agrees with her he is acc undermining and opressjng her…?? If that’s not paranoid I don’t know what is.
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I’M A MAN!! A MAN!! Possibly the question should be what’s right with me?
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the censorship of opposing opinions begins…
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Someone agreeing with her made her feel like her comment was less important..? She sounds a bit insecure to me. (cue “you’re not a woman so you wouldn’t understand” argument)
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I am going to assume that readers of this article won’t need me to explain why the above is a crock.
Instead, I’m going to offer a list of ways that men who are GENUINELY INTERESTED IN FEMINISM can go about supporting and aiding the dismantling of patriarchy, and the liberation of women.
1. In the pursuit of feminist aims, do not – as men – use your time to discuss, ponder, and process the ways that you are affected by patriarchy. If you really must do this, limit it to an annual conference.
2. Instead, use your ‘feminist’ time to do the things that women are having to do that is stopping them from being able to discuss, organise, consciousness-raise. Find out where your local women’s centre is, or your local feminist consciousness-raising group is. Work out if there’s anyone who can’t come because of childcare reasons, or because they are having to work nights. Offer to do domestic work/childcare so that women can organise and meet. OFFER. Don’t impose.
3. If this isn’t your ‘bag’, have weekly cooking sessions. Cook meals for women whose kids need to be fed on a particular night when they want to meet with other women and process/discuss. Or just cook for those meetings. But don’t come to them. Make sure you do all the washing up.
4. Before you consider talking about ‘patriarchy’, read a about it, or talk to your feminist (women) friends. Explain that you would like to know more. Listen and do not argue. There are plenty of books on the subject. I would recommend Audre Lorde, Patricia Hill Collins, Kate Millett, bell hooks, Adrienne Rich. Do not read feminist theory that has been written by men.
5. When the women picket, protest, demonstrate, ask tentatively if they would like a solidarity demo. For example, in defending the Women’s Library, or in Reclaim The Night etc. If they say no respect that.
6. Don’t watch commercial pornography, so as to limit the normalisation of the degradation of women in your mind.
7. Don’t talk over women or interrupt them or explain to them why they’re wrong, particularly in discussions about oppression, politics, or academic subjects.
8. Don’t walk around with your shirt off. Women don’t have that privilege because of patriarchal constraints. If you are really, really hot, ask every single woman in the room if she feels comfortable with it.
9. Express agreement and praise in the same way you would express it to someone you respect.  Compliments, assent and praise are often mechanisms of power. For example, in a supervision, if I say something vaguely coherent and Professor X tells me I have made an ‘interesting point’, it implies that what I have said has pleased him, and that I should then feel gratitude or embarrassment. This experience is common to many conversational interactions between men and women, particularly within the confines of places like  Cambridge University. Women do not need to be complimented on the things that they say, we are not seeking your approval, and we’re not automatically delighted when we hear you say ‘well done’ or ‘interesting point’.
10. In a ‘men’s feminist discussion group’, don’t use words like ‘victim’, ‘hyperbole’, ‘paranoid’, ‘extremists’ (unless you’re supporting them), ‘oversensitive’
11. Don’t treat being a ‘feminist man’ as a gateway to flexing your intellectual muscles. At the same time, don’t treat being a ‘feminist man’ as a gateway to chatting about your or women’s ‘lived experience’. Ultimately you don’t experience patriarchy as an oppressed group so neither of these things are available to you.
12. Treat the women in your life with respect. Don’t expect sex from your girlfriend. Don’t expect your mother to do your laundry. Don’t make comments about your sister’s sex life or her dress sense. Don’t use words like ‘bitch’, ‘ho’, ‘slut’, ‘slag’, ‘tease’, ‘dyke’, ‘frigid’. Even in ‘jest’.
13. An elaboration on the former: don’t just wait for consent from sexual partners. Assume that it is very likely you do not have consent. For any sexual contact – not just penetrative intercourse.
14. Do not ever make personal comments about women’s appearance, to your friends or to women. Regardless of whether they are ‘compliments’.
15. Don’t expect any praise from doing all the things listed above. They are the TIP of the iceberg in being an active ally to feminists.
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In conclusion, ‘feminist men’ of Cambridge University, a pretty basic rule of thumb is this: privilege does not equal oppression. Yes it can be uncomfortable to suddenly realise your role in perpetuating patriarchal oppression. If that discomfort could then lead you to see more clearly the real and brutal violence of misogyny in society, that would be great. But hitherto it has not. It has led you to try and carve a space out for yourselves in the box labelled ‘oppressed by patriarchy (read: women)’. If this is really your jam, then I suggest you look at groups such a ‘Fathers4Justice’, or ‘Justice for DSK’. If you are REALLY, TRUTHFULLY willing to be an ally for feminists, consider how you can fit in around the work that is already being done, and how you can start to begin damage-control without privileging your own voices.