Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

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Martin Y
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Martin Y » Sun Mar 28, 2021 1:59 pm

I'm still reading. (Just not posting there for fear of putting my foot in it) The parks and play article was very good and reminds me to read the rest of Invisible Women (which got borrowed by our son before I'd finished it).

Anyway, I've been thinking, in what I hope will be a less contentious analogy, that most men do not think they are criminals, nor that their friends are criminals. But most will break speed limits. And not even feel the need to pretend they don't, not to their mates anyway. I don't know whether that's become much less acceptable over the years or if my sense that it has is just me getting old, but drink-driving definitely has. You don't do it. Or if anyone did they don't admit it. There's a fairly low threshold of antisocial behaviour that diminishes status so will not be admitted to (except perhaps by young men to whom defiance of authority seems daring).

So men don't think they or their mates are "the problem" but thinking about low-level antisocial behaviour and disparaging it is probably helpful and is at least something you can do. Whether that can have a knock-on effect on behaviour men won't admit to, I have no idea, but one can try.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by bjn » Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:15 pm

I've read the article, I'm not dismissing her experience, and I'm not going to nitpick or argue the language of the article as I think it gets her experience across.

My broader point is that as men are the problem, we are the audience that needs addressing, and not just the woke bros in this forum. The messages need to engage us as the flawed snowflakey creatures that we are, and that headline demonstrably stopped someone from reading an otherwise good article.

The c.nts will always be c.nts, but the simply unaware fools like me can be gotten to to change their behaviour. In my case, it was MrsBJN and the women engaging in the threads at the old place and in this place (especially Nefi). I'm still a fool at times, but hopefully much less so than I was.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by individualmember » Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:18 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 1:19 pm
I think blokes do get this urge to be doing "practical" stuff all the time, which doesn't always work well with problems where what people really want most is just to feel heard, understood and acknowledged. It would be lovely if we could solve the problems women have by hitting things with hammers or rewiring a circuit board ;)

It is difficult to see "being more aware of other people's experiences" as an end unto itself. Like, I'm already super depressed about loads of stuff, including what I do know of women's safety, along with climate change, biodiversity declines, the pandemic and the way it's exposing all the worst human impulses and global power imbalances and the way it's dragging on forever, populism, racism, political corruption, police abuses, exploitation of workers, academia is totally f.cked, and so on.

It isn't immediately appealing to add to my enormous reading list of depressing articles showing how bad situations I care about are. Especially in cases where I can't get much done.

But there does seem to be a broad consensus from women here that reading things and simply acknowledging them, uncritically, would help them. Which seems to me enough reason to do it, even if it just leaves me feeling even more depressed and impotent than I already do.

And equally, I get the impression that criticising how pieces where women share there experiences are written or edited, including the headlines, makes people feel like those experiences are being dismissed, even though I know that's not what you're doing. Baity articles are annoying, and I also think a lot of these articles are written as part of a conversation that's taking place mostly between women, and therefore generally aren't presented how a male audience would expect. Part of the solution to that, I expect, could be for more men to engage with those articles and talk about the experiences within them a bit - not talking about or criticising the article, but basically imagining that the writer is telling them something they want them to understand, and engaging in the text-based form of 'active listening'.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by discovolante » Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:20 pm

bjn wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:15 pm
I've read the article, I'm not dismissing her experience, and I'm not going to nitpick or argue the language of the article as I think it gets her experience across.

My broader point is that as men are the problem, we are the audience that needs addressing, and not just the woke bros in this forum. The messages need to engage us as the flawed snowflakey creatures that we are, and that headline demonstrably stopped someone from reading an otherwise good article.

The c.nts will always be c.nts, but the simply unaware fools like me can be gotten to to change their behaviour. In my case, it was MrsBJN and the women engaging in the threads at the old place and in this place (especially Nefi). I'm still a fool at times, but hopefully much less so than I was.
And the conclusion to this is that the people doing the communicating include the woke bros who 'get it'.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by bjn » Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:30 pm

discovolante wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:20 pm
bjn wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 2:15 pm
I've read the article, I'm not dismissing her experience, and I'm not going to nitpick or argue the language of the article as I think it gets her experience across.

My broader point is that as men are the problem, we are the audience that needs addressing, and not just the woke bros in this forum. The messages need to engage us as the flawed snowflakey creatures that we are, and that headline demonstrably stopped someone from reading an otherwise good article.

The c.nts will always be c.nts, but the simply unaware fools like me can be gotten to to change their behaviour. In my case, it was MrsBJN and the women engaging in the threads at the old place and in this place (especially Nefi). I'm still a fool at times, but hopefully much less so than I was.
And the conclusion to this is that the people doing the communicating include the woke bros who 'get it'.
Yes, of course. Personally, I'm not very good at the words thing and find it especially hard to write about this topic as it means acknowledging some glaring flaws in myself. But I think I've tried at least a little bit in this place, and will bring it out in my broader life.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Stephanie » Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:13 pm

I guess my point is that... we're human too? Maybe don't expect us to have messages and communication on point at all times, especially when we might be talking about experiences and incidents that are/were upsetting or frightening.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by bjn » Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:51 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:13 pm
I guess my point is that... we're human too? Maybe don't expect us to have messages and communication on point at all times, especially when we might be talking about experiences and incidents that are/were upsetting or frightening.
Which is much more than fair and totally reasonable.

In this particular case a commercial organisation, medium.com, got the nuance wrong in the link they pushed, rather than the blogger in question.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by discovolante » Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:55 pm

Well you know I suppose we are all wise enough to know that headlines are often deliberately provocative, so the reaction is a bit strange. Not everyone is so wise of course but we've still ended up with a two page thread discussing a headline and how 'other people' need to learn to communicate better.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by bjn » Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:58 pm

discovolante wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:55 pm
Well you know I suppose we are all wise enough to know that headlines are often deliberately provocative, so the reaction is a bit strange. Not everyone is so wise of course but we've still ended up with a two page thread discussing a headline and how 'other people' need to learn to communicate better.
My ASD kickinig in sorry. I'll give it up.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by discovolante » Sun Mar 28, 2021 5:14 pm

bjn wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:58 pm
discovolante wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:55 pm
Well you know I suppose we are all wise enough to know that headlines are often deliberately provocative, so the reaction is a bit strange. Not everyone is so wise of course but we've still ended up with a two page thread discussing a headline and how 'other people' need to learn to communicate better.
My ASD kickinig in sorry. I'll give it up.
No worries. Sorry if it comes across differently to you. The main thing that's been grinding my gears about the discussion though is the transfer of responsibility onto 'other people' (ie women whether they are headline writers or otherwise) to communicate better. When the whole discussion in this thread and the other one has been about men taking a bit more responsibility.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Allo V Psycho » Sun Mar 28, 2021 5:50 pm

Ok, very hesitantly, I'll try to describe what I aim to do on a practical level when walking in town, especially at night.

If I am in the situation of walking down a street in which there is also a lone female, I will cross to the other side, whether walking in the same direction or opposite directions. I will pick up the pace, hoping it is clear that I will soon be past. I will be attentive to something else, other than the person: like the end of the street. If I'm talking on the phone, I'll continue to do so, hoping to convey that I'm not drunk, I'm not loud or abusive, that I am focussed on the conversation, and, especially if it is with my daughter, my partner, or another friend, that it is light and pleasant. If it is possible to do so, I will be thinking, but trying very hard not to indicate it, that I am thinking about the woman's safety, and rehearsing what I should do in those particular circumstances should there be any trouble. I may make a mental note of the time and place, with a view to being a good witness if something dreadful should prove to have occurred to that person afterwards.

In a narrow lane (usually in the country), it may not be possible to give women the space that might be reassuring. if the woman is walking a dog, I might give mild attention to the dog, since looking away altogether and evidently pretending not to see her strikes me as potentially being more alarming. If I am in Grimup North, where some social interchange is normal, I might briefly say 'Fine day', with a nod, again (I hope) indicating that I am not loud or drunk, that I am polite and respectful. If I am in Softdown South, where social rules are different, I probably won't say anything. I felt it helped if I had my own dog with me, because then it was clear why I had a reason to be walking there. Alas, I have lost my dog now, but I still love walking in country places, so I'm constantly anxious about causing any concern ('Why is he here without a dog? Is he a flasher or a rapist or something'?).

I have no idea whether any of this is helpful, or whether I come across as even scarier as a result, and would be grateful for any guidance. I try to think "How would I feel if I was female", and doomed though this attempt is, I try to behave accordingly.

I would like to be able to convey the impression that 'If something untoward happened, I would be here to help', but I don't know how to do that in any way that might not come across badly. Any feedback from female forumites would be most gladly received.

ed: spelling

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Fishnut » Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:16 pm

For those who found the headline unnecessarily provocative or clickbaity, what do you think the headline should be? Because, to me, it seems to be a pretty accurate summary of the article. You may not like it, but the truth can be hard to accept at times.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by bjn » Sun Mar 28, 2021 8:08 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 6:16 pm
For those who found the headline unnecessarily provocative or clickbaity, what do you think the headline should be? Because, to me, it seems to be a pretty accurate summary of the article. You may not like it, but the truth can be hard to accept at times.
I did suggest up thread. Accurate summary or not, the problem with it is that it demonstrably failed to engage men who might benefit from reading it. I'm going to try and restate clearly what my stumbling words have so far failed to do.
  • We men are the problem, not just the rapists and sexual harassers, but all of us, with our petty unthinking sexisms and acquiescence to the behaviour of other men,
  • Men need to take responsibility for our actions and to call out the actions of the men around them,
  • Before we can do that we need made aware of the size and scope of the problem, to accept what women tell us,
  • Which is a communications issue, we won't be convinced if we aren't engaged, and if we aren't convinced, we won't take responsibility.
My point is not about policing women's speech, nor having you pretend not to be angry so as not to offend us. I'm simply saying that women's righteous anger needs communicating in a way that brings men in, because if that can't be done, the problem won't get better. That's all.

My conversations with women in real life has helped me with that, as have the words of women in this place and the other place, Nefi gave me a right bollocking for something that pulled me up and made me rethink a lot of things. I still f.ck up from time to time, but hopefully less than before.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Fishnut » Sun Mar 28, 2021 8:37 pm

bjn wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 8:08 pm
I did suggest up thread.
I see you did, and I'm sorry for missing that.

To your broader point, I do accept what you're saying, and I respect it, especially in this thread. I agree that thinking about your audience is important when writing but I think the reason why women are struggling to not be explicit in their anger and frustration is because we have been trying so very hard for so very long to get men to understand while being polite and calm and measured and sensitive of their feelings and most of what we've received in response is variations of "calm down dear".

I really don't want to derail this thread and had told myself not to get too involved as I don't want to inadvertently create a hostile atmosphere, but I do want to really push the idea that this isn't something where women have to do all or even the majority of the work. We want and need men invested in this. Feminism helps you as much as it does us! So if a piece isn't speaking to you then find one that does, and if you can't, consider writing one yourself. It's not about being the perfect ally or perfect feminist and if you want until you are to get involved then you'll be waiting for ever.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Squeak » Sun Mar 28, 2021 9:09 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 8:37 pm
It's not about being the perfect ally or perfect feminist and if you want until you are to get involved then you'll be waiting for ever.
This! A thousand times this! I'm involved in a diversity, inclusion, and equity group at work and our most dearly held value is that we are willing to sit in the discomfort of trying to be good allies for people experiencing different kinds of exclusion and we all screw up but try to do better.

Finding ways to be comfortable with the discomfort is the primary goal. I'm definitely not there yet but I'm trying.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Chris Preston » Sun Mar 28, 2021 11:22 pm

I have been reading the other thread and thinking about whether I should join in, but this thread might be a better place for my comments. I am going to start off with some things to do, none will be perfect, but I do hope some may be useful.

1. Do listen and accept. These are real experiences and are important, even the ones that might seem trivial.
2. Do empathize. I know from personal experience it is really hard, actually impossible might be a better word, to truly understand how it really is. I have often travelled to places that are somewhat dangerous. When I do, I take on a range of behaviours to make sure that I am as small a target as possible. So I think about what it must be like to do this all the time, with the added issues of people commenting loudly about you.
3. Do look at your own behaviour. Are there things you are doing that make it uncomfortable for women (feel free to add minorities, sexualities etc here while you are at it) or things you are saying that you could change and create a more welcoming environment?
4. Do talk to your mates about it. They are more likely to listen to you than to some random person, but it is also good for your and their mental health. Men don't talk about feelings and behaviours and it is bad for them.
5. Do accept that it is you - even if you don't think it is. Even though I know better, I still get lots of it wrong.

As an additional note to 5, you also need to realise that a woman on the street is not going to know that I am a mild-mannered professor of weed science and to her I could equally be a serial rapist.

A couple of other comments that were raised on the other thread and would be better mentioned there, but here they are. One is was about the frequency of men participating in unwanted sexual attention and violence against women. I am unsurprised by the figures quoted and think they could well be higher. I don't have a particularly large number of acquaintances, but even among those there have been dozens of people I could mention ranging from a guy I played cricket with when I was at University who killed his wife because she was going to leave him, to our recent Vice Chancellor whose father was a friend and colleague and whose two sisters I taught. These people are likely among your acquaintances, many of them are quite skilled at hiding their behaviour from you.

A second comment is a more general one about general societal behaviour and expectations. Many of the men who prey of women are serial offenders. As someone wrote on the other thread (or quoted someone else), a man doesn't decide on the spur of the moment that he will rape a strange women. It is part of their existing pattern of behaviour. They have thought about and planned it. It takes tremendous courage for women to come forward about a rape, for lots of reasons, not least of which is the feeling that people will blame them for it. When one does come forward, expect to here of others, because this is a pattern of behaviour. I believe as a society, we have failed here. There have been many subtle and not so subtle signals to men that it is OK to behave as an alpha male and I feel unless we address that, many of the other issues will persist.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Mar 29, 2021 8:02 am

I agree, Chris.

I assume that this refers to things I posted:
One is was about the frequency of men participating in unwanted sexual attention and violence against women. I am unsurprised by the figures quoted and think they could well be higher.
I also agree. I think I mentioned it in the other thread, but results from surveys are very likely to underestimate the number of perpetrators and also victims. Perpetrators are unlikely to be truthful about having committed serious crimes and victims may not be surveyed or not want to answer a difficult question. My main motivation was to point out that the true proportion of perpetrators of serious crimes was likely to be an order of magnitude more than the 1-2% of men which was mentioned in the thread. It could easily be higher than 20%.

Also, the number of perpetrators of harassment that doesn't cross the threshold of being a serious criminal offence are very likely to be much higher. However, in the time available I couldn't find some research.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Tessa K » Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:56 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:13 pm
I guess my point is that... we're human too? Maybe don't expect us to have messages and communication on point at all times, especially when we might be talking about experiences and incidents that are/were upsetting or frightening.
A point either no one has raised yet or I missed here and in the other thread is: don't expect one woman or a small group of women to speak for all women or to have all the answers.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Stephanie » Mon Mar 29, 2021 3:31 pm

Tessa K wrote:
Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:56 pm
Stephanie wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:13 pm
I guess my point is that... we're human too? Maybe don't expect us to have messages and communication on point at all times, especially when we might be talking about experiences and incidents that are/were upsetting or frightening.
A point either no one has raised yet or I missed here and in the other thread is: don't expect one woman or a small group of women to speak for all women or to have all the answers.
Yes. I tried constructing a post about needing to take care in expectations, as there are lots of different groups of women with varying needs and vulnerabilities, but I'd also posted way too much anyway.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by nezumi » Mon Mar 29, 2021 3:44 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Mon Mar 29, 2021 3:31 pm
Tessa K wrote:
Mon Mar 29, 2021 2:56 pm
Stephanie wrote:
Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:13 pm
I guess my point is that... we're human too? Maybe don't expect us to have messages and communication on point at all times, especially when we might be talking about experiences and incidents that are/were upsetting or frightening.
A point either no one has raised yet or I missed here and in the other thread is: don't expect one woman or a small group of women to speak for all women or to have all the answers.
Yes. I tried constructing a post about needing to take care in expectations, as there are lots of different groups of women with varying needs and vulnerabilities, but I'd also posted way too much anyway.
Is posting too much a thing?! I try not to have 8 topics in a row where I'm the last poster but sometimes you lot are way too quiet :lol:
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:47 pm

I've finally caught up with the discussions around this topic. I have to confess to a certain amount of dismay at some of the things said in this thread. I'll try to be nice to all involved, but I'm a little frustrated, mainly at the discussion around the article headline.

Some thoughts, not necessarily arranged in the right order.

If my wife is angry at me for something I have or haven't done, then what I don't do is tell her that I'm not going to engage with her unless she calms down and speaks to me nicely. That, if anything, is likely to make her more angry and worsen the situation. One of the best ways out of the situation, regardless of the justification for the anger, is to try to remain calm myself, put any feelings of unfairness or defensiveness out of my mind, listen to what she says, acknowledge her feelings on the matter, apologise and promise to try to do better. Sometimes, rarely, the last two things don't apply, but I can't think of any time that the first four things don't apply, ever. Be patient. Be kind. Listen. Acknowledge. Even if you think it's unfair.

There are a whole mountain of articles out there which explain how women feel or try to delve into the violent male mind or describe a way forward for society or aim to help men do better. Women have been subjugated to a societal structure built almost entirely by male power for thousands of years. It causes women and men significant problems. But mostly women. Some women are angry about that. The cause of that anger, I'd hope we can agree, is fair, particularly when for a particular woman it might have manifested as harassment or violence or control or rape or denial of a career or suppression of progress in a career or living in fear or mental health issues or whatever else. Even where a woman hasn't directly been subject to those awful male behaviours, you could understand her being angry at her gender being treated that way so widely.

That anger will manifest itself in plenty of those articles. That anger is fair enough, all considered. It may mean that headlines seem unfair. It may mean that prose seems unfair. It may make men feel defensive or angry or hurt. However, remember, it is one article of many. Other opinions are available. Now, I certainly am not suggesting men just ignore angry articles about male harassment of women or similar topics. What I am saying though is that if you feel hurt at an article like that, you may wish to consider the following:
  • The article isn't about you personally. But it is about the group you're in. And if it's about men, the group you're in is a violent, angry, destructive, controlling group.
  • If you feel frustrated because someone here (particularly if they're a woman) has posted an article that you think is frustrating or wrong or unfair, try finding one that you feel is fairer. More useful. More worthwhile. Do some work.
  • Even if you do feel angry in response to the unfairness - how does that unfairness compare to the lived experience of women? Do you, perhaps, need to let yourself process whatever is going on in your head, deal with it, and then come back with a calmer mind?
  • As others have said, is there just the slightest chance that the listed article wasn't intended to be all things to all people? Is it universal life advice or a personal expression of emotion?
  • If you (as a man) feel angry, if you'd rather not read the article because you think it's disengaged you, is there any chance at all that, just maybe, you (generic you) could not write post after post about that disengagement? Please, I'm begging you. Listening doesn't have to involve so much response.
The discussion in reply to the article above was a bit pathetic, to my mind. Firstly, men have been telling women since time immemorial that women need to stop being so emotional, they need to toughen up, not be so sensitive, not overreact, not take everything personally. Except, when you look at this sort of situation, you have a bunch of women f.cking falling over themselves to emotionally protect the men in this place and not step on the myriad emotional landmines scattered about. And in turn, we have some men who get quite upset because one article out of many had a headline which was a bit off-putting, and isn't that just so mean?

Secondly, just think about what you say when you reach this conclusion (and I apologise for picking out specific words here, but it does serve very well the point I'm making):
bjn wrote:I'm simply saying that women's righteous anger needs communicating in a way that brings men in, because if that can't be done, the problem won't get better. That's all.
There's already a significant amount of care being taken by the women here. This conclusion I think, completely unintentionally, puts even more of the onus on women to be even more careful how they talk or refer or link to articles, because if they don't then (some) men will just shut down. It says that, regardless of the righteousness of their anger, unless women do more work, men won't change.

I think we can do better than this, in this place. The point is that men need to do more work. Lots of that work is, frankly, sucking up the anger that women feel, allowing it to exist, coping with its presence and getting on with things anyway. Reading articles that women have written, even if those women are angry. As Chris Preston said, it's almost if not completely impossible for me to fully empathise with how women feel, but if I cut myself off from a significant element of those feelings, then I can't get anywhere near. Let their anger be the driver to do better. Allow it to be real. If you feel unfairly judged by women, think of all the women out there who've spent their entire lives being unfairly judged by men and think about the burden you place on those women by demanding they be fair to you. Allow women to be sick of this sh.t, and express that fully, and then suck it up and become an even better man, even if you're already brilliant.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by discovolante » Wed Mar 31, 2021 7:24 am

There still seem to be posts about whether or not a particular person is guilty of some sexist sin or not. Personally I feel that men who are willing and prepared to add to the discussion rather than insist that it doesn't have anything to do with them are contributing more? I dunno.
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by jdc » Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:13 pm

I don't think I've posted at all in this thread, or the one Grumble started. On more serious topics, I tend not to post if I think if I haven't got anything that feels worth saying (or if others are already doing a better job of saying it).

Given that, as EPD said, women have been falling over themselves to emotionally protect the men in this place - and bearing in mind Fishnut's comment that if you wait until you are perfect to get involved then you'll be waiting for ever - I'm starting to rethink this.

If you want my ill-informed and badly-written comments in this thread, then it feels a bit churlish to say nothing at all.

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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by Martin Y » Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:35 pm

The trouble with having next to nothing you feel you can contribute to a large and wide-ranging discussion but feeling you'd at least like to just to chip in occasionally on some small point or other is that that can look exactly the same as if you were ignoring the entire conversation and just nitpicking some tiny detail. So, memo to myself; maybe don't keep doing that.

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jdc
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Re: Men trying to be feminists: A safer space

Post by jdc » Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:41 pm

Martin Y wrote:
Wed Mar 31, 2021 2:35 pm
The trouble with having next to nothing you feel you can contribute to a large and wide-ranging discussion but feeling you'd at least like to just to chip in occasionally on some small point or other is that that can look exactly the same as if you were ignoring the entire conversation and just nitpicking some tiny detail. So, memo to myself; maybe don't keep doing that.
Maybe the cowards among us could take on the job of finding articles to read and post here, and let braver souls kick off the discussion of those pieces.

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