First of all, allow me to clarify that this piece has been written in response to Sam Foxvog’s article “Our Own Movement, Theory and Lobbying Voice.” From the outset, there are some clear things that need to be addressed and one is a simple matter of definitions. Feminism is, at its most basic, the call for equality between men and women.
My poem “Compulsive Masculinity” addresses that call to equality, discussing the unfair media portrayals of both men and women, mostly focusing on the depiction of men as innately violent beings. As one line in the poem says, “No one wakes up thinking, today I will tell a little boy that manning up, means hiding behind guns and knuckles and forgetting any kind of empathy, but that seems to be the only lesson the world has to offer.”
Foxvog, maybe unintentionally, seems to be sending this very message. By advocating the reading of books like “Men Freeing Men” and supporting groups like the National Coalition For Men, Foxvog has declared himself a Men’s Right’s Activist. MRA’s emerged from an amorphous group of “men’s liberationists” that simply wanted freedom from traditional sex roles, sharing the same roots as early feminists. However, whereas feminism used the challenge of traditional sex roles as a platform to address broader issues of systemic inequality, MRA’s have somehow come to a point of contradicting ideologies.
According to Michael Kimmel, a Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, where he is the Director of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, “Men’s Rights guys don’t know if they want to be restored patriarchs or liberated men. The Men’s Rights movement became a movement of – and for – angry white men.”
At no point does my poem, as Foxvog suggests, tell men to act like women. In fact, at no point in my poem do I say anything about what men should be. The whole point of the poem is that we cannot continue to let our lives be dictated by a violence-addicted media.
My greatest fear upon reading the Record last week was that those who did not have the necessary vocabulary would pick up the article and think to themselves “Well really these two are saying the same thing, it’s an issue of naming.”
Please let me explain: “feminist” is more than a title; it is a necessary worldview of equality. As much as Foxvog may want MRA to be a positive thing, it is not. The end goal of MRA is the permanence of institutionalized patriarchy, glorified stereotypes and a refusal to listen to the voices of disenfranchised groups. A basic tenant of MRA thought is that the battle of the sexes is over and men lost to women. I refute this battle ideology.
We are not meant to be fighting each other. We are not in a zero sum gain situation where the advancement and equality of women somehow means loss on the part of men. Equality is a good thing. Equality means that on a Monday night, I, a varsity wrestling, no-shave-November-ing bro, can go home after spending my day working with preschoolers, and cuddle with a roommate of mine, crochet while New Girl plays in the background and be happy and comfortable with my identity as a man. I am a feminist because I choose who I am, and that’s why we should all at some level, be feminists.
To read more of Ammon’s poetry, go to www.ammonsoutlet.blogspot.com.