SDS Womyn's Caucus Blog

Lessons That Men in SDS Have Taught Me

Posted on: April 5, 2009

This list is based on my own experiences with men in SDS. If you’re a man that I know, and you’re reading this and wondering if any of it is about you… then it could be.

Please don’t send me a(nother) long e-mail about how you’re angry about the way I “called you out” (notice that there are no names) or how you think this list is “counter-productive” or “self-righteous.” Instead, I encourage you to take that anger or defensiveness or whatever emotion you have after reading this, and think about why these behaviors might be upsetting and how you could change these behaviors to make SDS a more welcoming place to women/queer/transfolk.

Fellow women/queer/transfolk: feel free to add your own lessons in the comments! (I’m sure I’ve left out a lot – after all, men have so much to teach us!)

Lessons That Men in SDS Have Taught Me:

  1. It is wrong to call women “bitches.” It is, however, perfectly acceptable to call them “aggressive,” “intimidating,” and “hostile.”
  2. It is “self-righteous” and counter-productive to call people out, to ask people to respect you, or to tell people why/that their words and actions are hurtful and oppressive.
  3. The appropriate way to deal with a conflict is to send out long e-mails about it, preferably to every listserv you’re on.
  4. When problems arise, long e-mails may also be combined or substituted with passive-aggressive statuses on Facebook and/or gchat.
  5. The most effective and liberatory way to share your knowledge with people is in monologue form.
  6. Questions on feminist politics should be taken to the token woman.
  7. The best way(s) to deal with your emotions are (a.) refuse to acknowledge that they exist, and/or (b.) dump them on your (least?) favorite female/queer/trans friend.
  8. Women are only worth your time if they’ll “hook up” with you. (Or if there’s a chance that they will sometime in the future.)
  9. “Feminism” and “sexual liberation” mean “fucking lots of women.”
  10. Men in SDS never commit sexual assault. Only “normal” men (such as liberal environmentalists) do that!
  11. It is wrong for women and queer/transfolks to use violence to defend themselves against rape and queer bashings.
  12. If you’ve read The Will to Change, it means that you’re no longer a patriarch. It also means that you can be self-righteous about how you’re in touch with your emotions, and how you’re no longer a part of patriarchy.
  13. Having a penis and being male are the only qualifications you need to do a job. Take charge — no one will mind!
  14. The fact that someone “has come a long way” means you should be totally understanding of, and patient with, their current fucked up behaviors.
  15. Abuse, patriarchy, and sexism are totally compatible with radical/anarchist and feminist politics.

❤ sarah b. (dc-sds)

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6 Responses to "Lessons That Men in SDS Have Taught Me"

LOVE. YOU. !!!

Hey I think this is really awesome and enjoyed reading it, this is the first thing I have ever read on here. I’m not sure if it is okay to post on here I hope it is. Anyways I just have a question I guess, and I’m genuinely asking it out of ignorance not trying to say you are wrong or anything like that. Anywho, with number 1 here I guess are you saying that it is bad to use those words ““aggressive,” “intimidating,” and “hostile” to describe women as a whole or to describe individual women in a certain instance? or are you saying that words like “aggressive,” intimidating,” and “hostile” are just bad descriptive words in general regardless of gender identity? I dunno, feel free to reply to my email account or whatevs. If not thats okay too. Thanks, Chuck

Hey Sarah,

So i was just looking at this again and i realized that (sadly) it reminded me of a passage I read from an essay called “We Would Have to Fight the World” by Michele Wallace about her experiences in the Black Power mvmt of the 60’s. It goes:

“No, I wasn’t to wear makeup, but yes, I had to wear long skirts that I could barely walk in. No, I wasn’t to go to the beauty parlor, but yes, I was to spend hours cornrolling my hair. No, I wasn’t to flirt with or take shit off white men, but yes, I was to sleep with and take unending shit off black men. No, I wasn’t to watch television or read Vogue or Ladies’ Home Journal, but yes, I should keep my mouth shut. I would still have to iron, sew, cook, and have babies.”

YIKES! You would love the whole essay, I’ll try to make a copy of it for you.

Also what is with that first comment/pingback to celebrity news?? Lol

trans men exist. queer men exist. trans, queer men exist. if by “men” you mean “non-trans straight men” you need to say that. if by “men” you mean “men,” it’s not cool to position queer/trans folks in opposition to men.

this is not meant to undermine your post, at all. however transphobia, trans invisibility, & trans exclusion are all serious problems as well, and i believe the language of this post contributes to them.

In light of the recent post, I decided to reread this post. I love the jab at liberal environmentalists 🙂

“Questions on feminist politics should be taken to the token woman.”

Oh ok. So, men who feel hurt and intimidated when you yell at them for sexist practices should simply take it.

However, if they try to avoid making a mistake and ask you if something is okay in order to avoid getting screamed at and called a sexist, they are using you as a “token.”

Tell me, is there anything men can do to fight their sexist tendencies?

Does making a guy cry and feel like crap advance the feminist movement? Especially if he is someone who is TRYING not to be feminist.

How is it productive to scream and yell at someone who is trying very hard to not be sexist?

Do we inch closer to an oppression free world by simply making the men feel like crap, and in some cases, driving less advanced men away from the movement entirely?

What is our goal? A world without oppression, or making the few men who share this goal feel like shit, and then feeling “empowered” by having harmed them.

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