For day twenty of the Blogging “Yes” project, I read Cristina Meztli Tzintzún’s essay, “Killing Misogyny: A Personal Story of Love, Violence, and Strategies for Survival.” Tzintzún tells the story of her struggles with the cycle of abuse, cheating, and STDs, and I wanted to particularly focus on an issue she brings up towards the end of the essay, which is how the feminist movement and other progressive movements can address the involvement of abusive and oppressive men.
I love the concept of safe spaces, but I realize that it can be problematic to make those spaces “women only.” Beyond the issues of transgender and genderqueer inclusion, there’s also the question of hypocrisy in fighting sexism while only allowing one sex to participate, and there’s the fact that some men suffer abuse and may have trouble finding safe spaces themselves. There’s also the fact that frankly, the feminist movement can’t get anywhere if no men are involved. Rape culture isn’t going to be eradicated if men don’t participate in the fight against it.
This issue came up big time with the Kyle Payne case, where a male feminist blogger tried to ask for forgiveness after sexually abusing a female student. When I heard about that case, and about how Payne was blogging about the incident, I felt a bit sick. I know plenty of men involved in progressive movements who framed themselves as “the good guys” and then turned out to be pretty damned assholish. Of course, it’s impossible to simply say “good” or “bad.” People are complicated. But, when you’re trying to establish safe spaces, it can be difficult to take men at their word. I don’t really have an answer for this problem, but I am curious to hear about others’ experiences and if anyone has found solutions in their own activism.