I am a black anti-feminist woman and my husband is a white man who has never been against feminism, or given feminism much thought. Last night we had an interesting conversation over dinner.
We own a building with several apartments and at the moment we are changing the renter of the apartment that is closest to the apartment that is our own. We don’t live there all the time, but we are there often. We had to choose between two applicants, one is a woman and one is a man. They earn similar amounts, and both work near by. The woman smokes and the guy doesn’t.So we decided to go with the woman, and the reason was because if we had family over there they would feel more comfortable with a girl next door than with a guy since there would be little children around. I know you are throwing rocks at us at the moment, but we had to make a choice and so we did. At dinner we were discussing that choice in terms of intersectionality and so I started by saying that it was very wrong of us in terms of equality to choose the girl for the reason we did.
He agreed but said that it is just a part of life that people are more afraid of men and that he also has the same fears of other men. He spoke about a recent thing that happened to us. We were at a park both lying down on a rug and watching our kids play. A child with down syndrome then came up to us and close to my husband and lay down as if she wanted to sleep, she held on to his leg and admittedly it was weird. I thought nothing of it and moved around so that he could move closer to me to give the child more space to lay down.
At dinner last night he told me that in that instance he was very afraid of what others might think of him with a little child laying next to him like that, I would not have been afraid and fear was the furthest thing from my mind. So I asked him if he sees how this negative stereotype against men hurts men. He said yes but that it is just a part of life. He said that if for example our toddler goes to a woman and plays he would think nothing of it but when she goes to a man he pays more attention, looks closer just in case something happens.
This all reminded me of something else: being black! And so I told him, he knows exactly what it is like to be black. This made me wonder, is it the case that men as a whole can understand what being black is like since they live a similar experience. A disturbing part of being black is that the media or culture or just the reality does cause you to be afraid of others who are exactly like you. You may be aware that it is wrong, but you are still unable to stop that from happening.
Anyway, I’m not sure this is very interesting to others but I wonder can men as a class use intersectionality to empathise with other oppressed groups?