News__ Q & A: The Male Feminist
Dan Solomon talks about feminists, Hay Ladies, dudes who don't listen and Planned Parenthood
Dan Solomon is a Texas-based journalist who writes for Spin, The Texas Observer, The A.V. Club, and MTV Hive just to name a few. Like some thirty-something dudes living in North America, he's got a wife, a dog (named Dio) and he listens to Elliott Smith. But unlike most of his fellow males, he also publishes his two cents on the popular feminist website, Hay Ladies. We first noticed Dan's work when he chalked up an insightful response to an article on Thought Catalog about male presence on the internet called, "Thoughts On: Where Have All The Dude Blogs Gone?" Before we could virtually high-five him from our laptops, Dan whipped out another gem titled, "Why Feminism is Also Dude-ism" which we immediately forwarded to our brothers, fathers, friends and boyfriends. Instead of applauding him from a far, we decided to ask him a few questions about his swan dive into the feminist circle.
I remember meeting women in my Gender Studies classes who were convinced men couldn't be feminists because they couldn't understand what it is to live as a woman. What would you say to that?
Dan: Well, I guess it depends on what "feminist" means. I certainly can't understand what it's like to live as a woman. But I think that recognizing that this is an area you can't have expertise is really important. You can have some good ideas, and you can try to be fair and helpful. But when it comes to feminism, every woman I meet -- even ones who I disagree with on everything -- is going to have a more authentic understanding of the subject than I will. Which is okay. It just means that your role is to listen first, if you're a dude.
Do you think dudes listen?
I don't know. They listen to me, but that's to be expected. I can speak with quite an authoritative voice when I try to. A lot of women I know don't feel listened to, which is probably why people seemed to respond well to that piece I wrote for Hay Ladies.
Why do you think feminism is such a threatening word for men?
Because it's girly! It's hard to check the part of yourself that wants to be seen as tough and manly and whatever, and justify that with a girly word. You have to start getting over some bullshit that -- at least for me -- is internalized at a young age. And then you have to own it, at least a little bit.
What's your view on the Planned Parenthood situation?
Ugh. It's politics. I mean, it's not even really a debate. Planned Parenthood is an organization that has provided a lot of very necessary health care to people I know -- my wife had a history of UTI's and no health insurance, and she could get them treated there for $60, instead of $1,000 at the ER, and that's just one example -- and so the idea that you would cut their funding is just absurd. And it's ridiculous that it's men -- who rarely need the sort of health care that PP provides -- who are making those decisions. Every woman reading this knows all about that.
Do you plan to do some more feminist writing?
If someone as smart as Andrea Grimes wants me to write for her, I'm always in. I do think it's important, when you're a dude writing about feminist topics, to make sure that your editor is a woman.
How did you end up such a smart, open-minded dude in a world full of idiots?
Ha! If I'm any of those things, it's because I had women in my life who were patient enough to help me overcome a lot of bullshit. I mean, there aren't a lot of great role models for being a feminist dude.
Read more from Dan Solomon here.