Sunday, November 11, 2007

I'd like to second Mark's recommendation of Emma Bee Bernstein's (what a great name! the daughter of Susan Bee and Charles Bernstein) and Nona Willis Aronowitz's GIRLdrive. They're on an inspiring trip.

Some of their posts raise the possibility of male feminists: it's not a title I feel I necessarily have the right to, but I am going to be the father of a daughter who will have to struggle for her own power and freedom in a culture that is routinely violent toward women. Or of a son who will have to come to understand his privileges and find his own path toward the renunciation of such violence. My influence and example will be crucial in either case, and not just in a philosophical way, but in the day-to-day work of meeting his or her needs: changing diapers, cooking meals, defusing tantrums, telling stories. So I will at least claim the right to call myself a fellow traveler of feminism.

Will I have a girly daughter, or a butch one? Will my son be gay, or a football player (or a gay football player)? We have no idea who's choosing to incarnate with us. I hope he or she will find room enough to become whom he or she needs to be with us. But I'll have feelings about his or her choices, too.

Reading the blog of Bernstein & Aronowitz, women just a little older than my students, I feel a kind of paternal wishfulness. That is to say, I hope that my daughter grows up to be like them. Or that my son is wise and strong enough to attract the company of women like them.

I am changing right in front of my own eyes.

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