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Won't somebody please think of the men?

January 22, 2019

 

There's another blog review of my book en route shortly, which is very exciting. I'll share details as soon as I receive them - hopefully in the next week or so. 

 

In the meantime, the lovely reviewer forced me into a bit of self-analysis today with the following question: 

 

"I guess the only thing that intrigued me a bit was that there does seem quite an emphasis on male characters for a feminist book so if you could give me a quote on why that  is the case, that would be helpful."

 

So it took me a good hour and a half to distill it all down and figure out *why* I was so determined to include men in my book of #feministfairytales, but I got there in the end. Here's what I wrote...

 

"I included several stories about men in The Silver Moon Storybook because I see these feminist fairy tales as a challenge to patriarchy, not to men themselves. 

 

It’s absolutely true and correct to say that men are the main material beneficiaries of patriarchy - after all a patriarchal society is by definition built around the needs and expectations of men. However we also know that patriarchy damages men as well, for example by perpetuating stereotypes like “boys don’t cry” that leave men struggling to identify and manage their emotions. We only have to look at rates of male violence and male suicide (suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50) to see the gravity of the effects of this emotional neglect. 

 

When I call myself a feminist, and this a feminist book, I base that on my belief that feminism offers us a route to equality - not just material equality, but emotional equality as well. To me this means addressing not only the myriad, material and very visible ways that patriarchy hurts women, but also the more insidious and hidden problems that affect men. I believe that if we can come to a better understanding of how women *and* men suffer under patriarchy, we have a better chance of convincing people to work together to address the issues we face and make life better for everyone. 

 

Also, rather cynically, the straight white male is still the ultimate top banana of social hierarchy; if we want to effect real, radical change, he’s the one we will need to convince if we want him to share, and we simply won’t manage that without due consideration to his side of the story. This is why I correct anybody who says I’ve written a book of feminist fairy tales “for girls” - these messages are important for boys to hear as well; through my enormous clown and my gnome I provide them with role models showing that it’s healthy and important for men to feel emotions, to make emotional connections with other people, and to stand up for women in the face of toxic masculinity. 

 

Lastly, I wanted young women to see these men being strong and fighting back against patriarchy - it’s important for women to know that decent men are allies, not opponents. I could easily have written a book filled simply with stories of empowered women winning the day, princesses fighting the dragon and casting all my male characters as abusers and oppressors, I just don’t think that would be a fair or accurate reflection of the true nature of our struggles towards equality."

 

I don't know if the whole quote will make it into the review - it's quite lengthy after all - so I thought it would make for a good blog post on here.

 

I'd love to know what you think? I am going through a process of examining my feminist beliefs at the moment, and am always up for some healthy debate. Hopefully this article's content will protect me from the usual inevitable whataboutery associated with discussions of feminism...

 

Elaine x

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