Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Is Robert Jensen wrong about men critiquing feminist women?

After watching Robert Jensen's talk on his book Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity I looked for more recent material from him. Below is his interview from June on The Bridgehead Radio:

There's unfortunately no transcript, so I'll have to type out the exchange occurring within the first several minutes of the interview myself (rough transcription):

Host: There seems then to be a bit of a split because, for example here in Canada, there's a prominent feminist who supports the legalization of prostitution as well as pornography, supporting the use of pornography as sexual liberation... what would your response to that be, then?
Jensen: Well that split within feminism has been there almost from the beginning. It's not surprising, in a complex world there are differences of opinions within any political movement and feminism is no different. I, like anyone, have to make commitments to what I believe is the best way to understand the world, and so as a man, I'm always a little hesitant to critique women in feminism. For me it seems more important to make clear what I feel is the best analysis and then speak to other men about this. And that's how I've always seen my own role in a feminist anti-pornography movement, which was to speak to men about how the culture does present us with a certain set of rewards, that are mostly short term and very material -- that is, if you accept your role as a man in patriarchy, you'll get things, you'll get certain advantages, and one of those advantages is a certain kind of access to women. But for me the challenge to men, originally the challenge to myself, and then as I became part of the movement, a broader challenge, was "Is that who we want to be? Is that consistent to our own moral principles, political principles," and even at a more basic level "Does that kind of arrangement even make us happy? Do we feel fulfilled?" 
Right. So, to the trailblazers of the growing body of men positioning themselves as charged with the duty to critique, correct, put in their place feminists who are not as pro-woman as their male selves, I ask: is Jensen's hesitation merely a matter of taste? Or perhaps, is he too soft on those sex-posi women, while wasting his time with pornsick men, when he could he helping you radicalize the movement?

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