It's not infrequently said (including by me) that men shouldn't distract from or highjack threads on feminist spaces. This is usually said in response to someone who tries to divert a thread about FGM into a conversation about male circumcision, for example. Instead, we say, if men have issues about the ways that men are treated in our society, we men should create our own spaces to talk about those things. Feminist Critics would seem to be, in part, that kind of space. The primary authors are ballgame, Daran, HughRistik, RenegadeEvolution, and TS. They are "a single issue, narrow viewpoint blog. The issue is gender and gender politics. The viewpoint is what we call “Feminist Critical”, that is to say we look at feminism and other positions and belief systems about gender from a critical point of view."
You'll notice that one of their missions, stated explicitly, is:
We believe that ideas and belief-systems benefit from critical and in some cases adversarial discussion. That includes ours, so we want to encourage intelligent, courteous, evidence-based discussion and debate in the comments from a variety of viewpoint. In particular, we wish to attract feminists to defend their position. And if we’re unable to persuade each other of the error of our respective ways, we want to feel that we have gained from the experience anyway, and for them to feel that they have gained from it.
They also make it explicit that they will not tolerate or accept ignorant behavior, and that "this applies to all viewpoints including, in fact especially. to antifeminist and feminist critical viewpoints. We are not interested in opinions based on ignorance, faith, stupidity, or value systems which don’t respect human life. We want the discussions to be courteous and respectful."
I'm not one to shy away from debate or criticism, as long as it's made in good faith. It's clear that I disagree with a number of things that I've read there, but it's also true that I disagree with things that I read on feminist blogs sometimes, too. Despite my disagreement, my current impression is that the authors at FC appear to be genuinely interested in engaging with feminists about the issues they're having.
One of my last comments in that thread:
Regarding the interaction between feminists and feminist critics/men's rights activists, I think that part of the problem is that there's a lot of assumption of bad faith on both sides (again, speaking generally).
There are absolutely feminists who will decry your efforts to, for example, get better representation in court when it comes to custody battles, or whatever. That can't feel good. On the other hand, feminists have been dealing with people trying to reinforce inequality for a long time, too. They deal with men writing articles about how feminists and women are responsible for everything from educational problems, to divorce rates, to bad economy, to STDs, to... well, just about anything. I think that it makes sense (the lack of trust between the two sides), but it's not helpful. Both sides assume the worst going in- I mean, in this very thread, during which I think we've been mostly civil and I think we've been pretty honest about our feelings, there are comments to the effect of: feminists are a bunch of idiots who are best compared to cultists and conspiracy theorists, and all they care about is blaming men for stuff, not actually solving problems.
Afterwards, I was told that feminists are a group of bigots who hate and oppress men, and that we belong in jail.
I'm not sure if there's really a way to bridge the gap that exists. After all, I don't agree that feminists, as a group, engage in abject discrimination against men. If I believed that, I wouldn't consider myself a feminist. Of course, I don't believe that all men are out to oppress women, either.
A good point was raised, though; Feminism isn't monolith, and it's difficult- maybe impossible- to determine what the "average" feminist is, which does make a discussion like this difficult. It also means that any input I can give is limited in scope- I can tell you about my experiences as a male feminist, but that's not going to really be representative of feminism in general, for any number of reasons.
I stand by this. I'm not really sure how to overcome the assumption of bad faith on the parts of feminists and men who are doing advocacy for the issues that men face, except to be aware of it, and try to make sure that I'm engaging with what is actually being said, and not my assumptions of meaning. And just like I know that feminism isn't a monolith, and that the opinions of any particular feminist blogger may or may not line up with mine, I remind myself that the bloggers at Feminist Critics aren't part of a monolith, either- the fact that there are PUAs or MRAs that troll blogs I read doesn't mean that the criticisms at FC are without substance, or that the authors aren't interested in having real discussions.
Right now, they've been having some discussions about why more feminists don't read and comment on the site. I think that there are a number of reasons why feminists aren't lining up to comment, and certainly part of it is probably, in some cases, related to the assumption of bad faith. And, part of it is probably related to not having the energy or inclination to get into debates about the fundamentals of feminism or in what, in some cases, will end up being a debate where neither side ever budges. Still, it occurs to me that part of it might be that some of you have no idea that the site even exists.
So, I'm posting this because I know a lot of really intelligent people, and I thought that some of you might find the discussions happening over there interesting. Given that all of the authors have been particularly respectful, even if some of the commenters have not, I'd like to request that anyone going there via my link extend them the same courtesy.