Subscribe to Granta today

Bad Women, Good Feminists?

|

Ahead of the next instalment of his Shoreditch House LIterary Salon, tonight, Damian Barr wonders which men it is that apparently don’t buy books by women, and whether men can be good feminists too.

Author Geoff Dyer with Damian Barr, at the Shoreditch House Literary Salon (photograph © Daisy Honeybunn)

I was the only man in my women’s studies class – isolated in a one-man gamete ghetto, avoided by my so-called sisters. Treated like a peeping tom in the changing rooms at a convent school, stared at whenever the patriarchy was mentioned as if I personally represented thousands of years of misogyny. I was the oppressive Adam to their emancipated Eve. It was not cool.

Starting an answer with ‘As a feminist...’, I was told I was not a feminist and never could be, because I was a man. I was eventually permitted to call myself a ‘pro-feminist’, and slunk to the back of the class. But this wasn’t feminism. This was man-hating.

A similar thing happened to me aged ten when I abandoned the knot-tying, camping Boy Scouts for the baton-twirling, campy majorettes. I pleaded to be allowed to join their glittery ranks and on that occasion was allowed to march with girls in miniskirts. Finally, I was given pom-poms and knowing looks and told to get on with it. I lacked the coordination and conviction necessary to make it as a majorette in the end, but I was at least given a chance at equality.

I am a feminist. I actively support the rights of all women to equal pay, to reproductive liberty, to love whom and how they choose, to all the freedoms men currently enjoy. And I don’t care who knows it. I’m out and I’m trying to be proud.

I am, apparently, in a minority. Marketing departments continue to claim that men won’t buy books by women (hence George Eliot, JK Rowling and SJ Parris). Judging from my bookshelves, I am not one of them. Of the 542 books crowding my flat, 350 are by women. It took me quite some time to do that bit of counting so I’d like you to appreciate it.

I am a feminist reader; I identify more with women than men. Like most women, I also sleep with men. This, I believe, gives me a useful insight. So I was excited about Granta’s ‘F Word’ issue. The only flaw I can find in 265 pages is the total absence of men. It’s not that men are under-represented: they aren’t represented at all.

Now you see why I staked my feminist credentials up front. Men can be feminists too and surely there’s value in hearing from at least one of us? Otherwise it’s like having peace talks with only one side present.

Surely castrating men from the pages of ‘The F Word’ is counter-productive and a kind of sexism? Can we not be trusted with pom-poms? Must we be banished to the back of class?

I decided we would explore this issue tonight at the next instalment of my Shoreditch House Literary Salon – where I am always careful to balance male and female voices. Rachel Cusk will read from her powerful and intensely personal piece on divorce. In it she tells one side of an all too common story in which ‘feminist’ is almost a dirty word. Would she have invited men to contribute? Or has she heard enough from us? Maggie O’Farrell has described the family as ‘a crucible of stories’ and it is from the family – or rather, families – that her finely wrought stories spring. Women are at the centre of these families and not always beneficently. Can bad women be good feminists? We’ll find out.

Tonight’s event is sold out, but visit the Shoredtich House Literary Salon’s Facebook page for more information, and to be notified about upcoming events.

***

‘Then by flame-light I see: I am burning/ his old easel’: read a new poem by National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Sharon Olds.

Also online: an interview with Urvashi Butalia, in which she talks about her essay on the hijras, communities of transsexuals in India.

Comments (63)

You need to create an account or log in to comment.

  1. kulwinder

    Fri Oct 17 18:35:46 BST 2014

    Thanks..
    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Wallpapers</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-hd-wallpapers-download.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali HD Wallpapers</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-photos-pics.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Photos Pics</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-pictures-free-download.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Photos Free Download</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-pictures-2014.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Pictures</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/03/happy-diwali-2014-wallpapers.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali 2014 Wallpapers</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/03/happy-diwali-2014-wallpapers_13.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Wallpapers</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-pictures-hd-2014.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Pictures HD</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-greeting-cards-2014.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Greeting Cards</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/diwali-wallpaper.html" rel="dofollow">Diwali Wallpaper</a>

    <a href="#

  2. kulwinder

    Fri Oct 17 18:35:58 BST 2014

    Thanks..
    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Wallpapers</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-hd-wallpapers-download.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali HD Wallpapers</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-photos-pics.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Photos Pics</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-pictures-free-download.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Photos Free Download</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-pictures-2014.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Pictures</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/03/happy-diwali-2014-wallpapers.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali 2014 Wallpapers</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/03/happy-diwali-2014-wallpapers_13.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Wallpapers</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-pictures-hd-2014.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Pictures HD</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/happy-diwali-greeting-cards-2014.html" rel="dofollow">Happy Diwali Greeting Cards</a>

    <a href="http://www.happydiwali2014wallpapers.com/2014/10/diwali-wallpaper.html" rel="dofollow">Diwali Wallpaper</a>

    <a href="#

  3. Super_man

    Sun Dec 07 06:39:29 GMT 2014

    But this wasn’t feminism. This was man-hating....

    PDF Links.fourtysix
    http://idaquwok.exteen.com/20141203/fourty-six

    #
  4. Galarz

    Sat Oct 11 14:56:42 BST 2014

    Auto Mobile Code
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRPRY1dpACE

    Secret Millionaire Society
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQEC9_t-f5o

    My Cash Bot
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULaVkwy251w

    Auto Mobile Binary
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbD2UuM64j4

    Newbie Launch Formula
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jjnjQGm_o0

    223 Average People Made $1857 A Day for 90 Days With This Cash Bot! Can YOU? Watch This Video NOW! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULaVkwy251w

    #
  5. Dhiral

    Mon Dec 15 14:01:58 GMT 2014

  6. Sumit Thakur

    Wed Dec 17 13:27:27 GMT 2014

    Thanks or such a great article :) it is really great :)
    http://happynewyearpictures.com/

    #
  7. ardiansyah1994

    Sat Dec 13 04:12:11 GMT 2014

    Kami Ucapkan Selamat Datang di Website Agen Resmi ACE MAXS Tasikmalaya, Sebagai penyedia obat herbal terbesar , terlengkap, dengan kualitas terbaik http://ardiherbal.com/2014/12/13/agen-resmi-ace-maxs-tasikmalaya/ | http://ardiherbal.com/cara-pemesanan-obat-herbal-ace-maxs/ "Salam Sehat"

    #
  8. Param Khiva

    Sun Dec 14 13:02:43 GMT 2014

    Great Blog
    Check My Blog :
    http://unblockedgames99.blogspot.com

    #
  9. Brestrogen

    Sat Dec 13 18:38:26 GMT 2014

  10. SMCool

    Fri Nov 28 14:27:38 GMT 2014

  11. john92

    Sun Nov 23 18:59:56 GMT 2014

    Happy New Year to all of the readers do check <a href="http://happynewyear2015greeting.com/">Happy New Year 2015 Greeting</a>

    #
  12. Super_man

    Thu Nov 20 05:35:25 GMT 2014

    we reserve the right to suspend the accounts of users posting such material...

    Bernadette Grant
    http://form.jotform.me/form/43098704536460

    #
  13. Resya Nurahma

    Mon Dec 01 03:33:00 GMT 2014

    thank you for sharing that information may increasingly successful visit this http://obatherbalmultikhasiatsite.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/obat-jantung-bocor-tradisional/
    http://goo.gl/ctQGi7

    #
  14. jackman301

    Mon Dec 15 17:38:16 GMT 2014

    I lacked the coordination and conviction necessary to make it as a majorette in the end, but I was at least given a chance at equality.ebook reviews ning

    http://ebookreviews.ning.com/pdf/desire-system-review-dr-david-emotional-contagion-techniques

    #
  15. Azhar

    Sun Sep 14 15:05:08 BST 2014

    Job tips for vacancies at for Free.
    Pegawai Tadbir Diplomatik
    - http://www.pegawaitadbirdiplomatik.org
    Penguasa Kastam Gred W41
    - http://www.penguasakastamgredw41.com

    #
  16. Param Khiva

    Wed Dec 17 05:28:59 GMT 2014

    Thank You. Your Blog is Great.I like it.
    Please Also Checkout My Blog and Give Some Tips.
    http://www.unblockedgamesfree.com

    #
  17. Param Khiva

    Wed Dec 17 05:29:17 GMT 2014

    Thank You. Your Blog is Great.I like it.
    Please Also Checkout My Blog and Give Some Tips.
    http://www.unblockedgamesfree.com

    #
  18. davidjohn

    Tue Oct 28 09:12:47 GMT 2014

    SSH secara luas menyesuaikan diri dengan berlimpah admin pengaturan dalam berbagai macam lokasi apel untuk naiknya web dan jenis tambah jaringan seperti WAN.

    Greg Aziz
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/gregaziz/15530409132/in/set-72157648334400550

    #
  19. peterjhon1

    Tue Nov 25 06:22:59 GMT 2014

    I couldn't create a URL which directly opened a chat session with a specific user, high pr link building
    https://www.fiverr.com/james_seo

    #
  20. peterjhon1

    Tue Nov 25 06:24:21 GMT 2014

    Those that are offensive or abusive will be edited or removed and we reserve the right to suspend the accounts of users posting such material.
    blog comments backlinks
    https://www.fiverr.com/james_seo/give-you-60-links-pr2-to-pr6-with-great-quality-backlinks

    #
  21. peterjhon1

    Tue Nov 25 06:45:35 GMT 2014

    reflect a piece of who you are and we knoW.. best seo link building services
    https://www.fiverr.com/james_seo/give-you-60-links-pr2-to-pr6-with-great-quality-backlinks

    #
  22. Happy Veterans Day 2014 Quotes

    Fri Nov 07 14:12:47 GMT 2014

    Veterans Day Giveaways 2014 is one of the most trending topics when Veterans Day is about to arrive as many of us are willing to win the giveaways and some of us willing to host the giveaways
    http://www.happyveteransdays.com/2014/11/messages-for-happy-veterans-day-2014-Sms.html
    Your photo should reflect a piece of who you are and we know that
    http://www.happyveteransdays.com/
    you're not that stiffly-posed, fake-grin type, right?
    http://www.happyveteransdays.com/2014/11/messages-for-happy-veterans-day-2014-Sms.html

    #
  23. Happy Veterans Day 2014 Quotes

    Fri Nov 07 14:15:02 GMT 2014

    Veterans Day Giveaways 2014 is one of the most trending topics when Veterans Day is about to arrive as many of us are willing to win the giveaways and some of us willing to host the giveaways
    http://www.happyveteransdays.com/2014/10/greetings-quotes-on-veterans-day.html
    Your photo should reflect a piece of who you are and we know that

    http://www.happyveteransdays.com/2014/10/greetings-quotes-on-veterans-day.html
    Your photo should reflect a piece of who you are and we know that
    http://www.happyveteransdays.com

    #
  24. peterjhon1

    Sun Nov 09 06:45:16 GMT 2014

    reflect a piece of who you are and we know that.. rehab centers in oklahoma
    http://www.examiner.com/article/find-the-best-drug-and-alcohol-rehab-centers-oklahoma

    #
  25. Zarvind

    Mon Nov 10 08:13:49 GMT 2014

    Hi there mates, good post and good arguments commented at this place, I am genuinely enjoying by these. https://www.rebelmouse.com/languageofdesireprogram/

    #
  26. BlackMen1

    Sun Nov 16 13:40:46 GMT 2014

    I was eventually permitted to call myself a ‘pro-feminist’, and slunk to the back of the class. But this wasn’t feminism. This was man-hating.
    Felix Sater
    http://www.felixsater.com

    #
  27. Rocko

    Fri Dec 05 15:47:44 GMT 2014

    Thanks for making this beautiful post at this site. This is one of the wonderful articles, I've ever read here. Merry Christmas Greetings for you!<br />

    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas Greetings 2014</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas Greetings</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Christmas Greetings 2014</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas 2014</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Christmas 2014</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas 2014 Greetings</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas Sayings</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas Sayings 2014</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Christmas Sayings 2014</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas Greeting Card</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas Cards</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas Card</a>
    <a href="http://www.merrychristmasgreetings-2014.com/" target="_blank">Merry Christmas Cards 2014</a>

    #
  28. Super_man

    Tue Nov 18 10:15:17 GMT 2014

    back of the class. But this wasn’t feminism. This was man-hating..

    Free PDF Links
    http://pdfsff.com/

    #