Am I really being an Ally?

I have recently been struck with the desire to really examine myself, my methods and my motivations when it comes to blogging within the feminist sphere. Although the tension presented by a white male writing about male privilege is ever at the forefront of my mind, I was enlightened by conversation taking place on Twitter last week. Reading through it really encouraged me to take a step back. I want to make sure that I am not speaking out of turn.

It may surprise some of you to learn that my primary goal with CFD is to run a parenting blog. It’s true that I write about parenting daughters and doing so with equality in mind, but my aim is to concentrate on how that affects raising girls to be strong and courageous, and boys who recognize them. I’ve focused on feminism so far because that serves as a foundation for my thinking on parenting girls. I’ve also branched out into the areas of American Christian privilege and even addressed racism once or twice. However I’m very aware that I’m not qualified to speak at any length on these subjects.

I’m not qualified because – long story short – I’m a white, able-bodied, heterosexual cis-male. I am the spitting image of nearly every privileged class in the United States. When I write about oppression, I write from the perspective of someone who could just as easily be the oppressor. I don’t intend to oppress of course, but it would be presumptuous and arrogant for me to carry on with a website without this awareness. People reading my blog don’t know me. They have no reason to trust me. In my ignorance of the human struggle my readers have experienced, I could very easily write something inflammatory, offensive or condescending and have no idea what I’ve done.

The same applies to the voices I endorse and pass on to my readers on Facebook and Twitter.

Really, it isn’t my prerogative to take up these spaces. These are issues best addressed by experts. I am grateful for the women who read what I write and who encourage me. Believe me; it makes me smile to hear that I may be helping in some way. However I need to remember that I’m in no position to be teaching them anything. My aim here is to address men and fathers who want to parent without sexism. It is best that I concentrate on parenting issues – raising daughters. The only context where I have anything to say about feminism is within the sphere of being a dad.

With this in mind, I decided to take a look at the material I’ve passed along to my audience. I wanted to get a feel for whose voices I amplified in my work. Do I exemplify my ideal of pointing my readers to real Feminists out there for education from the source? Or do I shove these women aside and hand the mic to my fellow men? How often do I actually help the causes I claim to support? How often do I unknowingly perpetuate oppression, whether through micro-aggression or through blithe arrogance?

Therefore I undertook a small exercise. I went through my Facebook page and pulled out every post since the beginning of the year – every link to my website, every link to the work of others and every time I’ve handed the spotlight to someone to address the audience I’ve gathered. With each of these, I tried to quickly ascertain whether the author, speaker or artist was a man or woman. What I found surprised me.

Here is how the breakdown looks overall:

chart1

If I count my articles in the “Men” category (as I should), it comes out to this:

chart2

As you can see, the ratio of men and women whose messages I’ve highlighted appears very close to equal with a small majority from women. I honestly expected it to be an overwhelming male lead so I’m encouraged by this. Overall it appears that I pull down content from men and women in an even ratio. When I look at it by topic of post, this is what I see for articles that address what I consider to be feminist issues.

chart3

This is really what I wanted to find out. It looks like I have some work to do in finding more material from women. I would be much more comfortable not having potentially 30% of my links ABOUT FEMINISM coming from men.

Here is the breakdown on posts addressing politics or religion:

chart4

Now, I realize that some of the feminism articles probably belong on this chart as well as the last one so this isn’t as bleak as it first appears. However it indicates a huge blind spot on my part, and for that you have my apology. I’m going to do better.

And as far as posts that address parenting issues:

chart5

It would appear that the only parenting articles I post from fellow dads are about feminism-related matters.

At any rate, what this tells me is that although I’m not as bad off as I thought I was I still have some work to do. Here’s my promise to you as the reader:

  • I will be more diligent in seeking out the voices of women instead of men where feminism is concerned.
  • I will continue to listen on the various social mediums I frequent. I value the education I’ve received there.
  • I will do my best to stick within the goal of my website – parenting. Obviously this involves feminism, but my goal should be to pass along what the experts have to say. I can talk about being a dad, and about what I’ve learned from my feminist friends, but it is not my place to speak for these women. I will do better.

Where this study fails to inform, of course, is in other areas of oppression such as race and LGBT+. I admit this is a huge area of concern. I have a blind spot there to be sure. If any of you have authors to recommend on this I would love to take your suggestions.

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