Concerning male participation in feminist process (generically), and the prospect of some of us going back to the patriarchy with our proverbial tail betweenst our legs if we are treated unfortunately by the women of the movement...

Speaking personally, there's tactical separatism and there's philosophical separatism, and the first one doesn't offend me or hurt my feelings very often if it appears occasionally, but it does if it is used constantly. I mean, sometimes it makes sense to say to the WS class, "On Tuesday, the classroom is women's space; all male students are asked to meet separately. Women need a communication space of their own because of the historical negation of our voices and our need to explore our own experience without a male audience." But while that would not bother me, I do sulk and smoulder a bit if the attitude it more like "This is a women's studies class (or convention, or whatever), so men will not be called on, will be asked to minimize their participation, should not insert their phallic selves into our conceptual space." Frankly, I even sort of like an in-between attitude of "You can speak as a man and we will listen, but cautiously and with a certain feminist suspicion." I have ever been in situations where the attitude is "Oh, how wonderful, how progressive, a MAN who cares about women's issues, let's all be oh so careful not to offend him or anything...", which is not complimentary and is actually condescending, whereas a healthy wariness about male participation seems only to be sensible in this context. But across- the board condemnation before being heard? I don't like it personally and I don't like it as a theoretical feminist. As feminist women, you do have too much "access" to "male experience" but only as voiced by men whose interpretation of their own experience is pre-feminist. You do not have access to the experience of being in the male situation as a person whose assumptions and beliefs and so forth are feminist ones. In other words, shutting us up entirely always cuts feminists off from critically important understandings of how patriarchy actually works.

The other kind of separatism, the philosophical belief that men are the enemy in a permanent essential way, is actually sort of rare in theory but more common in underlying attitude. As a thinker, I can admire the completeness of Valerie Solanas even while she gives me the creeps, be- cause if you're going to be an essentialist separatist type, killing all the men is pretty much the only solution that WOULD be internally consistent! Otherwise, if all men are the enemy PERMANENTLY and there is no sense in developing an agenda for changing who men are and what men represent to women and feminism, you've got real problems: you're in a world with a natural enemy who is very powerful and your success would threaten "him" (us) and therefore we would indeed resort to the violent militant invasions of feminist space that separatists claim is our purpose in "participating" in feminism. To philosophical separa- tists, then, I'd say either plan how to get rid of us or get off it and forget feminism (but of course there's no reason for them to be listening to me, now, is there?); to feminists in general, I do say that the presence (even hypothetically) of men in the attempt to end patriarchy and participate in feminist process is going to have a ten- dency to polarize you into separatist-essentialist women on the one hand and feminists who aren't essentialist about it on the other, and this is a disruption that you should be thinking about and planning for, because I think there will be more and more men who identify with feminism and feminist concepts, and what has only sometimes been a hot issue on this list could become a divisive thing in a bad way if it is not thought out and recognized for what it is.

Oh, yeah, also...the first guys who comfortably drop in to participate in feminist space aren't going to be the shy uncertain types. Feminism can be astonishingly liberating to individual men but it is no environment for uncertain hesitant males still sorting themselves out to come and you've got us arrogant bigmouthed types instead! See comments above about temporary tactical separatism. It will be useful & necessary for a long time to come, I reckon.