Barack is more of a feminist than Hillary. If being a feminist were based solely on anatomy, Sen. Clinton would of course be the only feminist in the race. The movement, however, has evolved to the point where being a feminist is defined less by your gender and more by how you view the world and lean into life.
In “Women’s Reality,” Anne Wilson Schaef makes a distinction between what she calls the Emerging Female System and the White Male System. For example, in the White Male System: 1) Power is thought of in a zero-sum fashion, i.e. if you give some away you lose some; 2) Leadership means to lead; 3) Responsibility involves accountability and blame; 4) Decision Making uses Robert’s Rules of Order, i.e. a proposal is made and you vote for or against it; 5) Orientation is towards goals and products.
In the Female System, according to Schaef, 1) Power is seen as limitless, i.e. giving some away may in fact increase your own; 2) Leadership means to facilitate; 3) Responsibility is the ability to respond – blaming doesn’t enter the equation;
4) Decision Making is a process working towards consensus; 5) Orientation is towards process.
To me, Hillary is pursuing feminist goals by working the White Male System, and maybe that’s why there’s a disconnect with so many people at an intuitive level. If you use Schaef’s terminology, when Hillary says she has more experience than her opponent, she is really saying she knows how to work the White Male System better than Barack. And Barack is responding that he wants to change the system.
These days feminism is not a matter of anatomy – with bra or without – as much as of world view and how you approach problems.
Art Jones was the first male feminist I ever met in Forest Park. His views on power, leadership, responsibility, decision making and orientation were all congruent with what Schaef calls the Female System. Art could be very competitive and he was certainly masculine, but he went about his duties in a way that made friends out of enemies instead of enemies out of friends. Polarizing is the last thing anyone would say about Art. Art could be firm, but never tough, and between the two lays a big difference.
Right now, there are a whole lot of feminist males who are active in the Chamber of Commerce and Development: men like Rob McAdam, Erik Fjelstad, Chris Guillen, Matt Brown, Augie Aleksy, Wayne Schauer and Larry Piekarz – and those are just the ones that came off the top of my head. They see power as something to be expanded and leadership as enabling work to get done. When an event doesn’t go according to expectation, their first impulse is not to blame, but to learn from the experience. They don’t feel comfortable with Robert’s Rules because parliamentary procedure tends to limit rather than expand options, and although they are action oriented, they understand that due process is not just a legal term.
So, there are lots of men around town who, in my opinion, should be congratulated as being feminists.
On Feb. 25, the chamber presented a letter to the council encouraging members to again take up the issue of parking, and Joe Locke represented the chamber by speaking on behalf of the letter. I’ve observed both bodies over the years, and it was clear to me that the two are operating in different systems. The members of this council are much more civil in their interactions but the system is still white male. Turf is still protected, communication with the public is controlled, blaming and accusing happens more often than it should, and the understanding remains that if I’m right you have to be wrong.
The White Male System isn’t all bad. It tends to be more productive when the problems being dealt with have obvious solutions, and in a situation like our fire department fighting a blaze, it is essential.
But the issues like parking, for example, don’t have obvious solutions while at the same time no one is going to lose their life if the problem is not fixed immediately. In my opinion, the female system would work better for solving this problem.