I recently continued my interview with blogger Maxine Clarke of Petrona. Kudos again to Maxine!
A Blog Without a Bicycle: You said that you generally identify as a feminist, but you gave me the impression that this is not the primary way that you characterize yourself. How do you describe yourself? Do you feel any strong political affiliations, etc? Or do you prefer not to label yourself in this way?
Maxine Clark: I find it hard to have strong affiliations to any movement or organisation, because I am such an individualist I am never going to agree with everything the organisation stands for. I was always a bit of an outsider at school, and not much of a one for clubs and societies. I'm more of a reader and a thinker - a lonely person, bas[i]cially. I am a pragmatist and have always been self-reliant -- I find it safer that way. I was of the immediately post-"hard line" feminist generation (post Greer and Friedan), (Frieden?) -- so the ethos was very much "you can have a job, you can have children" etc. Well, I do have both but it has been tough doing both (work and parenting) as well as I'd like, without extended family and having to work for a living -- and there has been, I feel, little time over for anything else. After 15 years of it, I discovered blogging, which has been a revelation to me in this particular regard -- its combination of connection with other like-thinkers, short writing (creativity), and thinking, as well as being able to do it without physically going out after a long day at work, etc, is perfect for me.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: I think that the role of men in the feminist movement is a really rich topic for discussion. What role should men play in the feminist movement? How can different groups of men work towards gender equity and equality?
Maxine Clark: Well, I work in a so-called enlightened profession (science publishing), but it seems to be comp[l]etely accepted as a valid reason for there being relatively few top women academics/scientists that they have "more domestic duties" than men. This is so wrong. If men took an equal responsibility for family logistics (once the breast feeding is over, of course they can't do that!), then life would be much better for women. How many conferences are there at weekends? If (both sex) parents stood against this and refused to eat into family time; if "businessmen" weren't forever away at conferences or at late meetings because some "wife" was at home to look after the children; if it were not assumed that women are more responsible for childcare logistics than male parents....you get the idea? I have observed over the years that in "double income" parent families, it is usually (but not always) the female parent who gives up opportunities because of family commitments, or because if she works a long week, she would not want to leave her children with someone else looking after them at weekends "as well". (One would begin to wonder why people have children at all if their work means they can't spend any time with them.) But why should either parent make the sacrifice? Families are more important than work -- aren't 5 days a week enough for work? Men could really make a difference in this kind of thing...more time for the family and for being present at evenings and weekends for the children that they helped to create. Or, if they really have to do it at all, taking it in turns to do the trips/work late. Many men do this already, of course, but not enough of them (from what I have seen in a long working life). So many children at school with mine, or of people I work with, barely see their fathers (it is usually fathers) because they are at work until after their bedtimes and away at weekends.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Different groups of feminists have very different views on the role men should play. For example, as I understand it, in Australia a man would not consider himself a "feminist" but would instead label himself as a "friend of feminism." In the United States, however, men do describe themselves as feminists. In fact, men have been included by many groups, especially feminist women of color, from the beginning of their organization.
Maxine Clark: In the UK men do not usually refer to themselves as feminists. I think they'd regard this as a bit of a "girly" term. (ie applicable to women). "Enlightened" or "liberal" or similar word is usually used -- in my opinion, wrongly as it is a sort of "awarding a brownie point for what you should be anyway" kind of word! But of course, a great many men and women genuinely think that women should not work and that "career" women are bad, and all of that (read the Daily Mail).
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Currently, I am most interested in how men are participating in the feminist blogosphere. Which men are involved? How are these men involved?
Maxine Clark: No idea, I just meet individual men who are that way. I don't know of any particular movement. I think it is to do with the way their mothers bring them up, probably.
A Blog Without a Bicycle: Do you have any thoughts on male bloggers who are participating in the feminist blogosphere? Do have any favorite male bloggers, etc?
Maxine Clark: I like a lot of blogs written by men as well as by women, but I don't think I follow any feminist ones either way. I follow a blog if it demonstrates individual, independent thought on a topic I'm interested in, which is basically reading, web and a dash of science and technology. And the odd film.
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