Men and Feminism: A Good Men Project Roundtable

If there’s one thing we’re all about here at the Good Men Project, it’s discussion. So when our erstwhile founder Tom Matlack wrote a controversial post about how he sees the role of feminism in discussions of men’s issues, we figured this was something worth talking about. Below you’ll find Tom’s original post, as well as a collection of response pieces from a number of our favorite contributors, representing many different points of view on this important issue.

Why Being a Good Man is NOT a Feminist Issue

Tom Matlack envisions a place where men can share stories of their struggle for goodness man-to-man apart from what women or feminists might say about that story.


Why Being a Good Man is Definitely a Feminist Issue

Noah Brand makes the case that gender theory applies to both genders.


These Are The Stories that Change Everything

Lisa Hickey responds to an article in The Atlantic about ‘having it all’ and debates feminism and Tom Matlack along the way.


Is Men vs. Feminism Even a Relevant Discussion?

Jesse Kornbluth asks why, with women’s rights under attack in America and around the world, we should argue about who gets to be in the club against these abuses.


Men’s Goodness Hinges on Hearing Women’s Voices: A Response to Tom Matlack

Hugo Schwyzer sees a world where men can be better, happier and different by including women’s voices in the telling of stories about men. 


Private—Men Only

Dan Griffin thinks there’s a place for single-gender spaces, so long as the people involved are genuinely of good will.


It’s About Men: A Response to Tom Matlack

Let’s create a movement by and for men and be as great as we can be, says Zek Evets. Let’s do something good.


Why Men Can’t be Feminists

Shawn Maxam explains how power dynamics and issues of privilege can distract us from the real conversations men need to be having.


The Transformational Power of Listening: Why Tom Matlack is Right

Mark Greene explains why Feminism (or any ideology) is not a large enough container to hold
the Good Men Project.


Men’s Stories in Context – Why Feminism Belongs at The Good Men Project

Joanna Schroeder believes that stories matter, but without analysis, the conversation is stunted. 


Why Men Can’t Be Feminists

Shawn Maxam explains how power dynamics and issues of privilege can distract us from the real conversations men need to be having. 

About the Editors

We're all in this together.


  1. The Round Table is a beautiful thing….we don’t have to all agree but we can at least sit down and discuss our views…we can agree to disagree….and sit and drink and try to be civil to each other….

    Men and Feminism…what a great topic! This site is getting better and better…Thank you, Mark, Julie, Justin, Mark, Noah, Lisa, Joanna, and Hugo!

    I am struggling to understand the men in my life better….and it is a challenge! My karate sensei is going through the crisis of all crises right now and I sit on the sidelines watching him trying to figure out the best way to handle him…he is a man’s man (unfiltered Stanley Kowalski and Robert DeNiro bar brawler in a black belt) and yet he leans on me at times and tells me things that I think he tells very few people…I am a petite and meek in appearance, but in my head, I am a fierce advocate for feminist issues (guys, please calm down…you really don’t know what kind of feminist I am)…Sensei and I are unlikely friends and confidantes….but I think he leans on me because I am strong (even though I don’t look it) and I just try to listen to him (even though I don’t agree with many of his views)….A lot of times I just scratch my head in wonder at the things he tells me and sometimes I don’t really know what to say, but I still want to support him without compromising myself…Just reading the stories and articles here helps me quite a bit to decipher what he is trying to tell me (you guys are like manspeak translators!)….I think I found the answer to the question in my head….I can’t just ignore him…I have to support him without giving too much of myself away….I need to get his guy friends to come around and bolster him ( I can’t do this alone)….

    Thank you again!

  2. AnonymousDog says:

    “Erstwhile” Tom Matlack? What happened to him?

  3. absolute17 says:

    The way I look at feminism and men’s issues is that they are both separate lines that go in the same direction (gender equality) and occasionally intersect. While not all our issues will be the same, that doesn’t mean we can’t involve each other in those discussions. I would say men couldn’t be feminists ;I think a better term for men would be allies like in the gay right’s movement.

  4. Quite frankly, I don’t feel fully comfortable debating male issues with feminists until they have identified which version of feminism they come from. I find it a complete waste of time to debate with some feminists, but others I enjoy talking to. Some will flat out refuse to acknowledge male issues, minimize it, or treat it as if it’s such a small issue that women’s issues is more important, hell some will even insult it with the “whataboutthemenz” insults and acting like misandry doesn’t exist. Quite a few feminists I’ve seen are actually bigoted, especially to the MRA crowd (same story in reverse there too), they hold bigoted views of people that are interested in speaking out against male issues which is sad when other forms of bigotry aren’t tolerated.

    The above is only SOME feminists, but they can be quite a potent lil force in online discussions and can leave a bitter taste in the mouth of those who went into such discussions expecting feminist to be egalitarianism AS feminists had told them previously, then other feminists pull out the “feminism is a female space, not male space”. Quite frankly it appears to be such an unorganized rabble in the online world that it just causes confusion, anger, fights, bitterness, and is probably responsible for the majority of anti-feminists that I see today. I think feminists really need to start using a qualifier to identify themselves if they truly want to be understood and trusted more because there is too much conflict in what feminism is meant to be, I’ve seen countless times of men who go into a discussion thinking it was egalitarian feminists he was talking to, get cut down, a fight starts over bullshit, the guy probably goes away thinking they’re a bunch of hypocritical people. I had this happen after being told egalitarianism as a movement wasn’t needed, that feminism was already egalitarianism, yet in the same place I tried to talk about male issues I copped a whole load of insulting and abusive messages. And it appears my experience isn’t rare, it actually seems to be quite normal for many of us that visit this site and that’s a damn shame because there are some great feminists who are either egalitarian, or gynocentric BUT identify specifically as such so there is less confusion and no silly fights.

    Is there a place for feminism in the discussion of men? Egalitarian feminism sure, but gynocentric feminism won’t work, discussions on men either need to be neutral or androcentric. Coming into a discussion of male rape and saying rape affects women more, most rapists are men, blah blah, will NOT work (a few feminist authors are guilty of this). Too often there is this incessant need to state women get it worse on articles that are meant to be about men, IN the article, and for what? All it does is minimize the male issue and treat it as less significant than the female issue.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      I agree Archy. My mom was at the forefront of the original feminist movement. She is fully in support of what I am doing here and would not recognize one bit the feminism espoused by Hugo et al.

      • Yep, I’ve even heard a few older feminists who feel there is a problem with some or much of feminism today. It feels like at times it goes a bit too far, but personally I find the entire movement so utterly confusing, I support one part but dislike another part and in stating that I am wondering when I’ll cop the woman-hater line.

        Hi 5 to your mum for her work, and hi 5 to you for giving us this space to talk. It’s the ONLY place I know of that I can speak of male issues and hear a broad range of opinions without being blasted out.

      • @Tom … Great to hear that about your mom. I think it was you that had mentioned in some article/response somewhere that she saw men’s issues as more personal individual issue then men in general? Sorry if I’m confusing you with someone else.

        @Archy .. curiosity as to why you said “Egalitarian feminism” at all. Isn’t “feminism” within itself categorizing humans which isn’t at all what I see egalitarianism as. I’m still confused about this “feminist” title that so many want to hold on to? As you said Archy, you don’t feel comfortable debating with feminists “until they have identified which version of feminism they come from.” Which version? There is only one “version” and the men I know will always struggle with anything relating to feminism. Here … I have it!! Cafeteria feminists!!!!! Pick and choose what they want and still maintain the title? That’s the ticket, cafeteria feminism!

        • ht tp://
          This explains it more, to me I have seen multiple forms of feminism and they don’t all follow a similar path except women’s rights is still common to all.

          • @Archy … Thank you for the link. I read through the responses but still struggle with understanding how an egalitarian can relate to or label him/herself as being a feminist. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term has two distinct definitions in modern English. It is defined either as a political doctrine that all people should be treated as equals and have the same political, economic, social, and civil rights]or as a social philosophy advocating the removal of economic inequalities among people or the decentralization of power….. so where does a connection to feminism come into play? Are you any more a feminist then a masculist? If you are, then you’re not an egalitarian because you’re not recognizing all people on the same level. .. IMO

  5. Copyleft says:

    Good points, both of you. The key distinction, I think, is that feminism is about and for women. Discussion of men’s issues is, therefore, not a part of that; it’s a separate discussion. And having that discussion does not mean that women’s issues are unimportant or or trivial or dismissed; it just means they’re not the current topic of conversation.

  6. Can feminism and women bring something to the table when it comes to helping men? Yes. But are they some necessary and crucial part of helping men? No.

    I think one thing that may have people thinking this is because of a leading thought that without women and feminism men will be trapped in some void of anti-woman sentiment and thus never actually improve in any meaningful way (as in the only thing men need to do in the way of improvement is to work on how men treat women).

    While there is some anti-woman sentiment that needs to be dealt with that is only a very small part of the picture (well it is if you can get past this idea that everything bad that harms men must be traced back to harming women, as if it’s the original sin).

    One other thing to bear in mind is that as men part of what’s been harming us is, just as with women and most other groups, others sweeping in and policing us on how we are supposed to act, speak, etc…

    But oddly you don’t see people stressing how those other groups “need” this or “need” that.

  7. Amen, this isn’t about feminism. This is about males stepping up to the plate and being good fathers, husbands and doing the “right thing” in general. This world would be a much better place if this were to happen. Feminism doesn’t promote “good men” per se but points out times where male based policies that oppress women and girls (correctly so). But feminism doesn’t care about male outcomes and often attacks male oriented views. For example, feminists don’t focus on the number of young men dropping out of school, which is a major issue for us. The feminists I’ve encountered are happy to see girls excelling above the males in this regard. What is needed is a male oriented resurgence of taking on the responsibilities of life, starting with dedication to our children and our mates, followed by driving better educational outcomes for young men.


  1. […] coincidence, the Good Men Project has also run a series this week on men’s place in feminism. There’s an awful lot of talk of transformational journeys and personal healing and the kind […]

  2. […] the first time since December, I’m back at the Good Men Project to take part in a roundtable discussion about men and feminism. We’re all responding to this piece by the site’s founder, Tom Matlack: Why Being a […]

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