Can’t think of a single reason why men should support feminism? Here are five.
- Gives us equal partners. For men who have women in their lives as co-parents, lovers, wives, partners, clients, and associates, it means that our partners in these relationships have equal power.
- Provides a model for consciously changing gender roles. Women have changed what it means to be a woman. Even women who don’t call themselves feminists have had their ideas of themselves shaped by feminism. Women who imagine themselves pursuing a career, or even imagine themselves having choices of whether and when to become a wife or a mother, owe their freedom to choose to feminist thought. As men, we have had our lives changed just as helplessly as the women have. We have the same power, as men, to consciously shape what we think a man should be, and how to live up to the standards we create. Feminism taught us it can happen.
- Provokes us to consider the many identities that yoke us, sometimes in competing directions. Through feminist dialogue and consciousness raising, women began to realize that their identities as wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters were colored by their other identities: as human beings, citizens, workers, artisans, people of color, people with disabilities, queer people… the list of identities goes on, and the ways they overlap filter our experiences and to some degree determine who we are. Men are as subject to these double and triple yokes that tell us what we should be doing or caring about.
- Encourages us to speak in our own voices.Betty Friedan identified a problem without a name, and began a conversation that hasn’t stopped. There are problems that men have that don’t have names, because we are not encouraged to talk with one another about our lives in the same ways, and because we want our stories to fit into the patterns that already exist: to make sense of them. By having the courage to talk about our experience, even when it doesn’t match our ideas of what a man does or feels, we can begin to learn what our common experiences are, and to name them.
- Makes us all more free. Unless all of us are free, none of us are free. As long as women still feel the pulls of gender roles, men are forced by the laws of physics into an equal and opposing position. And as long as anyone in our world is subject to limitations because of an identity like those we construct around sex and gender, race and ethnicity, and our deeply held beliefs and loyalties, then any of us is subject to being limited for who and what we are, or for what we believe in.
—Photo credit: cliff1066™/Flickr