I’m a male feminist. But here is what I am not…
Until recently it hadn’t occurred to me that I need to explain why I’m a feminist, but reading through some extremely deluded material on the internet has made me worried that mainstream culture doesn’t understand who male feminists are and what we’re doing.
I know if you clicked this, you probably already agree with me, but for my own sake I’m addressing the people I see everyday on the internet slamming feminism and its advocates, and calling on “real men” to sexually satisfy, protect, and provide for the women of the world so those slamming feminism will all shut up. (Most women prefer “real men” anyway, after all.)
First, I can’t speak for other feminists, male or female. Feminism is not one thing and people have different opinions about different aspects of it. Don’t assume I agree with everything you’ve ever heard any feminist say.
But I’ll speak for me.
I’m a male feminist, and my manhood is in no way fake.
I’m not afraid of, or intimidated by femininity or women in general.
I’m not afraid of, or intimidated by masculinity or men in general.
I’m inspired by everyone who lives life on their terms, being their true selves.
I’m don’t believe women are better than men.
I don’t believe men are better than women.
I don’t believe men and women are exactly the same.
I don’t seek the approval of women any more than men.
I do seek the approval of those who are happy, kind, and helpful rather than harmful to the world around them.
I don’t think it is wrong to express any opinion—even those which contradict the feminist mainstream—as long as that opinion is backed by evidence and argued politely.
I don’t respond to arguments against equality which are impolitely articulated and lack evidence. But I respect your right to shout.
I don’t think that monogamy or marriage are inherently sexist.
I don’t want to attack or dismantle religion, tradition, or the government.
I don’t tell people what to do in their bedrooms.
I’m not a feminist because I like being sexually dominated, humiliated, or talked down to. I don’t, and even if I did this has nothing to do with political opinion.
My wife doesn’t make decisions for me, tell me what to do, or lecture me.
My mother is not a dominating, loud, or aggressive person. On the contrary.
I’m not a feminist because it’s politically correct.
I’m not a feminist because it’s trendy, or because it makes me seem progressive.
I’m not a feminist because I care about women (although I do).
I’m a feminist because feminism helps men.
The feminism I believe in advocates for gender equality—not female superiority. It argues that we should all be who we really want to be rather than what we’re told to be or what our ancestors were. It allows men and women to be best friends and partners rather than first and second in command.
It means boys and girls can play with whatever toys they want instead of learning to be embarrassed by liking something they “shouldn’t.” It demands that we welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and people of all kinds into our culture because they’ve always been here anyway and rejecting them hurts us.
It asks us to try to understand and empathize with people who are different, rather than define them. It gives us the opportunity to grow into our full and complete personalities instead of cutting off whatever parts of ourselves don’t fit the mold.
Through the eras, gender conditioning has harmed men as much as it has women. Men have been taught to suppress, repress, and despise their own feelings. They have been trained to fight and to kill and to die. They have been taught to dominate and control their families creating fear and a loveless resentment towards them. They have been conditioned to believe that their opinions were facts and that contrary opinions were attacks rather than collaboration. They have been taught that their passion, imagination, domesticity were at best a diversion, but more probably a weakness.
Many of our forefathers grew up incomplete. Many of them were incapable of cooking, cleaning, or caring for themselves and were utterly dependant on women they often resented. They hardened into tough old men. They narrowed and chiseled themselves down into little masculine nubs and tried to do the same to their sons.
Feminism allows men to have a better life: a happier, safer, fuller, kinder, more egalitarian life.
If you want something different, that’s your right.
And I will fight you.
I won’t let our culture prune my children like bonsai trees into what it thinks they should be. I won’t let you reduce me, or them, any further. We’re stronger, smarter, and better than that.
This is why I am a male feminist.
Photo: Getty Images