Can men be Feminists? PART II
All men should support feminism. Why? Because it is also about you. I will show you how. Just read.
One of the things that start to happen when you publicly declare yourself a feminist is that you get asked a lot of questions. As soon as you say it out loud and proud, it is like you opened yourself for inquiries. If you are anything like me, these investigations into your political beliefs will leave you a big mumbling mess. I have read a number of books, essays on feminism to fill my mental and real library, and yet as soon as I am asked to sum it up I start sweating and put together unintelligible sentences before loudly shouting “because equality” and rather getting myself another drink to forget that this kind of talk took place once again.
What even is “feminism”?
Firstly for me, it is something I am passionate about. Secondly, the briefest general definition you can find out there sounds: “feminism is a centuries-old social movement fighting for the equality of the sexes”. Term Intersectional feminism has emerged over time and ultimately it believes that “all people are entitled to the same rights, and it fights to end all discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, religion, culture or lifestyle”. Why and when first feminism came from? How it evolved over time? I have looked into the history of feminism in my previous article called Can man be feminists?
“It feels like all this F-word is man-hating.”
To argue against this notion is very hard, because simply there is a reason why feminism made people, especially men, feel this way. Today, feminism never means just ONE thing and therefore it is your turn to find your own stand on this topic. We cannot argue there is no such a thing as “man-hating” feminism, because there are extreme feminist branches that detached themselves from the mainstream feminism. Unfortunately, one branch´s actions or beliefs, specially those extreme ones, are misunderstood for the main purpose of feminism, and then the entire feminism is labeled such as “man-hating, women not shaving”.
Where do I stand?
How to go about it, when figuring out if you really are a feminist or if you really agree with its values and goals? Ask yourself a question: Can we really all study, freely get married, freely walk alone through the night downtown? Can you really answer this with 100% certainty? If not, then you might yourself consider a feminist or at least start supporting feminists who fight to make this 100%. Because the kind of Feminism that I support and believe is fighting exactly for this:
- We ALL can become mothers, father, parents
- We ALL can study
- We ALL can become presidents
- We ALL can stay childless
We ALL can become ANYTHING WE WANT without society, system, people putting obstacles in our way based on who we are (woman? man? nationality? religious? sexual orientation? etc.?). Do society, systems, people put obstacles in your way to become anything you want because you are a woman or a man? This kind of feminist wants to help you by fighting and destroying these obstacles for you, so you can freely grow, live and be.
It should be called “Equalism” as a new era of 21st-century feminism
100 years ago term Feminism made sense because the initial purpose was to fight for women’s basic rights (the right to vote, the right to education, the right to own property). But if you follow the history and the waves, 21st-century feminism pushed for inclusivity, which means it fights against not only gender oppression but also race, class, and sexuality oppression.
So yes, you can agree, it gets a bit overwhelming and confusing at how many causes and goals feminism has included. One thing is clear, it has expanded and become inclusive beyond just “white women”. Which clearly means men are included too. HOW?
Can men be Feminists?
Of course men can be feminists. In fact, the first British member of parliament to introduce a bill calling for women to receive the right to vote in 1866 was an amazing male feminist called John Stuart Mill. Daniel Radcliffe, Prince Harry and John legend are also among the millions of brilliant and proud male feminists.
But you might wonder, what’s in for me? In fact, a lot. Whole your freedom to live, to be, to feel anything the hell you want as a man. The sad fact is that we all, regardless of sex, have been socialized from birth to accept sexism as a part of life, and as a result, women can actually be just as sexist as men.
Is it hard to grasp? Let me explain you in the eye-opening practical example from the Untamed, by Glennon Doyle:
“The next day I turned on the TV and saw a commercial about a couple who had just become parents. The young mother left the baby with his father to return to work for the first time. The camera followed the father around the house as their Alexa chirped constant reminders that the mother had programmed the night before: ´Don´t forget music class at nine! Don´t forget lunch at noon, the bottle´s in the fridge! You are doing a great job!´ Viewers were meant to swoon at the sweetness. All I could think of was: Did this father just arrive on Earth? Is he new here?”
Like Glennon also I got thinking: why this new father need minute-by-minute coaching from the new mother to care for their baby? This wife and mother anticipated each of her husband and baby´s needs, and then she trained Alexa to hold the father´s hand all day, so he did not have to think at all. But the father is a grown man and as a father must love his son. Why on earth he would not be capable of caring for his son as his wife was? Both new parents, why was the wife trying to control everything? Does not she trust the capability of man to nurture and care for his own child?
Bottom line is, our men and boys are born with inherent potential for nurturing, caring, loving, and serving. This kind of freaking-controlling and not trusting behavior stops our man from being a caring man. It is us, who by our own mistake and prejudice do not trust men and training them out of what is natural for them too. As much as women are put in the gender roles by men, we women not really helping it by not letting men take over the gentle, serving, and loving roles either.
Men need to be freed too- from the norms that limit men from being human
I want to share another story by Glennon that says a lot:
“Years ago, my ex-husband went out to dinner with an old friend who had just had a baby. They stayed out for hours and when Craig got home, I said, ´Tell me everything! What´s the baby´s name? Crag said ´Hmm, I don´t know. I said, ´What? Okay. How´s it going at home? Are they exhausted? Is the baby sleeping? How´s Kim doing with it all?´Crag answered, ´I didn´t ask´. Glennon continues, ´Okay. How´s his mother? Is cancer getting worse?´ and Craig replies, ´He did not mention it´. Glennon asked what did they talked about for two hours? Craig’s answer was ´I don-t know. Work. Soccer.´
This is nothing new. I would not trade place with men for all the money in the world. I would not make it through any phase of my life without honest friends to talk through any phase of my life. It must be so lonely to be a man. Do not get offended, I mean, you usually carry all the things we were meant to help each other to carry.
Man, feminism is also about you.
You have heard the term “Patriarchy” (Institutionalized sexism) in connection to women and feminism. But this patriarchy hurts men as well as women. It tells men that they are not allowed to show emotions, that they have to be successful and powerful in order to succeed, and that real man are not allowed to like (not even to think of wearing) the color pink!
Being human or being feminine? Make your own conclusion.
Our men and boys are caged, too. We raise and train our men to believe that the way to become a man is to objectify and conquer women, value power and wealth above all, and suppress any emotions other than competitiveness and rage. Men are told that they must hide the parts of themselves to fit into this “manly man” and avoid feminine traits like mercy, softness, mercy, quietness, uncertainty, humility, kindness, connection, empathy. We tell men to not be these things because these are feminine things to be.
The problem is, that these traits are not only feminine traits, those are human traits. Do not we want our sons, husbands to keep their humanity? Do not we want them to be who they are without tearing apart those human traits?
Feminism fights for men too, that you know the whole story. Which is that you are free to be fully human- sensitive, empathetic, soft, uncertain, kind, quiet- whatever you want to be and it does not make you less of a man.
Feminism truly believe that if we lived in a world without gender-based oppression we would all be so much happier, ourselves, freer. So even if you are only joining for purely selfish reasons, we would love to have you as a part of the gant.