Can Men Be Feminists?
It’s a myth that men can’t be feminists. Anyone including men can be a feminist, because feminism is simply a belief in the equality of sexes.
With that in mind, some will argue that to be a “true” feminist one must be a woman. In this school of thought the best a man can be to feminism is a strong ally.
Semantics aside, being a “pro-feminist” and “anti-sexist” man means “checking your privilege” and attempting to be a good “ally” to the feminist movement. To truly understand the debate it helps to clarify a few terms and brush up on the history of feminist philosophy.
- Feminism is the belief that genders are equal.
- Sexism is the belief that one gender is greater than or less than the other.
FACT: The one thing (almost) everyone agrees on is being cool and respectful to all genders, races, and religions, regardless of your own. When you support someone else’s movement, you are “an ally”. If you want to use the label “feminist”, then you should do some research and learn exactly what that means (not just historically, but to do different people today). (See 10 Essential Feminist Texts That Everyone Should Read, or at least watch in the video below).
A Social History of Feminist Literature – Part 1.
In-Group and Out-Group – Feminist Allies Versus Feminists Members
In the social sciences the concepts of “in-group” and “out-group” are vital.
- An “in-group” is a group you are a part of.
- An “out-group” is a group you aren’t part of.
Women are part of the “in-group” female. Men are part of the “in-group” male. Each is the other’s out-group.
Equal, Not Same
Given the genetic differences between men and women, on a level of gender, men who identify as male can never be “exactly the same” as women who identify as female. Men and women are “different but equal” and not “identical”.
Given the history of the world (in which women have historically been oppressed), it creates a fundamental problem (but not barrier) in regards to a man labeling themselves as “feminist” without any other qualifiers.
TIP: Want to stop reading and start embracing feminism. Make life easy and call yourself a “pro-feminist” and “anti-sexist” male “ally” of women and the feminist movement (or just “an ally of the feminist movement”, or “any ally of feminism”). Now you don’t have to appropriate the term “feminist” before even knowing who Mary Wollstonecraft is, or what The Yellow Wallpaper or women’s suffrage are.
TIP: Rule #1 to being a good pro-feminist – don’t try to assert your views over the woman who is talking when discussing feminist theory. (i.e. respect).
Embracing Feminist Theory as a Man, and the Reality of Living in a Patriarchal Society that Historically Has Oppressed Women
Feminism, feminist theory, feminist philosophy, feminist thinking by any name, and generally all related anti-sexist pro-female ideologies are just that, ideologies.
There is no perfect guidebook or rule-set laying out the proper role of men. In fact, there is little agreement as to what degree men can participate in feminism, or tout feminist theory, without actually being sexist. See Men and feminism.
Although anyone can be a feminist and anti-sexist (as an activist or philosophically), there are two minor points of contention with men being feminists, both having to do with gender and “privilege”. As part of the in-group male, I don’t personally feel either point stops men from being feminists, but some may, and with this in mind both these points should be considered.
- The reason feminism arose was a response to the oppression of women under a patriarchal society (a male driven society). This creates an unavoidably paradoxical position for men on one level as they can’t fully remove themselves from their position of privilege. See that view by the National Organization for Men Against Sexisim explained here.
- Also, when we are talking about being active in a movement, it isn’t really appropriate for a member of an “out-group” to lead the “in-group”. Generally, a movement about women needs women as leaders, a movement like Black Lives Matter need black leaders. Those who aren’t part of a group by nature, but want to support a group are “allies”. This is explained well in the video below.
Can Men Be Feminists? That is the question we ask on this page, who better to answer the question than “someone who isn’t me“.
Do Feminists Hate Men and Femininity?
The idea that feminists hate men, or don’t want women to be feminine, is a matter of misunderstanding. All groups who are oppressed fight oppression through rebellion, this was no different for women during women’s suffrage or women’s liberation.
The suffragettes may have rebelled against the traditional role of women, and different feminists groups have held different beliefs over time (see waves of feminism), but modern feminist theory supports equality and choices for all genders as a general rule (remember people are individuals).
Some feminists see women as an equal, but supporting role, to men. Other feminists see women as greater than men. Some push for modesty, others push for sexual liberation, the way different women and cultures view feminism runs a wide gambit of beliefs.
A video about women’s suffrage (from a male point of view, as per the topic of this page). Modern feminism has its roots in the oppression of women.
TIP: Feminism arises from the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment thinkers (a sibling of liberalism one could say). See the history of liberalism.
What is Feminism?
Feminism is a range of ideologies, philosophies, and movements that advocate women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Feminism began as a reaction to the long and global history of the oppression of women, but it has since grown into a stance against all gender-related oppression.
An explanation of the history of western feminism and the waves of feminism.
FACT: Feminism is not the idea that women “are greater than men”. That is sexism.
Feminist Theory Versus Feminist Activism
There are more than two groups of feminists, but to make it simple.
- Feminist theory denotes a belief system.
- Feminist activists advocate on the behalf of gender equality.
Feminist political and social activists campaign in areas such as: “reproductive rights, domestic violence, gay marriage, and workplace issues such as family medical leave, equal pay, and sexual harassment and discrimination. Anytime stereotyping, objectification, infringements of human rights, or gender- or sexuality-based oppression occurs, it’s a feminist issue.”
Men can believe in the idea of equality and be a feminist, and/or actively support movements and be an activist. The distinction is between action and mentality.
What is Equality?
Equality is equal opportunity, status, and rights. It’s largely symbolic and ideological and represents fairness. It does not pretend that everyone is the same or that everyone should be treated the same, it’s a respect for differences with a focus on the fundamental core principle of a free society that “all people are created equal”. Learn more about equality.
Thanks for this excellent piece with good references. One more refuse I would suggest for men interesting in advocating for feminism is this one from feminist Frequency. Its not women’s job to educate you, its not your job to be a leader among women… Stay in your lane. And Listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1ZctJat4pU&feature=youtu.be
Feminist are RETARDED
Noting that the term you used is in needlessly appropriate in terms of presenting an argument, that aside, I don’t see how believing in the equality of the sexes is insult worhy. If that is invalid, then believing men are equal to women is invalid. If your stance is that we aren’t equal, what is it exactly that your stance?
This was very bias, it is quite obvious this was made by a feminists, next time, how about we use someone who is neutral. You can’t make an article about two sides, attempting to explain both if you are on a side.
Well Communist Cletus, if what you say is true, then men can be feminists. As I’m a straight cisgender male and I wrote the article. ?
Will though give it another look and entertain your point however. I’m open to making the page better in terms of how the argument is presented. Don’t think the central thesis is off base though.
Males can be feminists. Don’t know if I’d say the same for men.
I completely disagree
Where do you begin with this gigantic pile of nonsense (to be polite)? I guess we should start by debunking the world’s biggest lie. Joseph Goebbels recommended that to convince people of a lie, make it a big lie, and Hitler took that advice and ran with it successfully. The feminists have done the same thing. Their whopper of a lie is that they’re for equality. They repeat that lie over and over, and they’ve duped the author of this article into doing the same. However, no matter how many times a lie is repeated, it does not become true. You don’t have to take my word for it, however. Just pay attention to what feminists do, not what they say. They say they’re for equality, but their actions don’t even come close to their words. They’re not even in the neighbourhood. If feminists believed in equality of gender, they wouldn’t use hate speech like “mansplaining” or “toxic masculinity” or “male tears.” By belittling men with such hatred, they make clear what their real intentions are. It’s not to gain equality with men. They already enjoy numerous privileges that men don’t have. Their goal is to destroy men. Their goal is to spread their hatred of men mainstream, and thus far they’ve succeeded in that. Their goal is to make sure that women never have to take responsibility for their actions and instead simply blame all their problems on men. If their goal were equality, they would be outraged by terms like “mansplaining,” a term of hate that assumes that someone’s explanation is wrong based on gender alone with no consideration taken as to the merits of the man’s explanation. They would never tolerate a term aimed at them such as “femsplaining.” Imagine if someone used a term like “Jewsplaining.” People would be outraged, and rightfully so. If you replaced “mansplaining” with “Jewsplaining” and “man” with “Jew” in feminist propaganda, they would sound like Nazis. This is why feminists have earned the term “feminazi.” It’s not because their ideology is the same as Nazis. It’s quite different. It’s because their ideology is equally hateful. Feminists scream all the time about anyone telling the truth, that feminism is a hate movement. Notice they only have words to counteract that. Their behaviour reeks of hatred. Their behaviour is of male bashing and attempting to destroy cherished principles of democracy, including due process and free speech. In short, feminists have earned their reputation as haters. Other hate speech they use is “male tears.” They love to laugh and joke about men’s suffering. How sick do you have to be to think that the suffering of human beings is humorous? One of the toughest things about being a man is being expected to hide your pain. Men usually don’t cry even when we are in pain. It’s not healthy. Men would be healthier if we were allowed to express our emotions, especially pain. But we’re not. And feminists just reinforce this unjust cultural limitation. We know that if we suffer so much that we cry, feminists will mock us. They’re so full of hate against us that they’ll laugh at our tears. Then they wonder why we find them hateful. We call them hateful because it’s true. Hate is the cornerstone of feminism. Feminists spew hatred toward men and then claim they’re for equality. It’s quite clear they don’t see us as their equals. Feminists see men as subhumans. It’s further reinforced by their other hateful term, “toxic masculinity.” With that term, they claim that the very essence of a man, his masculinity, is evil. With an attitude like that, I cannot imagine how they have the gall to expect men to support their movement. It’s a movement that endorses hatred of men and the treating of men as subhuman.
The other absurd claim of this article is that men can be feminists. Men can’t be feminists any more than a black person can join the KKK. The notion that a man can be a feminist implies that feminists see men as their equals. It’s blatantly obvious that they don’t. To a feminist, a man is a subhuman who exists only to be exploited by her. I’ve seen feminists who actually advocated the murder of men. They advocated “culling” the male population down to only 10%, even even those would only be kept around to work as slaves and to be used in breeding. With that kind of sick attitude of hate that the feminists have, any man would have to be possessed by masochism to even want to be a feminist. A man like that, for example, the author of this article, is in desperate need of psychotherapy. Allowing someone to treat you like that reveals an insecurity that has reached a level of mental illness. Thus, there is no such thing as a male feminist. There are only males who THINK they’ve feminists. In reality, they’re just sycophants. This article’s author is one of them. He’s just the feminists’ useful idiot. Any man with healthy self esteem will reject feminism’s bigotry. It’s a mystery to me why any man would put up with being treated like a subhuman. We need to stand up against the evil that is feminism, not embrace it.
I don’t agree with your stance or some of the language you use, but I do appreciate the time you took to make your argument.
My general response as an author, ally, and man, and not as a woman (which I’m sure would make a stronger article and argument), is that there are different forms of feminists and feminism. And that an ideology is different from an action or an interpretation of an action or an ideology.
You are sort of painting all feminism with a broad, skeptic, and negative brush. I would say the underlying idea of equality is on its surface very simple and hard to argue with. A belief in equality is not the same as “hate.” Thus I have an issue with the idea that supporting equality of the sexes is comparable to supporting hate.
Also, the idea that supporting equality means supporting male inferiority, is essentially the opposite of the core of the ideological stance of feminism on paper. But I guess if you were to correct an imbalance between men and women, and the presupposition was that men were “higher,” you could either correct by bringing women “up” or men “down.” If someone chooses to try to correct this way, or if you see the correction as being this, I can get why that would be off-putting. But I don’t think “bring men down” is generally speaking inherently or necessarily tied to the idea of equality.
Anyway, that is my take. Think the only other thing I would say is that the above stance is very aggressive and angry, and I don’t think anyone in our everyday life is really combatting us so much on the topic that that level of intensity is helpful or necessary for getting a point across. That is just purely my opinion though.
Thanks for answering, but you missed the point. The point is that only their words say they’re about equality. Their actions do not. They claim to be an equality movement, but they treat men as inferiors. You didn’t touch on the feminist use of hate speech, for example, making up words like “mansplaining,” and using other expressions of hate like “male tears.” Feminists don’t even consider anything outside of their party line and will brand any other ideas as “mansplaining.” This made-up word assumes that a human being’s explanation is automatically wrong on because of the person’s gender alone. Of course that’s bigotry. Of course that’s hateful. When someone behaves in a manner inconsistent with their claims, I will rebut them. I’ve never seen any feminist outraged by other feminists using this word of hate. Then the mocking “male tears” on coffee mugs and in other ways is particularly disgusting. They not only don’t come out against this kind of hate speech, they make money off it by selling it on mugs and on T shirts. When feminists think my suffering is humorous while in the same breath claim they’re for equality, what am I supposed to think? Of course I would never support this kind of hate group. Ask yourself how they would react if we were like, “Ha ha ha ha, female tears, that’s a knee slapper.” Flip it around and you’ll understand why I’m outraged by feminist’s behaviour. They are not lifting women up, but rather are bringing women down to the level of bullies. They’re every bit as hateful as any Trump supporter.
I do respect you for having the courage to let my post through and answer rather than deleting it. I apologize if my words were too harsh. That’s not my intent. My intent is honesty. I ask the same of you. What do you think of the feminist behaviour in the examples I show?
And, btw, I’m not some right-winger Trump supporter. I’m a Canadian with mostly progressive views. I’m a former feminist supporter, but they kept doing bigoted things that forced me to conclude I cannot support them. Why would I support anyone who treats me as less than human? I do not hate the women who are feminists, btw. I’m objecting to specific behaviour, and it’s behaviour that’s tolerated by the feminist movement.
I think then when a movement overcorrects as a reaction to oppression that that behavior can itself become incorrect at times. Sort of like an elastic band that is pulled back and then oscillates before returning to the center.
So for example if I’m oppressed for having a big nose, and part of my pushback against that (part of empowering myself) becomes making fun of people with small noses, then in my attempt to bring myself up I’m pulling someone else down, and that is not cool.
Have oppressed groups potentially overcorrected, and does this also apply to some people sometimes who are feminist. Yeah, I for sure think there is a logical valid and point here.
I just wouldn’t paint all feminists or the core ideology of feminism with a broad brush that saw it in a negative light. I think at the core, the idea of equality is right, it is only maybe the specifics in action and ideologies and personalities that pop up around it that aren’t always as easy to defend.
If for example feminism is making fun of men and making them feel bad, then this is not a feminism I’ll rush to defend. If though it is just the core concept of equality, and keeping in mind that even that debate is complex, then I can for sure get behind it.
All that said, to the point of this page, men can be feminist even if we are talking about some quasi 10th wave feminism that involves berating men. It just probably is going to attract less men to the cause 😉
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