She Said/He Said: The Modern Male Feminist

She Said:
by Patsy Campos

I have to admit that when I think of the term “feminist” I do not automatically think of men. However, I would love to see more men advocating for gender equality. Whenever a man says he is a feminist, he is rising from the crowd of timid men by supporting equality among males and females. Some men still cling to traditional gender roles, but I know that most men would support gender equality for everyone. At the Women’s Center, we have many male supporters who participate in our programs and it is truly amazing how much these men really want to help eradicate gender oppression. I admire men who advocate for gender equality, despite their male privilege. Many men I know realize that sexual assault is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The gender pay gap and the motherhood penalty are also important obstacles that men and women should work together to resolve. Instead of being judged by their gender, all people should be judged by their character or skills. That is why I like working at the Women’s Center because I learn about feminist ideas from diverse perspectives.  

He Said:
by Devon White

Let’s cut to the chase:
I’m black.
I’m a male.
I am a feminist.
I’m a male feminist!
Wait a minute—what the heck is a “male feminist”?

There has been a lot of debate about what it means to be a male feminist. Feminism is an organized movement that works to eliminate women’s oppression in social, economical and political positions. So, a male feminist is a self-identified man who supports these ideas and believes in equal rights for both sexes. A lot of people think that men have no role in feminism, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to Jane Pilcher and Imelda Whelehan, “This assumption that men, as part of the problem, should be part of the solution was a theme in early radical feminism, even though radical feminism is usually associated in the popular consciousness with separatism and man-hating1.” I feel that men must educate themselves on how their male privilege manifests itself in all ways of life, and the expectations they hold of the women in their life due to that privilege. We need to support and encourage men to respect feminist principles without making them feel emasculated for their advocacy of women’s rights.

Growing up in a predominantly female family, it felt natural for me to embrace womanism and feminism. I too experienced many of the struggles my grandmother, aunts, and cousins faced. Over time I came to understand that stopping the oppression of women is beneficial to everyone. We can’t progress as a society when we continue to marginalize on the basis of gender, race, or sexuality.  It takes effort to marginalize and oppress people; what if we used that effort instead to empower people, encouraging diverse ideas that will make our society better?

Like Patsy, I strongly believe in women’s equity and that “…all people should be judged by their character or skills,” regardless of their gender. In order to achieve gender equality, men should take accountability for our contribution to sexism and gender inequality. We have a tendency to blame the victim but if we want to solve issues such as domestic violence and the gender pay gap, men need to look within themselves and understand how they contribute to these problems. There is plenty of room at the table for anyone who wants to challenge the sexism, misogyny and patriarchal norms found among our communities and institutions. So, to my fellow male counterparts, I ask: What are you waiting for? Pull up a seat!
1Pilcher, Jane, and Imelda Whelehan. 50 Key Concepts in Gender Studies. London: Sage Publications, 2004. 50. Print.

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