Back to Basics #6: Can Men Be Feminists?

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 By: Anel Sandoval

We are bringing it Back to Basics this week! In this blog segment, we explain feminist terminology, myths, concepts and more! Today’s question is…

“Does a feminist have to be female?” 

Being a feminist means believing that women and men are equal and deserve equal rights. If you agree with that, then you’re a feminist. With that being said, all genders can be a feminist! True feminism is intersectional. Feminism spans across any and all genders, sexual preferences, or ethnic identities. And yes, men can be feminist allies too! 

“Why are men important in advocating for gender equity?”  

Men can be important allies to women in fighting for gender equity and promoting violence prevention. Women have been fighting for women’s equality for hundreds of years, but men also have a role to join in the fight as they’re not the problem, but part of the solution. One example of a self identified male feminist is former President Barack Obama. In August of 2016, President Obama penned his famous This is What A Feminist Looks Like where he reminded us that “it is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too.” His administration also took big steps to combat campus sexual assault and violence against women, improve equal pay protections, and actively promote women’s issues. 

“What can I, as a man, do to become an ally for women’s human rights?”  

 Great question! Here is a list of ways:  

  • Support women’s organizations such as the Women’s Center here on campus. We have many events you can attend this semester!  
  • Educate yourself on the history of women’s fight for equality as well as current issues.  
  • Start a conversation with women in your life. Listen to women who are fighting for their rights and ask them questions on how you can support them. 
  • Do not be a bystander to women’s violence. If you see it in your home, workplace, campus, or any public place, do not be silent, report it.  
  • Do not share sexist content that belittles or discriminates against women in any way. 
  • Advocate and educate others. Men can challenge other men in a way that women can’t, and if you use that opportunity to try to educate other guys, or just send the message that sexist attitudes are not okay, that can go a long way. It can feel awkward, but it’s worth it and very appreciated. 

Remember that absolutely anyone can be a feminist regardless of their gender and it is our duty, as society, to change the fact that women aren’t equal to men. To learn more click here

Back to Basics #5: What is the Women’s Center?

By: Emma Sauer 

Something I get asked a lot, whether at events, in the office, or just when talking about my job is…

What do you actually do at the Women’s Center?”

I’ll tell you! 

The Women’s Center at UMKC serves several purposes. Our office houses a wide array of resources available to the community, such as information on housing assistance, local shelters, and LGBTQIA+ resources. These are available either as brochures or links collected on our Campus and Community Resources tab. We also have a library, a lactation/self-care space, and a kitchen, all available to faculty and students. Of course, we’re also just open as a safe space for any marginalized students, and students are welcome to come in and just hang out. 

Another huge thing our staff does at the Women’s Center is our programming– if you are a student at UMKC, you may have spotted us at one of the many events we host, co-sponsor, or attend. Examples of programs we’ve run in the past include running a menstrual product drive to spread awareness about the Pink Tax, promoting body positivity during Every Body is Beautiful Week, and the Their/Her Art Project, which exhibits and uplifts local female and nonbinary artists. Throughout the semester, the student staff are constantly planning new events like these to promote awareness of gender equity issues with the help of Arzie, our awesome director.

There’s even more to the Women’s Center I could go on and on about, but that’s another post for another time.

“So what’s the point of having a Women’s Center and doing all these programs?” 

 Well, speaking as a woman and outspoken feminist, the Women’s Center matters to me personally because it allows feminism to have a physical, vocal presence at UMKC. The Women’s Center is also important because it provides a safe space for marginalized groups on campus, and our programming throughout the school year means gender equity always has a voice. In other words, we want UMKC– and Kansas City in general– to be more feminist! 

“Feminist? What’s that?” 

… Oh boy. That’s a question for a previous B2B blog, my friend. And if you want to learn more about why women’s centers are so important to have at universities,  you can check out this great article from WIHE (Women in Higher Education). 

Back to Basics #4: What is the Patriarchy?

By: Emma Stuart

Welcome to Back to Basics! In these posts, we break down feminist concepts for readers curious about feminist vocabulary, concepts, and ideas! Today’s question is:

“What is Patriarchy?”

Patriarchy is defined by Oxford Languages as “a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.” Due to most modern societies being patriarchal, women are restricted access to the power and privilege that is attributed to men. Feminists and advocates for gender equality have consistently fought against the values that have been enforced by patriarchal societies.

“How am I impacted by the patriarchy?”

The patriarchy affects everyone in many aspects of our lives. It impacts the lives of women and men all around the world in countless ways but here are a few examples:

  • Men are not allowed to show emotions, and if women do, they are ‘out of control’.
  • Women are perceived as objects by the world.
  • Sexual violence perpetrated to and by all genders, and sexual violence committed against masculine people is not taken seriously.
  • Inequity of pay for preforming the same jobs.

“How can I oppose the patriarchy in my life?”

Tackling the patriarchy is not an easy job to do but here are some small ways that we can work against it:

  1. Make sure to educate yourself and keep your mind open to growth.
  2. Challenge the expectation of gender roles but continue to respect all gender expressions.
  3. Hold leadership accountable.
  4. Don’t be blinded by your anger, it is important to acknowledge your anger but don’t let it control you.
  5. Support all women, non-binary, and trans people’s careers, their success is your success don’t make it a competition.

The patriarchy is a constant presence in our lives, and it can be a great burden to bear. However, do not let it control your life and drag you down. Surround yourself with those who lift you up and support you to lighten this load. If you want to learn more about the patriarchy and its effects click here. And if you want to learn about more basic feminist topics check out our post on the myth of “man-hating feminists” , intersectional feminism, and body positivity.

Back to Basics #3: Body Posi Club! Starting Now, Ending Never!

By: Sierra Voorhies

Welcome once again to Back to Basics! In these posts, we break down feminist concepts for readers curious about feminist vocabulary, concepts, and ideas! Today’s question is….

“What is body positivity?”

Body positivity is a movement and a set of ideas based around body acceptance and challenging social norms of thinness as beauty. It challenges diet culture and the thin ideal with radical body acceptance and practicing intuitive eating.  We as a society have been policing fat bodies and shaming fat people, and body positivity is a response to diet culture, limited sizing, and discrimination based on size. 

 

“So what does it mean to be body positive, like for me and my body?”

It’s different for everyone, but the basics of the practice are…

1. Practice appreciating all your body does for you instead of evaluating it on aesthetics

2. Do what feels good for your body, not what others tell you to do. This doesn’t mean eat sweets 24/7 because it feels good, it means listen to the cues from yourself to eat when you’re hungry, take naps when you’re tired, and  exercise when you can.

3. De-center your body from your self image and self worth, and cast off magazines, billboards, and other media that would tell you to become thinner to conform to a beauty standard. 

 

“Isn’t body positivity unrealistic? I mean, bodies can’t be healthy at any size.”

 It is literally impossible to know someone’s health by just their body. Body positivity is a response to fatphobia and policing bodies based on their size and beauty standards. The whole idea of body positivity is to not judge yourself, or others based on looks and size. So, if someone is very large or very small, it’s not anyone’s societal duty to shame them. Making inferences about people’s health and shaming them to eat less, or exercise more is not helpful or healthy. 

We should all practice body positivity, regardless of your gender, age, or size. Some people feel like “body neutrality” or “body acceptance” is a more suitable name for the movement, but all three terms describe roughly the same ideas. Wanna learn more about body positivity? Click here. And, if you want to learn more about basic feminist topics, check out our post on the myth of “man-hating feminists” or  intersectional feminism!

Back to Basics #2: Do Feminists Hate Men?

By: Laura Yac

We are bringing it back to basics this week with a common misconception involving feminists.  When I talk about my feminist beliefs, I often get asked the question, “Do you hate men?”  My answer,  like Cher from Clueless would say is: “Ugh! as if…”

Yet the question still remains if feminists really hate men, and for the most part we don’t! I have come to the conclusion that many individuals (especially men) feel attacked by the term feminist and the concept of women wanting to be seen as equal and receiving the same opportunities that men do for simply being male. This is where I believe individuals got the common misconception that we hate men.

If you go online right now and look up the term feminist, the definition is  “advocacy of women rights on the basis of equality of sexes.” From that, we can gather that overall feminists just want to be seen at the same standards the world places men. We want nothing more than to be treated as the powerful individuals we are and because of that, men shouldn’t feel threatened or hated on. It is simply a matter of wanting change. Women are tired of being treated like they are unable to do certain tasks, tired of being underpaid and underestimated.

It is time that individuals realize that. Instead of seeing such movement as a threat, they should join the cause for the women in their life who have been shut down and underestimated their whole life. For now, it seems women’s rights will be a battle we continue to fight.

For the mean-time here is some extra helpful information on what feminism really is and to leave on a good note… Men, we don’t hate you!

Helpful articles to learn more about feminism: click here and here.

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Basics #1: What is Intersectional Feminism?

Image source: marcn, Creative Commons

Editor’s note: Hi, Roos! Welcome to the first installment of… drumroll please… Back to Basics!  In this blog segment, Women’s Center staff take on core feminist ideas, terminology, myths, and more! We hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two!

By: Adriana Miranda

We’re bringing it back to basics this week with: intersectional feminism! What is intersectional feminism you ask? Great question! So let’s say just for example: You’re a white woman. You work with a Latina or Black (or both) woman and a white man. For every dollar this white male coworker makes, you make 82 cents. Unfair, right? But look at your Latina/Black female coworker; she only makes 56-64 cents.  

So you’re thinking, “Wow this is clearly a gender issue! We women make less than men! But why does my other female coworker make even less than me?”

That’s because there are other factors to your coworker’s identity that already add to her oppression. Yes you’re both women, but she is Latina/Black. Taking these different identities and layers of oppression into consideration in our fight for gender equity is intersectional feminism. “Intersectional” means we recognize the issues of all marginalized female-bodied individuals, not just the cis white women.

“But Adriana, why can’t we just advocate for ALL women without highlighting differences? Why can’t we just come together as women?”

I’m so glad you asked! For women of color, trans women, disabled women, etc. we can’t just separate from our identities. Even within women-centered and feminist spaces, non-white, disabled, and LGBT women may still face oppression among other women. It’s like, you can’t pick and choose what parts of you exist right? They all do!

We’re all whole complex beings, and fighting for gender equity means fighting for those with identities different to ours, and acknowledging their experiences unique to their identity. We should be intersectional in our feminism. 

Click here or here for more info!