I was recently introduced to the list 101 Everyday Ways for Men to be Allies to Women. This was prompted by my announcement to my younger sister (who is a very intelligent, feminist woman) that I had written a guest post for a “feminist blog”. I was quickly informed that my views were not original or special in any way. This is a perfect demonstration of why many progressive men are not as outspoken about their feminist views as they could be. On the one hand, if we mention our views we are ridiculed for being “whipped” or subservient to women. On the other hand we are marginalized by feminists for “stating the obvious” and for not being feminist enough. To be clear, we are not asking for recognition, however we are asking for affirmation that we are doing the right things. Instead a of reaction “thanks for noticing, now if you could get the rest of you male assholes on board”, maybe it would be more productive to have a reaction of “That’s great! Now, how about thinking about this issue/idea that you may not have thought about before?” It’s amazing to me that feminist women wonder why more men are not allying with women on this issue. What do you expect when we offer support and we are met with negativity and criticism for just being a man?
Today’s guest post is from our first male contributor, Jared! We’re excited to have a Dude With a View share his thoughts and bring a little gender equality to the Damn Pants crew.
For many American men the mention of the word “feminist” brings a feeling of discomfort and often anger. They conjure images of militant “Femi-Nazis” marching in the streets and spreading their hate-filled message of misandry. Or they think of that “uppity bitch” they know who claims that all the world’s problems are because of men. This does not have to be the norm. In fact, it shouldn’t be the norm. Feminism is not a sex specific value system; it is collaboration between the sexes. So to answer your question… Yes, men can be feminists.
That being said there are many barriers to a more integrated view of feminism. For one, there is a very misinformed view of feminism among both men and women but specifically men. Feminism is NOT the promotion of women as being superior to men. Nor does it constitute the devaluing of traditional male gender roles. It is the belief that men and women are equal in a political, social and economic sense. Feminist blogger Sarah Zacharias puts it eloquently: “In spite of what some might tell you, feminists don’t desire to disparage men. We desire to stand with them equally… This means that instead of being bound to men by fear and force, we are bound by love and devotion.” To start to deconstruct the typical male view of feminism we must change our expectations of it. Our goal should be to teach our sons that “feminism” is not a dirty word and that feminists are not “out to get you”. Feminism, from a male perspective must be derived from personal integrity. Although men and women may be different in many aspects, how our brains work, how we interact in an interpersonal sense, etc. we are equal. Different does not mean unequal. Men and women have a wide variety of skills and talents, many that overlap, some that do not. We should acknowledge our differences and celebrate them not disparage each other because of them.