Yes, Men Can Be Feminists BUT…

My fairy feminist Godmother bell hooks said it best: Feminism is for everybody, including males. But……

Any male that recognizes and commits himself to the fight of ending inequality between the sexes, speaks out against street harassment, domestic and sexual violence and does not support rape culture all while being a gentlemen is okay is my book.

When practiced positively, feminism indeed can be for everybody.

Thus, this leads me to the subject of male feminists, which are quite interesting to me.

While I am here for them, for all the reasons I described above, I am not here for them trying to dictate or determine what is or is not offensive to women.

Using my my own personal example, I can recall a conversation I had with this guy who identifies as a feminist. He’s an awesome person overall, but sometimes his new feminist awakening irks me.

For clarity, I was telling him about how this one female was annoying me, and he acted like I slapped his mother or something. The conversation went like this:

Me: So yeah, this female… *voice trails off*

Him: Don’t say female.

Me: Why not? It’s either that or I call her a bitch so.. *voice trails off*

Him: The word ‘female’ is offensive because it reduces women down to nothing but their biological sex.

Me: 

 

As a Black Feminist, *I’m personally not offended by the word ‘female’. I’m usually offended by what comes along after it, such as “All these females are hoes” or “All these females ain’t shit.” Despite me not being offended by the word, I recognize that some women are truly offended by the word female, and if I am aware of that, I respectfully refer to them as whatever they prefer.

Anyways, my issue wasn’t in him correcting me per se. My issue is with him trying to tell me what women should find offensive.

In my opinion, he can’t do that. Not only because he is a male, but also because all women are different, therefore one solitary person cannot determine what is or is not offensive for one gender.

Another way male feminists irk my nerves is when they try to control lady feminists’ narratives about women-related issues.

For example, the topic of street harassment is heavy these days, and while I am aware that it happens to both women and men, I don’t care to have my narratives about it diminished or erased. I know quite a few male feminists who will make it a point to mention their street harassment from women, or will emphasize: “Not all men do this”

B R U H.

While I am perfectly aware of that, I would rather male feminists actually listen to what I have to say, instead of interjecting their unwanted and unnecessary opinions all the time.

That being said, make no mistake about it, but I respect male feminists, and they are really appreciated. However, if you are a male feminist, you must realize a few things:

1) You cannot determine what women should find offensive.

2) Unless specifically asked, your experiences about issues that more commonly happen to women are not always needed. There is a time and place for everything, and to interject unnecessarily can lead to erasing the narrative of the women, and that is some shit to get offended about.

3) We don’t need you to mention that “not all men” do certain things. WE. GET. IT. Try to things less personally, and work on holding all men accountable so they can stop making all men look bad.

And lastly,

The most *I* as feminist needs you, the male feminist to do is listen. And support. No you didn’t create the gender inequality, rape culture, etc, but you sure as hell benefit from it. Try listening, and understanding us too while you’re at it. After all, feminism is for everybody.

So, what do you all think about men’s place in feminism?

3 thoughts on “Yes, Men Can Be Feminists BUT…

  1. I totally agree with everything you’ve said in this blog, but there were a few times where I totally disobeyed what you said. Although I’m reading this blog alone you said a few things where I had to stop listening/reading and interject. An opinion about how we (the male species) feel about what you (women) should take offensive can help direct some ladies in a different direction. See me I look at every situation I’m involved in with a female from each point of view. In 8th grade i became best friends with two girls. I always advised them on life relationships and so much more. They always took my advise and used it to better themselves. Now we consider ourselves adults and these ladies still look to me and say “if you were in my shoes” or “how do you think I should feel” not saying my every word is right. But to me it makes since to know eggs the man thinks should be offensive. Because maybe he can open your eyes to a different way of seeing things. He might say something you’d never expect from a guy that changes what you as offensive and make it not so offensive. And vice versa……

    Ps. I’m using my phone so grammer and puncuation went out the window

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  2. I appreciate your points but at times I felt you were conflating the specific conversation with that one man, with your irritation of all men (or specifically men who identify as feminist) . Granted, I was not present for the conversation being discussed but it didn’t appear to me that he was subjecting you to an idea of what women should be offended by but instead expressing an alternative view of the word ‘female’ and how it maybe interpreted differently by others. I am specifically thinking of non gender conforming women or transwomen who don’t always follow a binarist view of man and woman. I appreciate his point about the reductive nature of the word ‘female’ which is often left out of Black feminist conversations.

    I fully understand your arguments regarding men inserting their own narratives when not needed or asked for. It is a serious problem! My concern however, is how do we create a more inclusive space for women and men within feminism. As a Black, male identifying individual, who LOVES feminism and everything it stands for, I can first hand state the ways that feminist spaces can be a difficult terrain for men/male identifying bodies to be. This is not to say that there is an overarching problem with feminism but that the discourse surrounding feminism is extremely complicated. Nor is this to say that women cannot or do not deserve to have woman only spaces. In terms of the goals that feminism are trying to address/accomplish (these goals can be argued about as well) men HAVE to be at the table and apart of the conversation. Men are the ones who rape women, perpetuate violence, discriminate against women, the list could go on forever. (Normally, this is where the “but not all men” line is inserted, but I think at this point in the conversation that goes without saying.)

    Which brings me to my real concern about your post. To tell men that ” Unless specifically asked, your experiences about issues that more commonly happen to women are not always needed” is highly problematic in my view. Firstly, the same mindset is so often expressed towards women. So often women too are told to not speak unless specifically asked-which is a large part of the problem. I believe a solid approach would be to of course let women speak first about their issues but to completely silence men in the equation can be problematic. By bringing men into conversations/spaces that we typically associate with women, then we can showcase the multiple and varied ways that gender oppression works. I am similarly thinking of Blacks/PoC discussing issues that impact us. It is perfectly acceptable and often liberating to have these spaces for ourselves, when so much of the rest of the world excludes us. However, by not bringing in white people who perpetuate the problems we face how can we expect change?

    Feminism is about fighting unjust and inaccurate power structures, which impacts everyone and solidifies your point about feminism being for everyone. Furthermore, whether we like it or not, men do have power and I think in some ways we have to recognize the men who are willing to use that power for good. My concern is by telling men what they can and cannot do in regards to feminism is just another way to stifle what the movement and feminism can and cannot be. Which ultimately is what the powers at be want. It leaves us to create wedge issues amongst ourselves, instead of fighting for a larger end goal.

    I hope I haven’t inadvertently done what your post was trying to speak out against. This was an extremely long comment, but I think these types of conversations are so important to the furtherment of feminism, so thank you for putting the thoughts into the atmosphere!

    PS–I am interested to hear more about why you find male feminist “quite interesting”

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    • Thank you for your comment!

      You have indeed given me some very important things to analyze more deeply. I’m not sure where to start by answering your question(s), but I guess I’ll start with easiest one: Why do I find male feminist “quite interesting.”

      Well, in a patriarchal world, it astounds me that some men are willing to go against “traditional forms” of masculinity and actually care about women. Many men I’ve encountered would rather not discuss the issues of gender inequality, domestic and sexual violence, and many men I have met actually perpetuate rape culture over and over in their daily lives. Male feminists are quite interesting to me, because before I got into college, I would’ve never thought a man would identify with anything “feminist” I was taught that feminist=feminine=woman. Then I started reading Fairy Feminist Godmother hooks and realized, masculinity and femininity are nothing more than social constructs, and don’t necessarily have to be applied to gender. I love male feminists, or even men who may not identify as a feminist but still support fighting unjust and inaccurate power structures, as you said.

      However, in relation to this post, male feminists sometimes worry me because many that *I* know are dominant, don’t listen and are pushing their own agendas…. Hence this post LOL.

      But again, I really do appreciate your comment and I hope you’ll frequent my site again.
      XOXO

      Like

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