Is it really for men?
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
I identify as a feminist. More specifically, by my own identity, I’m an intersectional feminist: I’m a white, straight, cisgender male, part of the very demographic that most often seeks to discredit feminism and enforce a patriarchal (male-dominated) society. I believe that feminism means advocating for equal rights and treatment for all females, in a world that has until very recently been completely run and enforced by men.
Most self-identified feminists agree that feminism should be for everyone, and men can wear the label as long as they accurately represent feminist values. I agree and believe that everyone can—and should—be a feminist. At this point, if you’re not a feminist, you’re either misguided about feminism’s goals and definitions, or you’re openly sexist.
Nevertheless, the male in me struggles with the term. Can I truly be a feminist if I don’t understand the female experience? As with any marginalized group, allies should seek to support the people they advocate for, but not overshadow or directly speak for their needs. I can certainly identify how I observe women in society and the experiences of the women I know—but I still come from a position of privilege.
Some feminists (whom many would call extreme) do not believe men can/should be feminists, as they are unable to truly represent the movement’s needs. Some even use this to logic to exclude transwomen from feminism, because biologically-speaking they are unable to feel the same hormones or perform the same biological functions as ciswomen, at least before hormone replacement therapy. Although I believe that the threat of radical feminism’ is greatly exaggerated, it is true that this misinformation can lead to the all-too-common stereotype that “feminists hate men.”
Other feminists (perhaps the same ones I just talked about) prefer the term “feminist-friendly” or “feminist ally” for men to describe themselves, so that they do not infringe on the “fem” portion. I discussed this with a range of Facebook friends, and while there may be some bias (I wouldn’t have them on Facebook if I disagreed with them too much) the consensus was the same, and I agree. Men who identify as a “feminist ally” are being lazy: They’re not actively sharing or participating in the movement, but merely support it. One can be a LGBTQ+ ally if they are not a member of that group. Because feminism includes advocating for gender equality (by elevating women’s societal status) it’s not only welcomed, but essential that men be part of it.
I’m still learning about feminism and regularly seek to become a better feminist, while not discrediting the many fabulous women who are at the centre of the movement. As quoted from Tumblr user soultired, and widely spread across the internet: “Men who want to be feminists do not need to be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society and make it feminist.”
There you have it, boys. We can be part of the movement, but we shouldn’t expect it to cater to us, either. It’s about women and their status—let women be in charge, and follow their example.