Men Can Be Feminists Too!
Who’s afraid of the big bad word, the big bad word, the big bad word? Who’s afraid of the big bad world? Tra la la la la.
Feminism is a big, bad word for many individuals. The word itself conjures up ideas of radical ideology, manic behavior, and man hating. Unfortunately, due to the social stereotypes, being a feminist is a no-no. Feminism, the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men, has become a single-gender issue. Society has gendered this movement for equality by focusing its purposes and arguments towards women. As a result, men are often excused of being uninformed or uninvolved because feminism only concern’s “women’s rights”. Why has this movement for human rights only involved women? More importantly, can men be feminists as well?
Since the nineteenth century, men have been a part of the cultural and political responses to feminist with each “wave” of the movement. This includes seeking equal opportunities for women in several social relations: politics, religion, and education. Today, well-known figures such as Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, John Legend, Matt Damon, Louis C.K. and Ryan Gosling are pro-feminists, promoting gender equality. These men have taken the strongest stand one can take in the struggle against sexism among women.
Gordon Poteat, an English major at the University of South Carolina-Upstate, shares his thoughts on feminism and why it is okay for men to be a part of the movement, “As a white male South Carolinian who was born into the segregated south, I saw first- hand the division between blacks and whites that made no sense to me, or to my parents. I remember “coloreds only” and “whites only” signs from the earliest years of my life. Following the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1960s came the Feminist Movement of the 1970s. To think that women were denied opportunities just because they were women was as senseless to me as denying blacks rights because of their skin color. The reason I embrace feminism is because I believe in human rights and equality. I believe that men and women inhabit the same space, like the two sides of the same coin. My point is that equality between the sexes yields far more intimacy, honesty, and camaraderie than a socially dictated superiority based on simply one’s biological sex. Of course as the father of two daughters I want them to have every opportunity that is available to men. To marginalize or diminish others’ value on such superficialities as race, sex, gender, religious affiliation, nationality, or other characteristic seems completely flawed in my view. To do so limits one from experiencing humanity to its fullest. After all, people shouldn’t be measured by what’s on the outside but rather on those qualities that lie underneath, like character, decency, and compassion. Based on those criteria, being male or female has nothing to do with it!”