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Can a man be a feminist?

(39 Posts)
SunshineOutdoors Mon 03-Nov-14 08:59:12


Years ago when I was at university I did a module that focused on women in the media (I think, memory is a bit hazy!). In the first class, the teacher asked us to raise our hands if we considered ourselves to be a feminist. There was one male in the group who put his hand up; the teacher informed him he couldn't be a feminist because he's a man.

I suppose with all the 'this is what a feminist looks like' t shirt wearing, the memory has been brought back to me. Does feminist theory have an official 'stance' on this? Just genuinely interested. If a man has the same thoughts/thinking as a feminist is there a different term for that?

Thanks, I hope I'm posting in the right section and I'm genuinely asking for more information, not to make a point/goad or anything. Just want to learn more.

PetulaGordino Mon 03-Nov-14 11:33:30

i think you'd struggle to find a consensus among feminists about this tbh. some assert that men can be feminist allies but not feminists, others would say absolutely a man can be a feminist

as with all things it's much more about action than words, and a man behaving in a feminist way (calling out other men on their sexist behaviour, working towards ending male violence, trying to avoid using his privilege to oppress women, setting a good example of equality to their children, shutting up and listening to women's lived experiences and generally behaving like they are human beings of equal importance, and more) is very unlikely to be rejected by feminists

there is however a lot of legitimate wariness around some men who are vocally and vociferously calling themselves feminists as it can be used as yet another tool for silencing or even abusing women. there is naturally a strong ethos among feminists that the movement should be women-led, and male socialisation can mean a tendency for some of those men who have "seen the light" to bulldoze over women's discussion and action, trying to assert their opinion over and above that of women, getting frustrated when they aren't listened to or taken notice of in the same way as they are used to in everyday life, complaining when they are excluded from women-only spaces - these men haven't really "got" feminism

so i think what i'm trying to say is that men can definitely behave in a feminist way and if they want to call themselves a feminist on that basis i personally don't have an objection to that. but i would also expect those men to understand why other feminists will have an objection to that. because it's not about them and what they want

specifically on the t-shirts while i have no problem with the idea in principle i'm a bit wary that it becomes just a PR exercise whereby men (and women presumably) get kudos for wearing a t-shirt but make no actual steps in terms of working towards women's liberation

Lj8893 Mon 03-Nov-14 11:39:05

There are many forms of feminism with differing theorys and ideals so i guess it would depend on what type of feminist you asked.

i would imagine a radical separatist feminist would say that no, a man cannot be a feminist!

i would class myself as a liberal feminist and would say that yes, if a man is championing for equal rights, then yes he could be a feminist.

i haven't put that very intelligently, but basically what i mean is that it all depends on who your asking and why the man in question classes himself as a feminist!

SunshineOutdoors Mon 03-Nov-14 16:32:32

Thank you, that makes a lot of sense.

SunshineOutdoors Mon 03-Nov-14 16:33:05

Agree about the t shirts and pr exercise.

PuffinsAreFicticious Wed 05-Nov-14 21:50:36

I'm just me. I don't position myself anywhere along the feminist scale. I would say that a man can't really be a feminist because he can't truly understand the lived experience of women, he can empathise, but not partake, if that makes sense. Men can be, and many of them are, powerful feminist allies though. DH being one.

AmandaEsther Fri 06-Feb-15 14:24:40

A man can be a feminist if he was previously perceived to be female, i.e. if he is a transman. If someone with TAIS is considered male, that person can also be feminist. However, not only can a man not be a feminist, but nor can a transwoman, because it's about historical lived experience and socialisation into the social gender role, not the current lived experience. Therefore I would describe myself as pro-feminist but not as feminist.

Kaneda Sun 08-Feb-15 10:54:27

Well, as a man, I would say that a man has a natural disadvantage. But then what about vegetarians? Can any human be a vegetarian considering that we are genetically predisposed to be omnivores? Of course! Our carnivorous side makes it hard to conform to vegetarian ideology, but the ideology can be held by anyone. So it is with femenism. Men may find it harder to practice feminism, but can still be feminists. I would also suggest that there are women who say they are feminists, but also do not always hold true to the principles of equality of the sexes in all things, and who may even act in a way which undermines other women (I'm thinking celebrity femenists who use their feminine sexuality to achieve success, without considering the negative impact a sexualised society has on other women).

Nolim Sun 08-Feb-15 10:58:53

Op in order to answer such a question can you define what ot means to be a feminist?

Trills Sun 08-Feb-15 11:14:11

I personally think that feminism is a set of beliefs.

Therefore anyone with a brain can be feminist.

Others think differently.

Trills Sun 08-Feb-15 11:15:53

Any discussion of "can a man be a feminist" just gets into discussions about what is feminism?, which will probably never be resolved, because there are no leaders who get to dictate who in in the club and who is not.

What if we asked:

Can a man choose to behave in a way that is helpful to the goals of feminism?

I say yes.

andiewithanie Sun 08-Feb-15 14:31:27

I think if you're dude, relinquishing the title of feminist is a pretty big step towards really understanding what feminism is about

Kaneda Mon 16-Feb-15 20:52:55

How Zen of you, andiewithanie.

Danielle11 Sun 01-Mar-15 10:00:02

I have a question.

My husband brought up a good point while having a discussion about feminism. I wasn't sure how to answer the question appropriately. The question was and I am paraphrasing. If feminism is about equal rights then why do men not have equal say? I tried to explain that yes, feminism IS about equal rights for both sexes. But, mostly for women because of women's issues. I am just having a hard time giving a satisfying answer. Can anybody help?

AshleyDavidson Thu 05-Mar-15 09:11:10

This is really unnecessary over-thinking. Feminism's main goal is to remove the box of gender stereotypes. Saying, "You can't be -that- because you're a man/woman" is exactly what feminism is against. It's really not rocket science to figure it out, and there shouldn't be any doubt about it. Yes. Men can be feminists.

candysnatch17 Mon 30-Mar-15 11:52:59

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

LuisCarol Mon 09-Nov-15 01:37:51

If feminism is about equal rights then why do men not have equal say? They should. Currently they have an over represented say.

Mmmmcake123 Mon 09-Nov-15 02:01:05

My dh does not label himself as a feminist and neither of us are proactive feminists but I believe we live by feminist values. Our DD was not bought traditional homey style toys as a toddler such as dolls and pink ironing boards.
My dh is just very level headed and equal in his thinking. We have a DS now, my dh has never been interested in sport for example and diy is shared, so both DD and DS have been involved helping either parent with loading the dishwasher, tidying up, painting walls and putting together new furniture. We both mow the lawn depending on who has the time.
As I am writing this it sounds trivial but we have equally paid jobs, mum drops off and dad picks up and cooks during the week.
I know the thread may be looking into the deeper issues of feminism but some people just get on and live by the principles.

VestalVirgin Mon 09-Nov-15 10:27:48

Men demanding to be involved in feminist groups, etc., is the opposite of feminist, so while a man might be able to call himself a feminist and actually be one, I'd be very wary of a man who demands "an equal say" in feminism when he already has more than his fair share of power in society at large.

Unexpectedsocialist Mon 04-Jan-16 14:22:16

A feminist advocates the equal rights for participation in society of women. Don't they? Therefore this idea of you can only be a feminist if you are a woman seems a little off. If it is down to shared experience being a necessary part of that definition, then can I also say all of the white Europeans on here are racists? Of course not. I agree with the posters - it is much more about what you do than who you are.

As for why don't Men get equal say - well, because we already do, and have spent years stifling feminism. I wouldn't trust us either.

1DAD2KIDS Sat 30-Jan-16 09:22:21

Hello. I am not a expert in field but to me the first thing is that feminism to me is a big blanket term covering a whole spectrum of different perspectives. I talk a lot to a good friend of mine who is a professor and studies this field alot. She once listed off a whole load of different types of feminist. Many of them have very different views. So to me it's not as simple to say does feminism acept men can be feminist. Some flavors of feminism do some don't. Personally I see feminism as aiming for a level playing field for me and women. But I know talking to my friend there are lots of different feminist perspectives. Some of wich are very negative toward mens and seek same inequality in reverse. So I wouldn't ask if feminism thinks men can be feminist. That's like asking the whole of Christianity if it's OK the be Gay. You'll get some very differing views. I would say follow your own gut feelings. Do you think men can be feminist?

Trills Sat 30-Jan-16 09:37:11

I agree with Trills' posts from Feb 2015.

HelpfulChap Sat 30-Jan-16 09:45:08

So do I Trills.

cheekstime Tue 02-Feb-16 14:07:44

Of course. Feminism mean equality for women. Hey, you can also be a feminist and support mens rights for equality x

PS I had a sociology lecturer stand up in front of 250 students and said "I am a feminist"

cheekstime Tue 02-Feb-16 14:12:27

I stand and support mens rights. Men do have there own issues especially with rights surrounding family. I support fathers for justice the whole way. My male partner also supports womens rights and why shouldn't he, just becasue he's not a women doesn't mean he doesn't see the issues and wnate to support. It's what you call a modern man isn't it. They are awesome men like this and I woudln't have had a family with a men that wasn't. He doesn't sound as passionate and can't talk at the same length as I do, which frankly is alot when it comes up but he gets it, supports it and is it. It's about individuals if women wnat to be seen as that you have to be prepared to see men like that.

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