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Can men be feminists?

(225 Posts)
Vivacia Wed 03-Dec-14 21:56:51

Inspired by another thread!

I've just read the claim that men can never really be feminists. I disagree. Would be fascinated, and grateful, to read others' thoughts on this.

sooperdooper Wed 03-Dec-14 22:08:16

Of course they can, feminism is about equality of the sexes, if a man believes in that then he's a feminist - I think people can try to over complicate the idea but I think it's pretty simple

MyEmpireOfDirt Wed 03-Dec-14 22:08:35

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Amethyst24 Wed 03-Dec-14 22:12:55

I don't think it's about wanting equality - most men would say they want that, even those who don't identify or want to be identified as feminists (and especially those who deny inequality exists). What makes a man a feminist in my view is recognising that there are currently flagrant inequalities and doing something about addressing them.

MyEmpireOfDirt Wed 03-Dec-14 22:15:25

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anothernumberone Wed 03-Dec-14 22:17:03

I sometimes think my DH is more of a feminist that I am. He just truly thinks things should be equal, he recognises the way society is set up to support and provide for the status quo where men have the upper hand and often challenges it, he truly parents 50/50 and loves the role. Then on an extremely rare occasion he will drop a clanger and remind me he is human and I still really wear the feminist robes but at least he does see the err of his ways when it is shown to him.

I think it is possible for many men to be very empathetic towards the feminist movement but I think they still have more legacy issues of being indoctrinated to the male position of dominance that can blinker them on occasion.

BuffytheFestiveFeminist Wed 03-Dec-14 22:22:50

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alicemalice Wed 03-Dec-14 22:24:26

Yes I think they can be feminists and I don't think they always try to dominate the conversation.

Bragadocia Wed 03-Dec-14 22:24:39

Some men used to describe themselves as 'pro-feminist' rather than as 'feminist', but it's not a term I have heard a man actually use other than in 1970s feminism documentaries and the like.

BuffytheFestiveFeminist Wed 03-Dec-14 22:30:05

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Amethyst24 Wed 03-Dec-14 22:30:23

Buffy would a man who supported lesbian separatism be able to be a lesbian separatist?

Actually for me a key point that would make a man a feminist would be the willingness to speak out about feminism when there are no women present (and I don't mean in a "hairy-legged Greenham-common child-neglecting munters" way) (nor alone in front of the mirror).

BuffytheFestiveFeminist Wed 03-Dec-14 22:34:29

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BuffytheFestiveFeminist Wed 03-Dec-14 22:37:07

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EBearhug Wed 03-Dec-14 22:44:41

I know a couple of men I'd describe as feminist (never asked them if they would identify themselves that way, actually) - they are good at pointing out sexist comments from others (generally men), and I think (annoyingly) it can be more effective, because it's coming from men, so less easy to dismiss than if it were coming from another woman (screaming feminazi harpy types can be ignored in a way men can, if you're already of a sexist frame of mind.)

Of course there will be things they don't get or will have never experienced, but there are things I don't get and have never experienced, either. I am not all women, and we can't all have exactly the same experiences. Plus not all feminists agree on all things, like the different viewpoints on porn and so on.

Amethyst24 Wed 03-Dec-14 22:45:01

"Is that a trick question?"

'Course not grin I'm not saying it's a mainstream point of view, discussed in between the merits of Bosch vs Black and Decker and the next round of the Champions League wink but there might be men who for whatever reason believe that's a good direction for society to go, no? Not necessarily any weirder than Quiverful-type women.

BuffytheFestiveFeminist Wed 03-Dec-14 22:49:29

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Amethyst24 Wed 03-Dec-14 23:08:42

Hahaha, OMG. No. What a stupid thing of me to say. I guess it depends on whether you see the -ist suffix as believing in a thing, or being it. (Suffragette vs suffragist being an interesting example.)

However I am now giggling like a loon at the mental picture of men turning up at lesbian separatist collectives in drag saying in squeaky voices, "I'm a lesbian separatist, honest, Ms, look at my hirsute legs," and being shown the door.

AnyFucker Wed 03-Dec-14 23:21:39

I agree with Buffy

I don't think men can be feminists in the true radical sense of the word

What some of you are classifying here is equalism

But what's a word between friends, huh. Male support for women's causes is fab, as long as they know when to tactically pipe down and let the women talk about their learned experiences, what with male voices having the larger share of air and mindspace in our society

MyEmpireOfDirt Wed 03-Dec-14 23:30:38

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SoMuchForSubtlety Wed 03-Dec-14 23:31:29

"what with male voices having the larger share of air and mindspace in our society"

Exactly. I agree that allies / supporters are better than men claiming to be feminists. DH fundamentally believes in equality of the sexes but he doesn't understand what it's like not to be listened to, to be silenced, to have your female social conditioning to be compliant simultaneously insisted upon and denigrated...

So I believe he is a strong supporter of change but perhaps not best placed to define what type of change is most urgently needed, which is a large part of feminism for me.

BuffytheFestiveFeminist Wed 03-Dec-14 23:44:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

vesuvia Wed 03-Dec-14 23:46:13

I think the idea of feminism is along the lines of "believing that men and women should be equal, recognising that men currently have gender privilege over women, and working to remove that male privilege". I think the practice of feminism is more about "women and girls having the self-respect and self-belief to liberate themselves from the gender oppression that they experience". Some appropriate help from male feminist allies in some limited aspects of the struggle is welcome and appreciated.

When a man does his feminism, does he experience e.g. the dismissal and abuse that female feminists experience on a daily basis etc.? I suspect that the answer is no. Therefore, I think it is more realistic for men to be seen as feminist allies rather than feminists, because men aren't doing feminism as women experience it. The men are doing a type of feminism which is free from the personalised misogyny that comes with feminism for almost all women.

How many men are feminists or feminist allies, or even want to be?
I think there are fewer male feminists or male feminist allies than many people believe exist.

Are many male feminists or male feminist allies needed before women and girls can be liberated from patriarchal gender oppression?
I think that women need fewer men to be feminists or feminist allies than many people think is necessary.

falafelburger Wed 03-Dec-14 23:48:15

I was told as a boy that I couldn't be a feminist, but that I could be pro-feminist, and that what with the personal being political etc, the best way of doing this was to live equality rather than to define myself in a particular way.

As Buffy says, it depends on what you think feminism is. For me, while there are women who prefer that men don't label themselves in this way then I'll not raise my voice against them.

I was at a hands-around-the-base demo at Greenham while a teenager, and saw a man who was being asked not to join the embrace in a particular place get aggressive and shouty because he was a 'feminist too', demonstrating beautifully why it was (almost completely) a women-only space.

As Amethyst says the acid test of male support is whether they'll challenge sexism when no women are present. I've got a thick skin and have been trying to do this nearly all my life, but I find it incredibly difficult and often shrink from it I'm ashamed to say.

I'll continue to call myself pro-feminist, or a feminist ally, or say that I support feminism; but I feel really uncomfortable calling myself a feminist. Maybe that will change one day.

MyEmpireOfDirt Wed 03-Dec-14 23:49:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BuffytheFestiveFeminist Wed 03-Dec-14 23:56:43

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