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Do you think men can be feminists?

(1000 Posts)
AVirginLitTheCandle Sun 01-Jan-17 23:39:18

This may sound like a stupid question but do you think men can be feminists?

I've always thought they can be but I perhaps some radical feminists will disagree with me.

TyneTeas Sun 01-Jan-17 23:45:53

yes, if they believe in equality (backed up by deed!)

you don't have to be LGBTQI or have a disability to believe in equality for people who are/do

NameSux Sun 01-Jan-17 23:50:27

I believe they can believe and fight for equality but some things go over their heads. The constant pressure to look and act a certain way etc. They get it but they don't if you know what I mean. Like my dad fought for womens rights re contraception, abortion, workplace antidiscrimination and divorce (in ireland 70s,80s & 90s) but has body shamed me, suggested that wearing make up to work was bordering on whore like behaviour hmm and gave out to me for being ungrateful for very thoughtful gift I was given by his SIL at Xmas ie the baby memory box 'cos I'm in my 30s, tick tock'

Can you tell I'm still raging about that last one? angry

TitaniasCloset Mon 02-Jan-17 00:02:50

I think they can, but in my experience most men just don't really get it, or assume that equality will be this fifty fifty exact thing, when in reality men and women are different and have different needs, have been socialised in different ways and are different biologically too. So many men just dont seem to understand. For me its more about liberation.

To give an example, the fears women have about personal safety being ignored or dismissed, the fact that more women than men do want to stay at home after having a baby for a while, after carrying and breast feeding.

More men than women want to join the army and be on the fighting end of it, and there have been studies showing that women in the army are often assaulted by their own colleagues.

I'm not explaining this well.

TheSunnySide Mon 02-Jan-17 00:07:58

Yes, I do. I think that they have to make a real effort to check themselves at every turn to fight against their privilege but yes I do. Unfortunately not many really are.

AnyFucker Mon 02-Jan-17 00:13:59


No matter how intelligent, how constructed, how empathic, how understanding, how emotionally intelligent (and many men are) there is nothing that can undo the benefit of male privelige applied right from the minute they draw their first breath

dovesong Mon 02-Jan-17 00:14:49

Yes. But a lot of male so called feminists don't understand that being a feminist entails shutting up and letting women do the talking about feminism.

TheGruffaloMother Mon 02-Jan-17 00:24:18

That's a tough one for me.

I think for the mistake part, men just don't get it. Some of the most intelligent men I know still roll their eyes when feminism comes up in conversation in any way. And I've met men who identify as feminist and who are very 'showy' over it but go very quiet around other men or simply fail to speak about their feminism in a way that resonates or shows real understanding. I think my ideal male feminist would simply treat women as equals without making a show of it, and challenge views and behaviours of the men around them without having to punctuate the conversation with 'banter' to soften it for them.

TheGruffaloMother Mon 02-Jan-17 00:26:30

*most part blush

AVirginLitTheCandle Mon 02-Jan-17 00:26:52

To give an example, the fears women have about personal safety being ignored or dismissed

This is actually one of the reasons why I love my DP.

Whenever he's walking at night and he's behind a lone woman he will always either cross the road or hang back until she's out of eye shot so it's clear he's not following her.

Obviously DP isn't a rapist and he's not going to attack her. I know that and he knows that but he understands that the woman in front of him doesn't know that so he takes a few seconds to think about how she might be feeling and adjusts his behaviour accordingly.

Yet on another recent thread it was apparently outrageous and offensive for men to do this because "ZOMG, not all men are rapists, you evil man hating feminazis!" hmm

TitaniasCloset Mon 02-Jan-17 00:28:14

No I really appreciate a man who gets that too.

5OBalesofHay Mon 02-Jan-17 00:32:32

No. They can be supportive but not feminist. Feminists are sisters

AVirginLitTheCandle Mon 02-Jan-17 00:34:27

However I'm not quite sure how common my DP's behaviour is.

I get the impression that it isn't and that most men just don't think how intimidating it could be sad

TyneTeas Mon 02-Jan-17 00:37:49

I don't disagree in terms of experience but...

feminist and female are perhaps not necessarily synonyms just like gay and straight ally are not

caroldecker Mon 02-Jan-17 00:46:40

If men can't be feminists, does that mean straight people cannot support LGBT?
Or is feminism different to support for women?
Or is just the term gayist, lesbianist does not exist?

EBearhug Mon 02-Jan-17 00:47:59

They can be feminist allies. But what AF says, and also most posts here, saying they don't really get a lot of it, particularly when it comes to calling other men out.

SundaeLieIn Mon 02-Jan-17 00:52:52

Yes. Most of the men I know are, including my DH. It just means believing in equal rights. He also does equal amounts of cooking, cleaning etc.

OP - my DH does the same when walking near women at night.

TheGruffaloMother Mon 02-Jan-17 00:59:55

I think the difference for me carol is that those who are straight but support gay rights (for example) don't typically come at the issue talking as though they're an authority on the issues faced by the gay community. And generally, they'll be open about that support and not simply express it when there are gay people nearby. I haven't had personal experience of a man talking about feminism in the same way. In fact, I've only ever experienced 'feminist' men talking about what feminism is to women. Even arguing with feminist women about how they should view things.

Xenophile Mon 02-Jan-17 01:00:23


They can very rarely be allies, but almost always disappoint in the end.

In the same way that I can be an ally to PoC and the L&G community, but because I will never experience their oppressions, I can't speak for them.

TyneTeas Mon 02-Jan-17 01:03:28

But there isn't just one experience of being female, just like there isn't just one experience of being disabled in terms of striving for equality. A wheelchair-user's experience isn't the same as someone who is Deaf, and whilst they might not get every single issue and nuance doesn't mean they don't embrace equality. I don't see it as being a test you have to get 100% on to be counted as being in favour of, as long as you are in favour and don't act knowingly against.

TheSparrowhawk Mon 02-Jan-17 07:32:13

No. Men can support feminism, just like straight people can support gay rights, but they can't be feminists. Given that feminism is necessary because men have oppressed women for millennia, for men to understand the extent of their privilege enough to actually be feminists requires a level of self awareness very few people have. Plus it's not typical for humans to genuinely want to relinquish their advantages in life - if it were there wouldn't be any more poverty in the world. I can sympathise deeply with homeless people and give a proportion of my salary to help them but I'm not going to sacrifice my children's future security to give them a place to live. Equally men can sympathise with women and abhor inequality, especially when their loved ones experience it, but they won't give up aspects of their privilege to help women as a whole.

Lessthanaballpark Mon 02-Jan-17 07:44:01

Whenever I meet a self-declared male feminist or even a man who "gets" some aspect of feminism I find myself almost falling over in gratitude. blush

So even men's experience of being feminist is more privileged because when I say I'm a feminist the reaction is usually negative.

TheSparrowhawk Mon 02-Jan-17 07:47:35

Plus, any man I've known who claims to be a feminist is super keen to tell women how to feel and think, because obviously they know best...

PoochSmooch Mon 02-Jan-17 07:50:12

I go back and forward on this one. I used to definitely think, yes, they could and indeed should be. But then through quite bitter experience, I found that when the chips were down, men who professed to be feminists turned out not to really espouse the beliefs they said they had. So I changed to no, no they can't. They can be allies, but that's as far as it goes. Too many men see it as something that can be picked up and dropped at will, used when it's useful, discarded when it isn't, or it starts to feel threatening. Too many men see it as an intellectual exercise, something to be debated, not something to be lived, which is how it is for me, and many women (we get a lot of that here hmm )

So now, I try to start neutral when a man says he's a feminist, I hang back and look at what does he do, not what does he say. And I see very few men actually live what they say they believe. But some do. I was very pleasantly surprised listening to the Feminist Current podcast the other week, Meghan Murphy was talking to a man called Robert Jensen, who has written a book called "The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men". He really seems like he gets it, and I'd agree that he is a feminist, in theory and in action.

So yes, it is possible, in my view. But I completely accept that other feminists will disagree, and I understand why.

sashh Mon 02-Jan-17 07:51:50

I've said this before, a male can be a feminist ally but not a feminist. It's like a white South African under apartheid.

You could be against apartheid but you still got a better education, you still got paid more, if you were in a fight with a black person they would be arrested and you would be believed. If you did go to prison it would be closer to home and better facilities.

If you attacked a black person in your own home they would ask the black person what they had done to provoke you.

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