My feed

to access all these features

Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Can men be feminists?

94 replies

thefinerthingsinlife · 03/03/2011 17:08

I had a 'debate' with my sociology lecturer; she says that feminism is 'women for women' and I pointed out that' not the case and that men are feminist too.

She nor the class were convinced, please tell me i'm not the only person who thinks ofcourse men can be feminists too.

OP posts:
Prolesworth · 03/03/2011 17:22

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

thefinerthingsinlife · 03/03/2011 17:32

Men can be feminist but they don't get to tell us what feminism should be or lead the movement. Yes exactly Proles support us but not lead us.

I think I vagely remember seeing it, I'll ouldn't mind reading the link though if you could dig it out for me

OP posts:
Prolesworth · 03/03/2011 17:39

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

Prolesworth · 03/03/2011 17:42

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

thefinerthingsinlife · 03/03/2011 17:45

Especially as she says she is a feminist.

thanks for the link

OP posts:
Prolesworth · 03/03/2011 17:48

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

thefinerthingsinlife · 03/03/2011 17:59

Haha I've just finish reading that, great minds and all that Grin

OP posts:
TeiTetua · 03/03/2011 18:04

This argument isn't new, and on the one side people say that feminism is a set of beliefs or a philosophy, and anyone can share it. But the other side says that there's more to it, that to be a feminist you have to live as a woman and have the experience that comes from it--feeling as well as knowing. In one place that this discussion took place, there was a claim that it tended to be younger people, in that case students, who were ready to accept that anyone, including a man, can be a feminist. Older people tended to be more hesitant. Maybe they were remembering the more militant days of a few decades ago.

zikes · 03/03/2011 18:16

I'd be more comfortable with a man identifying as pro-feminist.

I think because it's all too easy not to recognise privilege when you have it and it'd be a hard label to live up to.

I'm still thinking on it, 'tho.

FlamingoBingo · 03/03/2011 18:30

Well I can be someone who campaigns against racism, can't I? Even though I'm white?

I recognise that there are situations when it should be women only, but I don't see why that means that men can't be feminists.

TBH, I think it's not good for feminism, as it were, to say that men can't be can arguing that we are constantly oppressed work when we intentionally exclude people ourselves?

And this is not a 'what about the menz?' whine, but an acknowledgement that I think it's even harder for men to stand up and say 'I am a feminist' than it is for a woman to do so; even harder for men to challenge casual misogyny than it is for women. I welcome male feminists - the more male feminists there are, the more the tide is turning.

But they cannot know what is needed to be a feminist, because they are not women. But I don't experience the level of oppression that many women do - I've never been raped - should I never campaign to help rape survivors? I've never been beaten up by a man - Should I not go on the MWR march to make people aware of violence against women? I've never lived in a war-torn country and been mutilated by soldiers - should I not arrange my event for IWD? I'm still a feminist though.

FlamingoBingo · 03/03/2011 18:32

I don't tell women in these situations how to get out of it...I listen and do what I'm told! I absorb what they say and respect their experiences, and then help with whatever I can - support, campaigning, whatever.

That's what male feminists should do, IMO. Listen, take stock of what we say, and then act how we think best. Not take over and say 'we think this is best for you'.

zikes · 03/03/2011 18:38

I don't think it is harder for men to call out casual misogyny: in social settings if a bloke goes 'not funny' or 'what a load of old toot', he is less likely to get shut down.

FlamingoBingo · 03/03/2011 18:44

Or get called a 'wuss' or a 'girl' or 'gay'. The pressure to act 'like a man' is huge in many situations and workplaces.

Anyway, that's not the point. Even if it's not harder, does it still mean they can't be feminists when they do it?

zikes · 03/03/2011 18:57

I don't know, I'm feeling my way here so my initial feeling about it could well be off-base Smile.

Because men are socialised to lead generally and expect to talk without interruption, I think it's a discomfort about the possibility of women's voices being drowned out. Pro-feminist says to me a supportive role and an active role without dominating.

FlamingoBingo · 03/03/2011 19:06

I don't think women's voices would be drowned out by a male feminist...only a male misogynist who says he's a feminist would do that!

ps. I so am not an expert either!

zikes · 03/03/2011 19:16

Yes, I see your point - it's just that privilege is so deeply engrained.

In the atheist blogsphere they ask a lot where are women's voices, we need more women visible in atheism - all the time talking over women actually trying to explain what puts them off. Grin This is perhaps where my reservations stem from.

Unrulysun · 03/03/2011 19:17

I'd also like to see a type of feminism which acknowledges that patriarchy is damaging to our sons, not as much as our daughters at all but really sex discrimination is demeaning. I think men should acknowledge that. I think they should refuse to participate in demeaning acts and situations. Dh and I were talking about this last night -saying 'no I'm not going to a lap dancing bar and neither should you'. How many men in these types of places are there because they are too weak to object? 20%?

FlamingoBingo · 03/03/2011 19:24

Yes, I agree Unrulysun.

DH was invited to a lap dancing club by his boss and other colleagues were going to go too. He politeley declined, but I could see how very difficult it would have been for him to say 'No, I think they're totally exploitative of women and I think far less of you now I know you think they're an acceptable form of entertainment'. I wish he had done though!

HerBeX · 03/03/2011 19:39

I think it's a bit angels on pin-heads tbh.

I'm neutral on it. I don't care if men call themselves feminists or pro-feminists as long as they're not mysogynists, sexists or downright arseholes.

I do think the men telling women what feminism is conundrum is a valid one though. And that men who say they're feminists should be subjected to stringent tests as to whether they meet the criteria. Grin

By stringent tests, I think you just need to regard them with a suspicious eye until you're sure they are genuinely feminists, not just dickheads pretending to be feminists because they think it will get them laid. Hmm

thefinerthingsinlife · 03/03/2011 19:46

I think Flamingo's post at 18:30 sums it up quite well

OP posts:
FlamingoBingo · 03/03/2011 19:56

Woah! Shock That's the third time someone's said I've said something that's not a load of naive twaddle on here! I must be getting somewhere Grin

MrIC · 03/03/2011 20:45

Hi! Man here!!

I don't mind if you call me a pro-feminist, though I usually call myself a feminist (usually in response to a sarcastic "What are you? a bloody feminist?" when I challenge some casual sexist remark. Me saying "yes, actually" usually makes them pause at the very least).

I think Herbex makes a good point - squabbling over who owns the term feminism is beside the point and distracts from the real fight - against sexism, misogyny and discrimination.

[I'm also post-colonialist despite being white and British, while Peter Tatchell is one of my all time heroes, and I'm not gay. Who cares about labels though, really?]

thefinerthingsinlife · 03/03/2011 20:45

You've obviously been doing your homework Wink

OP posts:
GirlWithTheMouseyHair · 03/03/2011 21:08

what Flamingo said...(4th time Wink )

I've actually found way more men non-hesitant in saying they're feminists than women, whether that is a result of them being led to believe they can always speak without interruption or whatever I don't know to be honest, but it is interesting.

I'm in the camp of "I'm a heterosexual in support of gay rights so why can't a man be a feminist", I don't really care if he is a feminist or a pro-feminist, so long as they support the movement

Saltatrix · 03/03/2011 21:26

This is interesting (I am a man btw) I wouldn't particularly call myself a feminist. I do however accept and agree with some of the views/issues and I have been made aware of things I took no notice of before which I find annoying as I find myself cringing when watching some programs or at peoples comments.

I have talked to other men (particularly young men) and they often come around since I just talk to them from a certain viewpoint which they understand. Not sure if men can be feminist's or not but I do think they can understand and agree with some issues. I also feel for feminist's goals which ever type of feminist they are they will ultimately benefit from men coming on board I don't see how you can change society otherwise.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.