Why men should be feminists
Joshua Drummond explains why men are more necessary than ever in the latest and most widespread wave of feminism.
OPINION: My name is Joshua Drummond, and I'm a feminist.
Okay, that was a bit melodramatic, but it's better than my other opening line, which was: You won't believe what this white guy aged 25-35 has to say about feminism!
The world does not lack for men explaining feminism, usually to women. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think it might be possible that some women are just a tiny bit tired of that. Being a man writing about feminism can be fraught in other ways, too. Express an opinion in favour of it and you risk getting hassled by insecure dudes. Men who call themselves feminists must be whipped, or cuckolded, or otherwise defective.
It's weird. Feminism isn't that hard to grasp. There's a quote attributed to feminist writer Marie Shear: "Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings." Rendered like that, you'd think it'd be pretty hard to disagree with. Yet many men still seem to hold it in contempt, or at least baulk at calling themselves feminists. Why is this?
The theory of male privilege – that men currently hold most of the power, and tend to hand that power mostly to other men – is like gravity or evolution, in that it's beyond dispute. But like many simple, self-evident truths, it's also inconvenient. Faced with it, many men leap to the conclusion that it cannot actually be true, because men have troubles too, don't you know? And that's the men's rights movement in a nutshell.
The saddest thing about men's rights is that a lot of the blokes who get caught up in it (often over things like custodial rights to children in divorce cases) are blaming feminism for their woes, when a lot of their problems stem from society's misogyny. The idea that women are inherently better placed to look after children comes straight from the minds of dudes who don't know better. See also: men who are suffering from depression, who have been told throughout their lives that it's not okay to talk about what's going on in their heads. The suicide rate for men is appalling, and I think it's fair to blame at least some of this on the way that men are endlessly told that things like sharing problems or expressing emotions are feminine traits – and are, as such, undesirable.
It's easy to dismiss men who get into men's rights (or "meninism", as some inanely call it) as losers. True, many treat it like a pump to inflate flaccid egos. But laughing it off misses the true scope of the problem.
Ultimately, an age-old social order regards women as inferior. This poisonous belief manifests as all manner of social ills – everything from women being paid less for doing the same job as men, to the near-total unavailability of figurines of Star Wars heroine Rey, to awkward holiday gags from Uncle Barry about how Aunty Edna came out of the kitchen while the men were barbecuing, so maybe he should shorten the chain? Ha ha.
At the extreme end of the spectrum lies New Zealand's hideous record of domestic violence.
The remaining bugbears of anti-feminists seem pretty petty. Some say that 'chivalry is dead', as men can no longer open doors for women, because of feminism. Okay. Why not hold the door open for everyone? Not because someone is a particular gender that society has taught you to treat either deferentially, or like they are inherently weak, or any other such bollocks, but because it's nice to hold doors open for people.
And what about horrible feminists? Sure, there are plenty of women, and possibly just as many men, who use feminism as an ideological cudgel with which to bludgeon people and earn social status. But this is hardly restricted to feminists. You can find any number of examples of this sort of thing – just replace 'feminism' with, let's say, 'atheism' or 'Christianity'. So, here's an idea. Ignore these people. They're dicks. What they do doesn't invalidate what feminism stands for at all. If we judged every movement by the worst of its adherents, there'd be nothing left to believe in.
Where does that leave men? I think we're more needed than ever. Not as white knights charging about with helpful explanations of how to do feminism right or better, but to use some mental muscles, pick up shovels and help level the gender playing field. For women to get the vote, men had to be on board. And all that took was agreeing with the idea that women are people too.
One last thing. There are guys who will say things like, "Well, if that's what feminism stands for, I'm all for it! But why can't we call it something better, like 'egaliqualitarianism'?" To these people: Semantics? Seriously? Look, call yourselves the Judean People's Front for all I care, but I think you're missing the point. If you think that women are human – that they deserve exactly the same rights and opportunities as men, then congratulations. Female or male, you're a feminist.
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