Men Can Also Be Feminists
Many high-profile men freely express that they are feminists; John Legend, Chris Martin, Joseph Gordon Levitt, even Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is proud to be a feminist. While men benefit from patriarchy and the assumption that they are superior to women, they also suffer consequences. In return for the power that these ideals give men, they feel pressured to dominate, exploit and oppress women, all in an effort to keep the levels of patriarchy unscathed. It is the presumed fear that influences men to believe that supporting male domination is easier due to the uncertainty of what their world would be like if the patriarchy they know changes. Today’s society and mainstream media recognizes the word ‘feminist’ as a reference to a woman. So why do people believe that men cannot be feminists?
I argue that this is due to one simple reason; the male role that patriarchy has cultivated is extremely toxic. It makes it almost impossible for men to think that it is okay for them to express their feminist beliefs and not be criticized for it. It is stereotypes like this that actively discourage men from speaking up and being a part of something they believe in/are passionate about. Men feel as if they have to conform to societies view on what a “real man” should look and behave as, and so their dedication to toxic and patriarchal masculinity does not allow them to stray from societies view of the male gender. The expectations to uphold gender roles create an intense level of sexism in regard to who can and cannot be a feminist. Feminists main argument is all about being treated equally, eliminate sexism and oppression; so why is there a stereotype that men cannot be feminists. The perceived idea of men not being allowed to proudly present themselves as a feminist contradicts arguments of equality. A woman who is a feminist is viewed as strong, independent and brave for speaking out about what they believe in, however if a man were to speak out regarding his feminist beliefs, he risks being reprimanded and thought of as less of a man.
I argue that any person who believes in equality between genders and women’s rights, can classify themselves as a feminist. Most people do not understand the true meaning of sexism and the feminist movements, however the knowledge they claim to have is most likely derived from patriarchal mass media. Their misunderstanding reflects and stems from the belief that feminism is strictly committed to gender equality – equal pay, sharing household work, parenting etc. While equality is a huge part of feminism, people lack the knowledge of what else feminism stands for. Amongst these issues, people, including men, agree with arguments about women’s rights.
So what is to say they are not feminists? If they agree upon equal rights no matter a person’s gender, religion, or race, why should they not be perceived as a feminist? It is societies sexist views on feminism that influence men to uphold the patriarchal standing of a man’s role. Some men have distanced themselves from the preconceived notion of gender specific roles in society and will admit their support for feminism. I strongly believe it is encouraged and important for young boys and men to know that expressing their feminist beliefs is accepted. For men to express these beliefs, it gives us all more of a voice and platform to fight for equality and make a difference.
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