17 October 2010

Male Feminists: Justin Andrei

One of the most disputed questions in the feminist world is whether men can be feminists, and what their place in feminism is if they can be. I believe that men indisputably CAN be feminists in that they can identify sexism and decide to act to eliminate it. Because we are so intertwined,  I believe that cooperation and dialogue between men and women is crucial to obtaining the goals of feminism.

A common misconception is that the feminist movement is one that preaches the superiority of women and hatred of men. As far as I understand, feminism strives for an egalitarian society and sexuality that benefits both men and women. In order to obtain this, it is crucial that men participate, thereby being "male feminists".

One male feminist that I would like to highlight today is Justin Andrei. Justin and I went to middle school together at Boynton, but he has since moved on to Philips Exeter Academy. He wrote this article about his view on feminism, which was then published in his school newspaper.

      How many people on this campus consider themselves feminists? Now how many men on this campus consider themselves feminists? Practically none. Why is this? Is there something wrong with being a feminist? Can only women be feminists? The answer is that anyone can be a feminist. The first reason that men are so reluctant to label themselves feminists is that they have a skewed idea of what constitutes a feminist. Many men view feminists as radical, elitist, and even as being lesbians. When I spoke with a male student about feminism, he described the idea as women being better than men. When told that feminism was about equality, this student rejected this idea and proceeded to stereotype feminists as bra-burning, man hating whiners. This is not an uncommon view, given that most of society also shares in this misconception.
   The media has successfully grouped, labeled, and dismissed feminists in one fell swoop. In a male dominated society, women are valued for child rearing and tending to their husbands. However when someone dares to pose a contrary role for women insecurity is developed in the male psyche. In order to marginalize the feminist threat to traditional gender roles men collectively dismiss any new ideas through objectification and reestablishment of the traditional roles of women. For example, in 1963 Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, a highly controversial and revolutionary book that detailed how American women became victims of the middle class reality and found their identity through their husband and children. The backlash surrounding this book was extensive, with anger directed at Friedan for daring to question the role women play in society. This deep-rooted fear of change instigated an immediate response by male controlled society to ostracize those questioning traditional beliefs.

   The media took deliberate steps to continue the objectification of women as sex objects. Doing this makes it easy for men to ignore the issues of gender inequality and dismiss the work of feminist scholars as radical and fringe. In turn, society and the medias portrayal of feminists as male-bashing nut jobs discourages men from labeling themselves as feminists or joining the feminist movement.
So what is feminism actually about?

   What is feminism? Feminism is the right for women to have the same rights and protection under the law as men. Feminism is the right for women to be considered equal to men. Feminism is questioning any traditional gender ideas you may hold, as uncomfortable as this may be. Feminism isn’t about crazy women hating men; it’s about celebrating equality and the contribution that women make to society. So if you truly value women, be proud to declare yourself feminist.
Photo of the author.  visit his blog


Anonymous said...

You are entirely incorrect. Men cannot be feminists unless they are self-loathing and self-hating. Feminism started as a movement for achieving equality. It is no longer such a movement. Feminism ideology has evolved into being what we see now -- "women are superior" and "men are inferior and disgusting". I have yet to meet a feminist who is not entirely self-absorbed and self-centered and man-hating. I believe this is the reason for the backlash now occurring in this country and elsewhere with regards to feminism. Ask yourself, why do so many women not want to be even identified as feminist ? It is not because they believe that "equality" has been achieved but because they find it difficult to be part of a movement that spurs hatred towards their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and spouses. It is not only difficult for a man to be feminist it is downright difficult for a normal woman to identify as a feminist.

Selena said...

I invite you to come to a Femtastic meeting, swing by the Cornell Women's Resource Center, pop in to Planned Parenthood, or simply ask around in order to find a plethora of selfless, accomplished feminists who are loving and appreciative of the men in their lives. I am a feminist, and I do not think that women are superior to men, or that men are superior to women, or that either gender is inherently disgusting. I surround myself with feminists and have never heard any of them express these sentiments. So to be honest, I see no factual basis to your argument.