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.
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