How many male friends of yours are feminists, or talk about feminism?

How many male friends of yours are feminists, or talk about feminism?

This photo illustrates the activity that we desperately need: more men standing up and declaring themselves feminists (pipe optional).

Most of my male friends would talk about feminism as a woman’s issue. They’d agree with things you say, and then tell you that it’s such an important cause.

But most of my male friends would never go to a feminist rally or even sign a petition. I think as men are supposed to be overtly heterosexual and ‘masculine’, there such strong stigma connected to doing something that deviates from the norm (especially with younger men), like they have to stomp their testosterone everywhere. Or maybe its because women are defensive of their territory and some feminists believe men don’t have a place in the movement.

I love seeing men talk about feminism and even seeing them at public debates and protests, and I’d never believe in leaving them out purely because they aren’t women.

London Pro-Feminist Men’s Group (http://londonprofeministmensgroup.blogspot.co.uk/) is reassuring, I’m still on the hunt for more. Do you know of any active male feminist groups? Do your male friends always talk about feminism?

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4 thoughts on “How many male friends of yours are feminists, or talk about feminism?

  1. “This photo illustrates the activity that we desperately need: more men standing up and declaring themselves feminists (pipe optional).”

    Why so yet more men will exploit women?

    1. Hey, thanks for commenting! I think that the only way to change male behaviour is to invite them into the conversation. If you scare them away by claiming that feminism is only for women, men will feel more isolated from the cause and more intimidated by the prospect of women being as strong and forceful as men in society. We have to be accepting and encouraging – not angry and frustrated at men that may feel like they’re not doing anything wrong in 2012 when looking at page three or pornography is deemed normal male behaviour.

  2. Hi Alice, Shankar here from India. I know this is a really old blog post but the issue is hardly dated! I guess at time when so many women feel awkward about describing themselves as feminist, its little wonder that men are really conspicuous in their absence! Perhaps the best way to get men on board would be to really point out the ways in which feminism helps men! I have been in North India for the past year, and in particularly patriarchal parts of North India outside Delhi (where women are increasingly assertive even if men remain in the dark ages) and time and time again, I feel the psychological burdens as a man. Constant competitiveness, aggression, and violence places huge injury and trauma on men, and they often have little outlet for this aside from repeating the same brutal patterns. The expectations of being a real man make life miserable for men in ways that men don’t acknowledge because there is always the emphasis on the benefits of being man. But these benefits only go to a few men-most men can never be Rambo, and the younger generation of men thinks very differently from our dads, and often wants to be different, but then face the expectations of conformity and the deep dread of failing and being an incomplete man. So maybe we shout from the rooftops: feminism and equality is about Mens Lib too ( I guess we need a catchier slogan than that!). Peace.

    1. Hey Shankar! Good to hear from you and thanks for checking out my blog. I hope all’s well with you and your work, Sally’s been telling me all about your trip to (I think she said) Shimla and it sounds like a really interesting place – will have to keep it in mind for when I visit. I can’t wait for my culinary adventure in India!

      I was talking with my work colleagues about feminist issues recently and one man around the table said that they’ve always felt under pressure to conform to masculine stereotypes, and I agree with you that it’s just as much an issue as women feeling like they need to conform (but it’s kept well under wraps). When they said it (unsurprisingly, the man who did open up about this was in his 20s), it was quite refreshing as most men obviously don’t feel that they can talk about these things or deviate from the norm. I’m sure the situation in India (I also spoke to a journalist a while ago about talking about mental health in India – quite the unmentionable subject) is almost incomparable in scale – and it’s sad.

      Men should be able to discuss their own relation to being men, and I think it’s so important for them to be able to do that and negotiate with the tough, strong, resilient stereotype that pervades so many cultures. As women have been so severely oppressed for centuries in the UK (the vote, employment…) and we’re still not given senior roles in employment or paid as much as men (etc…), we should still own the feminist movement as our own and there still is so much to do. I think women within feminist movements should always invite men in to the debate and I’ve always been so cynical about extreme second-wave fem movements that push men out of the debate. It’s contradictory in nature (how can you preach equality and push others out of the conversation?) and as 50% of the population is male, how are you going to get anywhere with your movement if you’re ignoring half the population?

      As you said, feminism does help men because it introduces a discourse about negotiating gender, which I’m sure a lot of men could learn from. Let’s shout it from the rooftops indeed! Hopefully see you in London soon!

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