Can you be both male and a feminist?

I think so, I hope so. I’ve been told by some women that men are not only not needed in the feminist movement, but not wanted. Honestly I am not sure how to respond to this except to say why and what limited view you have. I’m a white male so I am about as far from a minority as is possible, yet I am a strong advocate for equality based on every demographic: race, religion, sexual orientation and gender. Let me get this out of the way I am in no way advocating men take over the feminist movement or even possibly worse claim victory for its continued legacy of victories. Due to my birth I come from a position of privilege and as a conscientious person it is my duty to do anything I can to eradicate that privilege.

The answer of what would a man’s role be in the feminist movement is really a very simple one, “talk with other men.” The unfortunate truth is that when women begin talking about discrimination and equality a lot of men just tune them out. I can see it on men’s faces, the “here we go again,” far off look and they are imagining going fishing with the kids or whatever they would rather be doing at that moment. It is my responsibility to discuss equal pay, discrimination, sexual harassment and all the issues and aims of the feminist movement to my male friends and make them understand my point of view. Just as the LGBT community does not turn away straight people from its movement, feminism can use men to find true equality when a majority of people’s minds change there is true social change.

One of the biggest issues facing the feminist movement that is finally being addressed is “rape culture.” Feminism and men can be strong allies in social change so the words, “she was asking for it, look how she was dressed,” is never uttered again. That line of thought is exactly that men are innately rapists and are unable to control themselves when a woman dressed “provocatively” walks by. If the message that we have a long ways to go on this wasn’t plainly obvious the Rush Limbaugh vs Sandra Fluke episode of a few years back should have solidified it into everyone’s memory. The fact that victim blaming and slut shaming is so common in this culture is a very tangible proof of the continued need for feminism in general and the need for an alliance with likeminded men. Furthermore the whole debacle over what is considered legitimate rape and the misconception and flat out lies about basic biological science further illustrate the point.

I will move the conversation between men to pay equality, changing the discussion of rape and so many other issues. I only hope to contribute to the dialogue in a small way. It may be voicing my distaste for an ill-conceived “joke” a man tells a group of his buddies. It may be marching to support equal pay. It may be defending a co-worker who is a victim of sexual harassment or worse. I just have the sincere belief that it is my role to move the conversation forward, to contribute to the dialogue. As I consider it important to be a supporter of racial equality and gay rights I am proud to call myself a feminist, if the feminist movement will have me.

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