Can a man be a feminist?
That’s right. Tackling the big gender issues straight away, here At Critical Masculinities.
I’ve thought about this question, more or less frequently, for the last 6 years. For me the answer, like so many of my answers is, Yes and No. Yes, in a theoretical sense a man, believing in the ideologies of whatever stripe of feminism he chooses to believe in, can identify as a feminist. I would go so far as to put myself in this basket. But for me the above question isn’t a great one, and the world of theory (sadly) rarely correlates perfectly with the real one. So for me the question is really: Should a man be a feminist? And this question is more ambiguous.
I’ve got big problems, as a white man of education and general privilege , going ahead and calling myself a feminist.
I simply have not and in many cases can not, experience the types of inequality others are subject to. And for all that I espouse and advocate for equality – I am treated differently (often to my benefit) because of my gender. I recognise this privilege, and given this my personal relationship to feminism is quite different to a woman a for whom reproductive, sexual, legal and economic equality and rights (as a few examples) have a very different meaning.
I also think that men co-opting the powerful (in a social, cultural & political activist sense) label of ‘feminist’ CAN, in some uses & pragmatically speaking, devalue the word.
For these reasons I choose not to identify as a Feminist, but rather I prefer the less loaded and more neutral term “Pro-feminist.” And I am aware that some think that this term is a lesser commitment, and that by identifying with it, I am effectively stating something along the lines of; “I agree with what you’re doing, but don’t want to fully commit.” For me this is not the case, and I have made my choice of identifying moniker out respect, but I can understand this perspective and would be particularly interested to read your thoughts or perspectives on this issue (so please comment) as I recognise it as one (like so many things) with many shades of grey.