Five Reasons to Be a Feminist Man
UPDATE II, UPDATING HARDER: Beth Wiesendanger came up with Five Reasons to Date a Feminist Woman. Other than, you know, the obvious one.
One of the strangest misconceptions about the feminist movement is the notion that every feminist is a woman. Even in the darkest days of race relations in the United States, no one was under the impression that the entire abolitionist movement was black, or that the entire civil rights movement was black. In fact, segregationists–and pro-slavery advocates before them–were famously very well aware of “carpetbaggers” and “outside agitators.” But feminism has been successfully recast by its opponents as the sole province of angry, man-hating lesbians that want to murder babies and cut everybody’s dick off. Which is weird, because my mom is a feminist, and not only did she have sex with a man at least four times–on account of she had four children, none of whom she murdered–but she did not, at any point, try to cut off my dick, or anyone else’s dick.
Let me make this clear: I’m a dude. I say “bro” a lot, only about 60% ironically. I have broad shoulders and a beard. I go to a lot of sports games. I drink crappy beer and crappier liquor, and I have zero interest in wine. I eat red meat way more frequently than is healthy. I think shooting guns can be fun. I probably have some allergies that I just ignore because I don’t notice them. I don’t wash a single dish until I am completely out of usable clean dishes. I love playing pool, I love playing cards, I love playing dice. I’m a dude. Almost cartoonishly so at times.
So when I say I’m a feminist, nobody is allowed to write me off with a “Pfff, just some skinny hipster douche, he probably reads books and stuff.” Nor can you write me off as gay, which is another assumption dudes make about feminist men, because I’m not. And you can’t say I’m whipped, because I’m single. And you can’t say I’ve been “pussified” or whatever that one is, because see above. Hell, I carry a Leatherman around with me in case there’s a sudden instance of something requiring pliers or a knife. I’m a guy, I’m a feminist, and I think more guys should be feminists. I’m going to give you five reasons why, and none of them will be “Because chicks are totally into it bro” or “Because think about your mom, dude.” You shouldn’t be a feminist because you want to protect your womenfolk, or because you think it’ll get you laid. You should be a feminist because you should fucking be a feminist. So here are the five reasons why, helpfully illustrated with Feminist Ryan Gosling images. (Buy the Feminist Ryan Gosling book, it’s awesome!)
1) There is absolutely no moral argument against feminism. Not one.
This is, of course, the most important one. Feminism is the simple belief that folks should have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, free of fabricated and unnecessary barriers, without constantly fearing for their safety, regardless of gender. If you have an argument that runs counter to that, then fuck you. You’re a bad person. If you do not have an argument that runs counter to that, then congratulations. You already agree with feminists on the most fundamental tenet of the ideology. Now just get your behavior in line with that belief and we’ll all be fine.
2) The more feminist men there are, the fewer women will get raped. Seriously.
I’ll explain. The common cultural depiction of a rapist is some creepy dude with a thin moustache in like an overcoat or a hoodie who follows a woman home and grabs her and has his way with her in the bushes. He may or may not have a windowless van, depending on which Law & Order: SVU episode most informs your idea of rape. But that’s not really an accurate notion. The majority of rapes are committed by men who are known to the victim. Acquaintances, co-workers, even family members or friends. If you’ve ever wondered why some women are a little guarded before they form a friendship with you, that’s a big part of the answer. That, and the fact that they know you most likely just want to have sex with them.
This is the reason that more feminist men equals fewer women getting raped. Quite a few of those rapists who were acquainted with their victims didn’t even realize they were committing the crime. Did you know that if a woman is significantly more intoxicated than you are, and you have sex with her, there’s a very good chance you’ve just become a rapist? If you’re like the majority of men in this country (any country, really), you didn’t. Did you know that if a woman says no the first time and then says yes later after you apply some form of pressure, you’ve just become a rapist? Again, chances are good that you didn’t.
One of feminism’s most important aims is to educate men and women on what actually constitutes rape, sexual assault, etc. A feminist man–a real one, who actually understands feminism–is extremely less likely to rape his acquaintances, because most people don’t actually want to rape anybody. But if you don’t know what rape is–and it’s very easy to not know what rape is in our culture–it’s pretty hard to not do it.
A feminist man won’t think that because a woman’s skirt is short, she’s totally down to have sex with any and every man in a two-mile radius. A feminist man won’t think that just because he bought a lady some drinks, that means he gets to have sex with her. A feminist man will never answer that OKCupid question, “Do you feel there are any circumstances in which a person is obligated to have sex with you?” with anything but “No.” A feminist man will not try to score with the way-too-drunk chick at a party, and will instead make sure she gets home safely–not because he’s trying to be a “good man” who will later use that as a weapon to get her to have sex with him “willingly,” but because he knows what rape is, and because he wants to be a decent human being. In short, a feminist man will probably not rape anybody.
3) When women are in charge of stuff, they do a really good job.
There are now more women in Congress than there have ever been before. 20% of the Senate is comprised of women. And by all accounts, their presence, particularly in positions of committee leadership, has been a very good thing. They’ve been able to reach out to one another across partisan divides, as well as subtler ideological boundaries, such as the ones separating Blue Dog Democrats from more left-leaning ones. A great deal of whatever progress has been made in the face of an obstructionist Republican caucus has been accomplished because of the efforts of women. For other examples of the efficacy of women in positions of power, look to the business world, where women in leadership roles are consistently praised. Although it’s much harder for a woman to reach such heights, if she does so, she almost always gets glowing reviews.
UPDATE: I’ve caught a lot of flack for skimping on this section. You want to know more of my thoughts on women in leadership positions? Here you go, a salute to our awesome women Senators.
4) When abortion is restricted, people die.
Remember the woman who died during childbirth in Ireland because she wasn’t allowed to get an abortion? That’s not uncommon in situations where abortions are outlawed or restricted. Childbirth can, unfortunately, be a life-threatening thing. And even if it’s not, there are other dangers posed by outlawing or restricting abortion. The most important one is this: Some people are going to get abortions whether they’re legal or not. If they’re illegal, they will get abortions from unsafe, under-the-table, fly-by-night operations. And sure, that can happen even under Roe v. Wade, but when abortion is conducted under the auspices of the law, a bad abortion provider can be punished. That’s why there are so few of them out there. If abortion is outlawed, there will be no recourse. Women will die because a bunch of stupid old white men decided that they shouldn’t have control over their own bodies.
5) Oppression doesn’t end until the oppressor stops oppressing.
I know, I know, this is a tough one to hear. You don’t feel like an oppressor. Of course you don’t. If you did, you’d stop doing the things that oppress people! That’s how oppression usually functions in the real world. There are very few people out there who sit around twirling moustaches thinking of ways to be evil and hurt someone. Nobody feels like an oppressor. I don’t feel like an oppressor. But I almost certainly am, because of something I do which has implications I don’t fully grasp.
But when you tell a random woman on the street that she looks beautiful today, or that she should smile; when you try to pick up on a girl at the bar without even bothering to try getting to know her first; when you tweet out that what happened in Steubenville was bad but that girl shouldn’t have gotten so drunk; when you talk about women as if they were sexual objects; when you complain about being “friendzoned”; when you do these and a thousand other little things, you oppress women. You contribute to a culture of oppression, a culture of rape and sexual violence, a culture of objectification, a culture of male dominance and superiority.
It’s a culture in which women can still lose their jobs because they get pregnant. It’s a culture protected by a military disturbingly rife with sexual predators and rapists. It’s a culture in which women still don’t make as much money as men do for the same work. It’s a culture that tells women they shouldn’t “try to have it all” (which means having a family and a career and a social life) while telling men they should be ambitious and go out there and take what they want. It’s ultimately a culture that’s as painful and frustrating for men as it is for women. And it’s not a culture you should want to help perpetuate.
Gentlemen, you’re already soldiers in the War on Women. It’s time to switch sides.