Men and Feminist. Can those two words go hand in hand? The answer is: Yes! Many people continue to believe that feminism is an ideology that strictly remains for women. One misconception about feminism is the societal-given definition that women are trying to acquire superior rights or opportunities compared to men or that women simply hate men. However, the actual definition of feminism is: the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. It simply translates to equal rights for men, women and non-binary individuals.
Why is there a debate?
Feminism originated in the early 20th century, women wished to have the same shared rights as men, whether being for property, business, marriage, contracts, employment and so on. Yet, due to feminism having the prefix “femini” it renders other sexes to assume it only benefits women, thus, they tend to turn a blind eye and are not willing to listen or take part in feminism since they feel they are not members of this group.
Men who join in the feminist fight for equal rights, are often seen negatively by society (Digby, T. 1998, p.61). There are many other reasons as to why men don’t join feminist activities such as: misogyny, simply not believing that gender inequality is a real thing, not being well informed and not being aware of one’s surroundings. This results in a reduced number of male feminists, and both, increases and enables ignorance on current events.
Can Men Truly be Feminist?
Feminism, by this definition, is open to everyone and should be supported by all, no matter what race, gender, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, class, or religion. This ideology is not exclusive to a group of people, rather it can adapted by anyone. A common misconception of feminism is the assumption that being a feminists makes one soft or weak. This is not accurate, often times it make one stronger. By acknowledging the inequalities in health, wealth, and opportunity, men and feminists alike, are rallying for a change in the narrative, a change for the better.
The admired and loved Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau openly states “I am going to keep saying loud and clearly that I am a feminist” during the United Nations Women’s conference in 2016 (Panetta, A., 2016).
He said that a man saying he is feminist should not be causing traction because it shows how much work we still have left to do in order to close the gender gap. Having prominent male figures advocate for feminism is important to help further the feminist fight for equality.
Celebrities such as John Legend joined the Women’s March in 2017 in the United States to show solidarity and support for all the women around the world who still long for equality (Lindsey, K. 2017).Famous TV host of the Daily Show, Trevor Noah, admirably agreed to being a feminist due to his female family members as well as his teachers from school. He believes that everyone should be a feminist (Robinson, P. 2017). Although, it is important to note that people should not be feminist just because they have female family members, they should be feminist because women are human beings who deserve basic human rights, we can commend Noah for his support and advocacy.
Important politicians such as Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders do not refrain themselves from showing their undeniable support for women every opportunity they get. Obama strongly identifies as a feminist and conducts actions that demonstrate his involvement for the ideology such as: signing National Equal Pay Task Force, increased minimum wage, creates It’s On Us to battle against sexual abuse in schools, supports Planned Parenthood which gives women rights over their bodies and several other implications.
In the end...
Based on this information, it is clear that men can and should be feminists. It is simply a question of whether or not you believe in the ideology of all genders being equal. There are many sessions on feminism and its definition all around school campuses, conventions and public speakings. Whether it is a question of educating yourself or getting rid of biases, you have an opportunity and an obligation to change and help others understand as well.
Want to Get Involved in all of this?
Come take a look at John Molson Women in Leadership! A new organization on the rise with the cause to educate. JMWL is a proud non profit organization which focuses on holding events with multiple well-known companies in order to spread awareness about gender gaps and disparities. We wish to one day acquire gender equality for men, women, and non-binary individuals.
Written by: Samira Reza, JMWL Ambassador (2018-2019)
Editor: Amanda Kane