On the surface, I portray many characteristics and mannerisms that are associated with manliness and virility (my twitter handle is BrazenlyVirile). I drink my whiskey neat or with two ice cubes, I like working with my hands, I love a nice steak (medium well porterhouse), I drink dark lagers, and I love basketball and football. One could possibly think that my actions and thoughts would be 100% testosterone driven. This would be the furthest thing from the truth. I’m also an avid reader and one thing that reading (the right types of books) will do is expand your scope of compassion and insight. In some capacity, I’ve always had a sense of empathy but experiencing others’ points of views through words has allowed me to want people to have freedom from the –isms; including racism, classism, and sexism — which is just shit that I can’t tolerate.
“Now only a fool loves that hard without asking the same in return. So yeah, I demand that black men fight sexism with the same passion they battle racism. I want you to annihilate anything that endangers sistas’ welfare—including violence against women—because my survival walks hand in hand with yours. So, my brotha, if loving y’all fiercely and wanting it back makes me a feminist then I’m a feminist. So be it.”
This is a quote that stood out to me from the book When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost by Joan Morgan. I’ve also read the work of bell hooks, Angela Davis, and Ntozake Shange, which have left me with feelings of reverie. This has led me to ask certain questions of myself. I love black women and I will always defend them. I look at my mother, my sister, my niece, my girlfriend and I know when I look towards them I only have feelings of love and affection. Despite this, I’m still left with certain questions. Based on the quote above if I want all of those things is it possible that I, being a man, can be a feminist? Feminism is all about equality and not exclusion right?
“B/c I don’t have such a narrow view of feminism. It comes down to a belief that women are as valuable as men and believing in/supporting women’s autonomy over their lives. It’s not hard to be a feminist, really.” skinnyblackgirl (feminist and one of my favorite writers without a book deal). Based on this I wonder why more men don’t self-identify as feminists. Is it because of blatant misogyny in that they really don’t like women or perhaps the more likely case is that they don’t want to be associated with anything rooted in the word feminine?
I’m not naïve enough to actually believe that everyone wants 100% gender equality. I believe a majority of people (myself included) would like to see gender equality but only to a certain point. In order for that to happen each sex would have to ease up on the stranglehold they have on the societal advantages they possess. I asked my timeline if they felt within the context of feminism; equal rights between a man and woman in regard to bringing a child into the world were necessary. I can’t say that I was I wasn’t disappointed in some of the answers I received. It seemed that some women were ok with gender equality as long as only women unilaterally decided for both parties involved that they would both be parents. On the other hand if men also want true gender equality we have to be willing to give up our domination when in comes to equal pay and respect in the workplace.
From what I can tell and have gathered is that feminism is a complex concept when it really shouldn’t be. In a utopian society, everyone would be equal regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, etc. but we don’t live in a perfect world. Women of different races can’t even come together on common ground when it comes to battling sexism (check out #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen on twitter). Some women I know feel as if the fight for equality between the genders is a fight that should be championed by women and women alone. This reminds me of Malcolm X stating early on that the fight for equality for African-Americans had no room for Caucasians. Despite a lot of imperfections I’ll reiterate that I self-identify as a “womanist” along with anything else that calls for the equal treatment of people.
Do you believe that men can be feminists? Women, do you think that the push for gender equality can be helped by men?