When you call yourself a feminist man, you get used to the odd raised eyebrow. Right or wrong, the idea is confronting to some people – including some of my friends.
When I asked one of my friends what his definition of a male feminist was, he simply laughed and said, “they need to man the fuck up”. A feminist, as defined by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is a person who believes in the social, political, and economical equality of the sexes. I identify with this definition, as do many other people I know. But when misogynistic men begin to abuse us just because we have feminist views, that’s when shit starts to get on my nerves.
It’s also when I can begin to understand what it must be like for women.
Part of being a male feminist is understanding that it is a movement made by women, for women. We should never assert ourselves at the forefront. But nor should we be afraid to stand up for what we believe in. We shouldn’t shy away from taking responsibility for addressing men’s issues with other men. We can’t keep expecting that women in feminism will do all the work.
For all of the shit we may get from other men, we’re in a unique position to use our male privilege to fight for change towards gender equality. Sad though it may be, if our male friends denigrate feminism around us, they’re pretty unlikely to be ready to have a conversation with a woman about it. That’s where we can step up. We won’t change their minds overnight, but we might be able to educate and enlighten them over time.
No doubt I’ll be criticised by my male friends for writing this article, but I couldn’t care less. I know why I’m a feminist and I’m proud to be part of a movement that celebrates equality.
I have no shame in what I stand for.
Neither should you.