After a series of boyfriends who never talked about feminism or did the opposite, fetishized it, I’ve had enough. Men often misunderstand feminism is or how to practice feminism. A lot of misconceptions come from ideas about the aesthetic of subcultures practicing feminism, and/or a lack of engagement with females about their opinions and understandings of how male privilege has affected them. Why not ask a girl how she feels about feminism or women’s issues up front? Here are some of the most common male responses to conversations about feminism with your girl’s response.
1. “I don’t have to say I’m a feminist to care about women’s rights.”
The only difference between a feminist and a person who care’s about women’s rights but doesn’t consider themself a feminist is commitment and courage. If you think that labeling yourself is unnecessary think of the fact that feminists are very diverse in their beliefs about what feminism is and in how they express it. Labeling yourself as a feminist is not labeling yourself as any one thing in particular but it does help build the fight for women’s rights. I’ve also heard the reasoning that feminism is dated, that we’ve moved beyond to something else. Listen, as long as there are tangible gender inequalities, there is a need for organized feminist groups to defend women’s rights.
2. Women think male feminists are sexy.
Men shouldn’t be patted on the back for being feminist nor should anyone be congratulated on brushing their teeth.
3. Feminists are sexy.
Fetishizing feminists objectifies bodies with the same male gaze that has turned its eye to carbon copy magazine images and normative models of female beauty.
4. “Feminists make me feel bad for being a man.”
Guilt is an unproductive way to deal with the realization that you have received privilege your entire life. Please consider the burden of your guilt is only a small load in comparison to the lifetimes under which women live under oppressive circumstances. The best way to cope with guilt is to act, join feminist projects, talk about the issues!
5. Men think about Sex more than women.
This belief propagates the myth that female desire is less important than male desire. Why? Maybe we should ask ourselves why this phrase measures lust in terms of ‘more’ and ‘less’ and not in vividness, imagination, or emotion. This phrase is also used as an excuse for male behavior when the reality is women lust too but don’t get to use their fantasies as excuses.
6. “I don’t know how to be a feminist and still approach girls.”
Approaching a girl is not violating feminist values. But being a feminist means you should be aware of the power play and subjectification going on in your interaction, and trust in the intelligence and depth of the female-identifying person before you. That said, there is a wide range of feminisms, many which embrace female sexuality and promiscuity, so don’t be intimidated.