Feminist: A person who supports women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes.
If feminism just means equality between the sexes, why do many men shy away from the label of feminist? What is causing men to be so disillusioned with the idea of feminism? Obviously there are men who identity as feminists such as Ryan Gosling, John Legend and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as many women who don’t. But to really understand the issue of a lack of male feminists I spoke to some boys about why they prefer to distance themselves from feminism.
All of the men interviewed stated that they believed in equality, but doesn’t that make them feminists by default? ‘I don’t have a problem with equality’ says Max Wynn and Liam Butler jokes that he is a ‘closet feminist’ and doesn’t identify as a feminist ‘due to stigma’. A recurring topic was the idea that Third Wave feminism in the first world was pointless and should not be compared to feminism in the third world. Third Wave feminism is the term for strains of feminist activity and study thought to have begun in the early 1990s, continuing to the present day. One interviewee stated that ‘issues that third-wave, Western feminists are passionate about, such as the wage gap, involve extremely skewed and general statistics’. He believes that modern issues that feminists fight to resolve are hard to relate to. I talked to some boys about why they prefer to distance themselves from feminism
The interviewees were annoyed over the terms used to describe male behaviour such as ‘manspreading’ and ‘mansplaining’. They believe these terms to be stupid and insensitive, a reason why they feel distanced and unaccepted by feminism. Most of the boys blamed the online social new site, Buzzfeed, for showing feminism in a bad light with Liam describing it as ‘feminism gone wild’. Eliot Luke states that he ‘disagrees with how feminists are acting’ and that modern feminists are ‘garnering negative connotations’. Perhaps many feel that feminism is alienating men by always portraying them as the ‘bad guys’. On the other hand, are too many misandrists labeling themselves as feminists, giving feminism a bad name?
One interviewee prefers to identify as ‘egalitarian’ because it ‘simply comes across as wanting equality for all and the world in general to be better’. He also argues that when modern feminist issues are looked into in depth, they ‘cease to exist’.
Perhaps the world will accept feminism better when we stop labeling misandry as feminism and when feminism becomes united. Can we really blame these people for not wanting to identify as feminists when modern ‘feminism’ holds such a bad reputation? Until it is truly understood that feminists only want both genders to reach true equality, so many will continue distancing themselves from this label. In the meantime, we must educate the ignorant and point out people who abuse the word feminist.
-Ellie Palmer-Burgelll, year 12