tell a self proclaimed male feminist that he cant be a feminist and watch him turn in to the biggest misogynist abusive shit within 0.2 seconds. happens 100% of the time.
I’m gonna be honest; this post made me angry. I’ve never had my ‘feminist credentials’ challenged directly, but that’s probably because I’m not terribly social, rather than anything special about me or my status as some kind of uber-feminist. At first, I dealt with my annoyance the way I always try to when I read something I disagree with on the Internet; someone having a different opinion than me hurts me far less than centuries of oppression, abuse, torture, and murder that so many groups have faced (and continue to face). I have not led a perfectly charmed life, but I am still on the receiving end of a great deal of unearned privileges that billions of people have lacked. Most of the time, when I get upset by something that a woman or a POC says, I try to keep my mouth shut and my ears open.
But the more I thought about pomeranianprivilege’s post, the more I realised that part of my anger is legitimate. From the time I learnt what the word ‘feminism’ meant, I took what seems to be the default well-meaning male position on the issue: I said that I favoured equality for everyone, so I couldn’t call myself a feminist. It took me nearly a decade to understand that that is literally one of the most common definitions of feminism. I was halfway through my undergraduate degree before I finally acknowledged that I was, indeed, a feminist. Un-learning that trope took me an embarrassingly long time, and I recognise that this wasn’t some great achievement on my part; I took no risks, suffered no physical or psychological injuries…really, I just came to accept my fear of the label that best fit my ideals was actively counterproductive to those ideals. It was, quite plainly, the least I could do. But it was still the work of years.
So when someone tells me that I cannot be a feminist because I’m a man, I do get angry…but I’m not angry at women, at least not intentionally. Instead, I direct my anger at all of the men that have motivated this notion: every guy whose ego is too brittle to hold up to a woman daring to disagree with him, in public or in private; every dude who cannot stand his identity being questioned; every man who thinks that their voice as an ally is more important than the voices of the people they’re claiming to ally with.
I’m a man, and I’m a feminist. If you do not believe me, I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry that so many assholes have robbed me of the benefit of the doubt. It isn’t your job to give me your trust just because I claim to be on your side; it’s my job to earn that trust in every way I can, even if that means me keeping my mouth shut and keeping my ears open. I can’t promise to never make any mistakes, but I can promise my allegiance, for whatever that is worth.
And if, in a given situation, for a given person, that allegiance isn’t worth anything, I can accept that without betraying my principles and without retracting the offer.