I’ve been told by a few women over the years that I can’t be a feminist. I’ve been told by a few men too, but they were usually dismissing feminism so it was easy to dismiss them. The women were feminists though so I listened to them.
And so I called myself a feminist sympathiser. But then I met a man who called himself a feminist and listened to his reasons. And I had conversations with different feminists, who did see men as part of the movement. A couple of years ago I realised it was time to accept the truth, regardless of the grief it can get me into online, and in the real world:
My name is Dave and I am a feminist.
The feminism I support is one that tries to find both equality and peace between humans, where we treat each other as equals with respect, empathy and engagement.
I follow a lot of feminists on twitter. Many of them, because of the constant barrage of twitter misogynists, begin to think it is us (women) against them (men).
It shouldn’t be. And really it isn’t. This is just the way we’ve been divided against each other by patriarchy. We can only heal these divides if male feminists “man” the fuck up. By men standing with women and for women. It is time for everyone with sense to get on the right side of the war against women.
For godsake you have mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, lovers! How can you seriously consider them so different from you as to be lesser or purely sexual objects? Men who claim logic and sense is a male characteristic but spout this bollocks (consciously or unconsciously) are disproving their own statements. Logically we are equal. Look at the evidence all around you!
Women don’t need this shit. You want to know why women who define as feminists seem so angry? Consider how you would feel in their place. It makes sense for oppressed people to react extremely. You want them to be less extreme give them reason to be less extreme. This constant barrage of abuse they get will never lead to understanding. Why not try listening?
If you don’t want to listen for women’s sake why not listen for your own sake. Because men are getting fucked over by the situation we are in too. Not as badly. But just as constantly.
Make no mistake feminism is all our concern. With an unequal society of fixed gender roles we are ALL forced into boxes. Those boxes are oppressive for both genders. Particularly non heterosexual or people with unconventional relationship set ups. Men are part of that. And both sides have to be involved to find peace for all. The privileged ones (men) need to give up their privilege. The oppressed ones (women) need to find a way to forgive all the years of shit. But you can’t forgive a situation which is still ongoing.
I am a person who defines themselves as a feminist. Sure I will disagree with many people who describe themselves with the same terms. But so what? If you find a feminist is pissing you off remember the first rule: Women are your equal. So it isn’t surprising that some of them piss you off. Don’t dismiss a whole movement and the wide variety of views and individuals it contains because one person says a stupid thing.
I make a podcast which is about conversation. About dialogue. If you listen to my podcast’s back catalogue (and future ones too) you’ll hear a few conversations with feminists (ambiguous and unambiguous female ones and male ones). You’ll hear from the feminists who brought me up to understand that men and women are equal (and also unfortunately, in the case of my mum, told me repeatedly that men are toxic and that we have ruined her life.)
I witnessed my mother suffer at the hands of the patriarchy. I was bullied in school often due to my lack of masculine behaviours. I was given pink trousers to wear at primary school. I studied feminist theory first through choice and later through education. I have written fiction designed to be feminist. So I’m not going to lose my belief in feminism. Whether you will allow me to call myself one or not.
My idea of feminism isn’t about men being bad or ashamed of ourselves or of our sexuality. It doesn’t argue their are no differences between men and women. It argues that women are equal and should have full control of their own bodies and choices. That women and men should be equally represented in society.
My mums idea of feminism is similar to that when she is in a calm mood. Unfortunately when my mum gets angry and upset there isn’t much thinking involved ;-) And before anyone says that is a female trait, it is one that I most definitely share. Sorry sexists, but take it from me, men can be illogical, over emotional and irrational!
I have two older half sisters who provided less complicated feminist role models growing up. And my dad is as much of a feminist as you can be as a man born in the 20’s. He bought a lot of my childhood books from a feminist book shops. He supports the cause but you could argue he has a tendency to treat women as goddesses rather than people. He is a lovely guy though.
Being made to feel bad for being a man comes from the same place that women being made to feel wrong about themselves comes from. My mums rage came from a legitimate place. Her feelings came from years of complicated pressure from a patriarchal culture. It’s one of the many ways patriarchy can damage men.
So do it for the women you love. And do it for yourselves. Stand up. Speak up. Become a feminist. You owe it to yourself. - Dave Pickering