So, I’m a feminist. Weird, right? I’m a white, southern born, southern bred male who writes vulgar jokes for a frat website, spends an inordinate amount of time focused on sports, and isn’t a Democrat. Not exactly a recipe for a member of the equality movement. Hell, look at my stupid picture down below. That clown in the silk shirt and backward hat, blowing out cigarette smoke, making the douchiest “What do you want from me?” face ever is actually a sensitive, thoughtful person who supports women’s rights and social equality? Get outta here. But it’s true. I support most things the third wave of feminism is all about. (We’re still on that wave, right?) However, it’s a difficult situation. Being a man, it’s not always easy to identify as a feminist. Let me tell you why.
1. I like being a guy.
Even the most radical, post-structural feminist will agree that there is at least some merit to the existence of gender identity. There are certain things that we ascribe to one gender or another that, while not all encompassing, are useful distinctions. Whether it’s personality traits or personal preferences, I like the trappings of being a prototypical American male. I like red meat, whiskey, sports, heterosexual sex, short shorts, loafers, Hawaiian shirts, playing golf, action movies, hanging out with the guys, and complex high fives. That said, I don’t think that those things are only things guys can do or appreciate, nor do I think all men should share those interests. I’m just saying that I like being a bit of a male stereotype, so it hurts whenever someone who also is a feminist comes out and says that men like me are what’s holding back the female empowerment movement. Just because I get in a circle with guys I sometimes refer to as “bros,” and sing Boston songs at the top of my lungs doesn’t mean that I’m an agent of the patriarchy. It just means I have good fucking taste in classic rock.
2. It’s associated with a lot of politics I disagree with.
Feminism is intrinsically linked to progressive and liberal ideals, and you’ll often find that most feminists are left of center. I think that’s fine. I don’t have a real problem with liberals–I just happen to disagree with them about a vast number of issues. Then again, I disagree with lots of people on a vast number of issues. Catie Warren (From Rush to Rehab) wrote a great column recently about feminist Republicans that you should all check out. I personally fall more into the Libertarian camp rather than straight up conservatism, but that’s a long and complicated discussion for another day. The point is, I sometimes feel ostracized by feminists, because they’ll say that my political beliefs are somehow incompatible with feminism, which is sort of weird, given that I manage to make it work every day. Believing that women should have equal opportunities and respect for abilities as men isn’t a political statement, it’s a humanist statement. It’s an umbrella that I think is wide enough to encompass a lot of competing political ideologies.
3. I’m trying to sleep with women.
It’s a weird space to be in. On one hand, I want to respect and fight for female equality. On the other, I also want to meet a girl who appreciates that I know when to flip her over and push her face into the pillows. It’s not even about dominance. It’s just that it seems like a strange dichotomy sometimes that the people whose social status I’m pushing to elevate is also the group of people that I’d really like to have a few drinks and then do the no pants dance with. Juxtaposition, I suppose. Plus, I’ll admit, it’s really difficult not to take it hard when a woman shoots me down, ignores me, or acts crazy. It’s hard not to extrapolate her behavior as indicative of how all women are. It’s usually about perspective. When I’m in a bad place, I’ll devolve into the “fuck women, they’re all crazy” mindset and then once I resurface from my depths of despair, I’ll make sure to pick up the pieces and remember that personal anecdotes shouldn’t be an indictment of an entire gender.
4. It’s tougher to make jokes.
I’m of the opinion that everything can be funny. As someone who trades in humor and vulgarity, I like to believe that there’s nothing that’s off limits. That can sometimes bump up against the popular opinion of mainstream feminism. I make jokes at the expense of everyone, and that means race, gender, politics, sports affiliation, and appearance are all on the table for me. I certainly don’t exempt myself from humorous scorn, either–the person who makes fun of me the most is me. But in the age of everyone having an opinion (and the online voice to make that opinion known) I occasionally catch a lot of flak for making light of certain topics. I don’t think feminism should be about restricting ourselves. I also don’t think it means everything should be taken so literally, either. Just because I poke fun at tendencies I notice women have, it doesn’t mean that I think all women behave that way any more than I actually believe eating a melted candle is a real hangover cure. They’re jokes, people. Just laugh and move on.
5. A lot of feminists are shitty people.
This isn’t a feminism problem, this is a people problem. A lot of feminists are shitty people, because a lot of people are shitty people. This is, ironically, a perfect example of the truth that feminism is trying to preach. Some women are shitty people because people suck, and WOMEN ARE PEOPLE. It is unfortunate, however, that the loud and obnoxious ones are the ones who get portrayed as the face of the movement. Feminism isn’t about yelling at people, or demonizing the innocent, or feeling superior. It’s about equality. Sadly, this is the case with just about any philosophical movement. Whether you’re a civil rights activist or a Catholic priest, the evil done by a minority of people in the name of your belief system becomes the cloak in which the world will clothe you. All you can do is continue forward and be as much of a beacon for the positive side of your beliefs that you can.
In short, I think we’re making some great strides for women in our country. We haven’t totally figured it out, but we’re getting there. I plan to help out as much as I can along the way–and if I can find one of you broads to settle down and make jokes with at some point, that’d be cool, too.
Image via Feministing