This one’s for you, guys.
Assuming you don’t believe in the common myths about feminism, you still may think that feminism is all about women’s issues, reproductive rights, celebrating femininity…pregnancy…motherhood…PMS…boobies…vaginas…who knows.
You may have thought:
“I can’t be a feminist. I’m a dude.”
“I support women’s rights, but feminism is not really my thing.”
“My life isn’t really affected much by feminism.”
Well, I’ve got news for you!
Even though women are oppressed in many ways that men are not (let me be clear about this: in many, many, many ways), the system of traditional gender roles that we live in harms ALL people.
This includes you.
Don’t think so? Well, ask yourself the following questions.
Have you ever felt:
Insecure because your body wasn’t big enough, strong enough, or slim enough?
Pressured to be tough, aggressive and competitive beyond your comfort zone?
Ashamed of your interest in cooking, fashion, dance, or some other activity because you were told it made you “gay” or “a girl”?
Offended by media representations of helpless adult men who cannot feed, clothe, or bathe themselves without the help of a woman?
Burdened by expectations to objectify women, have sex with many women and be sexually aggressive?
Helpless when dealing with feelings of sadness, hurt, and shame because you were taught to believe that emotions show weakness and that “real men help themselves”?
Confused at how to be sensitive and kind but still be sexually desirable?
Alone when you suffered an injury but had to “handle it”?
Afraid of being called a “sissy,” “wimp,” “f*g,” “p*ssy,” or “b**ch,”?
Ambivalent about what it means to be a “real man”?
If even one or two of these is true, then you need feminism.
Why Feminism Helps Men
Feminism is about changing the gender roles, sexual norms, and sexist practices that limit you and punish you when whenever you deviate from them.
And the experiences listed above (and more) do exactly that: tell you what a “man” should be and punish you when you want to act differently.
All men have been hurt by the traditional gender system.
You may have accepted these realities as normal – just part of being a guy.
But feminists say that’s not right. That you shouldn’t be expected to live up to an unrealistic ideal. That you shouldn’t be bullied or ignored for being different. That you shouldn’t have to participate in sexist practices. That you deserve much, much more.
Feminists think you should have the freedom to explore life beyond the rigid boundaries of traditional masculinity and choose for yourself what aligns with your own values.
So you can laugh, cry, dance, and love. Embrace your friends. Lovingly nurture your kids. Make mistakes.
So you can be beautiful, be vulnerable, and be free.
So you can be yourself.
You can even agree with some of the things traditional masculinity teaches you. As long as you think about it critically and choose it freely and it doesn’t hurt anyone else.
Women have been talking about their gender experiences for years. Men need to talk about their experiences, too.
So, start the conversation.
How has your gender affected your life? What do you want to change for men?
And hey – welcome to the movement.
Katy Kreitler is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism as well as a counselor and youth advocate. She can be found wandering the streets of San Francisco with a purse full of used fiction, a pair of emergency yoga pants, and half a burrito.