(continued) I’m actually undecided myself, but I can’t help side-eyeing any dude who hears about this and still decides to identify as feminist instead of an ally (given that it’s not like it’s a huge switch to make anyway, you’re just changing what you label yourself). Like, if there are women who have a problem with guys calling themselves feminists, shouldn’t those guys respect that instead of basically saying “Well *I* get to decide something about a movement which is basically about YOU”?
(continued again sry jeez) Like, I get that patriarchy hurts men too, but no doubt it hurts women more, so shouldn’t women still have the final say on feminist issues? Like I said I’m still undecided on the issue, I was just wondering your take on it. :)
This has been sitting in my inbox for almost a week, and I’ve honestly had a hard time answering it.
Personally, I don’t mind if men call themselves feminists as long as they:
- Actively pursue feminist goals and attitudes.
- Listen to women within the movement (or outside of it to the same ends) when we talk about our experiences with sexism, sexual violence, and the patriarchy.
- Work to amplify those voices/experiences.
- Recognize their privilege (male and otherwise, where applicable), and use that privilege to make the space they occupy in the world feminist.
- DO NOT ASK FEMINISM TO MAKE ROOM FOR THEM IN THE MOVEMENT.
That’s my personal checklist for male feminists, the key idea being they understand that while feminism is beneficial for everyone, it is a movement for, about, and created by women.
From what I’ve seen, the frustration with men calling themselves feminists is that many “male feminists” DO NOT understand the above points. A lot of women in the movement are fed up with “male feminists” who talk over them, who tell them their experiences are invalid or unimportant, who want an award for treating women like people. And since that happens pretty much constantly, I completely understand why a lot of women prefer men to just identify as “feminist allies.” I just don’t happen to be one of them.
However, since there are plenty of women who feel this way, I think it’s probably the most respectful thing for men to identify as feminist allies. I’m not personally going to call a guy out on it (because it isn’t as though he’s reclaiming or abusing a gendered slur) as long as he’s adhering to the points I made above, but I probably would comment that he should be ready and willing to listen to women who think calling himself a feminist is inappropriate. If he’s really an ally to the movement (and to women), that won’t be a problem for him.