Why We All Need Feminism

Male Feminists

In 2012, sixteen students at Duke University began a social media campaign to shed light on issues of gender equality. It was called Who Needs Feminism? As part of the campaign, participants displayed posters around campus. Each poster bore an image of a man or woman holding a whiteboard sign starting with the words “I need feminism because…” The students’ motivation was to show that feminist principles could be important to everybody, and that there was no feminist archetype.

Images from and inspired by Who Needs Feminism?

Images from and inspired by Who Needs Feminism?

The students also launched a three-pronged online campaign on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Within hours their message was spreading rapidly across the Internet, and they had garnered a lot of attention, from men and women; from feminists and antifeminists.

A quick word about antifeminists: I’m not going to universally bash antifeminists by assuming that they are all misogynistic sexual predators-in-training. Just as there is no feminist archetype, there is no antifeminist archetype. They each have their own motives, even if I disagree with their conclusions. But there are those among the antifeminist crowd who betray a spectacular misunderstanding of women, their desires, and their struggle by creating garbage like this meme. If you are an antifeminist who thinks this meme is hilarious, it is to you that I address the rest of this post.

Despite what you may have heard in the last meeting of your He-Man Woman Hater’s Club, feminism is not about women dominating men. Most feminists will tell you that feminism is about equality; they subscribe to the notion that women are actual people who deserve the same social, political, and economic benefits as their male counterparts. Now really, there shouldn’t be anything too upsetting about that, unless you’re part of the privileged class and you’ve bought into the fairy tale that an increase in someone else’s rights means a decrease in your own rights. Don’t worry, rights are not a limited resource. There are plenty to go around.

If you are one of these misogynistic antifeminists, then you no doubt believe that any man who espouses feminist ideals does so only because he’s trying to get laid. Let’s take a few seconds to enumerate everything that’s wrong with that position.

  1. Blogger Feminspire writes that one of the most harmful aspects of the “male feminists just want to get laid” argument is that it betrays a complete indifference to the humanity of women. Anybody who makes this argument apparently cannot understand why any man would feel otherwise; ergo, any man who appears to support a woman’s cause must be trying to con a woman into sleeping with him.
  2. Men are not all single-minded sex-seeking missiles. It is conceivable that some men have interests outside of sex. It just might be possible that some men are interested in equality for everyone, and they can express their support without expecting any sort of sexual compensation.
  3. If a feminist ally truly understands feminist ideals (and he’d better), he knows that being feminist is not a free pass to having sex anyway. A woman chooses her sexual partners based on many qualities, not just ideological compatibility. If he didn’t already know this, he would learn real quick.

I am a white, straight male. I occupy three of the five sides of the American Pentagon of Privilege (a concept I just now invented, as far as I know. The other two sides are being wealthy and Christian.) I am aware of my privilege, but I don’t want to give it away. I want everybody to have the same privilege. That means I don’t want to tear others down or block their progress. When I identify myself as an ally to feminists (and to homosexuals and to people of color), it’s not because I want something for myself; I want us all to be in the same boat. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

6 thoughts on “Why We All Need Feminism

  1. Hello, brown straight male here, I agree with most of your article, yet, I have seen some rather disturbing claims from feminists in those white boards just like the extreme anti male movement in tumblr, twitter and reddit, and obviously not all feminists are like that, I’m sure they are a minority within feminism and the feminist movement on overall just searches for equality, and those that act that way probably only do it to call attention, or they are just crazy, however, I find them just way too funny, just as is irrational to think male feminist just want to get laid it’s crazy to think woman showing their sexuality is rape culture, you can find some true gems in #yesallmen

    • Rape culture is more about the way society implicitly acknowledges and accepts sexual assault. It’s not about women showing their sexuality. For anybody who’s interested, this is what rape culture is all about.

      I also agree that there is a vocal extremist minority within the feminist movement who are virulently anti-male. Just like the extremist minorities within any group, they can do a lot of harm to the cause. But I would like all anti-feminists to know that these people are on the fringe.

      I appreciate your comment. Take care.

  2. Todays feminism is NOT feminism. Its women griping that they cannot force their man to bake a cake after coming home from a long day work which they will both have and eat.
    It’s obnoxious.
    I take my duties seriously. I cook, I clean, I do the laundry, I love my man up when I’m tired, I stay home and watch my son instead of having a job I would love (seriously, I love flipping burgers more than I love staying at home) and I am proud that I have the balls to make these small sacrifices that make such a big positive impact on my family.
    You want to be the bread winner? Then you need to pay for dinner. That’s the concept that these “feminists” can never seem to get. And if he works all day, you sure as hell need to make sure he’s coming home to a hot meal.
    I have a lot more to say on the subject, but I’m in the middle of cleaning the kitchen, making dinner and dessert, watching my little boy, and my hard working man is on his way home.

    • Whoa, you’ve got me all wrong. If that’s the life you’ve chosen, then good for you. I’m not saying every woman should go out and get a job. I’m saying every woman should have the right to whatever kind of life she desires, and she shouldn’t be a slave to social expectations of how a woman should behave. If you find fulfillment in what you do (even if it’s not your idea of excitement), that’s great.

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