Kate Iselin on the problem with ‘male feminists’:
“It’s not that I don’t think men can be feminists. There are several men in my life who have approached feminism with respect and considerate thought, who have used feminism to examine their own privilege and experiences within the world and have become better people for it.
But these men are in a disappointing minority compared to the rest of the male feminists I, and many other women, have encountered: men who use the term ‘feminist’ as either bait or an alter-ego, assuming that their opt-in respect for women will entitle them to legions of adoring lovers – really the most anti-feminist act of all.”
I’ve come full circle on the issue. A few years back I found it highly pretentious to refer to myself (a straight male) as a feminist. I support feminism, and I greatly value women who are strongly pro-feminist, but to walk around referring to myself as one seemed a bit rich, since like all positive things it’s more of an on-going process than a supposed badge of honor.
But not too long after #Gamergate broke, I was genuinely horrified to see aspects of my beloved nerd culture poisoned by simply the most retrograde and backward notions of male privilege and general asshole-ery. So, almost entirely in online contexts, I was happy to call myself a feminist if only because it was a marker that hey, I wasn’t one of those guys. Beyond that, it seemed silly to “hide” my support for feminism, especially when people were actively trying to turn the word into some kind of a naughty word or slur.
But intelligent articles like this one kind of put me back at step one. “Male feminist in good standing” is something I strive for I guess, but it’s not something I deserve to label myself as. That’s for other women to judge, not like-minded bros.
So, for what it’s worth, I support feminism and I strive for feminist ideals of equality between the sexes. I think male privilege is something (along with white privilege) that is very much a thing. I think living in a society where women are treated equally is a better, more vibrant, and more amazing place to live. I pity MRA and #Gamergate types more than I genuinely loathe them because at the end of the day, they’re missing out — if a woman is turned off from making an awesome video game or becoming a star baseball player or studying to become a brilliant brain surgeon, we, as a society, are all diminished, whether we realize it nor not, whether we want to admit it or not.
But am I a ‘male feminist’? I hope so, but ultimately that’s not for me to decide.