Feminism’s Name: Does it exclude the male feminist?

Bill Bailey

I’m of two opinions about the term and movement title “feminism”.   One being for and the other against.  For those of you who know me, you know I love words and believe that word choice is important.  Sticks and stone can break my bones, but words can last forever.

We’ll start with my problem, since that will give the post a general upward trend.  The biggest part is how it excludes men.  I understand the past reasons for it and they are part of my positives, so that will come later.  For me and the dictionary, feminism is about equality.  It is true that men have the upper hand, but there are still plenty of things that suck for the dudes.   Feminist is a very gendered word for a movement that I think is (or should be) less gendered than the general population believes.  This may not seem like a big deal, since it is really my only complaint, but to me it is very big.  Masculinity can be as big of a prison as femininity.  It just has nice guards and better food*.

With this term, though, men are forced, linguistically, into  a supporting role.  Men can call themselves feminists and they are that, but are they fairly represented?  An important, arguably the most important part, is equality of the sexes.  Not just women becoming equal to men.  There are some aspects of manhood and masculinity that I want to go nowhere near.  The fight should be for people‘s freedom.

I like the word, though, because of its history.  It is a word that invokes the image of women fighting for themselves and of women doing something without and often against the permissions of men.  It is a word that honors our feminist foremothers and that history is strong.  There is a lot of meaning in the word that I don’t want to just cast aside.  Women have been the focus of feminism for a very good reason: we got the most crap.

I don’t have an alternative that doesn’t sound stupid.  I mean, “equality” is already a word and “equalism” sounds dumb.  For now, it is just something to consider.  I feel that the male feminist gets left behind.  Don’t forget that feminism can benefit men and not only by making their female friends/partners/family members happier.

*If you couldn’t tell, I was not quite sure what makes one prison better than another.  Those two things sounded like a good bet, though.  Minimal beatings and a fresh PB&J can go a long way for morale.

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About Tori

I am a graduate student working on my masters in Women and Gender studies. My masters thesis is on the gender nonconformity and ambiguity in modern film.
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4 Responses to Feminism’s Name: Does it exclude the male feminist?

  1. Jack says:

    Women should stay in the kitchen and shut the fuck up

  2. Empty Sack says:

    I would just like to add that some time ago, having not given feminism a second thought, I might have made comments (albeit jokingly) like Jack’s. Now, I fully agree with your statement that feminism benefits both men and women. The mindset change occurred after I had lost my testicles following an accident, and I faced questions regarding my masculinity and how (I thought) society viewed it. I came to realize that women feel the same concerns – regarding the role of their femininity in how society views them. I also noted that women were far more empathetic towards me, accepted my physical state, and then gave it no further notice. I would add that I am more of a man than Jack is because of my new found understanding of feminism.

  3. Grieg says:

    Let me start by saying that for me, equality is a non-issue because I have no choice but to judge people according to their words and actions rather than race, sex, religion, title, and so on. Really. I have a form of autism called Asperger Syndrome that makes such superficial judgments impossible for me. I judge everyone individually, and that is how I perceive myself to be treated most of the time.

    That said, I hate the word “feminism.” Structurally, it is right in there with aryanism, zionism, communism, and a plethora of other “isms” that are (whether in ideal or in practice) about force and superiority. It differs from Buddhism and a lot of similar “isms” in that feminism has an activist, even militant history more in keeping with the former set.

    There really needs to be a much better word, and I’m sure that somewhere in the history of human language there is one. We just need to find it.

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