Men should be feminists, but not just for themselves

Shelby Talbot
Image by: Supplied

Anyone who considers themselves a feminist must be actively participating in dismantling misogyny in all its forms, not just those which directly impact them. This standard has to extend to men in feminism as well.

Many of the pieces I’ve read encouraging men to support feminism make their appeal by arguing that feminism isn’t something men should be fearful of—it’s something they can benefit from. 

I’m in no way trying to put down these articles, which shed light on important social issues, nor is my intention to minimize the devastating impact toxic masculinity and misogyny have on men. I wholeheartedly believe that men can and do benefit from feminism. However, it’s concerning to me how frequently this particular narrative dominates the conversation meant to draw men into the fight for gender equality, because it paints a very inaccurate and one-faceted picture of men’s role in feminism. 

Misogyny devalues qualities we view as feminine, discriminating against femininity in how we act, speak, dress, and feel. It’s certainly true that this can have a detrimental effect on men, but it’s women who are disproportionately impacted by feminine disempowerment and misogyny. Men must care about that, too.

Canadian women working full-time earn 87 cents for every dollar Canadian men earn, a gap exacerbated for Indigenous women, racialized women, women who are immigrants, and women with disabilities. One in three Canadian women experience sexual violence. Indigenous women and transgender women of colour face staggering rates of harassment and violence.

Men shouldn’t be leaving these injustices out of their feminism. And they certainly shouldn’t be speaking over women in conversations about how rape culture, domestic violence, and gender discrimination impact women, considering these issues don’t detract from what men experience.

If men pick and choose which feminist issues to care about, they’re exercising their privilege over women, not uplifting them. Being a feminist isn’t as simple as slapping on a label and advocating for a single niche of empowerment you benefit from. 

Men: to achieve gender equality, you’re going to have to lose privilege. You’re going to have to do work that’s uncomfortable, work that makes you confront your own biases and the biases of others. Yes, that work is worth it. And, yes, you’ll benefit from it. But I hope that’s not all you care about. 

If you don’t care about advocating for Black women, for nonbinary folks, for Queer women—you’re not a feminist, no matter who you are. If you’re a man who touts himself a feminist but is exclusively concerned with the ways men are impacted by misogyny, you’re not a feminist either. 

Everyone can benefit from feminism, and that’s vital. However, not every discussion about why men should consider themselves feminists needs to center around how men can reap the rewards of gender 

equality—caring about its impact on women is just as important.

Shelby is a third-year English student and The Journal’s Lifestyle Editor.


feminism, gender equality

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