A Male Feminist Walks Into A Bar…

Photo by Ehud Neuhaus

“It says here you’re a male feminist?” she begins, looking through my Tinder profile.

“That’s right. It’s not something I brag about, because, hey, why should I be congratulated for doing the bare minimum? It’s like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said: we should all be feminists, really.”

She raises her brow at me. “Okay…and how long have you –”

“Been a male feminist?” I finish the sentence off. “I’d like to think all my life but really, I know that’s not true. You know, I had an ex…her name was Ntombi. She really is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. She introduced me to hooks, Morrison, Lorde…and…ummm…. all the others. I’ve been a changed man since. You know, I used to think being a good man meant opening doors for women, paying the bill and all of that. But now I know all of that’s bullshit. Women are human beings. They can open their own doors, they can choose when and when not to pay the bill. No one should make assumptions about them.”

“I see. I have my reservations about male feminism. I mean, sure, good for you but most of the time ya’ll just –”

“Talk over women? I know. I hate that shit too! For me, that’s not what male feminism means. I’m not like the others. I know that comes off as a not all men but it isn’t. I just mean I’ve been lucky. The calibre of feminists I’ve found myself amongst is the best. They’re always calling me out on my bullshit. And I think we need more women like that – women who aren’t afraid to call men out on their nonsense.”

“That’s not the work of –”

“Come on! I didn’t mean it like that. I know what you’re about to say and I feel slightly offended. I know it’s not your job to keep checking me. Please listen to what I said carefully. I was actually being unaggressive. The point I was making is I just like to be checked. I understand the unique role I occupy in feminist spaces. For one, I’m a cisheterosexual black man. So I’m not unaware of the privileges accrued to me on account of skin, gender and sexual identity. But it’s like that David Foster Wallace quote about fish and water. You know it, right? The one where an older fish asks a younger fish ‘how’s the water?’. To which the younger fish responds: ‘what the hell is water?’ Sometimes I feel that way. I’m so surrounded by privilege that sometimes I need someone to point out to me when I’m operating under it. You get what I mean right?”

“Sure. But still. The thing with male feminists, if such a thing even exists –“

“You know what? You’re right. The term is a misnomer. The politics aren’t mine. Maybe let’s not call me that. I’d like to think of myself as an ally.”

She rolls her eyes and takes a drag of her cigarette. She’s not impressed. Not by a long shot. I’m fucking this up.

“Intersectionality!” I shout.

“Huh?”

“Cisheteropatriarchy!”

“What are you on about?”

“Womanism. Men are trash! Political lesbianism. Men are trash. bell hooks. Panashe Chigumadzi. Men are trash. Heteronormative…”

“Waiter! Security! Someone help,” she shouts, gathering her bag from the table.

“No. Listen! I’m not like the others! Just give me a chance,” I start groveling. I run through my list of buzzwords as a final attempt at salvaging the situation.

“Hyper-masculinity! Gender identity! We should all be feminists. Please, Lemonade! Beyonce. Men are trash. Black men are trash. Black men are trash. Black men are…

The restaurant’s security inches toward our table and shoves me to the ground. A black boot lands on my face before another flurry of kicks start landing on various parts of my body.

“Wait,” I shout as the security guards drag me out of the restaurant. “I didn’t get your name!”

I’m thrown clear.

Five minutes later I find myself spitting blood into one of the basins at Great Dane. I pull my phone out and update my Facebook status:

Ain’t no love for a male feminist in these streets.