How to Be a Bad Male Feminist
It’s great that we are becoming aware of inequality, but that isn’t the end of the process. Being a male feminist isn’t about controlling women. It’s also not about understanding everything a woman faces in today’s society. Its about recognizing that you are outside looking in, realizing that you’re still probably part of the problem, and genuinely doing your best to do things that make women feel safe and equal.
A lot of guys fuck this up. Some (though definitely not all) of them have great intentions, but intention isn’t enough. Today I’m going to share three common fuck ups we men tend to make while we think we’re being feminist af.
1. We think we are owed something in return
This one is a bit of an obvious point, but I still see it so commonly. A man will spend half an hour talking with his female friend about how gross it is that she isn’t paid equally, then get mad when she goes home without kissing him. This is not feminism bro, this is just perpetuating the problem. Women don’t owe you anything, and just because societally you have the privilege of not facing oppression doesn’t mean you’re a hero for noticing it.
The takeaway: be a good person just cause, not because you want leverage or praise.
2. We think we know what it’s like
I think we all try to understand each other by putting ourselves in the shoes of someone else. That in itself is not problematic. The problem arises when men think that we understand the whole situation. We may see the way that oppression operates, we may even be able to imagine what it would feel like if it happened to us, but we will never know what it’s like to be oppressed from the start. We will always be in our own subjectivity, and because of that, we always need to be willing to learn more.
The takeaway: give women the privileged position when it comes to feminism.
3. We label ourselves as feminists
I know this might be somewhat counterintuitive, but this is one of the easiest ways to perpetuate the problem. When you start considering yourself a feminist, it often leads you to think you’re no longer part of the issue. Again, your intent might be great, but you can still follow seemingly innocent societal norms which keep women oppressed.
A quick example: using the word “girl” to refer to all women. This might seem totally ok, but when you call a grown woman a girl, your projecting innocence and youth onto her, whether you mean to or not. Think about if all grown men were called “boys” regularly. Chances are, they would get offended by the connotations.
Now, we may be past this point, we may be in a position where the term has changed to encapsulate all women, but at some point this wasn’t the case. While the above example may seem pedantic and overly sensitive, the point is simply to show how a seemingly innocent act can perpetuate misogynistic views. What happens when men think they are feminists is that we stop analyzing ourselves. We always need to strive to correct ourselves, and that can only happen if you are actively looking for things to improve.
The takeaway: be a feminist, but don’t identify as one.
This is absolutely not the end of the list of the things men do with good intent that should stop. Misogyny is institutional, not individual, and we need to always be looking for hidden ways we perpetuate it if we are going to change it. I’ve been guilty of all three of the above mentioned issues, and it’s only through realizing that you can be a good guy and still be misogynistic that I have gotten better. You can too, just stop doing the above listed shit, bro.