Thank you for highlighting the depth and context of the word “feminism” and the consequences of identifying as one. I too relate very strongly as a “humanist,” and your response made me give a lot of thought to the exclusivity of the feminist movement.
There are many good men. In high school I found my refuge befriending gay men, as they felt the best, kindest, and least offensive to me and my woman-ness. And I do believe there are men that have struggle with masculinity and being masculine enough.
I think about this a lot in terms of male friendships, and men having the capacity to express their emotions. Our society does not allow men to be friends the same way it allows women to be friends. Men will be scrutinized and their sexuality questioned in a threatening way if they were to go out “for a night out on the town with their boyfriends.”
They too are confined to a sphere. And it makes me sad.
Our society also criticizes men for expressing their emotions in an open way. I think this leads to a burdening on them (massive generalization I know) but could contribute to random spurts of hurtful behavior, as usually happens when feelings build up and aren’t addressed.
Although I know that many feminists are for the equal rights of women and men, it is with the idea that men are above women and we as women need to be granted the right to level the playing field.
However, in situations of oppression, there cannot just be movement by the oppressed. There must be symbiotic and collaborative action to achieve any change.
A professor in grad school, when commenting on structural racism, said something that has profoundly stuck with me since. She said something like, imagine racism as a white man stepping on the neck of a black man, holding him down, unable to move. But actually, neither man can move in this equation, the black and white man alike.
I think feminists should be more rooted in this idea. And I do see that the word feminism is exclusive and that may be detrimental to the cause.