Dear Feminist Men,

I write today to warn you of a trap. A trap that I have fallen into, one that I will probably fall into again, so I need to keep a watchful eye.

I call myself a feminist. I believe in ending sexism.

The primary way I have “supported” feminism in the past has been to share knowing looks with others around me who I respect, who I feel understand feminism. I have made jokes which are intended to show that I understand privilege, power, and inequality. I have shown women that I understand by conversing with them about glass floors and ceilings, pick-up artists, chivalry, and unsafety at night. 

But you know who doesn’t need to hear about feminism? Feminists.

My main motivation for discussing feminism has been to prove myself, to show that I am in the know, that I understand and support feminism.  But I haven’t been supporting feminism, because I haven’t talked to any non-feminists about it!  My jokes are disguised (not intentionally, but this is how it turns out on reflection) to reveal that I know to those who know, and be simply perplexing who don’t. I’m not being an ally, I’m being a suck-up.

The truth is, even though I still have much to learn, even though I’ve been a phony, I do know more about feminism than most men. Any man who has the guts to call himself a feminist does, even if he is a little bit of a phony.

I am taking the next step by believing in myself. I don’t need to prove to anyone else that I’m a feminist for their approval. I need to speak up to those who don’t understand. I need to explain feminism and show that I care, not that I know, to people who don’t. I need to stand up for women especially when women aren’t around. Feminism isn’t a pick-up line.

Avoid the trap! Be loud and clear with me! When we are least likely to be approved of, say I am a feminist!


5 thoughts on “Dear Feminist Men,

  1. That is indeed, I think, the main challenge to playing any non-mainstream or controversial role: arguing for a cause with those of the opposite side and pointing out wrongs to those who do them. It’s hard to step out from behind the curtains and expose yourself if you would generally prefer not to cause trouble or offend someone. For me, there is the fear of getting hurt but, foremost, there is the fear of confrontation and hurting (potential) relationships. But I have been learning how to do that, slowly, over the years. The challenge to be active, not lazy in my responses, always remains. I just keep reminding myself that some things deserve more from me.

  2. If you want to talk about right and wrong, it would be advisable to learn what right and wrong actually is.

    Why would you choose such a narrow interpretation of truth? Is not the good something which is independent of sex? and is not the bad something which is independent of sex?

    When we define good and bad as the feminists do we get a very incomplete definition (as it tends to disregard all right or wrong outside their narrow political scope).

    What we seek is far more pure and true than this broken and biased paradigm (feminism). If you want to be a white knight you better make sure you are serving the noble queen and not the wicked witch.

    But why serve either? Is there not a greater good that is universal to all?

    If what you seek is truth and justice you will find that the modern interpretations are weak and full of holes. Go read George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, and then tell me what it means when I say “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

    Do not allow yourself to be a fool’s parrot.

  3. @James, this is a letter between people who are supportive of feminism. Since you are clearly not, your comment is irrelevant and even somewhat rude.

  4. Luke, you said: “But I haven’t been supporting feminism, because I haven’t talked to any non-feminists about it!”

    Is this not your opportunity?

    “James, this is a letter between people who are supportive of feminism.”

    You confuse me greatly. I am invited as an outsider yet shutout as an outsider.

    Please excuse me if my rhetoric was too pointed for your consideration, however, you have not responded to the substance of my argument. Is there not a greater good that is universal to all? Is truth and justice more applicable to one sex over the other?

  5. @James, you have a fair point that this is an opportunity to speak to non-feminists about it.

    I’ll feed a starving person even though there is hope of a world in which no-one has to starve. Indeed, by feeding one person, I am helping to bring us closer to that world.

    By claiming that I am feminist, I am

    (1) acknowledging that women usually have detrimental social status, for no reason other than their gender
    (2) identifying that I am someone who is willing to take steps to change that

    By identifying myself in solidarity with one struggle, I am not denying the validity of the greater struggle of which it is a part; indeed, I am supporting it.

    You are being treated firmly and shut out because your first interaction with this topic is an argument against it, before you even know much of anything about it (I gather). There are plenty of people who will fight to the death to be right rather than learn something, and “discussing” with them almost always goes nowhere. I shut you out because I judged you to be one of those.

    Do you see the pragmatics here and why your comment upset me? I said, “Feminist men, here is a way I wasn’t being a good feminist and could be better, I invite you to do the same!” and you said from the sidelines, “Feminism is a broken and biased paradigm.”

    Here is your invitation. When someone talks about feminism, would you say “I also believe women should be treated equally, let us work together” rather than “your paradigm is broken”? Would you also take a moment to confront your privilege (a first step in learning what feminism is)?

    I am willing to continue this discussion, but I will ignore you if you respond with more argument. I am happy to answer genuine questions.

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