Male Feminism 101

Male Feminism 101

Written by: Jamilah McMillan

Founder and Former President of Students Advocating Girls’ Education at Monmouth University

 

I am an unashamed twenty-year old feminist.

Last fall I did a campaign at my university where myself and other feminist students

(mostly women) attempted to get male college students to take a pledge stating that

they were He for She.

Each participant pledged to make a commitment to stand for gender equality. Over

the length of our three-day campaign we got over 250 male students to take the

pledge. However, there were some male students who made excuses for not taking it,

and there was one in particular whom I will never forget…

This student declined to pledge with assurance. He looked me dead in the eyes and

said, “I believe in gender equality, but not feminism.” When I heard the word

feminism roll off of his tongue like spoiled milk, I felt my mind implode. For three

milliseconds I stood there confused, and it was just enough time for him to get away.

I will always regret that rare lapse in my motor skills, because I never got the chance

to enlighten him. I did not get to tell him that a feminist IS someone who believes in

gender equality, and that the two are synonymous…inseparable…one-and- the-same!

For centuries the fight against gender discrimination and gender-bias has been a

burden on the shoulders of those it mainly affects: WOMEN. I have come to realize

that today this is due to the fact that men, (and unfortunately women alike)

misunderstand the true definition of feminism.

According to a poll taken by YouGov in 2014, 75 percent of Americans do not

consider themselves feminists. However, when asked if they believed that, “men and

women should be social, political, and economic equals,” 60 percent said yes. So

either the polls are wrong (not likely), or somewhere in history the core definition of

feminism was skewed in the minds of Americans. When a person says, “I am not a

feminist,” they are also saying that they do not believe in gender equality, because

according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, feminism is “the belief that men and

women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

If you are a male reader who has  never seen oneself as feminists, I hope you have

been enlightened with the above definition of the word. I hope that it has made you

realize that all your life you have unknowingly been a feminist.

If this is the case, then I ask that you widen your inherent feminist beliefs towards

the billions of women outside of your life. Think of all of the women and girls around

the world who are discriminated against due to the simple fact that they were born

female. If you do not have the creative power to imagine, let me draw it out for you in

statistics:

 According to the United Nations Women, women produce half of the world’s

food, but own less than one percent of the world’s property.

 According to the Government Printing Office two-thirds of the children denied

education are girls.

 According to the International Labor Force Office of Geneva, women and girls

make up 98 percent of the world’s trafficking victims.

 According to the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease

Control & Prevention, 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of

an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Among all victims of rape,

about nine out of ten are female.

There is a plethora of other statistics that I could use to show you that women need

help. Women, alone, can no longer do all the heavy lifting against gender bias and

gender hatred. We are not asking for white knights to charge in and lead the feminist

movement. We simply need more men to stand in solidarity with women in the fight

for gender equality.

Now that you know the definition, and understand the depth of gender bias

worldwide, I hope you’re ready to take action! Don’t be overwhelmed-I made you a

list:

1. Join a local girl group:

Do some research and find a local organization in your community that advocates for

women and girls. You might have to do a little leg work, but that’s okay, because in

the grand scheme of things, you’re potentially saving lives. Make a few phone calls

and find out meeting times. See if there are any upcoming events and invite

individuals from your “bro squad” to go with you. Imagine walking into a meeting of

women feminists, with your sudden male support! That would be spectacular.

2. Join a local guy group:

There is an organization called Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR). This group has been

around for decades. Their mission is to “mobilize men to use their strength for

creating cultures free from violence, especially men’s violence against women.” They

have a host of events, projects, and campaigns that men like you can get involved in.

They also provide a convenient list of other men’s anti-violence organizations around

the United States. Be one of many men that have mobilized to incite positive change.

3. Buy a t-shirt:

If you would like to start out small, or you are a single full-time dad with six kids and

not enough time to get actively involved in the aforementioned ways, then do

something as simple as buying a t-shirt. You might have seen them before, but there

are these powerful t-shirts that say “this is what a feminist looks like.” Google that

phrase and you will find many sites you can purchase your t-shirt from. Spending

less than $24 would allow you to showcase your feminism to the world.

My hope is that this will cause people to look at you and consider that both are

possible, that men can be feminists too. Such consideration might slowly cause a

ripple effect, and an eventual change in our anti-feminist culture.

4. Get some exercise:

Every year the United Nations hosts a march for gender equality in New York City on

International Women’s Day. Next year you could be one of the thousands of men and

women who march through the streets of Manhattan in support of gender equality.

You could make a colorful sign, and wear your “this is what a feminist looks like” t-

shirt, and who knows, maybe you’ll end up on television.

Good luck in your endeavors as a feminist. I hope this guide helps you become

a catalyst of change in the world. Be proud. Your commitment will better the lives of

women and girls one less ignorant mind at a time, because in the wise words of

Emma Watson, “Gender equality is not a women’s issue it a human rights issue it

affects us all.”

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One of the pledgees who participated in our He For She campaign

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Members of Students Advocating Girls’ Education (SAGE) a club I founded at

Monmouth University during my sophomore year. We advocate for girls education,

and gender equality. I’m the one leaning on the table on the left!