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