Male feminists: a silent minority

Anonymous An auditorium of 300 high school students direct their attention to a speaker giving a talk about woman’s rights both domestically and internationally. At the end of the discussion, a question was raised: “Who considers him- or herself a feminist?” Approximately thirty people stood, including myself. As I stood, people looked at me strangely. The reason: I am a guy.

People often wonder why and how a cis-male can be a feminist. We do not go through the same physiological and psychological traumas and pains women do. In addition, we are not subjected to unfair pay solely on the basis of our gender. Finally, males do not have to work as hard as women do to earn a high place in the work- force. No, as a guy, I do not understand these hardships. However, what makes all the difference is that I know that these hardships exist, and I do not agree with the second-class treatment that women receive.

To be fair, it is often strange to me that I am a male feminist, because sharing that with others has produced mixed results. Some guys have questioned my masculinity. One of my peers called me a faggot. Some girls have told me angrily that I had no right to refer to myself as such. In a specific case, one girl said that only women can be feminists and ranted that feminism arose from the tyranny of men. Thus, I have resorted to keeping my feminist beliefs quiet, only to have those closest to me know where I truly stand on this tough topic.

Let me explain how I became this unique male feminist. My mother is a second wave feminist who fought to give women a voice and express herself however she pleases. I was raised in a family where I was firmly taught that everyone should have the right to express him- or herself, even if we do not agree with what they say. I became a self-proclaimed feminist as a result of a single song, which is the most obscure reason behind my rationale. Tupac Shakur, before his “California Love” days, was an advocate against social inequality, especially within the black community. But one song, titled “Keep Ya Head Up,” had a strong effect on me. Some of the lyrics go as follows: “And since we all came from a woman/ got our name from a woman and our game from a woman/ I wonder why we take from our women/ why we rape our women, do we hate our women?” He goes on to to say “So will the real men get up?/ I know you’re fed up ladies, but keep your head up.” From the moment I heard that verse it sealed the deal.

To say that I support a woman’s freedom of expression and right to choose does not scratch the surface as to what I believe. To say that I believe that women should be paid at the same rate as a man is not enough. And to say that I believe that more women should hold political power and hold higher positions in businesses and corporations cannot do me justice. I hope to be a father one day, and if I have a daughter, I do not want her to struggle in this modern society where a women is disrespected solely on the basis of her gender, instead of her character, her credentials, and her experience. In order for me to fight for my future child, I have to fight for the same things my mother and countless other women in my life continue to fight for. However, I know that there should be others to assist in this fight. I am part of a silent minority of men who firmly believe that women must be treated equally, but I fear that my voice will be silenced based on the ideals of both extremes.

I want to let the public know that male feminists exist, but because we are silenced by different beliefs on both sides, I have to wait before I have the courage to put my name on a movement that is controversial and very personal to many. However, that does not stop me from fighting. I will continue to fight, because I was raised to never take “no” for an answer and to believe that actions speak louder than words. And though I have fought here through words, don’t be surprised if you see me on the streets, standing up for the feminist cause. Perhaps one day, the silent minority will be louder and unafraid.