This is a topic that has long plagued my mind. I feel like it’s something all of my male peers will have to consider and reflect about. I’m talking about gender equality and the taboo of identifying as a feminist. This is also a post about how I was wrong about something, how I realised that and changed my opinion. This isn’t shameful – I believe it’s admirable, without trying to praise myself. I still understand people who feel like I felt, though I hope they will read this and reflect on their opinions.
When I first came to MUWCI I had a very strong idea of who I was, what I believed in and how I was right about everything. I soon found out that I don’t know who I am, I don’t know what I believe in and how I most certainly aren’t right about anything. That’s an exaggeration, but it describes my feelings.
There didn’t pass many days before I found myself in one of the fabled UWC late night discussions. This one about the role of gender equality in the 21st century, if feminism had succeeded and if you had to call yourself a feminist to help the feminist movement. The conclusion was no, feminism had not succeeded, but it gotten significantly far and no you don’t have to identify as a feminist, but it surely only helps and hey, why wouldn’t you? I went into this debate proclaiming myself as not being a feminist, though I was strongly in favour of all the elements of the movement. My argument for not identifying as a feminist was that I would not like to be put into the same box as what’s known as feminist extremists. I argued that feminism had gotten a negative connotation in recent years and that we, at least in Denmark, had reached a point of significant equality, not enough, but significant and that we could achieve absolute equality without screaming and shouting. Therefor I didn’t call myself a feminist, even though I supported the movement.
Here’s how I was wrong.
Not wanting to identify as something out of fearing to be misinterpreted is a shameful and cowardly practice. I am glad to be pointing at my own mistakes and hope that this could become a general trend (hah).
First of all, feminism is about equality. Feminism isn’t about women achieving the role men had in world history until around mid 20th century, it’s about achieving equality for both genders (and whoever might lie in between).
Secondly, if you support something to the fullest extent, be vocal about it. If you are so privileged to have a voice in a public debate and you believe in something, you should be ashamed of yourself for remaining quiet. There is no such thing as a quiet protest, if you even suck at being quiet. What seems to be the issue is that we say we support something, though we prefer not to think about it. Obviously, gender inequality is uncomfortable to think about if you’re a man; you feel guilty. Some also feel like this about racism if their white; they feel guilty. Because of this, they refuse to reflect on it and stays in their comfort zone acting like they always did before. When they then refuse to analyse their own behaviour, they continue to commit the same mistakes over and over again without realising what they are doing, even without negative intentions. Before I came to MUWCI I said that I acted in the interests of feminists, yey “Bitch” and “Cunt” was my go to english swear words. Until I thought about what I was doing, I didn’t realise why it was wrong. So to all you guilty feeling white, privileged men: Don’t feel guilty, if you’re actually trying, reflecting and doing. However, you should feel guilty if you proclaim you support gender equality or racial equality, but actively act against it out of laziness. If you insist on being quiet, then do it right.
My third and final point is perhaps the most difficult one to talk about. For me, identifying as a feminist still feels odd and as something I was very certain I never would. However, when you do support a movement and when you have reflected on your actions and you’re actively trying to change your behaviour for the better, then I just think it’s a shame that you let strangers wrongful opinion about you determine what you identify as. Man up (Pun intended). Because being a man is the same as being a woman and you should act like you believe in that. We all deserve the same opportunities in life and defining as a feminist certainly won’t accomplish this, but it certainly won’t make the world worse either.
If you don’t want to identify as a feminist, then don’t. But please consider my points above and try to justify your reasoning by it. At least act out of the interests of gender equality and if you don’t believe in gender equality, it’s because you’ve watched to much Mad Men. Male chauvinism isn’t sexy, it’s shameful.
In the end, the term feminism is contorted by the lack of us guys adopting to it. It will always continue to be the girls’ fight for equality, until we make it a shared fight for decency.
I would like to quote the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when asked why he appointed a gender, religous and recial equal and representative cabinet for his government:
“Because it’s 2015”
Keep that in mind.
Love 4 all