I recently became a father for the second time. Only this time, I became the father of a little girl. And while the prospect of having a daughter became extremely appealing to the point that I am coming out today as a proud male feminist, it has not always been the case. Let me share with you my point of view and my thought process.
Coming to terms with my feminine side
Have you ever found yourself uncomfortable sharing emotions? Expressing feelings? Crying in front of another male counterpart? Or feeling uncomfortable with physical touch from another man, when they are hugging a little too long? If you are a male, it is probably all of the above. Which means that like most of men, you are currently locked inside what is called a man box. A man box “is a a rigid set of expectations, perceptions, and behaviors of what is “manly” behavior.” Keith Edwards describes it as Traditional Hegemonic Definition of Masculinity. He says: “This definition is “traditional” in that it is rooted in long held cultural ways of defining what it means to be a man. It is “hegemonic” in that it places men above people of other genders AND some men above other men.” I personally came to the realization that I spent most of my life in a man box, without even knowing it existed. The truth is, I was experiencing manhood like I did not have a choice. When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I was terrified by the idea that it could be a girl. I was afraid of the day she would interact with men, especially in a sexual way. Like many men, I refused to acknowledge how I was truly perceiving women. Like many men, I was not comfortable with my feminine side. I buried it so deep inside myself because my environment made it dangerous for me to be sensitive. It took deep introspection and painful audit of my behavior to realize that I was not the man I wanted to be. Most importantly It empowered me to write a version of manhood that resonates with my true self.
“Feminism isn’t exclusionary. It includes the idea that men are denied access to emotional expression.” Lauren Duca
Most men have a problem with the word “feminist”
Most men are upset by the term feminist. They are bothered by it because they have a biased understanding of it. They view feminists as a bunch of angry women looking to emasculate them and take over. I found that most men, me included in my early path, find themselves in a power struggle with the opposite sex. Worse, most men consider themselves superior to women mainly due to the patriarchal nature of society or to the obsolete belief that physical strength prevails on anything else. While I won’t address the stupidity of the few that still consider that women belong at home, I would like to quote Emma Watson that says that “Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” How can any reasonable person argue with that? How is it fair that women make $0.79 on each dollar a man makes ($0.55 if you are Latina compared to a white male) ?
“Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” Emma Watson
I want my daughter and my son to have the same opportunities
Why do I feel the need to come out as a male feminist? Well, let’s address the elephant in the room. There’s a pressure that exists among men to be assholes to women, or complain about women. If you position yourself as male feminist amongst your male peers, chances are you will be ridiculed, shamed, and put aside. Your honesty will probably be questioned and chances are that you will be accused of wanting to get close to women to fulfill a hidden sexual agenda. How fucking sad is this? What does that say about the state of manhood and about how we perceive ourselves?
All I want, at the end of the day is my daughter and my son to have the same opportunities. I want my daughter to be able to dress the way she wants, not to please the sexual appetites of society. I want her to be noticed by the value of her heart, her brain, her accomplishments, and not because of the way she looks. I want her to be able to be athletic if she wants to be, without being ashamed for being muscular. I want her to be able to walk on the street without suffering the burden of being catcalled every single day.
“If you position yourself as male feminist amongst your male peers, chances are you will be ridiculed, shamed, and put aside.”
We must redefine manhood, not scare women from men
Most of all, I want my daughter to feel safe amongst men. Yet, needless to say that we live in a disgusting rape culture. Did you know that 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime? I have a lot of male friends who have daughters. All of them, for the most part will say things like: she won’t be able to start dating until she is 33 or I am planning to break the legs of her boyfriends or I will tell her to stay away from men because all men are pigs. I will not judge because I was the same way for most of my life but how hypocritical is this? If we teach our daughters that all men are pigs or that boys will be boys, what does that say about us? That we are not able to keep it in our pants? That we are not to be trusted? This is wrong on so many levels. Of course we must educate our girls on the dangers of the world especially as it comes to rape. But we must acknowledge that we are part of the problem, and that we must be part of the solution instead of asking our daughters to react to an imminent danger that cannot be changed. Gender roles are, by nature, social constructs. They are not rigid unstoppable forces: they are perpetrated by us.
Take control by being part of the solution.
Coming out as a male feminist is extremely empowering as it makes me feel part of the solution. How can’t you see the feminine rising in our society? How is that a bad thing? Centuries of male leadership have brought enough sufferings, wars, conflicts: why should we fight the change? Isn’t it time that we give up the era of competition for a time of collaboration? Show gratitude for the women of your life, whether it be your mother, your sister or your daughter. They deserve your love and support inside and outside the household. Have the courage to change and to make the shift. Be brave enough to call out your buddies when they degrade women: they are, by nature, the daughter, the sister, the cousin of another man who just like you, would not like her to feel degraded. Take action: come out as a male feminist, you don’t need to stay in the closet.