Women’s rights are human rights. This is a concept women have been fighting for, and continuously have to keep fighting for today. The Women’s March that happened nationwide on January 21, 2017, drew a crowd of supporters— supporters for equality. However, I noticed quite an influx of “male feminist” showing support for their significant other, mother, or friend.
Working at Cafe Artista in the heart of downtown Moscow, Idaho I had the privilege of watching and serving those who marched. While I loved reading the signs and discreetly murmuring “f*ck Donald Trump” under my breath to patrons, I was in awe of how many men I saw. These men were here to show support for their community and equal counterparts.
All though it was nearly a month ago, I can’t forget that day mainly because the shop was crazy busy, but most importantly it brought people together. Furthermore, it got me thinking about the idea of men being feminists. After researching the idea, most of the arguments tend to focus on if it makes ideological sense for men to call themselves feminists, or whether the terms of feminism are inclusive to men. That argument is a shame because the real root of feminism is equality. Yes, there are levels to it and you can be extreme by not conforming to modern day beauty standards, or you can do you nails, hair, and makeup, and still want to be treated equally– the main point is equality.
There have been many men to help trail-blaze and advocate for women’s rights too. For example, Fredrick Douglass who was a famous abolitionist in the 1800s. Back then the abolition and women’s suffrage movements were tightly connected, and Douglass was among the few men who attended the famous 1848 women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls. Douglass became involved with the American Equal rights Association and supported its dual platform of racial and sexual equality. He joined other prominent leaders in the suffrage movement such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. He supported the 15th Amendment because it gave an equal vote to black men and women.
His support for women’s suffrage never wavered and in an 1888 speech, that further proved his stance for the importance of women in their movement by stating, “I believe no man, however gifted with thought and speech, can voice the wrongs and present the demands of women with the skill and effect, with the power and authority of woman herself. The man struck is the man to cry out. Woman… is her own best representative.”
Throughout time there have been other prominent male feminists like John Stuart Mill who was the first British member of Parliament to introduce a bill calling for women to receive the vote. John Stoltenberg a radical feminist founded the group “Men Can Stop Rape.” Both of these men had heavy influence from their wives who were also strong feminists. Their range of feminists differs from each man but helped blaze the way for women.
“Equality is gravity: we need to stand on this earth as men and women.”- malefeminist.com
In today’s culture, feminism has a bad connotation, and even worse for men who identify as feminists. Joseph Gorden-Levitt said in a 2014 interview with Ellen DeGeneres declaring that he identified himself as a feminist and has spoken out about women’s rights. In a video he posted to Youtube on the HitRecord channel, he addresses issues feminism and what it means to him. Gordon-Levitt has been outspoken about feminism and has said that women have the right to choose whatever they want to do with their life, especially regarding motherhood. “Motherhood is at the core what feminism is or isn’t…… It should be up the woman to decide if she wants to be a mom.”
Other prominent male celebrity feminists include Will Smith, Daniel Radcliffe, and John Legend. Their reasons for feminism may be different but their ultimate goal is to create equality for all. Even stretching beyond women, equality for all human beings. By talking about male feminists and their role in how to spread equality, we can get one step further to that ideal.
Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.