Why men should be interested in Feminism2.0

As a male it can be kind of daunting to approach the subject of feminism for the first time. After all, feminism is a movement "of women, for women," right? Is it even possible for men to be involved?

Yes, and here’s one man’s take on why.

As an immigrant rights advocate here in DC, I fight everyday in support of basic human rights for a vulnerable population living in our midst. I struggle to create a more tolerant, inclusive, understanding, accepting society where all people have equal rights, equal access to basic necessities and are free from harm. Where labels such as race, ethnicity, nationality or gender play no part in how a person is treated.

My involvement with immigration advocacy began after working as a translator at an immigration law firm. I heard firsthand how undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers suffered — both before coming to the US and after arriving. Women told me about being sold by their parents, about running away from arranged marriages, and being trafficked into the country. I met immigrant women who were trapped in abusive relationships, where their husbands would threaten to have them deported if they called the police. They all told me about living lives as second-class citizens, always trying to remain invisible and avoid attention. I encountered countless individuals who’s stories inspired me, saddened me and challenged me.

It wasn’t until I began working alongside a great number of feminist organizations that I began to see the how inseparable women’s rights were from the human rights I had been fighting for. I had been fighting for the same issues (asylum, trafficking, and detention issues) that feminist organizations were fighting for. I also learned  (without really knowing it) that I already held a feminist outlook. Most importantly, I realized that this struggle for equality (which is such a huge part of who I am) is not a "male issue" or a "female issue" — it is a human issue. This connection to feminism has exposed me to a whole new dimension of the struggle for immigrants’ rights, and has really renewed my passion for what I do.

I have also found that I connect with feminism on a personal level, beyond my work as an advocate. I am ashamed that I live in a world where it is acceptable that my girlfriend could get paid 25% less than me for doing the same job. I am outraged to live in a world where my sister could be a silent victim of domestic violence. I am saddened that I live in a world where my friend could be sexually assaulted and made to feel like a criminal for reporting it. These inequalities hit me close to my heart, and I’ve found feminism to be a powerful tool to address them head-on.

In my mind, if social inequality bothers you, and you are willing to fight to change it, you’re already a feminist. I, for one, am proud to say that I consider myself a feminist.

Feminism doesn’t preclude men being involved, it necessitates it. Feminism has plenty to offer men, and we would be foolish to think we have no place in a discussion of what Feminism2.0 should look like. I am ready to learn, and can’t wait for the conference!

Facebook Twitter Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

  • And I can’t wait to meet such a fab ally! Thanks for this piece.

  • I am a feminists, I would consider my husband a feminist and I’m trying to raise two feminists! Here is my post on raising a feminist: http://phdinparenting.com/2008/11/02/raising-a-feminist/

  • Gloria Pan

    I know men who adore their children. No, I mean, really adore their children. They are actually more natural parents than their wives, and are really good at the family/home stuff. Although I’ve never asked (because for men, this can be an offensive question), I’m sure if society were more accepting, these guys would be happy to chuck their jobs, send their more ambitious wives out to work, and become stay-at-home dads. But of course, it’s very hard to be a stay-at-home dad because it’s just not “manly.” Only someone like Todd Palin, who won the Iron Man dog sled race multiple times, could comfortably take on a role like that because he’s already proven how tough he is. Men should absolutely embrace feminism, because it’s about equal opportunity AND equal choices for everyone. Women have fought long and hard for their place in the world; men need to fight for their place in the family.

  • Katie

    Working in an early childhood development center for the past ten years or so, I saw plenty of men who did exactly that, Gloria. Societal expectations be damned! They were damn happy to be at home with their children, they had complete respect for their wives who were out in the workforce or doing other things, and they were more than happy to share the responsibility. And they strapped up the diaper bags and brought their babies in to my center, and they were the most enthusiastic parents in the classes. I’m talking singing nursery rhymes, dancing with their babies, getting down on the floor and crawling with them, playing on the equipment, getting covered in paint in art classes… if there was ever a more perfect example of taking on equal family roles, I never saw it.

    To me, having men support and learn about feminism is one of the first steps towards seeing things equally. I say this over and over: communication education = understanding. Thanks, Loren, for being willing to take that first step and for sharing your important work with us!

  • My husband takes care of the kids and the house. Funny, he’s a total GUY — big, muscular, hairy, totally masculine. But he was raised by two gay men and so has never seen a difference between his work and my work. Wonder what my boys will be like — with the working mom and the stay-at-home dad?

  • Thanks for this post! I’m glad to know there are other men who are struggling to make the connections through action, in their lives.

    I welcome the author of that piece, and anyone else, to stop by my blog any time. I’m tired of hearing the crickets chirping over @ http://www.radicalprofeminist.blogspot.com/