Feminism | Posted by Paul S on 03/12/2010

Proclaiming Oneself as a Male Teenage Feminist

As far as I can remember, I’ve always considered myself a feminist.  It was simple—anyone who strove for equal rights for women was a feminist.

But not many males, at least teenage males, would be quick to point themselves out as feminists.  The word has a negative connotation in the young adult world.  Besides being viewed as an outdated term, being a feminist brings along the baggage of people assuming that you wish to achieve equality by subjugating men with one hand and burning bras with the other.  Dullards like Rush Limbaugh call empowered women “feminazis” and “ugly” and says that women like “male chauvinist pigs.”

There’s a few problems though.  I’m a male feminist who doesn’t want to be subjugated, I don’t wear or burn bras, I really hate Rush Limbaugh, and I don’t consider myself a pig, much less a chauvinist one.

The biggest problem, however, is that teenage males and females are bombarded with the lies that feminism is all of those things that the right wing noisily spews, not just from talk radio or televangelist pulpits, but from mainstream sources that fetishize obedient women and dominant men.  Who wants to get rid of the wage gap when all of the cool girls are starving themselves to fit into clothes that show off just the right parts, and the all of the cool guys are taking steroids at the gym to get buff?

Teenagers have to learn to overcome these horrible hegemonic attitudes.  It’s no wonder that there is still so much inequality gender-wise in the world today, when the seeds of discrimination are sown so young.

Though feminism is about women’s equality and women’s liberation, there has to be strong support from men.  Young males need to reject the antifeminist and heterosexist notion of one ideal male—a muscular, straight, straight man that uses his phallus like a sword to lay as many girls as possible.  That is a barbaric idea that must be countered with acceptance of differences.  This means not using the word “bitch” to describe women and not using “gay” as an insult.

While overcoming the mainstream is hard, it can be done.  Proclaim yourself for who you are, and feminism will follow through.  Males included.

I am a 17-year-old straight male from northern New Jersey.  I enjoy reading, writing, and playing baseball with my friends.  I am a political junkie.  My favorite ice cream cake is Fudgy the Whale.  And I am a feminist.

Proclaim yourself for who you are.  Tell everyone.  Hopefully, you’ll discover that calling yourself a feminist becomes just as natural as saying your favorite color or favorite TV show.  In the words of Pete Seeger, sung by feminists during protests, to this unfair system we now inhabit, “we shall overcome.”

*First published July 18, 2009

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  • merlin @ at 11:48 am, July 18th, 2009

    good article. you gain cool points from this one my friend

    and i want one of those t-shirts.
    school uniforms suck

  • Robin S. @ at 1:14 pm, July 18th, 2009

    Thanks so much for this! You make a really true point. Without the support of men, it’s easy for the general public to look at feminism as something that only concerns a bunch of angry women (*rolls eyes*) and therefore not something that needs to be worried about. It’s like how the gay movement needs the support of straight people to make the general public care about them. Gay issues don’t affect non-gay people, so it’s easy for straight people to overlook gay issues if they don’t see any straight people like themselves involved.

  • Dave Rickey @ at 4:41 pm, July 18th, 2009

    Seems to be a problem with your template, comments get red underlined text that sometimes is random links from elsewhere in the page, and sometimes is just visual (although it highlights on mouseovers like a link).

    Anyway, I grew up as the only male in a household of liberated women, in the 70′s. For a long time, I would have called myself a “feminist” on the principle that if you believed in the equality of men and women, you’re a feminist.

    Around the late 80′s, early 90′s, I stopped doing so. Not because I changed my opinion about the fundamental equality of men and women (if anything, I extended it to include the LGBT community). No, it was because “Feminist Analysis” and deconstruction took over, *every* “fact” was a social construct that needed to be examined and deconstructed for misogynist bias (“His-Story”, “Woe-Man”, and similar wordplay). Even high-energy physics was a manifestation of the patriarchal obsession with penetration and destruction.

    This exposed a fracture line in feminism: Solidarity was a club, and it was used in an aggressively normative way as repressive and coercive as anything in the patriarchal culture it was rejecting. Especially if you were a straight male, you were assumed to be guilty of misogyny by simple fact of your “privilege”.

    Although the more bizarre elements of feminist analysis have been moderated, the fault-line is still present, and pursued by such bastions of third-wave feminism as Feministing and other cultural hubs. In one statement, they’ll decry how terrible it is that people who believe in the “core values” of feminism (equality, dignity, agency) distance themselves from the “Feminist” label.

    In the next, or in the comments of that very statement, they’ll demonstrate why the tarnishing of the “brand” is not just the result of right-wing smear campaigns. Those that disagree with the authors, their supporters, and the base position that any time a feminist is refuted or even challenged it’s an act of sexism, are trivialized, marginalized, labeled as un-feminist or even actively misogynist. Go a step farther to play devil’s advocate, and present what you see as the valid criticisms from a mainstream perspective, and you’re going to be demonized, attacked, and moderated off the forum.

    You can’t tell me that I’m part of the problem for not labeling myself “feminist” when I agree with the core values of feminism, then attack me for lacking sufficient orthodoxy or harboring misogynist assumptions, and expect me to keep playing your game. If I can’t claim the label of “feminist” without accepting an inquisitional hunt for orthodoxy challenging my feminist credentials and my ideological purity, then to hell with it.

    I believe in the equality of all people, including men and women. Call me an equalitarian, a dignitarian, or a crypto-misogynist agent of patriarchy, whatever you like. But if the label “feminist” is going to draw as much *crap* from my fellow travelers as from opponents, I don’t want it.

    And I’m kind of getting tired of the apparent confusion in feminist circles. How can it be such a surprise that “Feminism” has taken negative associations, when they’re hiding their heads in the sand, pretending those negative connotations are *only* caricatures of caricatures (the left’s selective reading of the right’s deliberately slanted misrepresentation)? Lies about lies, and you’re surprised the truth doesn’t emerge?

  • femi-maybe @ at 6:21 pm, July 18th, 2009

    Dave Rickey – thanks for such a clear explanation of your take on what it means to be a feminist. I have similiar problems with the label, for pretty much the same reasons you’ve elucidated.

  • Okay Okay! ;) @ at 11:53 pm, July 18th, 2009

    :) It’s interesting reading your thoughts on feminism. Thanks for a good piece, and here’s the penny you deserve very much.
    Let this piece reach whomever cares. I’m also glad you’ve sparked some more controversy, allowing everyone to see multiple sides of the issue and decide for themselves what is the ultimate truth, both in equality and in their personal decision as to how they will carry themselves around. I do fully believe though, that everyone has the right to proclaim himself or herself as who he or she is. I encourage people to embrace this right, and to at least think, as you have, about what our culture or subculture limits in the expression of who we all really are.

  • Amy CT @ at 12:41 pm, March 12th, 2010

    Amen to that.

    And -

    “I don’t wear or burn bras”

    – This is something of a relief :)

    Also – what is icecream cake?!

  • Steph @ at 1:42 am, March 13th, 2010

    Mm. This is really well put. And while I don’t identify as male, for the period where I identified as a male feminist, my reasoning was pretty similar to yours – I was raised a feminist, and a growing awareness of gender roles really began to piss me off, from which point I started to realize just how fucked up everything was. So rock on! We need more male feminists.

  • Juliet @ at 4:29 am, March 13th, 2010

    Shallow, but I all I could think was – I REALLY want that t-shirt.

  • Ruthie G @ at 7:21 am, March 13th, 2010

    I want the t-shirt too. And the slogan on a bag. If only you could get printed bags that are big enough to use as school bags…

  • Jessie @ at 10:03 am, March 13th, 2010

    Very well written article. I almost never think about men being feminist (which I guess makes me a hypocrite), and I think they deserved to be recognized. Awesomely done.

  • merlin @ at 2:28 pm, March 14th, 2010

    somehow i suspect that the general consensus is that the shirt= want

  • Arran @ at 5:07 pm, March 14th, 2010

    Well said. When I was in school, if anyone asked/I informed them that i was a feminist either one of the following questions would ensue:
    1. How can a BOY be a feminist?
    or
    2. What for, isn’t feminism like, dead?

    Inequality still pervading society aside, the fact that attitudes behind those questions are still prevalent was more than a response enough for me.

  • Toongrrl @ at 11:45 am, March 15th, 2010

    You are beyond awesomeness Paul.

  • Colleen R @ at 11:06 pm, March 15th, 2010

    This is so refreshing, I am actually speechless.

  • Katherine C. @ at 9:47 pm, March 17th, 2010

    You give me hope!!!

  • Samuel W. @ at 11:15 pm, April 9th, 2010

    You’ve got yourself an MTF, if you will, right here :) Maybe there might be a point one feminist makes that I don’t agree with entirely, but I think it’s accurate to call myself a feminist. Yeah, one of my favorite bands is The Rolling Stones. Their lyrics have been sometimes blatantly, almost comically sexist or patronizing to women (“Under My Thumb”, a few lines from “Satisfaction”, “Stupid Girl”, etc.), but even I know that lyrics were often juvenile and were rarely their strong suit when they wrote “Under My Thumb” off of their first album of entirely original material, when they were a long way away from “Gimme Shelter” & “Sympathy for the Devil”. I’ve also stopped using ‘gay’ as an insult, I used to do it a lot when I was a tad juvenile. Keep up the awareness!

  • Tejal @ at 4:39 am, May 13th, 2010

    Wow! I appreciate your confidence! Good going!

  • Danielle @ at 3:32 pm, July 28th, 2010

    Will you marry me? ._.

  • Ryan @ at 5:27 pm, July 28th, 2010

    I’m not sure you are quite aware of the nature of feminism and would like to invite you all to explore the Men’s and Father’s Right Movement.

    Are you all aware that men discuss gender issues and relations also? Are you aware that men have our oqn grievences we would like to raise awareness about?

    See: mensnewsdaily
    The-Spearhead.com

    And my blog as well at rebukingfeminism.blogspot.com

    These issues can not be addressed when men are excluded from the conversation. I’d also like you to view Red0660′s channel on youtube and the video “Workhorses of the Matriarchy” and others on that channel. Thank You for listening….I hope you will contribute…

  • Emily @ at 11:03 pm, August 15th, 2010

    Love your artical! As someone just getting out of high school myself, you are right about teens being afraid to be themselves and stand up for what they beleive in. It’s refreshing that there are guys out there like you! Too bad I don’t live in New Jersey =)

  • Tomas Sanantonio @ at 4:49 pm, November 5th, 2010

    Pretty slim if you think Yahoo Answers is the place to find out.

  • firefly @ at 10:07 pm, November 30th, 2010

    Feminism, idealism, chauvinism, etc are all ideologies. And with each person, each culture, each generation that identifies with at least some of the properties of these ideologies, they are changing the what that ideology means to them.

    Not all feminists are nice. There is never a perfect ideology where everyone believes exactly the same thing. But, if you proclaim yourself as a feminist, you are changing the meaning of what it means to be a feminist, and the definition of one. I DON’T agree with some of the older feminists’ theories or ideas. But I’ll call myself one, if only to make people notice and realize that I am redefining what feminism CAN be.

  • Nikedarc @ at 10:39 am, January 29th, 2013

    This is great! I really wish I could explain to everybody what feminists really are and also that guys can and are feminists as well. You’ve declared it brilliantly!

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