17 May, 2010

Why am I a male feminist?

In response to V's candid and thoughtful post below, in particular the invitation for the male feminists amongst us to post something of our thoughts, I thought I'd get the ball rolling. Hopefully there'll be a couple more posts, naturally more eloquent and thoughtful than mine, from similarly-gendered peers with their own insight into being a male feminist.

* * * *

Why did I become a male feminist?

I mean, I have it pretty sweet as a guy, right? I’m always going to be on top, no matter what, because of being a man. Hell, I’m likely to be paid better, more likely to be considered for the job.

So what’s the big idea? Why am I – in some people’s eyes – irrationally going against the advantages I’ve got? Hell, let's call a soil relocation implement a spade - why am I being, horror of horrors, a "gender traitor"?

Part of it’s down to being Asian, and the racism I suffered as a kid, covert and overt. Incidents like a ball rebounding off your bike and a girl yelling, “Get lost, you Paki”, or cycling up the hill one minute, next minute a car speeds by with three chavs yelling, “YOU PAKI BASTARD!"
Maybe I should just stop cycling?
Hang on, I said covert, right? The odd cultural jibe I’d get at school about having a wife fixed up for me in Bangladesh, and the crap I’d get about the cricket team and corrupt governments.
Call it schoolboy joking if you want, I’d say that amounts to hurtful behaviour based on my cultural and racial background.

Racism, in short.

Now, why am I talking about racism on a feminist blog? When you have griefers giving you the verbal cosh for something you were born with and therefore can’t change like your skin colour (no MJ jokes or references please), you see the way prejudice blinds those who hold it.
And it’s the same for women – what I had to endure in racist taunts and the occasional bash-up in school, women have to endure in terms of wolf-whistles and touchings-up on the Tube, comments on their bodies and rape.

Sexism, in short.

The prejudices have their manifestations, and it seems to me that what’s been done to combat racism must be also be done to combat sexism. Women are 50% of the human race, yet they get treated in less than human ways. Lower pay, lower likelihood of the top job. Close to my own skin as an Asian, we have the spectres of “honour” killings and forced marriages to deal with. Why should women have to deal with this crap for being born with the XX chromosome? It makes as little sense as declaring an African person a slave just by virtue of his skin colour.

Why did I become a male feminist?

Look around you and tell me if this is a world where women have an even standing with men. A WORLD, not just the confines of whichever country you’re in, where the right-wing sections of the Press go on about the redundancy of feminism and the lack of requirement for it, glossing over what I mentioned above.
When you’re done trying to take in the poor conviction rates for rape, the difficulties created for women in trying to balance work and children, the fact that the right treats children as an obligation, rather than a choice, think about the other countries where feminism HASN’T taken off, where women have to marry whoever their parents tell them to, where acid attacks await as retribution, where women are treated as second class in a manner not too dissimilar to how women were treated here in the UK only 200-odd years ago.
And then you tell me that we don’t need feminism.

I became a male feminist because no-one should be abused for what they are born with.
Man, Woman. White, Brown, Black. Straight, Bi, Gay.
We’re all born different, but it doesn’t mean we have to be treated different.


  1. Exactly! Great explanation of what is behind being a male feminist

  2. What a lovely thoughtful post.

    No one whould be treated differently because of what they're born with, but as anyone who is different can tell you - they are treated differently.

    My male partner has become a wheelchair user in his adult life and has woken up to being treated differently. It's not pleasant. He says now he realises why women are so angry with how they're treated and he is much more aware of when anyone is treated unfairly. Good result from bad events.

  3. An Asian male feminist? Where have you been all my life?!

    Seriously though, thank you so much for this enlightened post.

  4. The Road Warrior - He copes with the problems - but things aren't always good. Thank you for the apology :-)

  5. Hi all, thanks for the kind words and encouragement. This is my first proper posting, so hopefully you'll have higher quality ones to look forward to.
    Jilly: I'm sorry to hear about what's happened to your partner, I hope he's as OK as the circumstances permit. It's tragic in a way how it takes times of misfortune to either shove us into a pit of self-sorrow or wake us up to see similar injustice around us.
    Hugo: thanks for the endorsement. We all have our own reasons, but I'd like to think what unites us is some sense of justice.

  6. Wow I couldn't have said it any better I salute you if men around the world thought like you this world would be a better place!


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