By Leora Lihach, President’s Office Intern
As the millennial generation begins to take center stage in the world, the feminist movement is at risk of severely slowing down. Too many young adults believe that feminism is off-limits to men and a dangerous word for women—”the f-word”, a word that could mean anything in the realm of extremist tactics to shame and disempower men.
But I ask this generation not to abandon the feminist movement and forsake “the f-word” as a taboo synonym for man-hating. This stereotype is far from what it means to be a feminist—to believe in the inherent equality between individuals as human beings. With this premise, as we go forward and take on the world, let us reestablish the face of feminism as one all-inclusive unified movement—an alliance between men and women for gender equality.
We are starting to see this alliance in the celebrity scene. Young women like Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, and Laverne Cox (to name a few) are clearly carrying the torch of feminism into the era of the millennials. Even a number of celebrity men are confidently bearing the badge of feminism. In fact, The Cut questioned 15 celebrity men about whether or not they’re feminists, and most of them said yes!
Yes, men have a place in the feminist movement. Controversial? Perhaps. However, here is the truth that has only in recent years become a hot topic: gender inequality affects men too. And our purpose at NOW is to help bring all non-gender conforming individuals into feminist activism. We are committed to building a diverse and inclusive movement. I encourage everyone to join this stance between men and women for gender equality.
It is true that women’s experience in patriarchy is different from that of men’s. And women’s experience cannot inform men’s activism. But men have their own experience to draw from: men are subject to stereotypes, stigma, standards, and more all at the behest of patriarchy. “Joy” actor Edgar Ramirez explained to HuffPost Live last December why men should be feminists:
Feminism benefits men because it liberates us and it releases us from many stigmas imposed by the macho culture on us as well. So if more of us could understand that it’s nothing but equality, I think many agendas in terms of equality would have advanced quicker because it really helps us as well.
And in a 2014 interview with the Daily Beast, actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt explained why he identifies as a feminist:
What [feminism] means to me is that you don’t let your gender define who you are — you can be who you want to be. […] If everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it’s better for everyone.
On a global scale, patriarchy denies a man the right to define his own identity—something we women have been discussing and challenging for many years as our own issue. I invite men to join the conversation.
Finally, we must not forget a fundamental concept in feminist theory, largely developed by theorists Kimberlé Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and Leslie McCall: that all the systems of oppression—gender, racial, class, and so on—are interlocking. To forward gender equality is to forward all equalities because feminism at its heart is a movement for human rights. We at NOW are committed to racial justice, economic justice, and LGBTQ rights as well as gender equality. So the African American man subject to racial oppression, the poor man subject to socioeconomic oppression, the gay man subject to sexual oppression, they all have a place in our movement for equality. We are on the same side.
I would like to extend Emma Watson’s invitation to men from her 2014 United Nations speech. Men, you have an undeniable place in our movement. To all millennials, who we count on to carry forth the feminist movement, consider joining Young Feminists & Allies, the first virtual chapter of NOW, for which men and women use the power of social media and online activism to leverage offline feminism.
To all millennials and feminists of every age, let us follow the lead of the “He for She” campaign. Let us modernize our movement—put to rest the stigma associated with feminism, the image of the man-hating activism. Let us maximize our numbers, our strength, with one all-inclusive unified movement.
Let us form an alliance.
10 responses to “Allies in Equality—Him and Her for Each Other”
Bravo. United across gender and cultural lines. Unfortunately however, I am too often faced with anti feminist remarks from men. At 64 I am becoming more sensitive and intolerant to it. I recently heard the host of Jeopardy,
Alex Trebek, make a questionable remark. The contestant’s answer was
incorrect: Betty Frieden. Correct answer was Gloria Steinem. His response; “no the other one.” I suppose he meant feminist. I had heard, but never investigated, that he was very reluctant to have women on the show saying they were intellectually inferior. Here is someone who I am sure is considered intelligent offering a very questionable remark in reference to feminists. At least he needs to be apprised to the fact that there are more than just the two.
Hello my name is Jennifer. Thank you for this great article and thank you for making your website accessible. I definitely believe that feminism is just as important for men as it is for women. The idea that all feminists hate men in my opinion is one of the attacks that the religious right extremists use. I heard a story about a single parent who had a boss who made demeaning comments about her because of her gender. I am a feminist and I don’t hate men. I know there are men who are feminists. I like what you said about making our movement more inclusive. There is one group that I feel needs to be more included. Women with disabilities. All too often people with disabilities have been taught by society that we can’t do things because we are blind, deaf, unable to walk, etc etc etc. Well I have been totally blind from birth and the fact that I am blind hasn’t prevented me from typing using a computer. I have often had to deal with people with good intensions who have made decisions without consulting me. Just because a person is blind doesn’t mean we don’t have oppinions. But we need everybody to have the opportunity to participate in the feminist movement that includes women with disabilities. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to comment
List all the petitions NOW has generated with their success and failure rates and send the results out in an email. Provide documentation. Bill Lueders in Wisconsin wrote an investigative journalism article providing evidence that pro-choice groups outspend pro-life groups by a wide margin, but still lose repeatedly.
I prefer to follow effective leaders who encourage and spotlight the words and actions of ordinary people. I refuse to follow leaders who keep ordinary people silent and passive to satisfy their own glory addictions.
Paula–your comment above is unclear. When I clicked on your name, I found your very positive, uplifting website; you seem to be pro-woman, pro-choice, and anti-judgmentalism (eg, anti telling people who face serious physical challenges that they should just go out and “get a job”). Therefore, your negative-sounding comment above is puzzling. Are you saying that NOW isn’t doing enough, that it isn’t working in the most efficient manner possible, that the majority of voters are anti-choice, or what?!? (Got suggestions on methodology, for NOW &/or for other activists? Let’s hear them!) Please, please come back and clarify your comment. And to NOW: keep up the great work! After looking at those pro-patriarchy, white-supremacist “manosphere” sites, I’m about ready to get involved again. (Thanks, Roosh! You’ve created another SJW!)
NOW’s makes claims of effectiveness while providing no evidence effectiveness.
NOW leaders take actions that silence supporters and keep them passive. They are far more concerned with creating glory for themselves than with creating equality for women.
Read all of my feminist leaders blog posts. I provide evidence in every single one of them to show that feminist leaders are ineffective glory addicts.
Do your own research to understand the endless ways women have been discriminated against since the beginning of history. Read the books: Half the Sky and The Alphabet Verses the Goddess.
Think and care
I joined the feminist movement close to the beginning and I was so impressed by Leora’s article. We have to learn to hear our enemies sometimes. Laura Kramer, no friend of women, is right in that we were outfoxed by the anti-abortion people. In fact it is the pro-choice people who are “pro-life”. We want to preserve the lives of women and children by having women choose the right time and whether or not they want to have a child. We want to preserve families who feel they cannot afford another child. Every time I read of another tragedy where a child has been abused by an unsuitable parents, I think ” why did this woman have a child in the first place?” We need more abortions, not fewer.
Suzanne Messing Sznajderman
When you said “Laura Kramer” were you referring to me, Paula Kramer?
If so, please provide evidence that I am “no friend of women”.
As I said in an earlier comment, NOW leaders are glory addicts. Just today I received an email with this message line:
Statement by NOW President Terry O’Neill on the Supreme Court Justice Selection
Have a look at the website for Minnesota Concerned Citizens for Life (MCCL). See how many names you can find on that website. This is one example of why the pro-life movement is rolling over the pro-choice movement. MCCL leaders are not concerned about putting their names and titles on anything they can. They are concerned about giving supporters a variety of tools for speaking their own words and taking their own actions. Pro-life leaders create equality with their supporters while pro-choice leaders create inequality for the supporters.
This was a great article! Thank you so much for writing. It really energized me at a time when I really needed it!