Marchers hold up hand written protest signs.

Marchers hold up hand written protest signs. Courtesy of creative commons

I am not a feminist. I support and advocate for gender equality in all areas of society. I support women’s reproductive rights to choose. I understand we live in a patriarchal society where people are systematically disadvantaged. I understand that I, a cisgendered man, am endowed with certain privileges. Furthermore, I do not feel it is appropriate for me, or any cisgendered man, to bear the “feminist” title.

Guys, bros, germs, I’m so tired of seeing the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, promulgate from the snowy maple-tree tops of Canada that he is a feminist (even in French). This makes me cringe. While it’s great that a global leader has this kind of mindset, his self-identification is where I find him on thin ice. When a guy calls himself a feminist there is a dissonant chord that resonates uncomfortably in my ears.

Home-boys, when we say things (i.e. speak actual words to actual people) we have to think before they just tumble off our tongue, right? Everything we say has context! When a man calls himself a feminist, what does that really mean? Is he really concerned about women’s empowerment? Does he seriously detest the very patriarchal structures within society that directly benefit him? There is a contradicting message that comes from a self-proclaimed male feminist.

If guys started marching into feminist circles and began wailing about toxic masculinity, then the focus of feminism would begin to change drastically it’s gynocentric view (female-focus). Our sisters in feminism and non-binary folk are seeking to deconstruct the patriarchal system that inherently benefits men. What kind of message would men broadcast if they started appropriating feminist titles and dominating theses spaces? The message would be quite counterintuitive and counterproductive, indeed.

Fellas, we need to have a very serious conversation among ourselves. Of course we have our own agenda when advocating for gender equality (toxic gender norms being one of them), but if we are to engage with feminism we have to support feminism from a separate position of concord. Specifically, a collaborative pro-feminist position. Alliance building encourages respectful and sensitive activism without compromising any feminist ideologies.

Furthermore my dudes, we have to learn to unlearn potentially sexist behaviors that suggest superiority over other genders by taking on a gender-conscious attitude. In other words, everything thing that we do or say has to be met with a great amount of consideration for other people around us in order to ensure that we can stop engaging in potentially oppressive behaviors and attitudes.

Although we have our varying degrees of privilege (race, class, sexual orientation, etc.), we will never relinquish the privileges that come with being cisgendered men so long as there are patriarchal structures in society. That should not stop us from being respectful, reflexive and ready to support our feminist allies. Too many men stray away from activism because they see themselves as part of the problem. These men misunderstand that the aim of feminism’s arrow is not pointed at all men; rather, it is aimed toward proponents of discrimination in our society. I implore all men, especially Prime Minister Trudeau, to take up the pro-feminist title.

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