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Why Men can be (and are) Feminists

What does feminism and a super old set of doors in Florence have in common?

Kyus Agu-Lionel 

Sub Editor of Naked Politics

The Gates of Paradise in Florence’s Baptistery of San Giovanni are ancient. Hundreds of years old, they looked grimy and disgusting, until they were scrubbed clean by restorers- and lo and behold! Underneath was stunning, gilded bronze, sculpted into beautifully intricate scenes from the Bible.

I like to think that feminism is the same. When people hear that I – as a male – am a feminist, their quizzical expression is usually followed by: “but why?” And the answer is frustratingly simple. To quote a song from good old Beyoncé, feminism promotes the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. That is it. And if you believe that, then you are a feminist, whether you are aware of it or not.

What about that statement is gender specific? Precisely nothing. Andy Murray, Elijah Wood, John Legend, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and many other men are all self-proclaimed feminists, because the goal of the movement is equality. That’s all. Yet the media has covered it in a grimy film of infamy, reeking of hysteria, lesbianism, obesity and irrationality.

People who would tell me that I’m confused for being a male feminist drag up articles by privileged and idiotic middle class women who want to piss standing up and think that all men should be rounded up and put into pens. Feminism has become an insult because of a smear campaign by the press, which is run by old, white men who have too much to lose by the breaking of their monopoly on power. Feminists have been painted as overweight, sexually frustrated spinsters.

Religion and culture also has a part to play in this. It’s disturbing how many women will still queue up in my mentions on Twitter to argue with me and tell me that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, and that a woman’s job is to submit to her husband. This is due to brainwashing by various religions, which have drummed into boys and girls from youth, the myth that because she was born cloven and not crested, her subordinate role is already defined.

The same women will tell you proudly how they aren’t feminists. Half of these girls are just husband hunters, proclaiming to the world that they’re a doormat in the hope of receiving the admiration and affection of boys. The other half genuinely believe that feminism is the great Satan designed to subvert morality and upset the balance of the universe.

It is curious then, that these women who will sit on Twitter and declare that they are not feminists, are only able to do so because of feminism. If it were not for the core belief that I mentioned earlier, then they would have been married off at 14 to a much older man. Instead of clogging up my mentions on Twitter with their rubbish, they would right now be wedded, bedded and enduring near constant pregnancy and childbirth. They would not have access to education or birth control; they would be the property of their husband and would own nothing in their own right. He would be permitted to ‘chastise’ (read: ‘beat’) her if she spoke out of turn and she would not be allowed a career if she wanted one.

For if we scrape away the grime, we reveal the true gold beneath. True feminism is not anti-men, just as being pro-black doesn’t mean you’re anti-white. Feminism doesn’t say that a woman should not be a housewife, it says that she should be a housewife because she chose to be of her own volition, not because she was told to be by her husband or father, or by society.

Feminism is for the boy who wanted to do ballet but was instead forced into football because that’s the acceptable sport for boys.

Feminism is for the man who was raped but doesn’t feel as if he can speak about it, get help, or go to the police, because ‘real men don’t get raped’.

Feminism is for the husband who is being abused by his wife, but the police won’t take it seriously because it’s female on male violence.

Feminism is for the father who wants to take paternity leave to spend time with his new baby, but can’t because only women get paid time off of work.

Feminism is for all of the above, and more. People who tell me that men can’t be feminists are sadly misinformed. I think we are heading slowly but surely towards a paradise where men and women have achieved total parity and feminism is that gate through which we will enter it.

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