The Importance of Self-Awareness for Men in Feminism

As I wrote recently, an inevitable consequence of certain communities or movements becoming more accepted and popular is that people will join them in order to feel accepted and popular. Having a sense of belonging is probably a primary motivation for joining all sorts of groups, and it makes sense that whenever someone is feeling lonely, we often advise them to join some sort of group that fits their interests.

Of course, most groups have goals other than “make people feel a sense of belonging.” Those goals may be “discuss books,” “put on a play,” “practice dance,” “critique each other’s writing,” “organize board game nights,” and so on. Even if someone is very invested in that explicit goal, their main motivation to join may still be that implicit goal of having a community.

Feminism–both as “a movement” and as individual organizations and friend groups–is no different. It has certain political goals (which vary from group to group) and it can also be a source of social/emotional support for its members. It can be a source of pride, too.

But feminism (and other progressive movements) differs from other types of groups in that its explicitly stated goals are sometimes in conflict with the goal of making its members feel welcome and accepted. Challenging injustice requires taking a long, critical look not just at society, but at yourself. Sometimes that means that others will be looking at us critically, too.

Self-criticism is never easy or pleasant, but what complicates matters is that people are not always aware of their motivations for doing things. I do believe that the vast majority of people involved somehow in [insert progressive movement here] are involved primarily because they believe in the cause and want to help make it happen. But for many of them, there’s a secondary motivation lurking in the background–they want to have friends. They want to feel liked and respected. They want a sense of purpose. They want community.

These are all normal and okay things to want; most of us want them. I wouldn’t even say that it’s wrong to seek those things from political groups and movements.

But you have to be aware that you’re doing that. If you’re not aware you’re doing it, you won’t be able to accurately interpret the negative emotions you might experience as an unavoidable part of this sort of work.

And that, I believe, is a big part of the difficulties we often have with male feminists and other types of “allies.”

I came across a piece by Mychal Denzel Smith about male feminists recently. In it, he wrote:

If you’re not going to challenge yourself to do better, why claim feminism? 

In part, it’s because there’s a seductive aspect to identifying as a male feminist. Kiese Laymon touched on this in an essay for Gawker last year. Remembering an encounter he had with a colleague, he wrote: “It feels so good to walk away from this woman, believing not only that she thinks I’m slightly dope, but that she also thinks I’m unlike all those other men when it comes to spitting game.” That you’re just out to get laid is one of the most common accusations lobbed at men who identify as feminists, and while I don’t think that’s true for all or even most, it’s definitely true for some. Enough so that my homegirl calls it predatory. That’s a scary thought. And even if you’re not out here attempting to use feminist politics to spit game and get laid, there’s this tendency to feel such pride about wearing that Scarlet F on your chest that you completely miss the ways you’re reinforcing the same oppressive dynamics you claim to stand against. You like the attention being considered “different” affords, but you’re not always up to the task of living those differences.

This resonates a lot with my experiences with men in feminism. While I doubt that most straight cis men join feminist communities primarily to find sex partners, I do think that most of them are hoping for some sort of approval and acceptance. Their opinions and values may make it difficult to fit in not only with other men, but with women who have more traditional views on gender. They may also be facing a lot of cultural pressure telling them that they’re not “real men” and nobody will ever want them. I don’t think it’s necessary or helpful to compare this with the isolation felt by women, queer people, and gender-nonconforming people. It exists.

When you feel like you don’t fit in anywhere because you’re too progressive, and you finally find a social group that shares your values, and suddenly they’re telling you that you’re still not Progressive Enough, it can be very painful. It can feel like rejection. And if you don’t have a conscious awareness of your motivations–of the fact that you feel rejected because you were really searching for belonging–you may interpret these negative feelings as resulting from other people’s behavior, not from your own (legitimate) unmet needs. You may be tempted, then, to lash out and accuse the person of being “mean” or “angry,” to warn them that they’re “just pushing loyal allies away,” to assert to them that you’re “a feminist” and couldn’t possibly have done what they said you’ve done or meant what they feel you meant, and so on.

Meanwhile, the person who called you out gets really confused. They thought you were here because you wanted to learn, to improve as a person, and to get shit done. And here you’re telling them that merely being asked to reconsider your opinions or behavior is enough for you to want to quit the whole thing. It would be like showing up at the hair salon and then getting furious when the stylist assumes you’d like to change your hairstyle.

No wonder many of us assume that many male feminists aren’t really that interested in feminism.

(While this dynamic seems much more pronounced for male feminists for a number of reasons I won’t derail with here, it definitely happens around issues like race, ability, etc as well.)

This isn’t even touching on blatantly abusive behavior, which men sometimes deny or excuse with claims of being feminists. Some male feminists do seem to hope that merely self-identifying that way, or make the cursory pro-equality gestures, will be enough to earn them the social acceptance they’re looking for. Sometimes it is.

But just like feminists are not obligated (and, in fact, are not qualified) to serve as therapists to men with serious issues pertaining to women, feminist spaces are not obligated to prioritize making everyone feel comfortable and included over doing the work that they were set up to do. Activist communities do have many overlapping (and, at times, conflicting) goals, but it’s not unreasonable for groups that were not set up to help men to prioritize people other than men.

(I would love for there to be more male-oriented feminist groups, but from what I have seen, they tend to dissolve into lots of mutual back-patting and not much personal change or action.)

I would like to see more male feminists move away from using the feminist label as a way to seek social acceptance and towards creating some separation between their politics and their search for belonging. It’s not that political affiliations can’t provide that–it’s that it’s dangerous to rely on them for it. It means you can never really question yourself and your beliefs, and you’ll have a lot of trouble accepting criticism (no matter how constructive) from others.

More broadly, I would like for male feminists to get more comfortable with becoming aware of their motivations, needs, and feelings. I would like for them to consciously notice that pleasant rush they feel when women “like” their Facebook posts about feminism, and to appreciate that feeling for what it is without prioritizing that feeling over everything else. I would like for them to recognize the unmet needs for community and acceptance that they have, and to be cognizant of the extent to which they ask (or simply expect) others to satisfy those needs for them. I would like for them to learn to notice these things without immediately rushing to judge them and shame themselves for them, because that’s not the way forward.

As for me personally, I no longer feel any increased trust or warmth towards men who declare themselves feminists. It does almost nothing for me. I need to see actual evidence that they are able to respect my boundaries, accept feedback from me, and generally act in accordance with their stated values. Many of the men I’m closest to have never explicitly identified themselves as feminists to me, but their every interaction with me exemplifies the traits that I look for in people.

By all means, call yourselves feminists to other men–it can open up useful conversations and upend established norms–or in order to filter people out of your life that you know you don’t want in it. But don’t expect a word to speak louder than your actions.

~~~

Caveats:

1. A lot of what I wrote here applies quite a lot to just about everyone, including feminist women. I know this. I focused on feminist men because this issue is particularly pronounced with them.

2. #NotAllFeministMen have such legitimate and good intentions as the ones I’m writing about. But I specifically wanted to write about the ones with the legitimate and good intentions.

For another example of how being aware of your own needs and motivations can make you a better, more effective person, see my previous post.

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The Importance of Self-Awareness for Men in Feminism
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29 thoughts on “The Importance of Self-Awareness for Men in Feminism

  1. 1

    I remember having a hard time with the “listen” aspect of it. It felt like rejection for a long time, until I started thinking, “Okay, this isn’t about you. When you want to help the feminist cause, you need to start thinking about what you can do to help – and is complaining about not being heard helping? No, it’s not helping.”

    As for me personally, I no longer feel any increased trust or warmth towards men who declare themselves feminists. It does almost nothing for me. I need to see actual evidence that they are able to respect my boundaries, accept feedback from me, and generally act in accordance with their stated values.

    Glad to hear it. I think that’s good advice.

  2. 2

    If I was in it to get laid, I would have gotten out a very long time ago.

    One of the things that motivates me is seeing the type of opposition there is, and the horrifying realisation that I was once on track to ending up like that.

  3. 3

    While I understand that you mentioned it as a caveat, I simply don’t understand why it’s specified toward male feminists. You say that you don’t want to derail, but it becomes kind of a important point throughout. Have you considered this as bias because men are less represented in feminist spaces, and therefore there’s a representation error?

    I would like to see more male feminists move away from using the feminist label as a way to seek social acceptance and towards creating some separation between their politics and their search for belonging. It’s not that political affiliations can’t provide that–it’s that it’s dangerous to rely on them for it. It means you can never really question yourself and your beliefs, and you’ll have a lot of trouble accepting criticism (no matter how constructive) from others.

    By all means, call yourselves feminists to other men–it can open up useful conversations and upend established norms–or in order to filter people out of your life that you know you don’t want in it. But don’t expect a word to speak louder than your actions.

    I’m very confused by statements like these. The feminist label is a lot about self-identification. If you consider yourself a feminist, you’re going to call yourself a feminist to other men and other women and everybody. Because that’s what you consider yourself to be. It’s not about who you are to others, but who you are to yourself.

    Claiming that male feminists use the feminist label for social acceptance is unfair, because how do you differentiate between that and simple self-identification? Certainly people want to be socially accepted in any space that they’re in, but that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with identifying as a feminist.

    1. 3.1

      Claiming that male feminists use the feminist label for social acceptance is unfair

      Good thing she didn’t do this, then!

      If you consider yourself a feminist, you’re going to call yourself a feminist to other men and other women and everybody.

      Uh, I don’t. Labeling yourself out loud just tells other people what you *think* you are, not what you actually are. It’s kinda like “nice guy” – it should be pretty obvious that you’re a kind person from your words and actions, so it’s hard to take seriously any man who finds it necessary to say out loud that he’s a “nice guy”.

      1. Good thing she didn’t do this, then!

        ??? Yes she did. I quoted it:

        I would like to see more male feminists move away from using the feminist label as a way to seek social acceptance

  4. 4

    While I understand that you mentioned it as a caveat, I simply don’t understand why it’s specified toward male feminists. You say that you don’t want to derail, but it becomes kind of a important point throughout. Have you considered this as bias because men are less represented in feminist spaces, and therefore there’s a representation error?

    Even as a male, I can see that what Miri’s talking about is way more common amongst men than women in feminism.

    I’m very confused by statements like these. The feminist label is a lot about self-identification. If you consider yourself a feminist, you’re going to call yourself a feminist to other men and other women and everybody. Because that’s what you consider yourself to be. It’s not about who you are to others, but who you are to yourself.

    Claiming that male feminists use the feminist label for social acceptance is unfair, because how do you differentiate between that and simple self-identification? Certainly people want to be socially accepted in any space that they’re in, but that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with identifying as a feminist.

    No, it’s actually accurate. I’ve seen it myself, first-hand. Hell… when I first started identifying, I towed the line a few times myself before realizing it and backing off.

    I don’t expect anyone to trust me, because just saying that I’m a feminist means fuck-all if I can’t actually live by it. I have to earn it as an ally. Miri ends her post by saying “don’t expect a word to speak louder than your actions”. That’s what all of this is about.

    And fitting in may not have anything to do with identifying as a feminist for you, and that’s great. But I’ve seen it to many times to think that it holds true as a general rule.

    1. 4.1

      Even as a male, I can see that what Miri’s talking about is way more common amongst men than women in feminism.

      What would you being male have to do with it? It’s about representation.

      I’m talking about this kind of thing. As in, when a woman feminist does it, it’s attributed more to the individual, but when a male feminist does it, it becomes part of a generalization. And I’m not claiming any sort of malice on anyone’s part.

      Like when Miri says this: “When you feel like you don’t fit in anywhere because you’re too progressive, and you finally find a social group that shares your values, and suddenly they’re telling you that you’re still not Progressive Enough, it can be very painful. It can feel like rejection.” So I’ve seen plenty of women feminists have issues here, but it obviously can’t be attributed to things like Male Privilege or whatever. This raises my skepticism of the claim.

      1. What would you being male have to do with it?

        It’s far, far, far easier to notice problems that affect you than to notice problems that never affect you. I remember sending a link to a female friend of mine and getting back a reply suggesting, among other things, that I should read it again imagining that the author was talking about black people and not women. When I followed that suggestion, I was doubly appalled: first, at how hideously patronizing and disrespectful the blog post was, and second, that I almost completely overlooked this hideousness when I first read it.

        Miri mentions male feminists specifically because male feminists are particularly prone to screwing up in this specific fashion.

        1. I’m trying to say that maybe Miri notices it more when men makes such mistakes as opposed to when women make such mistakes. Men are more noticeable in feminist spaces because there’s fewer of them. Being male yourself would not prevent that kind of bias. You would still notice other men more in a feminist space.

          1. Men being more noticeable wouldn’t explain a pattern I notice in my own behavior. I literally went from “this doesn’t seem as bad as the other one” to “SWEET JESUS HOW DID I NOT NOTICE THIS”.

            A related pattern was exploited by my old Boy Scout troop – when dousing a fire, the last step was always, “put your hand in the middle of the coals to check that the fire is out.” To my knowledge, no kid ever burnt his hand doing that … and no kid ever left a fire inadequately doused, because I’m-lazy-it’s-probably-out loses to I-don’t-want-to-burn-my-hand. If you are a female feminist and someone points out that a habit of yours is harmful to women, they are explaining how that habit is harmful to you – not how that habit is harmful to others – and it takes a truly unhealthy amount of lazy to decide to ignore something that hurts you.

          2. If you recognize the behavior in yourself, then that’s going to – if anything – make you more biased because you’ll project that onto others, possibly incorrectly. Generalizing about your own group based on your own experience doesn’t even make much sense. Why wouldn’t you assume women have the same pattern of behavior that you do? I would think that would be the default assumption.

            I’m not saying “men don’t do this,” I’m saying “women also do this.” Being a man or woman doing the behavior doesn’t show anything.

          3. I’m not saying “men don’t do this,” I’m saying “women also do this.” Being a man or woman doing the behavior doesn’t show anything.

            Then we don’t disagree on anything. I chose to write the article primarily about men because the privilege men have (both in feminist spaces and elsewhere) means that they and their needs will generally be prioritized. It means women will know much more about men’s needs than men know about women’s needs–sometimes even more than they know about their own needs. (I have some scary stories from my life about bending over backwards to keep men happy and only realizing later how unhappy I was making myself.) Also, men are much more likely to be called out and personally challenged in feminist spaces because feminism, while certainly helpful to men personally, is also all about pointing out ways in which men have unearned privileges relative to other genders. Yes, most of the temper tantrums that I see in response to a gentle calling-out are coming from men. What I’ve written here seems like the source of at least a few of those tantrums.

            And no, I never said that all male feminists have these sorts of motivations. I said that some of them do, and then I proceeded to talk about the ones who do. Please read more carefully.

          4. But that’s not where I disagreeing in the first place. I was just trying to clarify for Packbat.

            Speaking about male privilege does have an issue here. It means that whenever you have incident like this involving a man, the fault is attributed to that privilege. While for a woman with the similar incident, that could never be attributed that way. It would have to be attributed to some other, more individualized fault.

          5. That’s because privilege is often the most parsimonious explanation. And when people blame something on someone’s “privilege,” what they usually mean isn’t the mere fact that the person has privilege (a collective trait) but the fact that they are not self-aware and have not done much examination of their own privilege (an individual trait). Sure, people could be more precise with their language, but that’s how shorthand/jargon tends to function and it’s helpful to understand what is actually meant.

            I think that male privilege helps keep men from developing self-awareness, because they are rarely challenged to develop it. In our society, it is women who are overwhelmingly expected to do that sort of “emotional work.” We are also frequently called “crazy” or “bitchy” and therefore have to do lots of self-examination so that we can understand ourselves and our needs and explain them to others in a way that won’t get us written off as crazy or bitchy. Women of color face this even more than white women do.

            And that’s really all I’m talking about here. I’m talking about men who are seeking belonging but don’t realize it and therefore react badly when they feel like they’re being denied social acceptance. And I do think this happens more with men because their privilege often keeps them from developing enough self-awareness to recognize their motivations.

      1. I agree with you. One of the right-wing anti-feminist writers actually said something good the other day (!!!), in that there often seems to be a degree of self-absorption to women who talk about feminism constantly yet fail at intersectionality (or pay it insincere lip service). There are a hell of a lot of female feminists to whom that description applies.

        I think men who use feminism for some kind of social acceptance or existential affirmation get called on it much more frequently because feminism is supposed to be “about” women. It’s less obvious when women do the same thing, because a) they aren’t challenged to examine their assumptions or “privilege” or whatever, and b) the community is simply more open to women using feminism as a tool for personal growth.

  5. 5

    Wow, this is a good post, and I expect it to generate considerable discussion.

    I have taken in most of the points mentioned here over the years and have made my own decision: not to identify feminist. This may come as no surprise to some people here, since I do take the position that feminism is useful but often flawed ideology and often quite unscientific. This does not mean I don’t support ‘most’ of the aims of feminism, particularly first and second wave human rights values. (Perhaps this begins to sound like the mantra of anti-feminism, but so be it.) Reasons to not identify as feminist while male include the fact that it’s never been demonstrated to me that the majority of women feminists across the spectrum from radical to moderate actually desire men to make that explicit commitment. To be in the position of ‘ally’ actually implies non-membership, and is feminism more like a club or a movement? Identification means ‘identity’ not just the motivation to act toward a goal.

    More reasons: yes, the perennial claim that guys are just trying to get laid. Contrary to some opinion, this is a thing; I’ve seen it. Usually it’s not something nefarious. These guys are sensitive and probably committed. But they want to get laid too.
    Another one that hasn’t been mentioned but is probably more pernicious and common than ‘get laid’ is that some men identify feminist in direct reaction to what they perceive as the general repulsiveness of men. To me this is actually the worst reason to be a male feminist, since it narcissistically erases women from the picture entirely and is solely motivated by (often unhealthy) psychological reactions against perceptions of masculinity. Ironically, for these ‘male feminists’ women actually occupy a secondary role.

    And, of course, there are male feminists who are genuine, and who really want to help.

  6. 6

    As for me personally, I no longer feel any increased trust or warmth towards men who declare themselves feminists. It does almost nothing for me. I need to see actual evidence that they are able to respect my boundaries, accept feedback from me, and generally act in accordance with their stated values.

    Taking these words at face value – and there is really not much else that I can do with them – I must admit that I share this approach. (In my case there is no emphasis on men though; I apply it to everybody and that’s perhaps the only difference.) Indeed, I tend to treat such declarations as very poor in content. Miri stressed (quite correctly) the need for behavioral evidence; let me just add that even on a purely theoretical level saying merely “I’m a feminist” is hopelessly ambiguous and pretty uninformative. Hearing this, I have still no idea who you are and what you are like; I know also very little about what you think. No increased trust or warmth indeed. A conversation opener at best – no quarrel from me here.

    I do believe that the vast majority of people involved somehow in [insert progressive movement here] are involved primarily because they believe in the cause and want to help make it happen. […] They thought you were here because you wanted to learn, to improve as a person, and to get shit done. And here you’re telling them that merely being asked to reconsider your opinions or behavior is enough for you to want to quit the whole thing. It would be like showing up at the hair salon and then getting furious when the stylist assumes you’d like to change your hairstyle.
    No wonder many of us assume that many male feminists aren’t really that interested in feminism.


    One caveat: my own experience with feminist communities is restricted to the net. I know very little about how it works in RL (or in the meat space, or whatever your favorite term is).

    With this reservation, here is what I want to say: I find this picture too simplistic and I see the practice as much, much muddier than that. In practice very few feminist online places define precisely what sort of “shit” they will be trying to get done. Moreover, in practice there is often no clear difference between the “shit to be done” and the local online community building. In practice there won’t be also any pure and saint inner circle, composed of those who are “really interested in feminism” and who are here “because they believe in the cause and want to help make it happen”. In practice you will meet … well, you will just meet other people, with all their flaws, quirks, ambitions and quarrels. That’s what you will have to deal with, inner circles or not. A muddy affair.

    I’m troubled by the opposition you are trying to build: that between “many of us” (the circle of better knowers, who are clear both about their motivations and about the proper size of shears, employed in their hair salon), and the outsiders – mostly men, confused, impure, with hidden interests. I’m troubled by this mainly because such inner circles belong (imo) to the realm of mythology.

    it’s not unreasonable for groups that were not set up to help men to prioritize people other than men.
    (I would love for there to be more male-oriented feminist groups, but from what I have seen, they tend to dissolve into lots of mutual back-patting and not much personal change or action.)


    Interesting. If true, I would be curious what (in your opinion) caused this failure. I’m also very curious to what extent you see it as a problem – do you consider the scarcity of male-oriented feminist groups as a serious challenge, or is it something not worth taking too seriously?

  7. 8

    One example: talking about gender expectations for men is definitely something that’s important to feminism. It’s frequently said that patriarchy harms men as well. Definitely true. I think a possible mistake that is made sometimes is when some particular man takes these two statements, and then decides that deconstructing masculinity and such needs to jump to the front of the agenda/discussion at all times. With any issue, even if the question is ‘how does this affect women’ the question ‘and how does this affect men negatively’ comes up.

    For this, I think part of the problem is derailing, but another is that this sends the message that the man who cares about feminism is primarily focused, on any issue, on how the issue affects men, which isn’t so much an ally stance.

    One solution I saw one space employ was to have particular talks/discussions about issues affecting men from time to time. It seemed to decrease some of the derailing, though I cant vouch for what went on in those groups as I wasn’t ever there for anything.

  8. 9

    As a cis man, I don’t call myself a “feminist” or a “male feminist” and I sure as hell don’t call myself an “ally” and never will.

    I’m on board with the goals of most of the feminists I know. I also know about terrible people who operate under the feminist umbrella. Some feminists are extreme transphobes, or attack sex workers in ways I can never agree with. I can’t declare that they aren’t feminists, but I don’t and can’t agree with them. I know other people who say they’re feminists who say that sexism is over in the West, sexism only exists in the Middle East, and Western women who talk about sexism are just whining.

    Even worse, that “ally” thing is garbage. I’ve only seen it invoked by men who are being really horrible and think “…but I’m an ally!!” is a shield. Sometimes men can be helpful, and sometimes we’re harmful, but mostly we’re not doing anything either way. Declaring “I’m an ally” means you’d better be helping all the time… but usually it means some guy steamrolling women and insisting that he’s helping when he’s mostly doing harm.

    As for me? I’m helping sometimes, I’m usually in a not helping or hurting space, and sometimes I’m horrible and screw up and try to patch it up the best I can. And when I’m messing up I can find other men to talk to. There’s never a good reason to burden women with the whole “I’m a man who can’t get feminism right” thing… and we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back for being less wrong in any case.

  9. 10

    Getting online, where people can act a little funny, you start to develop some jiu jitsu against the inevitable abuse one gets for saying anything online. This can be:

    1. This is what I am.

    2. I don’t care what you think about it.

    Such an attitude is probably good for dealing with abuse, and probably bad for introspection and self awareness.

  10. 11

    Interesting post and topic. I can definitely see how the desire to receive acknowledgement from Feminist women could be overly prioritized and distract a man from performing real introspection or contributing to any other goal while simultaneously corrupting the safe space that women need to have. It’s easy to get caught up in the joy of having something you do affirmed by someone who knows better and/or has the advantage of life experience. And I can easily see how walking that tightrope between positive reinforcement vs. the emotional need for attention/affirmation from women could be a very tricky one. I think Miri’s suggestion to simply be aware of the balance and to be introspective about our motives is a pretty good way to stay on track.

    As for the distinction between Feminist/Ally, obviously it’s up to the individual to make that decision. Personally, I consider myself as having mostly Feminist views but I don’t claim the label because I think I’m still at 101 levels on much of it. I try to be an Ally in the ways that I can (reading and educating myself, calling out sexism, signal-boosting Feminist writers, explaining/correcting other men that I know who are pretty ignorant etc.) I’m proud to do these things and I hope to influence more of my peers to do so. I don’t think that entitles me to a lifetime of cookies but I also thing it’s an important ground-level task that men should do and I don’t think there is anything wrong with self-encouragement and encouraging others to do so. Also, I find all the pissing contests over who does more and who is a real activist and who deserves to be called what to be just as annoying and counter-productive as the boasting/posturing. I see that sort of thing on progressive blogs all the time, always devolving into Leftier-than-thou-ism, and I’m just done with it.

  11. 13

          Wonderful work, Miri. I would like to add that self-awareness can lead one away from feminism too (away from anti-feminism as well so dont worry).
          I struggled with trying to be a male feminist for a while, myself. I struggled for two main reasons I think. The first one was that I felt stifled. That the movement basically didn’t want men like me to speak up within it. Like i was supposed to identify as a feminist, check my privilege, listen, act with empathy towards women, and then…shut up and color. Like any input from me would be unwelcome and burdensome.
          The second was that every time a feminist wrote or said something that hurt me it felt like a betrayal. Like someone who’s supposed to be on my side is aiming their insults right at me. Toxic masculinity is sort of my issue and plenty of feminists peddle in the stuff so, as you can imagine, that was a recipe for basically feeling persecuted by people I thought were friendly ALL THE TIME.
       &nbsp ;The combination of feeling betrayed and unwanted would inevitably lead to emotional reasoning in which I would basically hate and blame feminism. After that would come self doubt where I questioned weather my feeling were valid or just me “making it about myself.” Then as the anger faded I would try to jump back into feminism only to eventually read or hear something hurtful from a feminist and spiral back through it all.
          It took a a lot of introspection to tear myself away from that stupid loop. I had to distance myself from feminism so the barbs would just be “people being dumb” and not “evil feminist backstabbing”. Stepping away from the movement is helping me find my voice as well. I’m learning that privileged or not I still have to look out for number one first and foremost…even if number one is a white dude. For all that though its not like I forgot the things feminism taught me and i obviously haven’t separated myself from it completely. Hell, I think i’m a better person as a non-feminist than i was as a struggling wanna-be feminist.

    1. 13.2

      I don’t think your experience is anomalous. There are, bluntly, some people in the “social justice” community who more or less get off on putting certain demographics into what they see as “their place”.

  12. 14

    I struggled with trying to be a male feminist for a while, myself. I struggled for two main reasons I think. The first one was that I felt stifled. That the movement basically didn’t want men like me to speak up within it. Like i was supposed to identify as a feminist, check my privilege, listen, act with empathy towards women, and then…shut up and color. Like any input from me would be unwelcome and burdensome.

    You know, when I first started out, I felt this exact same way. And it bugged me.

    But over time, I’ve come to look at it very differently.

    See, I don’t know what it’s like to not be a straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied man. So I don’t assume I can speak for anyone who doesn’t fall somewhere or everywhere on that axis. So I actually like “shut up and listen”, and sort of consider that as part of the… I guess… definition?… of being an ally. I don’t think it’s specifically that the movement doesn’t want men like me speaking up, just that it doesn’t want us appropriating it for us. Within feminism, our voices should not be the loudest voices.

    At least, that’s how I look at it…

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