Feminism. “I’m a feminist”. No, those aren’t answers to the question “What do you say to someone to make their eyes roll so far back into their skulls they disappear?” They’re the topic of this article. An article, which I’ve been putting off writing for some time. I’m the first to admit, before I met my fiancée, I didn’t consider myself a feminist as like many other people, the very mention of the word made me mutter “Oh here we go” under my breath. I thought that all feminists hated men and penises, and that they all wanted every single man to disappear from the face of the earth so that they could assume control of everything. Whilst there probably are some feminists who do feel that way, they’re actually more appropriately known as misandrists, the counterpart to misogynists. To confuse the two does a great disservice to the men and women who fight for feminism and femininity. Yes. Men can be feminists. “How is this possible?” I hear you ask. Because feminism is not about women. It is about femininity.
How many times have you heard someone describe a man as ‘being in touch with his feminine side’? Personally, I’ve heard it countless times as it’s often been used to describe me. The interesting thing is that, that statement is meant less as an observation and more as a passive slur against someone who’s considered a bit wimpy, possibly gay or someone who needs to ‘man up’. And herein lies my point. Why is it that femininity is seen as something negative, something to turn your nose up at? Why is it that women, who happen to demonstrate more feminine characteristics, have been discriminated against for centuries, and continue to be so? Patriarchy.
A concept deeply rooted with the establishment of organised religions, patriarchy is something that shrouds every aspect of our society. It sees masculinity as being strong, level-headed, emotionless and capable, and femininity as being weak, emotionally-driven and often incapable. If you’re not a weightlifting, multiple-woman-shagging man who’s hung like a horse, you’re really not worth knowing. Unless of course you happen to be woman, in which case the only reason men want to know you is so that they can make love to you. Actually, I shouldn’t use the phrase ‘make love’, as that usually implies a level of deep emotional connection whereby the needs and desires of both parties are taken account of and let’s face it, men who fear femininity are only concerned with their own self-gratification, so let’s use the phrase ‘hump’ shall we? Much more fitting.
I can’t speak about women’s experiences of being oppressed because of patriarchy as, low and behold, I am not a woman. But I have been subject to abuse and teasing because I am a fairly feminine man. I don’t go to the gym, I haven’t shagged my way around the population of the UK and I’m open about my emotions and feelings. “Man up” they’ve told me. “Are you sure you’re not gay?” they’ve asked me. How can it be right that my identity as a heterosexual man is called into question simply because I’m conservative when it comes to sex, I’m able to hold an intelligent conversation and I don’t drag my knuckles on the floor as I walk?
Patriarchy. There it is again. On the point of ‘being accused of being gay’, which by the way is an absolutely disgraceful phrase but that’s the way it is often delivered – as an accusation – ask yourself why gay men and women have been so heavily discriminated against over the years. Gay men typically, although by no means exclusively, demonstrate more feminine characteristics than masculine ones, and gay women vice versa. Patriarchy has ingrained into society that women should be feminine, and men should be masculine. But what society has failed to notice is that men and women possess attributes of both masculinity and femininity, some more than others.
If I cry at an emotional film; if I take pride in my appearance and spend ages doing my hair; if I like to wear shoes that give me a bit of extra height; if I respect women enough to not treat them like a sex doll, how does this make me less of a man? Similarly, if I were a woman who didn’t show emotion, who didn’t squeal at the very sight of a tiny puppy, who didn’t wear makeup or dress in revealing clothes, how would that make me less of a woman?
Patriarchy is stuck in the world of stereotypes and it’s beginning to become so unbearable. Women are women; men are men. Women are there to be sexual objects; men are there to take advantage of said sex objects. Why is it that if ever a woman makes an allegation of sexual assault, the immediate question is “Well what was she wearing? Was she drunk? Did she lead him on?” Patriarchy has unforgivably, given some men a complex of thinking that femininity is something of no worth or value and in turn, people who are feminine are treated as such. And what’s worse? Society as a whole let’s them get away with it.
I’m so tremendously proud of all the men and women around the world, who protested against Trump’s presidency last week. They were protesting against the fact that someone who clearly falls into the category of knuckle-dragging, femininity-hating dinosaur, has just been elected into the highest ofixed in the world. If you’re a man and you’re reading this, you should be worried. No sorry let me rephrase that. If you’re a sane, right-minded individual who has more than an amoeba for a brain cell, you should be worried. Trump’s election to the presidency has set any sign of progress back decades. It has shown that patriarchy is still alive and kicking and that all you feminine folk had better watch out.
If you’re not a feminist, then you ought to be. Feminism speaks not just for women, it speaks for men. It speaks for people; it speaks for humans. Irrespective of what colour you are or which genitals you prefer to play around with, feminism speaks for you. It is a defence of some of the very things that make us human: emotion, aspiration, love, respect and dignity. For the love of God, take a stand against patriarchy. Stand up for femininity. Stand up for feminism.