Can men be feminists? Should men participate in the struggle to end sexism and sexual exploitation? How can men fit into the feminist women’s movement without co-opting it or replicating male dominance? Controversial, and often avoided, these questions are beginning to be asked more frequently by young profeminist men and feminists alike. Many profeminist men and feminist scholars have explained that feminism isn’t just for women, systems of patriarchy and gender expectations limit all of us just as gender equality benefits both men and women. Patriarchal thinking shapes core values and ways of being within our society. We are socialized into this system and under it both men and women suffer the consequences. This is not to say that men are not responsible for their actions or that they don’t benefit from patriarchy, however, many feminists argue that men who actively oppose systems of patriarchy have an integral part to play within the feminist movement. Others argue, because females are the oppressed group only women can empower other women. hooks defines feminism as a “movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” Without absolving individual men of the responsibility to critically examine their privilege and take responsibility for their actions, defining feminism as an anti-sexist movement allows everybody to participate within feminist endeavors. Further, isn’t it time that men take responsibility to end their collusion with patriarchal oppression?
This article seeks to answer three questions contributed by Keir, a male colleague and close friend, who is interested in learning more about feminism and becoming a part of the movement. His direct participation and voice within this article contribute both literally and symbolically to a pro-feminist dialogue in hopes that creating these linkages between men and feminism will help to strengthen men’s understanding and connection to the movement.