Inside a Man’s World

We asked three people give their perspectives on male feminism. These are their answers.

Graphic by Angelica Cruz

As a woman, I’ve always believed that being a feminist was something to treasure. It’s like the ability to have this super power that others sometimes can’t see. Rather than feminism being just a term, it’s become more than that. It’s becomes a way of life and believing in much more than what society expects of us.

Many people have varying perspectives on what feminism means. in an article in Bustle magazine, it looked at what feminism is not and said:

“Though feminists repeatedly insist that their goal is gender equality, critics continue badgering them with accusations of hating men, reinforcing the gender binary, and pursuing other things “feminism” does not mean. What feminism does acknowledge is that men (not to mention white people, able-bodied people, and other advantaged groups) have privilege, and that this privilege can be used for good or for bad depending on your choices and behavior. When people use their privilege to assert their power over marginalized people, we’re allowed to call them out.”

The focus of any social justice movement should be to help those who are most harmed, not to protect the egos of those who benefit at the expense of those who are most harmed, after all. This says nothing, however, about how men innately “are” or “should be.’ The current state of the world is one in which men have more power, and it is one we aim to dismantle — not in order to hurt men, but in order to free people from stereotypes and expectations that harm everyone.

With this in mind, I realized I’ve never taken the time to think about a male’s perspective of feminism or if they understand what the term feminist means. While feminism is a movement, many question who is behind the movement. Is it just women? Are there any men? If so, who are these men?

Well, I decided to meet some of them and ask them some questions. Featured are Damien Sutton, a women’s studies professor at Los Angeles City College, Daniel Santana, a 23-year old college student majoring in business, and Jordan Jackson, a 24-year-old music engineering student.

Substance: What does the definition of feminism mean to you personally?

Damien Sutton: Feminism is the movement that one grounds itself in the understanding that gender based inequality exists, and that work needs to be done to rectify that. It is not only a political movement, but also interpersonal as systems of oppression are maintained not just by things like the government, but also each of us. Feminism tasks all individuals to understand how they play a role in maintaining systems of oppression.

Jordan Jackson: It’s supposed to be fighting for the equal rights of woman, that woman are socially and mentally capable to do what they please. But I do not believe that is the case anymore. It’s somewhat used for to feel special when it’s convenient for them. In some cases, playing the gender role card when it’s best for them.

Daniel Santana: I always saw feminism as just the simple & pure meaning of having equal rights for all. It is just about equality. That is truly what I think when feminism comes to mind.

Substance: Did you have any personal influences in your life that taught you the value of feminism?

DSU: I grew up in a single mother household along with a really great sister…but I feel too many men use this as their ‘gateway’ into feminism. The empowerment of women should not be based purely in personal connection to the issue at hand, but instead, because it is what’s right.

Meanwhile, Jackson was also raised by a single mother who had to do everything herself.

JJ: That made me respect her in such a way when I didn’t even know there was a term for it such as ‘feminism.’

DSA: I was raised by parents who were divorced, but lived with my mother mostly while growing up. She taught me everything I knew when it came to feminism. She fought to have a high paying job, a car, a house and everything she owned. It was interesting seeing her battle in man’s world.

Substance: Do you personally feel the word feminism has had a bad connotation with it? Or that others feel that it does?

JJ: There’s this attack dog mentality where you get culture outrage to seek things to be upset about, instead of general equality — like an excuse of some sort.

DSA: No, I have always been surrounded by women so there was never really a bad stigma that I saw through my eyes for it.

DSU: Feminism has a long history beginning in the late 70s and continuing to this day of being attacked by moderates, conservatives and anti-feminists. Even people that might otherwise agree with the movement shy away from it because of the various connotations associated with the term.

Substance: Do you think men have a good understanding of what feminism means to them?

DSU: I think this stems from being members of the dominant group and a lack of understanding of how their privileges and they personally play a role in supporting the oppression of women. It is easy to say ‘I support women’s rights’ but holding yourself accountable for casual sexism. Like a sexist joke for example seems beyond most men.

JJ: I think men’s relationship to feminism should recognize it’s there and do what you can do to not be the problem. Most men who identify as feminist do it for an ego reason — the dudes who accept certain things because they know the opposite sex wants to hear that.

DSA: I personally have always felt that men can’t really understand the struggle with what women go through on a daily basis. And on that note, I do not feel that men in general have any clue of what feminism really is. It’s like most of them have this blind eye when it comes to the opposite sex.

After being able to chat about some key points on feminism with these gentlemen, it really opened my eyes to how not only females see this issue at hand, but anyone and everyone. It’s so important for males to understand what is at stake here. That feminism is more than just a group of ladies holding picket signs through downtown Los Angeles for the Women’s March. It’s about believing that no matter who you are, you have an equal and fighting chance.

Growing up in a Latina household where my mom was the breadwinner made me realize this fight. I went through the dictionary and found the term for feminism… ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.’ That right there says it all to say the least. We come to this earth all as one, and all as humans.

So what what is the difference between men and women you ask? Nothing. Other than the gender card we hold so dearly to us. Absolutely nothing at all.