I was born and raised around smart, strong, independent and genuinely beautiful females. Throughout my life, I have seen these women make an impact in the community and in other people’s lives, as well as give life to future world citizens. But it has not always been easy for them. I have seen each of them struggle as they try to fit into a society that puts masculinity over ability.
I know for some, saying that I am a feminist can sound contradictory because I am a man. For me, male feminists are completely normal, and more men should strive to embrace feminist ideology.
I am a feminist because I think. I try to walk in the shoes of my mom and my sisters, and just the fact that their salaries are not the same as their male co-workers makes me want to stand up for them. If you have the ability to think, you should be a feminist.
I am a feminist because I feel. It is unfortunate that in this century, often when there is a sexual assault case, people ask what the victim was wearing, if there was alcohol involved and how she was behaving at the time — and yes, some people still think that the female is lying, just for fun or because she is “crazy.”
I am a feminist because I am a man. I am neither afraid nor intimidated by a strong, independent woman. On the contrary, I believe if a woman possesses those characteristics, you should admire and behave like her. In fact, I find it attractive.
Don’t get me wrong, as a male raised in a society that asks me how many girlfriends I have and how many girls I have hooked up with since I got to MSU, I have to admit that I have failed several times in recognizing that such questions go against feminist values. But when others push me into the path of misogyny, I try to think about my mom and my sisters. I think about all of the women in the world going the extra mile, even when the system gives them less than a yard. After thinking about all of them, the misogynistic path is not appealing and I become more aware of what to say and how to act.
I know that using the title of feminist will make people question my sexual identity and my agenda, but that is the fascinating part of this issue. I do not have any agenda, and my sexual identity should not be linked to the ideology of equality. The idea that they should be linked only perpetuates our “macho” culture.
Now we see some women critiquing feminists and assuming being one means hating men. I disagree with this assumption. Every day, I try to be a feminist, and I have not started to hate myself or other men. People often are feminists because they see a need for equality and respect, regardless of gender. This is why I am a feminist. I want my mom, sisters, aunts and cousins to have the same opportunities, resources and rights that I have. I do not deserve special privileges just because I am a man.
I am a feminist because I am tired of people labeling us men as out-of-control sexual beasts. That is just wrong. Why do we keep justifying horrible behavior by saying “Boys will be boys?”
I am a feminist because I believe in order to shake the system and create a revolution, we need an inclusive movement of men and women. I want to be in the front line of the revolution side by side with my female counterparts.
I want to fight the system with women by my side, but in the meantime, I will fight the system for the women. I am not saying they cannot fight for themselves but, as a man with the privileges that I inherit from society because of my sex, it is my duty to recognize the inequality women face and find a way to eradicate it. More men becoming feminists is a great start. Being a feminist is cool – it will not make your muscles smaller or change your tone of voice to a higher pitch.
I do not want to see women as submissive. I want to see them embracing their beauty, their strength and their independence. As Ernesto “Che” Guevara said: “If you shake with indignation at every injustice in the world I will call you my comrades.” I am full of indignation and I am ready to fight with and for my comrades — the beautiful women around the world— and that folks, is the reason why I am a feminist.
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is a State News reporter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.