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    Can a man ever truly be a feminist? Essay

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    The slashing of tyres has also been common particularly when coupled with death threats against prominent figures in the media and politics. In response more organised groups within the movement have attempted to increase public awareness surrounding these incidents stating that it is unclear whether it is the work of extremist individuals or what they deem real ‘masculists’. [13] Feminist Literature The majority of feminist literature being written by women is just one example of the ridge between men and feminism. It is also notable that any literature surrounding feminism by men is often critical of it.

    The early 1960s saw writer such as Betty Frieden who wrote ‘The Feminine Mystique’ (1963) which is widely regarded as triggering so-called ‘Second Wave Feminism’ in the United States . In chapter two Frieden asserts that in many women’s magazines the editorial responsibilities are often left to men, this lead to sharp spike in articles and stories that displayed women as either despondent housewives or unhappy career women, this in turn created what she called “the feminine mystique” which is the notion that women were satisfied with playing the role of the doting wife and mother.

    She does however note this contrasts similar publication in the 1930s. At this time women’s magazines generally highlighted self-assured and socially autonomous heroines, many of whom had career. An explanation for the change in presentation of women is a possible reaction to the increased threat (or perceived threat) of feminism, thus an attempt to protect the hierarchy that existed in 1960s US. [14] Another notable feminist author is Judith Butler who wrote ‘Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity’ (1989) in the late eighties.

    In the book Butler examines one of the more fundamental suggestions of feminism as a theory, essentially the assumption that there exists an identity and that it must be represented within the context of language and politics. In Butler’s estimation, even the word ‘woman’ (with its inherent roots being from the word ‘man’) can have negative connotations that are detrimental to the cause. She believes that identity itself is defined by a slew of categories such as sexuality, class, and ethnicity.

    Therefore, Butler seeks to abandon the politics of identity as an alternative she aims to promote a new version of feminism in which the idea of identity and gender is scrutinized closely. [15] By the early nineties Feminist literature had evolved beyond its initial tentative strikes at the so called ‘patriarchy’. ‘Backlash: The Undeclared War against American Women’ was written by Susan Faludi who argues that the emergence of media has accelerated the ‘backlash’ to the feminist movement. She believes that this backlash instigated the women’s liberation movement in the late eighties.

    Throughout the book Faludi presents evidence for an anti-feminist approach in the portrayal of women within Hollywood in the eighties; for instance the method used in television was that the roles for female actors appeared to change drastically as a response to feminism. Within the fashion industry this trend was mirrored, models swapped the business suits of the seventies for exploitative and impractical lingerie in the eighties. This decade also saw the prevalence and popularity of cosmetics, makeup and cosmetic surgery. Feminist literature has also crossed cultural lines with pieces such as ‘And Who Will Make the Chapatis?

    ‘ by Bishakha Datta, an Indian author and filmmaker. [16] [17] The lack of male authors in this area indicates the resistance and scepticism towards male feminists within the feminist community. [18] Integration (HeforShe) HeForShe is a campaign that strives for solidarity between the sexes in the journey for gender equality and it was founded by a group female UN members. Ultimately it works to afford men and boys the same voice as women within the feminist arena when debating equality. The biggest tool at the disposal of this campaign has been social media and the internet.

    On its website there is a global locator which regularly uploads the number of men and boys who pledged their support for the campaign, with the goal currently at one million by summer 2015. This an extremely positive approaches to gender equality as it seems the biggest hindrance to it has been the hostility between the sexes. On the website plans for social justice, civil society, and UN agencies can be found, making it much easier for people to feel they are making a direct and immediate impact regarding the betterment of society.

    This campaign has been very successful in engaging the youth or as they are commonly dubbed ‘the internet generation’. Elizabeth Nyamayaro, a member of the UN said “Initially we wanted to be asking, ‘Do men care about gender equality? ’ and the huge swathes of support have shown that they do’’. International Women’s Day 2015, was a prominent day for the campaign, with Emma Watson hosting a He for She Facebook stream in which she answered questions about it and overall created an intimate rapport with the supporters, taking away the impersonality of past campaigns.

    Critics have said that the best aspect was that she prompted discussion surrounding topics from why equal pay should not be threatening to men to chivalry and male emotionality versus masculinity. [19] Men and Feminism The question therefore remains; can a man ever truly be a feminist? According to Brian Klocke states that while, men can be anti-sexist and agree with feminism, men cannot be ‘feminist’ as such. Within a patriarchal society, men are unable to fully separate themselves from the power and privileges that are afforded them.

    An explicit comparison can be made between male pro-feminists and white anti-racism activists. In the same way that men cannot altogether relinquish their positions in society, whites can’t do the same. However it is obvious that to be a feminist is not destined be a merely a disheartened woman but to engage in political activism in order to actively try change the situation, again, here a parallel can be drawn to the black nationalists who must also be socially conscious to achieve change. The vast majority of feminists also agree that sexism rigidly defines roles for men in the same way as women.

    However, although sexism affects women in a more negative way than men it also impacts women to varying degrees. Whereas, some women adopt sexist beliefs and submissive behaviours to larger extent and refuse embrace feminism, others are more socially aware and fully of the positive implications it can have and choose to feminism. [20] Feminism may actually have a greater effect on women as they are directly affected by the seeming injustices and oppression as a result of patriarchal values within society, and these experiences make them more likely to identify the potentially positive implications it could have for them.

    On the other hand, men, are less likely to recognise their ‘gender privilege’ in these matters, and may even have experiences where they exercised ‘oppressive’ behaviours or failed to stop another man from doing so. Regardless, it can be argued that true feminism isn’t about the everyday personal experiences with gender inequality. Rather how both men and women can change to scrutinise the structure of sex relations and eradicate sexism by turning their beliefs about inequality into actions which tackle it.

    Regrettably, however, some groups within the men’s movement appear to be less concerned with eliminating the patriarchy and more focused on maintenance of what the author, bell hooks, would call “a kind of masculinity that can only be safely expressed within patriarchal boundaries. ” She also opines that the most worrying part of the present day men’s movement, especially within popular culture, is the ‘depoliticisation’ of the struggle abolishes sexism and the replacing it with a focus on the personal struggle towards self-actualisation.

    Consequently this makes it appear as though sexism is no longer a major issue and by default discredits the relevancy of feminism. Hooks instead proposes that the men’s movement should not be detached from the women’s movement but instead should develop to integrate under the larger feminist movement. Thus putting an end to the historical dominance of men through the subjugation of women. [21] Paul Smith, a co author of the book ‘Men in Feminism’ recently argued that although men cannot be ‘in’ feminism, they can be nearby by offering support without dominating the conversation.

    He asserts however, that this cannot happen until men change their attitudes towards other men as well as women, by choosing not to reinforce sexist attitudes towards either sex. This could mean that ‘menists’support women in feminism by allowing themselves to adopt feminist theory and in turn ending the patriarchy, which in turn works as a catalyst to liberate both genders from their restrictive, albeit, traditional roles. The language of feminist theory Any functional theory which aims to achieve social change should offer something for all parts of society.

    Theories which use elitist and alienating language will often not be easily accessible certain sub-groups of society, particularly those most in need of social justice. Therefore in order to reach those groups, a good ideology must contain several levels of language in order to communicate the message effectively. An example being that radical feminist often take an elitist stance on feminist theory by only making it possible for women to be involved with it, effectively making any male involvement impossible.

    It is therefore the responsibility of female feminists to allow for men to understand the language of the theory but also that of men to learn women’s text, and commit to understanding the language of the theory, in order to reach the goal of gender equality. Feminist authors but must also allow for a learning of socio-political experience from a feminist perspective. According to Allison Jagger, “men should also consult with feminist women when writing about feminist theory”. Jaggar also suggests that men must also offer support for more feminist authorship in order to legitimise feminism to both male and female critics.

    In particular, men must attempt to “engage with feminist theory and practice”. [22] In my estimation, the only way to achieve complete gender equality is through the full cooperation of both sexes. Women must work to allow men to be part of the conversation, and for men to engage with feminism without, firstly, dominating the dialogue and secondly, resisting the threatening perception many of them have about women. Despite this, I do agree with many, that although men can never truly be feminists, they are able to assist the struggle in eliminating the patriarchy.

    4554 words [1] http://www. michaelmessner. org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/changing-men. pdf [2] Carrigan, T. , R. W. Connell, and J. Lee. 1985. ‘Toward a new sociology of masculinity. ’ [3] Messner, Michael A. (1998). ‘”The Limits of the “Male Sex Role”: An Analysis of the Men’s Liberation and Men’s Rights Movement’s Discourse’ [4] Harry Brod, “To Be a Man, or Not to be a Man — That Is the Feminist Question,” Men Doing Feminism p. 197-212 [5] Cockburn, C. 1983. Brothers: “Male dominance and technological change. ” [6] Mirsky, Seth. “Three Arguments for the Elimination of Masculinity.

    ” Men’s Bodies, Men’s Gods: Male Identities in a (Post-) Christian Culture, p. 27-39. [7]http://www. academia. edu/1622459/Men_and_Feminism_Some_Challenges_and_a_Partial_Response [8] Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000) [9] Glick, Peter; Fiske, Susan T. (2001). “An ambivalent alliance: Hostile and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for gender inequality p. 109 [10] stavvers. wordpress. com/2011/04/26/ambivalent-sexism-research-into-attitudes-towards-women [11] Glick, Peter; Fiske, Susan T. (2001). “An ambivalent alliance: Hostile and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for gender inequality”

    [12] Christensen, Ferrell (1995). Ted Honderich, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy [13] Melissa Blais and Francis Dupuis-Deri. “Masculinism and the Antifeminist Countermovement. ” p. 21–39. [14]Friedan, Betty (1963). “The Happy Housewife Heroine”. The Feminine Mystique. [15] Butler, Judith (1999). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. [16] Faludi, Susan (1992). Backlash: the undeclared war against women [17] Gender and Governance in Rural Services: Insights from India, Ghana and Ethiopia [18] Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2006). Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature

    [19] McDonald, Soraya Nadia (22 September 2014). “Emma Watson: Feminism too often is seen as ‘man-hating’”. [20] http://site. nomas. org/roles-of-men-with-feminism-and-feminist-theory/ [21] hooks, bell. 1992. Men in Feminist Struggle The Necessary Movement, in Women Respond to the Men’s Movement [22] Jaggar, Alison. 1988. “Feminst Politics and Human Nature” Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Gender Studies section.


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