Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Men and Feminism

Among the fundamental problems within the feminist movements is the issue of male apathy. Feminist women often wonder—as do feminist men—why males are reluctant to learn about feminism. It is, after all, undeniably pertinent to modern society. Given both its historical and contemporaneous applicability, what is it about feminism that makes men cringe? Is it that men prefer to ignore a female movement as a means of disparaging women and preserving their masculine supremacy or are other factors contributing to male apathy?

Firstly, I think the term itself—feminism—is a contributory factor. To many men, the word implies a field of study which is inapplicable (and thus unimportant) to male life. Though clearly not the case, for those men who know nothing of feminism—and there are many—it is assumed that men have no place in what is clearly a woman’s issue. Given such a faulty assumption, men are dissuaded from engaging in a subject which retains no personal relevance. Furthermore, due to such misconceptions, those males who express interest in feminism may be socially emasculated.

Secondly, men are often apathetic towards feminism not because they disagree with its principles, but contrarily, because they are in agreement. Males such as myself, who are for equal rights between the sexes and feminine empowerment, may find much of feminist theory to be stating the obvious. In such a mindset, the study of feminism is applicable to males at large, but not to certain ‘unproblematic’ men. The same logic may be applied to white students who do not enroll in African-American studies courses. It is not because these white students are racist, but conversely, because they do not see themselves as furthering racial tension.

Thirdly, many males fear that feminism demonizes men. Feminist theory focuses on the patriarchal oppression of females—a topic with which males are inherently uncomfortable. Many males do not wish to immerse themselves in the misandrist environment that feminism might bring about and instead choose to avoid the subject altogether.

To conclude, I would like to point out that these are horrible reasons to avoid studying feminism. Nevertheless, many males distance themselves from the topic and I think the aforementioned excuses may provide some insight as to why. I believe that everybody could benefit from more men studying feminism, but that equality can never truly exist as long as the study of feminism is necessary.


  1. Its a shame most people don't study feminism. Even most feminists don't study it rigorously. If more people would open their eyes, it would be exposed as the hypocritical hate movement that it is.

    I'm for true equal rights and equal value between the sexes - the diametric opposite to what feminism stands for.

  2. Adam,

    I agree with your reasons why men may not be inclined to study feminism. I also agree with your sentiments regarding equality between genders. Another explanation for why men may not be interested in the matter is because of its association with radical ideology. In a similar way many women may be put off by feminism's stereotyped radicals. This can also act as an explanation for why some individuals are reluctant to participate in certain political discussions. While this is not a rational explanation for why some ignore the tenets of feminism it still serves as a reason to some. A reason why men should take interest in feminism and its principles is because of the movements connection to basic freedoms. If males desire certain freedoms and responsibilities it would by quite hypocritical not to delve into the freedoms and responsibilities, while slightly different in some circumstances, that women also desire.

  3. Another reference to psychology:
    Freud would say that it is pointless to study feminism because women do not develop the strong moral superegos that men do. He believed that women are inferior to men. He believed that deep down in their unconscious mind women only have two wishes- to possess a penis and a child. What about those women who wish to have a career and dont want a family? Well Freud would say that this neurotic female resolves her penis envy by trying to be like men (her wish for a career).

    wow. it is scary that such a powerful figure in history viewed women in this manner.

  4. I agree with all of the reasons stated in this post, but furthermore I think many men do not express interest in feminism partially because so many women do not express interest either. Men naturally have less of an incentive to fight for feminist rights, and if so many women who do have an invested interest in it are apathetic, this makes it much easier for men to disregard the importance of feminism as well. Women as a whole need to take the first step in not fearing being called a feminist and demanding equal respect and treatment, and from this I believe men will follow.

  5. I saw this video on CNN today and it seemed to be a good example of the types of situations that are keeping women from being considered more than just a male play-thing.