Confessions of a male Feminist

I am a male feminist and have identified, myself as such for years.  By that I mean I favor equal treatment for women, politically, socially, economically etc, and reject sexism.  It does not mean I favor women ruling over men, for using coercive violence to force people to treat women differently, but it does mean, I favor treating women as equals, challenging gender roles stereotypes, and challenging sexist thinking when I can. 

Coming from this mindset, I recently viewed some links a male friend shared with me from a feminist site.  That seemed to focus on dating stories.  He was complaining that nearly all the stories on the site seemed to paint the men in them in a negative light.  Often these stories involved blind dates with men who spoken of as gross, disgusting, creepy, unworthy, sexist or as making unwanted sexual advances.  It caused my friend, to question whether these women authors genuinely disliked men, and made him feel discouraged from dating anyone. 

It seemed to me the negative experiences of dishonest web-profiles, entitled attitudes, and unwanted sexual advances were all things many of the women I knew faced, and I did not see it as a bad thing that they were sharing these experiences.  In fact, some of the tenancies brought up were real problems, that need to be discussed and addressed.  

It also seemed to me that positive dating experiences do not make for as good of stories, and are not the type of blog content people are going to be drawn to or care about, in the same way.  Simply put, if the blog looks at the issues dating people face, it will likely detail some negative experiences, because positive experiences usually are not an issue.  I’ll even go as far as to say, that I could relate to some of the content as not all of my dating experiences have been positive, and I imagine that if I collected every negative experience I ever had into one place, readers could get the mistaken impression that I dislike women in general. 

That said, I think my friend may have a point. Feminist sites, blogs, videos ect, do seem to have a tendency to focus on the sexism, their authors receive, or bad experiences in general their creators have with men.  While, I find very little of this to be anything compared to what I have heard men I have known say about women, and I find much of the message to be necessary, I do see why it alienates people, including potential allies.  The conservative media treats feminists as man-haters, despite the fact that most self-identified feminist I know, have generally positive attitudes toward both sexes.  While it may be important that feminists are challenging sexism and the negative behaviors some men commonly engage in on dates, it seems to me that maybe a bigger emphasis could be put on showing men, within and outside the movement that they are valued, and that their opinions matter.  Otherwise we may end up alienating people we should be appealing to or fueling the worst elements of a nasty backlash. 

Overall, I tend to think of feminists as generally better at considering other people’s point of view, than members of competing philosophies. I also recognize that there are double standards both sexes face, and that their are negative experiences we have all had with members of both sexes, but I also know that it is important for us to value others’ points of view and keep in mind where they are coming from. 

 

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