Men Shocked To Learn They’re Feminists

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Feminism”?

That’s what Upworthy asked men in New Orleans.

What did they say?

This is what a feminist looks like-Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd: This is what a feminist looks like.

Most guys were pretty positive:

  • Women’s rights
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Pro-equality, pro-women’s rights

A few were less flattering:

  • You picture women who are really outspoken

But were THEY feminists, themselves?

Most men squirmed:

  • No, not me… No… No, not really…

Why not?

  • I’m not really sure what a feminist is… But I respect and love women

Luckily, things changed when guys learned the definition. (Which is remarkably similar to the descriptions most had provided, themselves):

Women and men are of equal worth and dignity, and should be given equal opportunity

The Dalai Lama: This is what the feminist looks like.

The Dalai Lama: This is what the feminist looks like.

Suddenly, they “got it.” They were feminists!

Why the confusion?

Those who fear equality do their best to twist the term into something feminazi-ish.

But others know better. As the Dalai Lama boasts,

I call myself a feminist. Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on February 20, 2015, in feminism, men, sexism, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. I have this discussion with my husband a lot – in his mind, “feminist” is inextricably linked with certain rabid self-identified feminists he has encountered who tell him he’s “lazy” for being a stay-at-home dad. I have NO idea where he is finding these “feminists” because all I find are feminists who are supportive of him staying home with the kids because that’s what works for our family.

    The other night he even told me he cringed a bit when I identify myself as a feminist just because of his experience with feminists. I said, okay then – how about I call myself a pro-life feminazi? Apparently he likes that better so that’s the term I’ll use at home – who knew?

    • It makes no sense for feminists to complain about a stay-at-home dad. That is exactly what they would support. And exactly what an antifeminist wouldn’t support.

      • That’s exactly what I try to tell him, but he’s very stubborn. Oh well.

      • He’s attached to his viewpoint. Wonder why.

      • The issue is not about being a SAHD, per se. Rather, it revolves more so around the notion of masculinity…SAHDs are not perceived by most women as being very masculine.

        As you well know, most women prefer men who fit the traditional masculine stereotype. In fact, there are studies that clearly evidence that women tend to view such men as less sexually appealing.

        Whether it is patriarchy or some other internalized thingy I don’t know. But, I can certainly empathize with her husband in that it is not the best place to be. Much like the “nice guy.”

      • What you say is true. But feminists aren’t the problem that lie behind it.

  2. Thanks for sharing Georgia. I feel most men and a number of women believe in feminist issues but hate to call themselves feminists because of the angry, politicized connotations it has received over the years. I myself have often experienced that if I acknowledge I am a feminist ( which I am), I either repel with my supposed aggression or appear insincere to people who are outwardly more active towards the cause than I am.

    • There is an old TV show called Designing Women that was totally feminist, but in which the women appeared not to be — in terms of costumes and the set. Overall, the message and idea are more important than the label. So at least the message is getting across.

  3. I love this so much ❤

  4. Very cool.

    I wonder if it’s the ‘feminine’ part of the word feminist that men find confusing/scary.

    • Interesting thought. I wonder.

    • I think you’re on to something with this idea that perhaps men don’t want to necessarily associate themselves with the feminine in the term ‘feminist.’ I think hetero men want to be associated with feminine in terms of making it clear that they are attracted to womyn, but maybe they somehow feel that calling themselves a feminist is the same or similar to calling themselves feminine – and in many cases in Western culture, men don’t want to be seen as feminine because it is often associated with weakness, being driven by emotion, being dependent, etc. It was interesting to see the reaction some of the men had when they were told that their views on womyn’s equality and womyn’s rights aligned with the common definition of what it means to be a feminist – interesting how surprised some of them were, and some almost seeming slightly uncomfortable with being labeled as such.

  5. So interesting how one word can be so misunderstood… i agree– lots of feminist men out there who just don’t know that is what they are!

  6. I think it may also have to do with the traditional roles women continue to assume (mother, housekeeper, caregiver). I think this makes it harder on men, because of all the traditional roles that at least (I dare say) 80% of women are either taught to fulfill, or fulfill at their own will. I know this beginning to change, however, as when you look at the video, you can observe that a learning process begins to takes place.

    • Yes, so glad to see that the learning process is taking place. And interestingly, stay-at-home mom’s can be feminist, too. I have more than one stay-at-home mom friend who is not just feminist but a feminist activist!

  7. First of all, in my opinion, guys who are interviewed in this video should be called egalitarians rather than feminists, even they are considered as feminist according to the definition of feminist. Why? Because they think feminists are the people who fight for women’s rights or advocate more rights for women. In other words, in the deep inside, they may think feminism is another kind of sexism. Thus, I think they would prefer egalitarianism to feminism. And I really doubt if those guys can stand up for women’s rights when the sexism happens.

  8. I think most men are agreeing feminist and they think women should have equal treatment with men. But, most men wouldn’t accept people called them feminist. I think the reason is prestige. Men are rally care about prestige and if someone called them feminist, they will feel embarrassing. In my opinion, I agree that women should have equal treatment with men and women’s right and I would called myself feminist but I won’t accept my friend or someone called me feminist because it doesn’t feel good at all, just like a women who have been called patriarchy as well. Also, I think most men have double standard; both have male chauvinism and feminist.

    • That last point is interesting– And confusing.

      The reason guys would be worried about prestige, As you say, is because we still rank men above women in status. So there’s a catch 22: as women grow near to men in status, men will be more likely call themselves feminist, but men calling themselves feminist is part of what helps to create equality.

  9. Sabrina Szpetkowski

    I have come across so many guys who think this exact way! It’s pretty scary that they seriously think that feminists are man haters and are mean, aggressive women. Then whenever I explain to them the real definition of a feminist, they feel differently. Of course there are some people whose opinions just can’t be swayed but the majority of people will be glad they have been informed and even consider themselves feminists. I truly believe that informing society with the facts is the best way. I’m very glad that men are finally starting to advocate women’s rights.

  10. I’m a guy and I proudly consider myself to be a femininist…

  11. Oh, and I’m glad the video is from NOLA as that is my home!!!

  12. Very interesting… If women have launched a campaign against Feminism, https://www.facebook.com/WomenAgainstFeminism this would be a sort of enchained, collateral effect … Not necessarily a logical effect, though 🙄
    Best regards, Georgia. Aquileana 😀

  13. I would actually have to say not many men were shocked that they are feminist. Each gave the exact definition as to what they believe to be a feminist. Many actually said well I guess I already am. Many people when they think feminist think Rosie the Riveter type, strong women who have to be better than men. When in actuality it is just women wanting to be considered equal to men. Many men and even some women say, “you guys can vote, you guys can drive what more do you want?” In the words of Patricia Arquette “ To every woman who gave birth to every citizen and taxpayer of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” Wage equality has now become a hot topic issue, which is only one of the many reasons we fight for equality. The stigma around being a feminist or feminazi needs to be removed because most men and women are feminist, the idea that being a feminist makes you feminine for men and a man hater if you’re a women is just utterly ridiculous. Feminism is for everyone it is just a way of making an equal world for men as well as women.

    • It’s interesting that most men gave the correct answer in defining “feminist,” But wouldn’t call themselves feminist, Until they realized that the word fits the definition they gave. Overall, sounds like sexism is diminishing.

  14. “Why the confusion?”

    Why? Because you don’t really have to be a proclaimed feminist to support equal rights and equal pay for equal work. There are other theories based on humanism and I reckon you don’t have to base your belief in any theoretical framework at all if you don’t wish to.

    • Yes there are other theories based on humanism. And I’m all for anyone supporting equality, No matter what they call themselves. But some people — I doubt anyone who has written a comment on this blog post — want to make feminism disappear, and insisting that we call it something else is one way to help do it, they think. And who knows, it just might weaken the movement.

  15. This is probably why feminists might get a bad name, and it being because maybe a few taint it for the rest. http://news.yahoo.com/-women-on-20s–wants-female-hero-to-replace-andrew-jackson-on-currency-171758747.html

    It’s one thing for equal rights, but it feels like some feminists are competing with men and like have a chip on their shoulder. American Dollar bills have always been of presidents and there hasn’t been a female president yet, though it’s getting close with Hillary looking to be back in the race again. Andrew Jackson was not a perfect man, but you could say that for most of our presidents. The way things were, Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner I believe and many of the presidents, But the fact of the matter is Andrew Jackson, thought overlooked, was part of really big historical moments in American History. I know they made a movie of Abraham Lincoln, but I’ve felt if a movie was ever made of a president. It should not be George Washington, or Jefferson, they are so well known and already told. But I’ve always felt it should be of Andrew Jackson, because good movies have drama, action, twists, historical significance, and interesting things all rolled up in one. Well Andrew Jackson would fit that mold.

    I remember reading and learning from my history teacher of andrew jackson was that he was wild and pretty crazy. Of course that’s true of other presidents and what happened at the white house, but from what I’ve learned was that Andrew jackson was just on another level of wild and impulsive ha. The man had a bullet lodged in his chest for crying out loud and there were many absurd things. I don’t feel like reading up again. Another president that I’d think would be good as far as an entertaining movie or documentary of would be Ted Roosevelt, because he was just a really tough SOB.

    • I don’t get why it’s a problem. Why would anyone be upset over putting a woman on the $20 bill instead of Pres. Jackson? I don’t see what the big deal is.

      On the other hand, I can see why feminists would want to put a woman on some of our greenbacks. We live in a symbolic world that tells us who is important and who is not. For years, women couldn’t even vote, And for years after that most people thought women were too emotional to take on a role like the presidency. So women have been excluded from that. And it’s possible that when we get our money out we unconsciously notice that only men are on the bills, which can help teach us– Unconsciously–that men are more important than women.

      • It feels like competing and in taking a highly important president figure, it’s also dismissive to the president. I’d agree if dollar bills were of historical figures and a mixture, but the fact is that they are of our past significant presidents. If it was a mixed pot, I’d agree, but it’s of the presidents so feminists don’t have to snub a president being on there. Because if that woman is on the 20 dollar bill, then they might as well not have any presidents on dollar bills, because it is not now uniform with just presidents.

        On the other hand if a woman becomes president in the future and say 20 years in the future and she’s a significant leader, then maybe have her included to maybe a new addition for a 4 dollar bills maybe, I don’t know. Maybe have this woman on bonds or other types of paper work instead. If you choose who you think is important, then everyone will want this person, that person to replace another president. Next thing you know a pop culture icon replaces a president. They see it’s just men on dollar bills, because it’s only been men. But like I said if the next run of presidents in a row are women, then heck they can replace the presidents we have on the bills, because they are presidents as well. The dollar bills are a president exclusive club. Maybe they shouldn’t be, but they’ve been all this time, so it feels like unnecessary competing to do that.

      • Well I don’t think the pop culture should replace the president. But there have been some very courageous and successful women, Like Susan B Anthony, who helped more than half the population to be able to vote. It’s a pretty big deal. And symbolically I do think you would be good to have some strong, successful women on our money. I don’t see what the big deal is if Susan B Anthony replaced Andrew Jackson.

  16. This is interesting because even though I am woman, if I was asked the same question, I would have said the same answer as their’s. The reason is that I was not sure what the feminist is. Of course, I learned it in your class, but when I heard about the story of feminism, I felt that it had some negative impressions. For example, feminists hate men. After I saw this video, I figured out that the wrong definition of feminists seems to have been expanded instead of the true one, so people can be confused what the feminist is. Now, I can say, “I am a feminist” out loud.

  17. “Well I don’t think the pop culture should replace the president. But there have been some very courageous and successful women, Like Susan B Anthony, who helped more than half the population to be able to vote. It’s a pretty big deal. And symbolically I do think you would be good to have some strong, successful women on our money. I don’t see what the big deal is if Susan B Anthony replaced Andrew Jackson.”

    She’s not a president. If she’s on there, then they might as well take all of the presidents off and replace them with a mix of figures. If they don’t, then it just doesn’t fit in or make sense to have the rest be presidents except for the 20 dollar bill which has susan b anthony. Plus it kind of shits on andrew jackson like he’s a lesser president than the other ones, since it’s him replaced compared to the other presidents. If they want to incoroporate historical women, then it either be all women on dollar bills or none. All presidents or none. To have it mixed and all presidents and her randomly, just doesn’t mix nor logical as it doesn’t go with the reason or pattern. I think the better solution is to put a famous woman instead in a bond or other important type of paperwork or something new.

  18. I think as how you have always mentioned in class, people comes up with their own stereotypes of what feminism is and how media shows feminist in a bad light, men are afraid of being a feminist. I think the concept behind the stereotypes of a feminist is that they show a great amount of animosity and hatred towards the male and wants to take over them. This is why men are not supportive of feminism. But now that, there are public awareness and education on it, feminist is not about taking out men. NO. It’s about equality in gender, of any type, and to create a better standard of living for people that do not show manliness or have male genital. It is very encouraging however, to see that even when men are not feminist, they still believed in the equal rights of men and women. I can only hope to meet more people and enlighten them about the real definition behind feminism.

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