Feminism Is Good For Men, Too

Gender equality is good for men — and for everyone, says CUNY Professor, Michael Kimmel, expert on men and masculinity, and all-around good guy.

Check out his TED Talk. (I summarize his main points below — and add a few of my own.)


How is gender equality good for men? And for everyone?

Men and women both benefit from gender equality

When relationships have equality couples are closer and happier, with greater marital satisfaction. Oh, and there’s more sex.

Gender equality also brings both men and women healthier bodies and less depression. So they are less likely to take drugs — legal or illegal.

I’ll add that feminism also gives men access to their full humanity, so that they needn’t repress healthy parts of their nature — bringing out their caring, nurturing, emotional traits, and letting them admit when they need help.

Children benefit from gender equality

Joseph Gordon-Levitt sees that men benefit from feminism.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt sees that men benefit from feminism.

Men who believe in gender equality are more involved with their kids — which makes for happier and healthier dads and kids.

Children with engaged dads are also less likely to have psychological problems, including ADHD, and they’re less likely to be taking any sort of meds.

Not surprisingly, they do better in school and are higher achievers.

The economy benefits from gender equality

Businesses and the economy also benefit from gender equality. Employees are happier and have greater job satisfaction. So there’s less turnover. And productivity is boosted.

I might add that when companies don’t assume that men are better for the job they’re more likely to get the right person for the job. That aids both productivity and marketing.

Bottom line: the bottom line is stronger.

Also, one of the best ways to give an economy a shot in the arm is to educate women and girls, and get women actively involved in the paid economy.

Another help for men: when women bring in money some of the burden of providing is lifted from male shoulders.

Getting the life you want

Interestingly, when men’s rights activists (MRAs) complain about how feminism hurts them, I point out that patriarchy is the real problem — because it always is. (For more on that, see “related posts” below).

Prof. Kimmel says that:

  1. Gender equality is the road to the life you want.
  2. Gender equality helps men to be free

That’s right. Gender equality is good for us all.

Related Posts 

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 October 2, 2015, in feminism, men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. I have been thinking for a long time that feminism, this word, was cread only for women. So I was surprised when I first saw this title, but I got the answer when I going though all those staff. Peivilege is invisible to those who have it. This is a rational words that no one understand the feeling until you are in that situation. Men should know this, they should realize the benifits which bring by gender equal. Gender equal brings us higher levels of happiness in our family, our workplace, and also in our nation. It’s good for the kind of lives we want to llive. For men, they also want to have terrific relationships with their children, they want to be a good father, and they also want to find a partner to remove or share their burden on the work, they expect to be able to balance work and family. Feminism can figure out this problem. Just like Michael Kimmel said, “Feminism will make it possible for the first time for men to be free.” leting the women have their careers as men are, by letting the men share the housework as women do, we could create a better atmosphere. “Gender equality is not a zero-sum game, but a win-win for everyone.”

  2. I agree “Gender equality is the road to the life you want and… Gender equality helps men to be free ” I grew up thinking that I had to be a certain way as a man. I felt I needed to be athletic, out spoken, confident and a jack of all trades. It put undue burden on me that led to depression and self-hatred, because I had to conform no matter what. Eventually I realized that women and men and multi-dimensional and I was ultimately happier by not conforming. I realized that there is no real definition for what men and women should be, even though many in society seem to think there is. By learning that men and women are equal and capable of the same things, I was free.

    That being said, there was another point made in the TedTalk, when he addressed his peer seeing herself as a “black” woman, rather than just a woman. There is a level of intersectionality that I believe must be addressed beyond gender equality. We have to look at how race, religion and many other factors play into the opportunity and overall perception each individual person has to face. We need to create an inclusive environment that does that blur out these lines, but rather makes them visible and welcome.

  3. I’ll have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect before I pushed play on the video. Since the title was named feminism is good for men, my mind automatically associated it with feminine tasks. I guess what I decided I don’t like about the term feminism is what makes something feminine really besides what culture has decided as feminine. Apposed to gender equality where it stating more so that everything should be equal. The video for the majority of the time refers to it as gender equality and only uses feminism at the end to quote a article title. For some reason, even though I am a female myself I liked when the video talked about it as gender equality more.

    As for the video, I found it very informative, interesting and engaging. The first bit about how you describe yourself I felt was very important and should be a more commonly posed topic for people to think about. I grew up in middle class suburbs in Texas and the majority of the people around me were middle class white people. I was definitely less aware of my ethnicity growing up, going to college and specifically abroad definitely changed my perspective of how I perceived my self in the mirror. The first was when I was done studying abroad and I choose to travel alone for 2 weeks. You know what annoyed me, that I was a young girl, I could’t go out at night alone, I had to be careful where I went, I couldn’t go to certain countries, everyone kept acting shocked when I said I was traveling alone. At that point I was vary aware I was a female. Then a year later when my 2 roommates got back from a year from Italy I got to hear about there experiences. They loved it, had a great experience and got to travel around a lot. What they got tired of very quickly was there day to day life. My roommates happen to both be Indian. They sadly had to come back having stories of constantly being harassed, people being racist towards them and people overall treating them with less respect. I was so focussed on it being the worst that I was a girl that I didn’t even think about that whole time abroad how much more they had to deal with being a ethnicity other than white. It really made me think about how important his first point in the video is that we first have to make gender visible.

  4. It’s about time that people realize gender equality benefits all! It annoys me that when people think of the term feminism, they think it’s a man hating term. Or men believe that if they say they’re a feminist, it’s very emasculating to them. We can’t control every feminist out there and I think there are certain people who just hate men and consider themselves feminists. But people need to realize that feminists just want equality. Equality means that women and men are equal! It does not mean that women are superior to men, it means we are all equal. These have been my views about everything until I read this post and watched the TED talk. I never really realized the specifics about the benefits of gender equality. I mean I understood most of them, which is why I’m an advocate for it, but it’s more helpful when you list it out and think about it then. I never thought about how men become more involved with their kids when they believe in gender equality as well. It makes sense because equality in a relationship would mean women aren’t doing all the work with children. I love the thought about how men can have access to their “full humanity” because it is so true. Men aren’t allowed to express their feelings, be considered nurturing because it’s not manly or it’s just not what they do. Which is so wrong because it is a human thing to be nurturing, caring, and emotional! Thank you for a great post that is very educational!

  5. I really enjoyed this talk, and it is SO ironic that he talks about “mansplaining” feminism and privilege when he is explaining feminism and oppression. I love what he says, but so many women before him, often women of color, have said the same things that he said and have been criticized or ignored. I believe he also touches on this (the difference between when he says it or when a women says it). It is sad and ironic that women, when fighting for their own rights, are often demonized and their power to stand up for their own rights are diminished, but when men talk about women’s rights and oppression, they generally have more power.

    I do like that he explains why feminism, or gender equality is beneficial for men and the economy, etc etc. However, I also do think that it is strange that treating one half of the human population as equals is predicated on studies proving that is better for health, economy etc, as if they are proving that women should be equal, and not saying that women should be inherently equal even if gender equality doesn’t improve health, economy, etc. If the studies should happen to NOT prove that gender equality has all of these benefits, would it mean that they have scientifically proven that women should not be equal to men? That feminism is not a worthy cause because there is no visible benefits (especially to men)? I think this problem lies in capitalism, but that is a whole different (but interrelated) problem.

    • Because so many people, especially men, take men more seriously — and also because we are all in this together — it’s really important that men who believe in gender equality speak out on it. In Kimmel’s case I wouldn’t say he’s “mansplaining” because he’s not telling feminists how they should feel — critiquing them and saying that they are wrong and that they should understand it a different way — a more male way — from how they do. He supports women’s experience.

      His point isn’t that the only reason someone should support gender equality is because it’s good for everyone. But since it is good for everyone it’s helpful when people can understand that fact. It helps people to get on board more.

      Every now and then I get a “men’s rights activist” who complains that gender equality causes problems for men. And every time I show him that gender equality is actually the solution to the problem he’s talking about. Understanding that gets more people on board.

      • Alexandria Raymond

        I really enjoyed Michael Kimmel’s talk, he was so engaging and made some really substantial points. The first that struck me, was the lack of awareness due to the structure of social confines that make gender inequality such an invisible issue, if you are among the privileged. It’s almost so ironic that it’s funny. This system of inequality is built do so well that unless those who reap “benefit” from it’s system, first become aware of it and then speak out, it’s greatest change for the system will not come.

        In one of the you comments you said, that it is “often most most powerful when they come from the privileged.” And you are right. Professor Kimmel knows this too, as he intros his talk blatantly stating that he was their to recruit men.

        Unity must occur for social change to take place. In one of his lines Michael Kimmel states, that “we can not fully engage women and girls, unless we engage men and boys.” It’s never about a one sided fight or a one sided agenda the benefit may inherently come to one but the harm comes to us all.

        Thanks for the share.

        Also I was able to pull up the article that Michael Kimmel referenced, “Feminism for Men.” Good, quick read http://thebaffler.com/ancestors/feminism-for-men

        “And that is what feminism is going to do for men—give them back their souls, so that they can risk them fearlessly in the adventure of life.” – Floyd Dell, Feminism for Men

      • Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation. You have some very thought-provoking points and links.

  6. This was a very interesting post and yes, I agree with Ted video clip and also about the post. The right form of feminism can give benefit two genders, both men and women. However, few kinds of feminist go for gaining the upper hand of male. They always say that most women experiencing entry barriers and only men have benefited in most of the job. And these kinds of people proudly say they are the real feminist and they will change the world. But in my personal opinion, I do not think they have entry barriers. Actually, I want to help women to break those barriers for gender equality. As mentioned in the post, since gender equality can also benefit at house income. Therefore, a double-income family will live wealthier than single-income family. This will give me more free time from working days and I strongly support this. Not only me, but also many of my friends also agree with my opinions. I and many males are actually supporting right forms of gender equality, but extremely hot with the wrong form of feminism.

  7. I thought the Ted Talk was really interesting and agree with a lot of the points he makes. Feminism is a good thing, and at the end of the day is beneficial for both men and women. However I’ve always wondered why it’s called “feminism.” I honestly think if they changed the name more people would be on board with it and less inclined dot believe its about women having more power than men. I remember being in a sociology class and the teacher asking everyone in the class who considered themselves feminists to raise there hands. About a quarter of the class did, but when he asked people to raise their hands if they believed in gender equality and equal pay and treatment between men and women, the entire class rose their hands. I think that has to show for something. I sometimes wonder if Feminism was given a different title if it would be more embraced and less divisive.

  8. I really enjoyed the beginning of the Ted Talk where he describes a scenario that happened in the study group. It’s surprising that there are still many people today that believe that all women face the same exact problem with patriarchy. However, race is also a huge problem when it comes to feminism since some discount problems that minority women face because those certain people experience oppression in a different way. It’s nice to see someone talk about privilege and make it known because people need to realize that they were born lucky and have a certain privilege compared to others.

  9. Yes, it’s all true Georgia, I’ve seen it in my own life and others. It does seem kind of obvious, but I have learned (helped by comments in US gun reform posts) that we do not all think alike!

  10. Alana Wynne O'Neill

    Obviously gender equality is good for everybody. It makes people more relaxed and not have to feel like they need to live up to the standards of being a “man” or a “women”. I feel like everything would run smoother if there was more gender equality because everyone, for the most part, would get along instead of feeling like they always need to be superior over someone else. It also helps with mental problems, such as anxiety and depression which can be caused by someone bashing someone else for being a man or a women.

  11. To be honest, I used to hate men because they are in charge of everything and have hurt women for a long time, like throughout “the history of the world”. I even thought about hurting back when I see women betrayed and struggling. However, due to the inherent feminine kindness or fear of failing maybe, I started to pursue gender equality. Yet after taking Women’s Studies, I realize that men could be hurt by their privilege as well. They could be depressed in that they must succeed to fit expectations on them from the whole society. Plus, in this twisted world, success means money, power and social status, excluding happiness, and they must try to obtain those things even if they don’t want to. Thus from this post and the speech, I do learn a lot about men, gender equality and the society. It also gives me hope for the future, as all kinds of human beings can fight against gender inequality together for a better world.

  12. his was a great talk by Michael Kimmel, who clearly has had a clear understanding for most of his life. It’s really great to see. My favorite line in the Talk, “Privilege is invisible to those of have it.” This is often very true, as it is easy for those to walk through life looking in the other way. Ideally, as humans, we can evolve past the point where if we have something, we don’t need others to have it too. I think this is something we are supposed to learn in Kindergarten.

    There are a long list of fantastic reasons for overcoming gender equality, such as both genders being happier healthier, children who directly benefit, and businesses and economy are better served. In addition to this, it’s really simple. People should do it because it’s best for humanity and this is why it frees them. It’s not able social constructs, we have to move past this to really grow.

  13. The situation has improved by several times over what it was during my school days, Georgia. Back then, in the 1960s and 1970s, it was a rare sight to see a woman in India drive a car. It was so much of an unequal, cloistered existence for women. Forty to fifty years down the line, it is a sea change for the better, and it can only progress further from now on. The salutary benefits, as listed by you, in a situation with equality of opportunities and equality in relationships, will certainly reflect in overall quality of life, not only for individuals but also for countries as a whole. There may be aberrations in the journey but it is a process that cannot be stopped. The future is surely bright…

  14. I remain completely flummoxed why anyone wouldn’t want men and women to be treated as equals . Awesome benefits aside how could it at all be negative?

    • Yeah, it’s really strange. Yet based on what some MRAs say, and some comments I get — and often delete — some guys feel threatened, even though they’ll end up better off.

  15. It’s so embarrassing that we still have to say this!!!!
    Great post, great share.

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