This is probably the first of many things I will write on the broad topic of feminism, which in the last year has become the major focus of my politics. First off, let me just say that my reasons for feminism are long and multifaceted — and probably for another post. Or a few more posts. But simply put, I am a feminist because I believe in equality. That is such a simple explanation, I know, but when it comes down to it, that’s what it is. I am a feminist because I believe that I should have the same opportunity as a man with the exact same competency as me, whether that is in a professional setting or in a group discussion. Also, feminism extends to other groups of people who have been subjugated or otherwise sent off to otherdom by the white middle class majority. It just doesn’t make sense that one group should dominate society in so many ways just because that’s the way it’s always been.
That was all broad. But okay. So in the last week, this blog has popped up on Tumblr. It’s called Feminist Ryan Gosling, and it is just pictures of of Ryan Gosling in various states of beautiful with the text of someone’s Women’s Studies flashcards pasted over it. In short, it is glorious. It is perfect. It is all I want in a man, with a little crooked smile added in. I think the idea of a feminist man is so wonderful to me because it shows that he is capable of empathy for a problem that will never actually affect him. He could choose to ignore it and he could probably live a fairly normal life. But feminism in a man shows a degree of selflessness, of awareness, that yes, you were born into a state of privilege, and you recognize that not everyone was as lucky as you were, and you are doing your best to make up for that. A feminist man doesn’t wear dresses or lipstick, but he is not afraid to knit a hat for me. A feminist man can have a beard and fix the plumbing and also cook dinner and be willing to let me drive sometimes. A feminist man will pay sometimes and he will hold the door for me if he’s in front, and he will also listen to what I have to say and respect my opinion unequivocally. A feminist man would watch Amelie with me without feeling self-conscious. He would never use the word gay to describe something that isn’t actually gay. Like Amelie. A feminist man is attentive. A feminist man does not have unrealistic ideals of how a woman should look. A feminist man recognizes that I have dreams and passions too, and is okay with that — in fact, he encourages it. He would expect an equal amount of economic support from his partner. A feminist husband would clean the house just as much as the wife. A feminist father would learn to braid his daughter’s hair and allow his son to play with dolls.
Maybe you’re reading these descriptions and thinking “man, that actually kind of sounds like me,” or “wow, I think I would like that in a man too.” Ding ding ding. Maybe you’re a feminist. It doesn’t take that much to tip you over the edge.
I’m really trying to reach those friends of mine who are so afraid to use the F-word to describe themselves. More of you are feminists than you realize, and I’m really trying my hardest to break it down in a way that you understand. Feminism is not the death of chivalry. Feminism is not angry lesbians burning bras and hating men. Feminism is the simple desire for equality. It is the respect others’ differences without judgement.
Have I still not gotten through to you? Do you still hate feminists? Talk to me about it. Help me understand where you’re coming from. Because it’s only through communication and informed discourse that we’ll ever bridge these gaps.