Proclaiming Oneself as a Male Teenage Feminist
As far as I can remember, I’ve always considered myself a feminist. It was simple—anyone who strove for equal rights for women was a feminist.
But not many males, at least teenage males, would be quick to point themselves out as feminists. The word has a negative connotation in the young adult world. Besides being viewed as an outdated term, being a feminist brings along the baggage of people assuming that you wish to achieve equality by subjugating men with one hand and burning bras with the other. Dullards like Rush Limbaugh call empowered women “feminazis” and “ugly” and says that women like “male chauvinist pigs.”
There’s a few problems though. I’m a male feminist who doesn’t want to be subjugated, I don’t wear or burn bras, I really hate Rush Limbaugh, and I don’t consider myself a pig, much less a chauvinist one.
The biggest problem, however, is that teenage males and females are bombarded with the lies that feminism is all of those things that the right wing noisily spews, not just from talk radio or televangelist pulpits, but from mainstream sources that fetishize obedient women and dominant men. Who wants to get rid of the wage gap when all of the cool girls are starving themselves to fit into clothes that show off just the right parts, and the all of the cool guys are taking steroids at the gym to get buff?
Teenagers have to learn to overcome these horrible hegemonic attitudes. It’s no wonder that there is still so much inequality gender-wise in the world today, when the seeds of discrimination are sown so young.
Though feminism is about women’s equality and women’s liberation, there has to be strong support from men. Young males need to reject the antifeminist and heterosexist notion of one ideal male—a muscular, straight, straight man that uses his phallus like a sword to lay as many girls as possible. That is a barbaric idea that must be countered with acceptance of differences. This means not using the word “bitch” to describe women and not using “gay” as an insult.
While overcoming the mainstream is hard, it can be done. Proclaim yourself for who you are, and feminism will follow through. Males included.
I am a 17-year-old straight male from northern New Jersey. I enjoy reading, writing, and playing baseball with my friends. I am a political junkie. My favorite ice cream cake is Fudgy the Whale. And I am a feminist.
Proclaim yourself for who you are. Tell everyone. Hopefully, you’ll discover that calling yourself a feminist becomes just as natural as saying your favorite color or favorite TV show. In the words of Pete Seeger, sung by feminists during protests, to this unfair system we now inhabit, “we shall overcome.”
*First published July 18, 2009
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