How to be a feminist as a cis man

by Emma Rose Kraus

I’m a feminist and as such, I am adamant that all the people I surround myself with also identify in the same manner. Even the men, including cisgender men, who are in my life.

So, one may be asking, “How can a cis man be a feminist?” My response is this: Easily. But there are some guidelines.

Every good feminist knows there are many types of feminism, yet since feminism is a progressive movement, it simply doesn’t work when paired with neo-conservatism or neo-liberalism.

Feminism is the equality of the sexes. Every feminist acknowledges that there is sexism in the world which enforces patriarchal powers that deny women the rights and opportunities allotted to men.

Male feminists must accept and acknowledge the privilege they were born with as males without pointing fingers back at women or making excuses. The privilege must be accepted with grace, poise and a determination to change things.

This means that cis male feminists don’t view women receiving rights via laws as unfair or as special treatment. They see those rights as the only just and logical solution to a complex and systematic devaluation and oppression of women all over the world and throughout history.

Thus, cis men who identify as feminists must be aware, alert and accepting of facts, but not necessarily blame. Just as when white people show their ‘support’ of people of color by actively feeling ‘guilty’, they do nothing positive for the movement.

So, just as they must be accepting, cis male feminists should always be active and working every day in whatever small or large way they can to further women’s rights.

That may include calling out a friend who used a swear word rooted in devaluing women as subhuman to describe a politician. Or just trying to complement females, not on our looks or apparel, but on other, more important features such as who we are as individuals and human beings.

A cis male feminist will also understand the complexities of intersectional feminism and, if he does not, will ask a knowledgeable woman or non-cis-male person in his life to explain to him what he needs clarification on.

He will not simply assume that just because one woman said something wasn’t a problem means it isn’t a problem. Instead, he will know that even women can be misogynists and even non-cis people can have problematic ideas.

Just because one is a gender minority does not make their beliefs a mirror of the beliefs and feeling held by the majority of those with that gender identity.

So, he will also know that micro-aggressions (such as using words like “exotic” to describe women of color and “crazy” to describe a girlfriend when she disagrees) are just as harmful as the violent aggressions taking place both overseas and in our own country.

Finally, a male feminist will always support gender equality, as it takes nothing away from him but gives rights, freedoms and opportunities to many others.

This also means a cis male feminist will be active in helping his cis male friends to understand the double standards placed on women and the oppression we are subjected to. And he will be adamant at them to becoming informed citizens and feminists themselves.

As a feminist currently seeing a man, it is more important to me than ever before that men be active in believing in and fighting for the rights of women. There is no way to profess love or otherwise for a partner or a friend or a family member if there is no respect for their fundamental rights and freedoms.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly - 7/30/2017 @  2:03 p.m. CDT