Northwest Missourian Opinion

A contentious photo of male actor Benedict Cumberbatch has surfaced recently of him rocking a fashionable t-shirt that reads, “This is what a feminist looks like.” I chuckled initially, but it made me wonder if men can support a cause that doesn’t need them.

Now, the definition of feminism, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.” 

Even though I am in full support of everything feminism claims to advocate for, I am nota feminist and do not claim to be one. 

By me claiming to be a feminist, I am debasing what feminism stands for. To combat this, I use the term “ally of women’s rights and feminist beliefs.” Although many have considered me as a feminist, I do not feel I have the right to have that title.

To identify as a feminist, you have to experience the life of a woman and the hardships a woman encounters in life. 

Feminism is not a fad, nor has it ever been. But for men to step in now after decades of hardships unbeknownst to them and claim to have a full understanding of what feminism entails is preposterous. 

A white person cannot claim to be “black” after standing against racial injustice just like a straight person can’t claim to be “LGBT” while supporting gender equality. Just the same, men can not claim to be feminist and suddenly gain an understanding for what have women endured.

All men are sexist in someway or another. In a report published by the University of California San Francisco, people of all sexes and ages experienceunconscious bias. 

The report also states that even if our conscious belief is to support women and respect their wishes, our unconscious bias will not always believe the same ideas. It also supports the idea that every caucasian person is somewhat racist, and that every straight person is a little homophobic.

That’s not to say that all men are sexist, mostly because I am one. But I do know that discrimination against women and their beliefs is rampant in our society and is closer to us than we like to admit. 

A quick glance at the top music charts and we can see how women are objectified and degraded at the expense of male fantasy and greed. 

Hundreds of women daily will post on social media of #everydaysexism and the encounters they have with the discrimination they face. 

There isn’t a viral Twitter handle relating to men’s everyday sexist struggles; there wasn’t a movement to give men the rights of women and there never will be. 

Feminism is not a man’s fight. Men do not share the burden that women experience everyday and will continue to encounter if nothing changes. 

The only thing we can do as men is to be a helping hand in the fight against female oppression and be in support of the same beliefs. This is the only way. 

So, male feminists everywhere, join me in removing your title of feminist and begin using the term “ally of women’s rights and feminist beliefs.” It’s not your fight, but you can be there to help.

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