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The rise of the male feminist: Why men are finally embracing the F-word

Maria Bell
by Maria Bell Published on 31 May 2013
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Anyone notice the sea level rising? It could be global warming yes, but another reason might be the icy attitudes towards feminism are starting to thaw, and now more than ever, men are embracing feminism too. In fact, over the last couple of years things have started to change pretty dramatically. So what does the F-word mean for the modern day man?

Feminism is having a bit of a moment. In the last week alone facebook has changed their policies towards hate speech directed at women and a campaign about losing Lad’s Mags from supermarket shelves has started to gather some serious momentum.

​Projects like No More Page Three and Everyday Sexism have been busting down the pillars of patriarchy one figurative brick at a time. From every direction it seems like the old models of misogyny are being taken down, but what kind of impact is feminism having on men?

Rick Norris, Chartered Psychologist says: “Certainly most of the behaviour that might have been acceptable forty or fifty years ago no-longer is. Nowadays most men’s jaws would drop if they saw a colleague pat a woman on the bottom as she walked past. It’s really about the sociological impact that women in the workplace has had. Women have changed the workplace - they’ve made it a less aggressive and a less sexist place and male behaviours have had to change accordingly. ”

Changing attitudes

The old stereotype that a woman’s place is in the home is for the most part, long gone. The almost cast-iron notion that women should give up their careers and look after the kids is seen as archaic. The idea that it is OK to make lewd cat-calls to your female colleagues is now considered embarrassing for everyone involved. Don't get us wrong, these problems are still there, but the key thing is that compared to only twenty years ago, in all walks of life there has been an important shift in attitudes and men are actively involved in that.

It’s not like men are being forced to get on board with feminism. You only have to glance at twitter to see it’s not just women who have a problem with what is going on around them. From reacting to sexist marketing, to hate speech campaigns and much more, men's voices are increasingly forming a key part of the debate on equality.

Feminist men on twitter:

@HamiltonRyan #iamafeminist because equality should not be an aspiration, it should be how we live. Brilliant writing @JamilaRizvi

​@Peyork I love @PUMA... but will stop shopping there until they make better marketing choices #iamafeminist http://bit.ly/oTE66I

@joecoawrd @EverydaySexism on #fbrape campaign. Sort it out @facebook pic.twitter.com/hniSCxpcXr

@AdamRichman As a supporter of @RAINN01, to see a "No only makes me harder," shirt at Indy & now this http://now.msn.com/facebooks-response-to-rape-joke-says-it-doesnt-qualify-as-hate-speech … , I worry for our future

Ash Booth, PHD Student at Southampton University says: “I couldn't agree more that Lad’s Mags should be removed from the shelves. These days, it is constantly forced upon us that women should be a size 6 with DD+, 'perfect' skin and not a hair out of place. I’ve seen first hand (and many times) the strain and damaging effect that this kind of pressure has on many beautiful and amazing people. It's horrid.”

Good Men

Instead of the idea that men should be lone rangers built to face the world alone, now there are projects which actively encourage men to think about what it means to be a man nowadays. The existence of the Good Men Project, a social platform to discuss issues facing modern men, is proof alone that a man's place in society is undergoing a transition.

They say: “Guys today are neither the mindless, sex-obsessed buffoons nor the stoic automatons our culture so often makes them out to be. Our community is smart, compassionate, curious, and open-minded; they strive to be good fathers and husbands, citizens and friends, to lead by example at home and in the workplace, and to understand their role in a changing world.”

Despite the fact that men are getting on board with the F-word and are considering issues that were once only though of as 'female', there is still a long way to go.

The very fact of the feminism means that there is still a lot of sexism and inequality to fight against. The objectification of women won't disappear overnight, people's attitudes that have been formed over years won't change immediately, but what has changed is that these discussions are no longer purely participated in, or raised by women alone.

From celebrity giants like Alastair Campbell coming out to support No More Page Three to the rather lovely Ryan Gosling’s self-proclaimed feminism, the 'Carry On' generation of ‘calm down dear’ seems to be coming to an end, something we all have reason to be happy about.

by Maria Bell