Man, I Feel Like a Woman

Feminism has gotten its knickers in a twist by disregarding half of the population, argues ROBBIE AIRD.

equality Feminism masculinity Men person Robbie Aird

There’s something wrong with feminism.

On paper, it’s doing everything it should be: it’s taken a powerful stand against gender inequality, crimes against women, and the image that the patriarchy expects women to fulfil. This is all good; very good, in fact, and I by no means intend to belittle these achievements when I say that feminism has been ignoring one massive issue: men.

‘Preposterous!’, I hear you cry, ‘Feminism exists because of men and the problems they created!’ True, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. You see, feminism shouldn’t just be looking out for women; it should be looking out for men too. Not because men have been oppressed over the ages; not because men get intimidated by groups of leery women at clubs; but because at feminism’s core is a fight to ensure that a person’s gender has no bearing on the way in which they live their lives, and to that extent it is not just a movement for women, but for humanity as a whole.

One fairly minor issue that women deal with frequently is a simple one: who pays for dinner on a date. Now, a femicentric (to coin a word) feminist will restrict this issue to the idea that if the man pays, it belittles the woman by implying, for instance, that she must rely upon him. This is true. I am not arguing with this. However, the flipside is that many men, myself included, still feel some sort of lingering obligation to pay; not because we feel that we need to help the woman sitting opposite us, but rather because it seems somehow culturally expected of us.

It's all smiles now, but who's picking up the bill?

It’s all smiles now, but who’s picking up the bill?

When I offer to go Dutch on a date, I should not ever have to think ‘Well, I’m going to be a good feminist now. Yay me!’ That’s ridiculous, and above all, patronising to women. I should be able to split the bill because there is no greater sense in having to pay because you are a man than there is that being a woman means you have to have things bought for you.

‘Masculinity’ hovers over feminism like a glass ceiling. If we continue to ignore the expectations put upon men by centuries of patriarchal society which precede our time, then feminism is never going to get anywhere. Why? Because destroying ‘femininity’ whilst leaving ‘masculinity’ firmly in place means that we’re left with ‘men’ and ‘people’. I’d quite like everyone just to be a person.

A victim of the patriarchy?

A victim of the patriarchy?

Let’s have a look at The Pitt Club. A frankly vile, all male institution that thinks it’s acceptable to go up to a group of girls and say ‘You’re invited, but you’re not’, based solely on their looks. I don’t even need to explain why that makes me die inside. However, feeding its inherent misogyny is a mind-set that tells these poor, deluded young men that they, as men, need to be running the show. No matter how much we argue with them about feminist issues, institutions like this are never going to change unless they realise that that’s not what men have to be like.

Misogyny has become so inherently linked to the idea of masculinity that there are those who feel that refusing to go clubbing in all male groups and try to get with/spot/terrify the ‘fittest’ girl will make them somehow unmanly.

The Pitt Club by day

The Pitt Club by day

I was in Amsterdam over Christmas, and after gracefully declining a prostitute who leant out of a window to beckon at me, a group of nearby ‘lads’ saw fit to call me ‘gay’. As a feminist, in that moment, there were too many things wrong for me to deal with, and I emitted a small squeak, twitched my eye a little and walked on.

Fundamentally, my point is this: feminism, keep it up, you’re doing great and I’m proud to do my bit. Don’t, however, forget that we’re striving for the best society for every gender, not just for women. No, men do not have a history to fight against; no, I’ve never been groped at a club; but perhaps the best way to push things in the right direction is to start encouraging men to not only think differently about women, but about themselves as well.