Why I am a Feminist

I’m a Feminist.

I don’t shave my armpits. Or my legs. I don’t have sex with men and I don’t wear a bra. I’m an atheist, am not planning on being a mother, and I never really liked Barbies.

And yes, I am a man.

I started calling myself a feminist during my first year at college. In part, this was in response to meeting so many wonderful well-educated, independent women who seemed afraid to assume the title. Too many times I heard, “Well obviously I think that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men, but I’m not, like, a feminist or anything.”

I started replying, “Well, I’m a feminist.”

I’m not going to rehash all the reasons why people shy away from this label. The Regressive party (Get it? Cause it’s the opposite of progressive!) has managed to infuse the word feminist with an image bra-burning, man-hating and ugly-lesboathiest whiners that somehow has stuck. It’s a myth. Get over it.

This is what feminism means to me:

  • Women and men must be valued equally in law, society, and economy.
  • Women must have equal, unalienable rights to their own bodies.
  • This currently is not the case.
  • Therefore it is our responsibility to make changes that will bring about this equality, both in official (legislation, policies, etc.) and cultural (ending abuse of women, rape culture, etc) paths.
  • Women must stand together to support each other and this cause.
  • Men must stand with them.

I was raised believing in feminist ideas, but in college I started labeling myself, replying, “Well, I’m a feminist” in the hope that in some small way this might start changing the perception of the word from an insult to an honor.

Today, I feel that we have reached a political and cultural climate where being a feminist requires more. Women’s rights are being infringed upon at an ever greater rate and scale. Dozens of states are passing bills that five years ago, my freshman self wouldn’t have believed possible. I thought we had got over this whole abortion thing, like 49 years ago. Maybe it was just political naiveté, but I sincerely thought that these kinds of bills were the struggle of the previous generation and that, like women’s suffrage and interracial marriage, women had won the Right to Chose forever and ever, Roe vs Wade, Amen.

But I was wrong. There are bills being proposed and passing that Require mandatory vaginal probing before abortions (aka state-sanctioned rape). A bill was passed in NH that required doctors to tell women (inaccurately) that abortions cause a higher risk of cancer. (This bill is now under review after being passed.) Bills that require women to view ultrasounds before abortion, yet allow doctors to withhold information about complications with the pregnancy if it might cause the women to decide to get an abortion. And this makes me so angry.

It also makes me want to do something about it. There was a big scandal a while back (centuries ago in the US news cycle) about the hearing before Congress on birth control that featured an all-male panel of experts.

This picture was passed around the internet with various captions, all asking “Where are the women!?” A good question. The one great thing about this assault on women’s rights is that women have mobilized in a bigger way than I can remember. The response to proposed de-funding of Planned Parenthood, the response to vaginal ultrasound bills around the country. Over and over in the past few months we have seen women rallying together and fighting to keep their basic rights and dignity.

But in the middle of all of this we should ask, “Where are the men?”

I don’t know about other men out there, but I’m actually really glad that my sexual partners have access to birth control and the right to chose to have an abortion. Kids are cool. I don’t really want them at the moment. While I belive that more men should be involved in standing up for women’s rights in general, isn’t abortion and birth control something that we should really be getting behind? I see it as a very personal issue for men as well as women. I don’t think there are that many men out there who are going halfsies on their girlfriend/wife/hook up buddy/other’s prescription for hormonal birth control. But I do know that both the man and the women are benefiting from it (leaving aside all the non-contraceptive uses for the pill that are also not covered by insurance)!

If women are “having too much sex” that is causing pregnancies, then men must be (wait, let me do the math for a second…oh yeah!) HAVING THE EXACT SAME AMOUNT of sex. And if men’s insurance premiums are slightly higher to cover this, that’s a good thing. It’s a lot cheaper than a kid.

Women’s rights are not just a women’s issue. As men, we benefit when women are given the same rights, opportunities and respect that we receive. Stand up to sexism. Fight it your government, in your workplace, on the street or in your friend’s rape “joke.” It IS a big deal. And ending repression, discrimination, and violence against women is our responsibility too.

So here is my request to men (and women):

Be a feminist. Say, “I’m a feminist.” Take pride in the label and encourage others to as well.

Until men take an equal stand for gender equality, it just isn’t going to happen.

So we need to get working.

[Edit: Yes, it's fine with me if you share this post. Please do. My hope is to help spread these ideas and make them more mainstream. If you are inspired to pass it on, go for it! ]
[Edit 3/28/12: So the response to this article has been way bigger than I ever thought. This article has gotten more views than the past six months of writing which is either very exciting or a bit depressing :-) If I may, I would like to ask you to pass this on. If you know men or women who would like to read this, please share, stumble or email it! Many thanks to everyone who has commented or sent me an email, it has been so interesting to hear what you all have to say!]

So this entry was a little bit different than my usual topics of sword dancing and adventure. I hope that you enjoyed it anyway. I really hope that you will let me know your thoughts on this one. If you enjoyed this, I would appreciate you passing it along! I think it’s important. I will be posting a sword dance update soon. Until then, let’s ensure that women’s basic rights aren’t taken away. Actually, let’s do that after I post too. -Jeremy

About Jeremy Carter-Gordon

My blog of a year studying point-and-hilt sword dancing on a Watson Fellowship. Enjoy reading, tell me your thoughts and leave me a comment, or visit my website at JeremyCarterGordon.com
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79 Responses to Why I am a Feminist

  1. Paul Phillips says:

    Great post but I think one other thing to keep in mind is the fact that some of this legislation, in some way, is intended legislate men and women equally in terms of sex in general. I know that sounds strange but the motive behind some of the people pushing these ideas is a high amount of religious belief that says sex should only be used for procreation purposes and never for pleasure. The problem for those people when they are trying to create legislation to enforce their beliefs on everyone else is it all has to be directed at women because they bear the burden of being the sex that produces the offspring. It’s not that there is nothing that could be legislated toward men and sex but, strategy-wise, the road will be easiest for them to link everything to abortion because it is such a divisive and high-profile issue. As long as highly religious people are involved in this debate, they will push for legislation that in one way or another tries to limit sex for pleasure regardless of how much the rest of us disagree with them.

    • But they’re not limiting men’s access to viagra. This is about controlling women. You don’t see Rush Limbaugh calling any men sluts.

      • Paul Phillips says:

        True they are not discussing limits to Viagra but remember, for the hard right religious folks, it’s about sex being only for procreation no matter how much most people disagree with that (myself included). That being said, their argument is contraceptives, in whatever form, open the ability for people to have sex for pleasure and not for making babies and they are very much against that. Viagra could be argued as a medical remedy for erectile dysfunction and is used for procreation purposes. Of course, this looks ridiculous considering it’s pretty much been all men making these decisions and having this debate. To really go after the religious position, Viagra isn’t the thing to attack. Vasectomies should be the male equivalent to address. People should just start calling for a ban on vasectomies and see how the entire Republican base reacts. A lot would likely go for it but there would probably be enough backlash to kill the issue.

      • Kat says:

        Sex is for procreation and pleasure. Viagra does not kill people. Abortion does. Are men or women willing to take some one’s life just for an evening of pleasure?

      • Kat says:
        March 29, 2012 at 3:15 am

        “Abortion does [kill people].”
        Of course, this is the root of the disagreement: At what point during pregnancy, if at all, is there a “person” inside the woman? Some people – apparently including you – say from the moment the sperm cell fertilizes the egg. Some say there’s no “person” until birth. A lot of people draw the line somewhere in between. Simply stating that your definition of “person” is the “correct” one, based only on your own moral convictions, is not enough to make it the “correct” one in any objective sense. I’m not saying you’re wrong – just that your argument is subjective, not objective.

        “Are men or women willing to take some one’s life just for an evening of pleasure?”
        Your rhetorical question implies that women seek abortion for the purpose of having consequence-free sexual pleasure. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true in some cases, but it’s certainly not true in all cases. I think you already knew that, though.

    • siobhancavan says:

      Good points, I completely agree with you. Just a passerby adding to the issue, there are actually medical reasons why women get put on birth control, one being endometriosis which can cause infertility. Birth control prevents the effects of the condition. Agreed that this is not the reason why most people go on birth control, but then that argument applies to viagra etc. I completely agree with what you’re saying but I to add, think that their argument is primitive to attack birth control as a way of preventing pre-marital sex. It is the easy road, and I feel that it reduces the legitimacy of the argument.

    • siobhancavan says:

      Brilliant post by the way. And beautiful writing.

  2. ronni o says:

    jeremy!
    you are beautiful!
    your words!
    your thoughts!
    love
    snookums

  3. thingsiamangryabout says:

    Yes! I love how young women, especially, are so encouraged to appear as sexually as possible – and yet the minute actual intercourse is in the equation they are labelled as the devil and unworthy of any kind of support. Fantastic point about men needing to have the same amount of sex as women in order for all the evil woman sex to even be taking place. I’ve been semi-following some of these cases (I’m Australian) with absolute astonishment. Really – what?? How can this even be happening? This culture of women either being prudes or sluts is just insane.

    I didn’t start considering myself a “Feminist” until a few months ago, when I realised that – as you are saying – all that word really means is that women and men should be valued equally (and for the same reasons) in society, and not that I’m a crazy, bra-burning, anti-male banshee as most sources would have me believe. I recently started a blog to vent about things like this, my first post is about the way teenaged girls feel they need to represent themselves in order to be valued by their peers – go have a peeky if you like.

    • maksimideas says:

      It’s not necessarily the same people demanding women to be sexy and chaste at the same time. It’s a combination of pressure coming from different sources.

      Also feminism means more than equality between men & women, and it means different things to different people.

  4. Nancy Knight says:

    Yes! You tell ‘em, Jeremy! Thanks for this unusual post, and I hope it gets lots of attention!

  5. skidkidd says:

    When did it become controversial for someone to say they were a feminist? It never was for me growing up, but when I say I am now, I get strange looks. I’ve taken my friends all the way to the dictionary to show them their mistake – being a feminist is, by definition, uncontroversial. Let’s take the term back from the fringe and bring equality as a general mindset back to the discussion. One shameless self-identification at a time.

    Love where your head’s at, Jeremy. And your voice. Fight the good fight.

  6. Coleen says:

    Thank you for this post! We feminist women could use more feminist male allies like yourself

  7. M says:

    Thank you! Thank you so much! I’ve been talking about this same thing – how women’s issues are men’s issues and vice versa – since this whole abortion crap came out. Your words explain it much better than mine did. Thank you.

  8. Bobbie says:

    As a feminist from the last wave, I really appreciate your post, Jeremy. I too have trouble understanding why young women reject the label “feminist” when pretty much everything they believe about and want for the world seems to be consistent with my understanding of feminism. Do you mind if I share the link to this post, even though I don’t know you personally? (I found it via Natty.)

  9. maksimideas says:

    Great post. Of course I agree about the laws that attempt to physically exploit women. These should be fought against not because we’re men/women but because we’re human beings, and the laws exploit other human beings.

    Unrelated: I guess a point is that if equality of men & women is the goal asap as opposed to eventually, then we need laws and policies that today give preference to men and women. It’s like if you’ve been driving at 30mph but want an average of 50mph, by going 50mph it’ll take you forever to get the average of 50. So I call myself a feminist because I’m for women getting affirmative admission to colleges and universities, and to jobs as well. When I’ve talked to others who call themselves feminists they seem hesitant to support this view because I guess it could verge off into misandry.

  10. Dragan says:

    Here’s why I, a young woman, reject the title “feminist”: I think it is far, far to narrow a term. I don’t disagree, I just think it’s more in keeping with my ideals to think what feminists think for women for all people. Many people, maybe most, agree with this idea too, so why just say feminist? Why the focus on women? Humanist is already taken (though I agree with much of that as well), so I’ll go with person-ist? People-ists? So, like some of your college friends…I don’t disagree, but I’m still not a feminist.

    • Adina says:

      One day, I hope we’ll all be able to call ourselves “equalists,” but that’s a concept beyond reality right now. As maksimideas says, if you’ve been driving 30 mph but want to average 50, you’re going to have to go overboard for a while. We need the word to make it clear. The focus on women in this case – not in any way to ignore issues of race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, or educational bias – is to highlight and protest the fact that 49% of the population is institutionally subjugating the other 51%, based on internal plumbing and hormonal mix. In addition to the other labels I wear, I am also a feminist, fighting for equality.

  11. Molly says:

    Amen sister :)

  12. minstrelm3 says:

    Older blog posts look really fascinating, so I will come back to read them. Meanwhile, thank you for writing so clearly and energetically. I was a feminist in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and still am; but had not noticed the term has been hijacked. Let’s all take it back. At the school where I teach, discussions among faculty, staff, and parents lead back to the fundamental question, “What is best for the children, the students?” In the bigger world, the discussions should go back to the same kind of thing, “What is best for wholesome situations for our children and adults?” Equality of education, health, opportunity, and treatment is the clear answer, in my view. Thank you for writing so well!

  13. mhairi says:

    It’s good you understand the need for women’s liberation, but you are *not* a feminist.

    Here’s why
    http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2012/03/25/on-pro-feminism-and-its-imitators/

    • rubisco says:

      That is the most ridiculous article I’ve read about feminism is a very long time. As a female, woman-identified, lesbian feminist, and part of the feminist community, I am pretty tired of this argument that men can’t be feminists. Male-identified men cannot be *women*, but they most certainly can be feminists (and all the bullet points in the blog above explain why, by very nicely presenting one definition of what it means to be a feminist). The argument the author uses is akin to saying that straight people can’t be allies, or white people can’t help dismantle the racially-biased system that has been in existence for more than 400 years. When I was a young teen, my father mentioned that he was a feminist, and I will always welcome his energy and support through his words and actions, as a feminist.

      • mhairi says:

        There is a big difference between an ally and someone actively fighting oppression. Leadership and ideology of liberation movements must come from within

      • dorritg says:

        Not only is it ridiculous, as a woman I find it offensive. First, implicit in it’s definition of female-ness is pregnancy and child-bearing. I am female. I could have children, but choose not to. Does this make me less a woman? No, of course not!

        Next the assumption that all women are exploited: “To live female under patriarchy is to be continually exploited under the weight of these expectations and experiences.” How utterly outrageous! I am a woman. I don’t feel exploited. Not only do I not FEEL exploited. I am NOT exploited. I have worked for men and women, in large organizations and small, largely in male-dominated industries and have never once been discriminated against or exploited because of my gender. I have always been promoted with, or often sooner than, my male colleagues and, except for my first year of employment have always been compensated as well as or better than they have. That first year of underpayment was my own fault for not even trying to negotiate. A year later when my first boss left, the new boss went to bat for me (unasked) and got me an 18% raise I didn’t even know I deserved. That new boss was a member of the patriarchy – male, retired military, very conservative (the only person in an office of thousands who regularly wore a suit to work). Not only have I lived an unexploited life – but I grew up among unexploited women – my mother has for most of her career earned more than my father despite being in the same profession and, usually, employed by the same institution. My grandmother earned so much more than my grandfather that for most of their lives his income was an insignificant contribution to their household income allowing him to spend much of his time doing charitable work and teaching. So, not only am I not exploited, but I come from a long line of women who refused to be exploited, suppressed, oppressed. To impute a state of exploitation to all women simply by dint of living in this world is to rob us, me, my mother, my grandmother of our power. It is offensive.

        Am I naive enough to believe that the world is free of exploitation, of intolerance, of oppression? Of course not! So let us not add to the totality of intolerance in the world by denying membership in the group “feminist” to people who are committed to improving the treatment of women, to recognizing us as equals, to fighting exploitation, even if those people don’t happen to be female themselves. Men may not be able to experience everything it is to be a woman, but everyone, man, woman, black, white, gay, straight, short, tall, everyone experiences intolerance or rejection at some point for some inherent trait – race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or even just preferring a book to a football. Anyone who can experience hatred can also fight it. So I say, let us welcome the male feminists, let them help us and help the world.

        Personally, I think it takes a great deal of courage for man in this patriarchal society to step up and say “I am a feminist.” Let’s celebrate that and let’s all strive together for equality for everyone.

    • Hi there, thanks for reading! I realize that not all feminists believe that men can be feminists, and that is fine by me. If it is more comfortable for you to replace that with pro-feminist, that’s great. I agree with your point that leadership and theory should come from women, but disagree personally that men shouldn’t be part. The reason that I call myself a feminist as opposed to a pro-feminist is that I think that it is important for men to have a stake in the struggle, not just be “pro” or ” in favor.” Lilla Watson once said (well, she quoted from a collective) that “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” I think pro feminist implies trying to help. While I believe that I am trying to help, I also mention in the article that I think women’s rights are not women’s issues.
      I am glad to see that you revised the third paragraph to include women who cannot or have not experienced the events you mention. Many of the women that I talk to disagree with the idea that these (or their potentiality, which still seems a problematic phrase as the potential does not exist for all women) are the experiences that define feminism. As I see it, (admittedly from a male privileged perspective) your sentence “To live female under patriarchy is to be continually exploited under the weight of these expectations and experiences” applies to much more than “periods, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion and menopause” Women who do not get periods are not exempted from oppression in the patriarchy. This definition aslo seems to potentially exclude the trans community from feminism.
      As I mentioned before, if you regard me as pro-feminist, that’s fine for me. I hope that I was able to explain my reasoning for calling myself feminist in this context. Thanks for reading and commenting! Jeremy

      • mhairi says:

        Thanks for your considered response.

        Its not the experiences or potential experiences which gender people necesssarily, but the assumptions that they will have them. So women who dont have periods arent exempted from patriachy because part of being gendered female is the assumption that you do, and i agree its much broader than the snapshot I gave.

        I do consider you a pro-feminist, not a feminist, but I would take that as a compliment. Most men that declare themselves feminists are usually neither.

    • Carly says:

      I am going to be bold here and say that I think that is sexist.

      Definition of Feminism: 1.
      advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

      There is no gender requirement here. To make one up over “they could never understand” to push out another group and say they can’t use a definition because of their gender, is sexist.

  14. Kayla Vaughn says:

    Thank you. It is always nice to read blogs like this. Coming from a young feminist, I appreciate your support!

  15. Morgan says:

    There’s a lot to like in this post. Thanks for sharing it.

    But I also see some unexamined male privilege. And as a male feminist, part of your job is to confront your unexamined male privilege.

    ‘I started calling myself a feminist during my first year at college. In part, this was in response to meeting so many wonderful well-educated, independent women who seemed afraid to assume the title. Too many times I heard, “Well obviously I think that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men, but I’m not, like, a *feminist* or anything.”

    ‘…I was raised believing in feminist ideas, but in college I started labeling myself, replying, “Well, I’m a feminist” in the hope that in some small way this might start changing the perception of the word from an insult to an honor.’

    Why would a man saying he’s a feminist help change that perception? B/c it’s cooler, less awful, less of an insult, if a man’s a feminist? B/c it says, Well, I’m a guy, and I’m a feminist, therefore not all men will hate you if you’re a feminist — ?

    Or b/c it challenges the thinking that only women can be feminists — ?

    Something for you to think about. (And maybe write about.)

    • Hi Morgan,
      Thanks for your thought-provoking comments! This is something that I actually thought about a lot in the act of writing the article. I was very aware that the entire tone of the article changed when i added the sentence “and yes, i am a man” after the intro. I also realize that the attention that it has gotten probably wouldn’t have come about if that sentence was not included. And this is a privilege that I have not earned in a particular way. While I hope and believe that I have expressed myself in a cogent and useful way, I’m sure there are many women who have written articles with the same title that have not gotten similar attention as they are more common and unfortunately get devalued by this.
      In regards to the sections that you point out, my intention is not really any of those things (well, sort of the last one). I hope to change the false stereotypes about what and who a feminist is. In the intro to the article I was trying to subvert some of the common stereotypes that I have heard used in insulting ways towards feminists by ending with the fact that I was also a man. As I and many commenters have pointed out, many people shy away from this term (which i think is an important and empowering label) for fear of these stereotypes. I think that when anyone publicly declares themselves a feminist, it encourages others to do so. I think that when men do this, it can be very encouraging to other men to support feminism, as it starts to break down the idea of masculinity being contrary to feminism. (So that is where i agree with your last option) I also believe that it can be encouraging to women because I, as a man, by definition do not fit into the stereotypical pigeon-holing that is used to attack feminists. This broadens the definition of feminism and allows for a possibility to include oneself.

      I hope that answered your questions and helped explain some of my thinking! I really appreciate you bringing up these points, as i think it is something that I (as well as all male feminists, as well as female feminists with other layers of privilege) struggle to address in myself, both in thoughts, action and writing. This isn’t usually what I write about at all (which a quick glance at my blog will show :) but maybe i will continue in the future at some point. I hope that you and others will continue to help me notice and process these assumptions in myself.
      Thanks for reading and sharing!
      Jeremy

      • Morgan says:

        Thanks for responding.

        And I did love the intro, it’s true. In large part b/c I just love things that pop people’s assumptions, or reveal them in a huge way. :)

  16. MichaelEdits says:

    Brilliant. I honestly don’t understand how someone can not be a feminist.

  17. Rock on, mister! And do take the comment on examining, owning, and openly acknowledging your own privilege as a helpful suggestion, not as a rejection of what you’ve said. :)

    • Hi Cassandra,
      Thanks for the encouragement. I wrote a short response to the comment on examining privilege on the original comment. I would love to hear your thoughts on it and get feedback!
      Thanks for reading and sharing!
      Jeremy

      • Sounds to me like you’ve done the work. :) It’s so hard for us privileged people (“us” because, e.g., I’m white and able-bodied) to a) see and recognize our privilege, and then b) ally with oppressed people without dragging our privilege into it.

  18. zoecarter says:

    Hey Jeremy, This was a great piece. I’m proud of you for putting it out there and for expressing your personal beliefs with so much passion, conviction and — yes — humor. As you can see from some of the comments, there will always be people who will respond negatively and/or challenge you when you take a stand — and that is a good thing (as long as it is done respectfully). It means you hit a chord and made people think.
    As a fellow writer, I really appreciated your clever — and funny — intro. You had some great lines:)
    It’s strange how some things don’t change. I was your age thirty years ago but remember being totally perplexed when other women my age began backing away from the label “feminist.” They seemed to be equating it with being a man-hater or “un-feminine” or too radical. Radical — really? What’s radical about the idea that men and women should have equal rights? And in terms of the person above who rejected the term feminist because she wanted to identify herself more broadly, I have to say it doesn’t have to be either/or. There is nothing wrong with the term feminist. It is one of many ways to identify. My two cents…
    Keep writing!
    xo your feminist aunt

    • Hi Zoe, thanks for the encouragement! I really enjoy the comments and issues people have been bringing up and I hope that the discussions that come out of it continue to be so productive! I like the intro too :)

  19. Dear Jeremy, Great piece! I really admire your putting your thoughts out there with so much passion and conviction and — yes — humor. (Loved the opener!) As you can see from the comments, not everyone agrees with you but that’s okay too (as long as they disagree respectfully). It just means your words struck a chord…
    It’s funny, I remember being your age and feeling like the women around me were backing away from identifying as feminists. Being a feminist suddenly seemed to mean being a man hater or “unfeminine” or just too radical. Radical? I’m not sure what’s radical about believing in equal rights for women. Seems like a pretty straight-ahead concept to me.
    It’s also kind of weird that someone identifying as a feminist would think this meant they could not also be a humanist, a “people-ist,” or whatever other “ist” they chose. Feminism is just one important aspect of being a fair-minded, self-aware person. But that’s just my two cents… Thanks for sharing yours!
    xo, your feminist aunt

  20. sos says:

    Loved it!. Sharing on my blog – boilingwok.wordpress.com :) Thanks

  21. Pingback: Why I am a Feminist (Reblogged) | Boiling Wok

  22. Carissa M. says:

    Jeremy,

    Thank you for writing such a poignant piece about women’s rights and feminism. The current state of the “Republican” approach to woman’s health and all is absolutely appalling to me, as I thought that my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother had fought for long enough to win control of their bodies. I love that you bring up having a part in paying for women’s health (higher premiums, etc) because that seems like an actual solution. And for those that may object, I love your point about men having just as much sex as women. (Wish I could see Santorum’s reactions to these questions.)
    Thank you for being a Feminist with the rest of us!

  23. artzent says:

    Wonderful post! Takes courage to argue this way in this political climate. Saw a program today about the way women are supressed in Afganistan. Are we headed that way? It seems to me that we are going backwards and I find it hard to contain my anger. I like to believe that we are moving forward in our ability to allow people to live and let live but then religion rears its ugly head and otherwise sensible adults join the idiots. What are they afraid of? are they so insecure that everyone must be exactly like them even if it means they murder in the process. I am not asking them to not have babies: I just want them to leave me the hell alone!

  24. Cassie says:

    YES, YES AND YES! Thank you for being one with women!

  25. Cassie says:

    Reblogged this on Sisters From Different Misters and commented:
    This is a fantastic, perfectly written post on how I feel. Thank you Jeremy for writing this. Thank you.

  26. Kate Kali Ma says:

    Jeremy-

    That fact that “feminism” isn’t the focus of your blogging makes me love it even more. Feminism has not only been turned into a naughty misnomer, but it is assumed that to be feminist, even if it IS a legitimate cause, is an all consuming identity. Like feminists don’t have jobs or hobbies unrelated to feminism. Like we only crawl out of studio apartments filled with back issued “Ms.” magazines to go to protests. That it isn’t about some weird political agenda, just about being a conscientious member of society. Like your feminist aunt (hi there!) said, feminism is just a facet of being a well rounded person.

    I admit, I know nothing about Sword Dancing, but I’m sure after reading your blog I will be much more educated. Ooooh, how I love finding the connections between humans!

    • Hi Kate, thanks for your comments and encouragement! I love your point about feminist being just one aspect of identity, not a single defining feature of a person’s existence! I would love to see a post on something like that!
      Yeah, the sword dancing is totally unconnected, but there are a lot of gender dynamic issues that i have been thinking about. If I ever get caught up I am looking forward to exploring that more!
      Jeremy

  27. cestlavie22 says:

    I love this post! I am so glad that a man took to writing a piece and actually labelled himself a feminist! It is so nice to see a man taking this label. It is important that we all band together in gender rights and realize that neither party is in the issues alone! We need to do this together! Thanks for the well written post!

  28. eleanorpierce says:

    YES! Thank you. Spreading around a link to this post. <3

  29. Reva Aber says:

    Thank you!
    I am a 52 year old Feminist with 3 daughters. My middle daughter posted this article to my wall, and I am so happy that she did. I truly prefer the term “humanist’, but until the inequalities are addressed, Feminist, it is.
    You have renewed my faith, young man!
    (this feels so disjointed, but I haven’t had my coffee yet – please forgive)

    • Thanks Reva! I don’t use humanist in this setting (although I also often consider myself a Humanist) because it has meanings other than what one might assume from “feminist.” We definitely can be both! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  30. I love your wonderful writing. super contribution. I hope you release many. I will carry on reading

  31. WRITE MORE, JEREMY! Thumbs up ;)

    • Thanks Lela! I mostly write about sword dancing (which is interesting too, if you are nerdy about strange dances like me!) but I’m sure that I will write more of my political/social thoughts at sometime too! Some really interesting gender dynamics in sword dance! Thanks for the encouragement!

      • Staśa says:

        There are lots of geekfeminists in the folk/contra/Scottish/English/Morris/sword dance community/ies. (I’m mentioning those only, b/c those are the ones with which I’m familiar; doesn’t mean there aren’t in others as well.) *grin*

        Interestingly, Edinburgh is the only place I’ve ever danced where there’s gender-free SCD (although there are groups in other cities in the UK). But I’ve never come across gender-free SCD in the US, not even — or perhaps especially not? — in places where the contra community is most gender-fluid.

        Anyway, analysis of gender stereotypes, power relationships, gender roles, and gender role challenges in different kinds of such dancing would be another whole post… *delighted smile*

      • Hee! I’m into dance as well, contemporary or traditional Asian ones ;) Keep up the good work!

  32. Awesome post! I always appreciate when men aren’t afraid to call themselves feminists! I especially love the section about women’s rights not being just a women’s issue – a lot of people tend not to realize this.

  33. Katie says:

    Nice post! I really enjoyed reading it. Glad to hear it is getting around.

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  36. Way to go, Jeremy!! You are so right. I’m so glad you took the time away from dancing about and having adventures to make a stand for the rights of women. We need more men like you!

    Cousin Curtis
    p.s. I thought I signed up for our blog months ago, but it didn’t work. Can you please put me on you blog list? Thanks!

  37. Jeremy, thank you for putting this out there into the ether if the internet! I’ve struggled for years to find what my place is in this movement. The exchange between you and mhari was so well done. I love the fact that neither of you got mean or snarky. Just two intelligent beings exchanging ideas on a topic. It’s really hard for me to form coherent thoughts linked together in response to your post. I will just say, “Thank you Brother!!”

  38. Taryn Yudaken says:

    Thanks for saying “Well, I’m a feminist!” I wish more people would let that myth go and get with the program!

  39. Thank you for this post! Language is so important that even though many of the individuals (not only men) who don’t identify as feminist ARE indeed feminist in their beliefs, their rejection of that term implies, if not rejection of our claims, then shame in supporting us. Why is it shameful to believe in equality in the United States in the 21st century? Thank you for putting out the call for feminists to step forward, reclaim that language, and take pride in standing for equality.

    Also, your trip sounds amazing and I’m excited to learn about a totally different cultural tradition from your posts. (I’m hoping to self-fund the project I developed for the Watson one of these years… :) )

  40. Jessica says:

    I agree with most of what is being said here, although saying, “I’m a Feminist.” isn’t going to mean the same thing to a bunch of people. If I were to, in mixed company, say that I was a feminist I would get looks of confusion, and possibly some smiles. Of course, I’m talking about if these were people I knew and I just decided to announce that I was a feminist. Because feminism is associated with women thinking that being a mother and wife is an oppressive responsibility thrust on women from the male demographic, I would have many of my friends and family confused, as I want to be a mother and wife more than I want to pursue a career. In fact, I see motherhood as a career. Seeing as I disagree with most things associated with feminism, I can’t just tell people that I’m a feminist as it would send out the wrong message. :\

    • “feminism is associated with women thinking that being a mother and wife is an oppressive responsibility thrust on women from the male demographic”

      If this is the case among your friends and family (and yourself?), I can understand your reluctance to use the word to describe yourself.

      This sounds to me like characterizing a movement in general as synonymous with its most radical fringe. None of the many feminists I know, or whose works I have read, think that. While there may be some few who do think so, I can’t help wondering if they’ve ever actually heard or read such a view from a feminist, or if they’ve been told that by someone who opposes even more mainstream feminist beliefs.

      One of my most ardent feminist friends is, in fact, a wife and mother, so committed to rearing her three children that she home-schools them, while her husband works full-time outside the home.

      Mainstream feminism is not concerned with telling women what they should or should not do. It’s about women’s freedom to make their own choices, whether that’s wife and mother, or some other career. The “oppressive male demographic” comes into the discussion when a male-dominated social system restricts women’s freedom. Changing that social system is what feminists are fighting for.

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  42. SamPanda says:

    Hey, I’m going to be antagonistic here but I have to say beforehand that I’m NOT sexist — I believe all groups of people should have equal rights under the law. I’m also not Republican, not from the South, and not religious. In fact, I used to be very pro-choice myself.

    But there’s something no one’s bringing up here which is the point at which we grant rights to unborn children. Obviously an embryo that hasn’t developed a brain yet isn’t human. But I’m just wondering, when do YOU guys(an’ gals) think that it becomes not ok to abort a child? Because there isn’t a clear line that the baby crosses from being not a human to being a human. If you wouldn’t be OK with a baby being killed after the mother gave birth to it, would you be okay with a third trimester baby being aborted? And if not, why?

    Most people agree killing a baby is pretty horrible, and I know that pro-choice citizens of America are not bloodthirsty brutes who just want to murder children (in fact most of them are quite the opposite). But an 8 week old fetus has a brain, and it’s already started on the cognitive development trail that we follow for our entire lives. The difference between a young fetus and a delivered baby is a matter of degrees. So where do we draw the line from a woman’s right to her body to a child’s right to it’s life?

    • “there isn’t a clear line that the baby crosses from being not a human to being a human”

      Exactly! Far too many pro-life AND pro-choice advocates take the position that, since there is no bright line at any point in pregnancy, we must draw the line at one extreme or the other, where there is a bright line — either at the point of fertilization, or at the point of birth. This has led to various governments drawing the line by law at various points during the pregnancy, and enforcing, or attempting to enforce, this line through the criminal code.

      So there are really two questions: where, morally, does each of us draw that line? And what role, if any, should the government play in enforcing that line?

      Personally, I believe that the line is somewhere in the first trimester, as you suggest. But I also know that there are other people who very sincerely and morally believe that the line is earlier or later in pregnancy. While it may be a moral duty to change others’ minds, that’s very different from taking on the duty of restricting their behavior by force of law. Until we as a society can reach a moral consensus as strong as the one that opposes killing newborns, we have no business criminalizing abortion past any particular stage of pregnancy.

      Of course, this makes me unpopular with both the pro-life and the pro-choice crowd. Just as I don’t believe that we can enforce moral uniformity on this issue, I also oppose the view that says it’s nobody else’s business. Picket abortion clinics? Buy billboard ads with pictures of dead fetuses? Tell people that God opposes all abortion? All fine with me, if you believe that’s what it takes to change minds. But block the clinic doors, or write God’s opinion into law? No.

  43. Scarlett says:

    Hello,

    Thanks for this article, It’s a pleasure to see that men are also concerned with this constant and never ending sexism towards women. As a feminist, I often feel like men around me don’t really understand the purpose of our fight, and as you said, they have the wrong idea of what a feminist is. I see some weird glances when I say I am one.
    Clichés happen every day, I can count the times I heard things like ‘yeah but women don’t have the same desires as men, women are better with kids, women are more sentimental blablabla” those innocent beliefs are sometimes so hard to hear ! Change will require efforts from both men and women…
    Anyhow, just thought I’d comment on your article, good work!

  44. clow says:

    No, the label “feminist” is ridiculous. Why not “equalist” or whatever? Why does the term that’s supposed to label you as someone wanting equality have to be sexist?

  45. Nishajyoti says:

    Really nice post. You know what? Let alone man, even women are least bothered. Why even use the word feminist. Gender bias is a pathetic issue in our civilized society. Sometimes I feel the nomads and tribals are more civilized than what we call ourselves. There is equality, no psychological manipulations and no teaching from books….

  46. Evie says:

    Wow! I really like this article! Just thought I’d let you know, I love how you portray feminism as such a natural response because that’s exactly how I feel!! Many of the men I know say they didn’t even realise they were feminists became they’d assumed feminism wasn’t anything to do with them! I find it horrible all the misconceptions of man hating etc. It just seems really strange that feminism is seen as strange if that makes sense??? Anyway not that my opinion matters too much to you but fantastic work you seem like a lovely human! :)

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  48. Chaim Finkelman says:

    I found your website while looking for a quote my sister told me.
    When asked why he was a feminist a man answered, “I come from a long line of women.”
    I have not been able to find any reference to this brilliant quote. If anyone knows where it came from please let me know.
    After several women reacted strongly to my calling myself a feminist, I stopped. I enjoyed reading the discussion here. I am still undecided if I should call myself a feminist or one of the alternatives.
    I found your responses inspiring. Reading the thread I would get all worked up by someone’s post, when I would hear a negative tone. You would respond with such openness, appreciation, and without any defensiveness. It kept the tone civil even upbeat. It required almost no blocking of peoples post. I don’t know if you worked through feelings of defensiveness off line with people who know and love you or if you just didn’t feel that way but your responses are a wonderful example for me.
    In response to those who say men can’t be feminists because women should lead the feminist their own liberation, how that would have worked out for other social justice movements; abolition for example. Also who should lead the movement to liberate me from my sexist thoughts and how they hurt me? I understand that the sexism in the society hurts women more then it hurts me and that I need women role models to show me women are more, better, and different then our society like to portray them. I also need male role models to show me I can be different, better and more then our society tell me I should be as a boy.
    Anyway thank for you blog. I may even read a thread or two about sword dancing.
    Love
    Chaim

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