Feminism: It’s not just for girls; Why I’m not afraid to call myself a feminist

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This is going to sound strange to you, but I’m going to say it anyway. My name is Jesse Levinson, I am a member of the male population and, not-so-incidentally, I am a feminist.

I have decided to create this article in hopes of severing the stereotypical connotations attached to the term “feminism.”

According to a 2013 poll by YouGov, only 18 percent of men identified as feminists before knowing the true definition of the term. However, after they received the definition, that number rose to 27 percent.

Contrary to typical belief, being a feminist does not mean I shave my legs and straighten my hair before I go to bed each night. Sure, I would enjoy a nice quinoa salad over a slab of meat, but that is besides the point.

The concept of feminism is simple: if you believe that men and women have equal rights, then you are, in fact, a feminist.

However, it’s not difficult to uncover why so many people feel reluctant to pronounce that they are feminists.

Over the years, dubbed “feminazis” have attempted to transform feminism into a radical attack against men, making it difficult for many people—men especially—to sign off on the concept. Yet, in reality, feminazis are not representative of the feminist movement, and men not only have just as much to gain from feminism as women do, but they also play a key role in instrumenting change.

According to US socialist Kris Macomber, men are “members of the dominant group; they have access to social and institutional power that women lack.”

Owen Jones, a writer for The Guardian, furthers Macomber’s claim by citing a 2012 study that found 78 percent of all front page articles were written by men, and 84 percent of those mentioned or quoted in lead pieces were men.

Basically, men possess the influential means necessary to influence modern society’s perception of the feminist movement.

And in reality, resolving feminist issues usually goes hand-in-hand with the interests of men.

For example, one of the major issues facing feminism today includes the United States’ dismal maternity leave system.

Prior to giving his 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama told Congress, “Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave to our workers.”

Addressing and changing this shameful fact will benefit men in a number of ways. For one, any father should support the idea of his child getting to spend as much time as possible with his or her mother. Also, a more fitting maternity leave policy could open the doors to enacting paternity leave as well. Considering that only 14 percent of employers offer a form of paid paternity leave, men should be outspoken in their support.

Additionally, although resolving social stigmas is typically considered beneficial for solely women, it has a resounding impact on men as well.

In his article “Men and Feminism,” John Crow writes, “By challenging traditional conceptions of masculinity, [feminism] provides an opportunity for men to adopt alternative social roles.”

I’ll admit it: when I grow up, I would rather not be the sole provider for my family, and I would rather not be obligated to act brawny in difficult situations. Honestly, why would anyone? As social roles evolve into a more equal playing field for men and women and social stigmas begin to fade away, we no longer need to feel restricted by stereotypes

With that being said, today I’m going to workout with resistance bands, then I might even do some yoga. After that, I’m going to skip the raw egg protein shake and eat a blueberry Luna bar because, let’s face it, we all know that’s the better tasting option.

So don’t succumb to the abrasive stereotypes that have become associated with feminism. If you believe in equal gender rights,  then you are,  by definition, a feminist.

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