On Nov. 12, 2018, an article was published on CNN in which the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, stated he is “absolutely” a feminist.
He informed the reporter that his father had always taught him to defend the rights of others, which then translated into feminism through the help of his wife, Sophie, and his mother.
Later in the interview, Trudeau references a particular discussion he had with his wife about their children. He recalls telling his wife how important it was that their young daughter is raised to be a feminist. His wife replied, “Yes. And your sons?” A sentiment he quickly agreed to after recognizing the importance of instilling the feminist mentality into both of his sons as well as his daughter.
For some, this may provoke questions such as: is feminism something men can truly be a part of? Are they capable of being more than just an ally, but a true feminist just as women?
The truth is, feminism is something that everyone can and should be a part of.
We live in a society that thrives on male domination, and while women are inherently the punching bags of the patriarchy, this type of society isn’t truly beneficial for anyone.
This means that the men who write off feminism as just an organized form of “man hating,” are simultaneously reinforcing a society which harms them as well.
In her essay, “Feminism is for Everybody,” feminist writer Bell Hooks defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” She goes on to explain that everyone is capable of participating in feminism the same way that everyone is also capable of being sexist.
In order to combat sexism and its degradations to society, she states that one must be willing to relinquish the benefits that the patriarchy provides them with, and be prepared to check ourselves on any behaviors that we exhibit that perpetuate institutionalized sexism.
When we become aware of our sexist thoughts and actions and continue to substitute them with feminist based choices, we begin to break down the system that has been ingrained in us since day one.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the book, “We Should All Be Feminists,” gave a Ted Talk in 2012 in which she stated the ways that both women and men are affected by rigid patriarchal confines.
She then redefines feminism as something that men and women should equally consider a priority.
“I am a feminist. And when I looked up the word in the dictionary that day, this is what it said: ‘Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.’” Ngozi Adichie said. “More of us should claim that word. My own definition of feminist is: a man or a woman who says, ‘Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it. We must do better.’”
When we realize the validity of her definition, it becomes evident that feminism is far from just “a girl thing,” as it is most often misinterpreted. Feminism is something that benefits both men and women by challenging instilled gender norms and fighting for an even playing field for all.
Thinking about it this way, it becomes difficult to imagine why anyone would not want to consider themselves a feminist. To oppose feminism would be to oppose living a better life.
A life of freedom and liberation from the bonds of stereotypes and formulas for one’s lifestyle choices based on gender can be attained if we all start working towards it together. Our age group is the upcoming generation of leaders and decision makers, so it is in our hands to start advocating now for what we know is right.
So, if the answer isn’t clear already— yes, men not only can be feminists, but they should consider it their duty to be one. Not only will they be allies for the equality of their female counterparts, but they will be paving the way for future men who will be able to live free from the patriarchy’s effect on their gender as well.
Ali Kochik is a first-year student English Writings major. AK908461@wcupa.edu