Of course I’m a feminist

Author: Diogo Queiroz de Andrade (Deputy Executive Editor at Público

It is so simple, and so obvious. To be a feminist is to advocate strict equality between men and women in every matter. It is to promote freedom of choice for both women and men.

And yes, it is worrying that an editorial in defense of feminism is still needed in a newspaper, in 2017. However, everyday active public demonstrations of machismo are still happening, behaviors that should shame us and are still tolerated.

Machismo is the main root of domestic violence, and is still one of the most regretful statistics we have to show for. Machismo is also what fosters the recommendation of certain toys for girls, what determines why women earn less than men for doing the exact same job, what prevents women from getting certain jobs and what feeds the analysis of women on solely sexual and sensual grounds.

We can, and should, discuss every way possible to tackle the issue at hand. It is legitimate to discuss quotas, it is reasonable to question if catcalling should or should not be punishable. But the time to discuss the root of the problem should have ended long ago. It is simply not wise to discuss whether or not we should be feminists.

We only need to look around us to grasp what needs to be done. Women are further and further away from school. They have less access to the job market and when they do get there, earn less and are more precarious. The numbers do not lie: most illiterates in the world are female; there are still 18 countries in which husbands can forbid their wives from working, and only 67 nations have laws against gender discrimination in recruitments; over half of women in the EU has suffered from some kind of sexual abuse; merely 28% of working women are entitled to some kind of protection regarding maternity leave.

And, if the numbers do not lie, neither does perception. When the world’s most powerful president stands for the objectification of women and manages to win the elections, there is motive to worry about the public debate status. When the comments’ sections on most newspapers or Facebook discussions about Emma Watson become crammed with savage comments, we realize how far we are from living in a civilized society. This is why we should be redundant in a newspaper and say the obvious: I’m a feminist.

 

This op-ed has been published in Portuguese newspaper Público on March 8, 2017. Here ist the original version (in Portuguese).

Can Men Be Feminists?  A Male Point of View

Author: “Herrmann Mann” (meaning no harm)

As a man, which I most definitely am, feminism is a tricky topic. Of course in the overall societal sense my opinion is valued statistically higher than the opinion of women (which truly is a shame, because I know many smart women). By being male (which happens to be my gender), I benefit from various mechanisms that make it easier for me to speak out; mechanisms that also create an atmosphere in which women feel like they have to find other outlets and platforms for themselves to do their own thing. A lot of women have made the experience of being widely discouraged from joining certain groups, clubs or even take certain jobs – and they really don’t like it. It makes them angry.

That’s why feminism a tricky topic: I know my opinion has a higher “market value” in society but very often I am told that it is not welcome. How can I, as a well-meaning man, deal with this conundrum (for those who do not know what this is, google provides a good explanation)?

There may be some feminists who would argue that providing a platform that specifically excludes women, as well-meaning as it is, is a step in the wrong direction because what we need is more dialogue, more openness, more exchange to ultimately normalize the fact that women have voices and opinions. But to those feminists I say: What about all the men who are afraid of them? Men can be shy and some feel intimidated by women who think they might know a little more about the struggles that they face in everyday life.

Men, however, face struggles, too. This has nothing to do with mansplaining, because I do not believe that it does. This is a real problem: As the man that I am, I want to take a stand but when I speak about the issues that women face, it always comes out like I am explaining it to them (even though I’m trying to explain it to other men). And when I try to explain that it is hard for me, as a man, to speak about issues of gender equality, it sounds like I am making it about myself, but saying that I don’t intend to make it about me makes it all about me again. It’s a bummer. Some may argue that the issue lies in the fact that I am not talking to them, but about them, but I don’t believe that’s it.

I’m a man. Really. I have a penis and everything.