Lifestyle, Manchester

“I’m a feminist because… equality should be celebrated not feared”

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Humanity Hallows Issue 5 Out Now
Pick up your copy on campus or read online

In the run up to Reclaim the Night Manchester UK 2017 on February 23, we’re asking students to share their experiences and tell us why they’re a feminist.

By Ryan Geraghty

“Why are you a feminist?” is a question I’ve become very accustomed to being asked. However, it surprised me the first time I was asked this question by a woman. To me, this highlights the misconceptions about feminism which exist within our society. There is a certain stigma which surrounds the word feminism, some believe it to be some sort of man-hating cult, and that being a feminist is usually accompanied by a lack in femininity or a general feeling of bitterness. To many the idea of a male feminist is preposterous, until they come to understand the word’s true meaning. Quite the contrary to the distorted view some have of it, feminism is a hopeful movement of equality, solidarity and respect. Yes, there may be elements of bitterness there, but rightly so. Women have been treated as inferiors by society for far too long, and are still viewed that way by many. Women have a right to be angry about this inequality, and so do men.

So what does feminism actually mean? Whilst I imagine many of you will already know, I find it important to clarify for those who may not, that feminism is nothing more or less than the complete equality of rights and opportunities for all genders. So why the stigma? Why the backlash? Why the hatred? Well, the truth is that whilst women’s rights have come a long way, most of the power in the world still lies with men. Look no further than the United States, a country that has still not had a female president. Men still have power over women, and the patriarchy is very reluctant to relinquish this power, which is why they will stop at nothing to demonise feminism. As I have said, it’s not just women that deserve to be angry about this. A white person deserves to feel angry when they witness an act of racism, a heterosexual has the right to be angry when they view an act of homophobia, and a man absolutely has the right to feel angry when they see an act of sexism, which the inequality of women in our society absolutely is. People deprived of the rights you have, receiving those same rights, does not mean you have been oppressed or done wrong in any way. Equality should be celebrated not feared. Men not only have the right to be feminists, but have an obligation to be so.

When I think back to my upbringing and the attitude I have had towards women in my life, I can’t think of a single moment when I genuinely believed a woman to be inferior to me because I am a man. Whilst I only started identifying as a feminist a few years ago, the truth is that I have always been one, I just didn’t realise it. To me feminism is common sense, equality is common sense. In fact, I very nearly named this article ‘I’m a feminist because… it’s common sense’.

For the men reading this article yet to be convinced, feminism would not just benefit women, but men too. Whilst men hold a privileged place in society, there is much in gender inequality which makes life harder for men. The world has a strangely twisted view of what a man is, and what a man is expected to be. ‘Real men don’t cry’ for example, is an absurd notion that can lead to emotional instability and even mental illness. ‘Real men should be big and strong’, ‘real men should like sports’, ‘real men should be attracted to women’. Well, to this, I say no. A real man treats women with the same respect he would give to a man. A real man respects a woman’s right to say no. A real man respects a woman’s control over her own body. In return, a man can express emotion however he chooses, like whatever he chooses, and be attracted to whomever he chooses.

So to men out there, I urge you to think about how you feel about women. Do you really believe they are in any way inferior to you? Do they not deserve the same respect and opportunities that you have? To women, I remind you that you are not alone in the battle for gender equality, there are many men who cherish and fight for equality of all kinds, and will stand with you in solidarity for your right to be seen and treated as an equal.

So why am I a feminist? Well, I’m a feminist because I believe in equality, I’m a feminist because it would be ridiculous not to be. I’m a feminist because I’m a man.

Ryan Geraghty is a freelance journalist and political writer based in Manchester. He is currently studying MA in Multimedia Journalism. Follow him on Twitter @RP_Geraghty

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