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Matt Petronzio: It’s Okay to Be a (Straight Male) Feminist

February 28, 2011

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By **Matt Petronzio**

When I was a freshman, my girlfriend’s philosophy professor took a poll of her class, composed of about five men and thirty women. “Who here would self-identify as a feminist?” he asked. Only one male student raised his hand. Even more shocking, only four female students raised their hands. Why wasn’t everyone raising his or her hand? I suppose we have to take shyness into account. But isn’t being too shy to admit you’re a feminist only exacerbating the problem, or at least proving that there’s a reason someone would be too shy? Why does feminism carry such a stigma in the 21st century? Aren’t we beyond this?

Apparently not: a year later, an officer of my college’s feminist club at the time, told me seriously, “You can’t be a feminist, you’re a boy.”

Last month, my literature class was reading Rebecca West’s Indissoluble Matrimony. In small groups, we were discussing whether or not it’s a feminist piece of writing. Everyone wanted to know what I thought, “the only dude in the group.” When I said that I am a feminist, one of my classmates motioned at me and said sarcastically, “Oh, yeah, here’s the face of feminism” while the others laughed.

Do I have to be a woman to believe in women’s rights? Do I have to be gay to believe in gay rights?

I think such ignorance stems from confusion over just what exactly feminism is. Take,

for example, the Julian Assange rape case. Prospects of a fair trial have been called into

question due to accusations that Sweden’s chief prosecutor Marianne Ny is a

“malicious radical feminist” who is “biased against men.”

The Guardian brings up a good point: what the hell do these accusers mean by “radical feminist?” Specifically, radical feminism was an aspect of the feminist movement in Europe and North America during the sixties, but only a fraction of radical feminists exhibited male hostility—not enough to define the movement. So why is the defense so afraid of having a “radical feminist” as chief prosecutor? Could the real fear lie in the fact that a feminist voice might ring true and work against them? As The Guardian points out, sixties-era radical feminists focused on fighting domestic violence, gender inequality, and sexual harassment. So I pose this question: in a world where these issues are still prevalent, why is being a contemporary radical feminist a bad thing?

Copyright 2011 Matt Petronzio

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Matt Petronzio is an editorial intern at Guernica.

To read blog entries from Matt and others at GUERNICA, click HERE .

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One comment for Matt Petronzio: It’s Okay to Be a (Straight Male) Feminist

  1. Comment by vetxcl on April 10, 2013 at 10:59 am

    IF you ‘have’ to ask, then you’re being too cute by half and manipulating for comments.

    I’m a ‘feminist’ in my way, and do n.o.t need permission from anyone. Do I meet other’s standards? No, not often. And that’s ‘so sad.’ ‘Just sayin’. (The latter being two other examples of too cute by half.)

    However, my i.n.h.e.r.i.t.e.d sex includes the dynamic of being invested in my own self identity, which can not be surgically removed. This does and will color my thinking – to allude to only one social force.

    In any event, when someone uses the other rhetorical device of asking ‘what is meant’ (particularly when laced with manipulative, dramatic words,) by (insert obvious point here,) then what they are likely doing is attempting to redefine and distract from problem solving.

    A) Hiding behind a question mark is a trite artifice.

    B) Feigning ignorance is the lazy (wo)man’s way of looking smart.

    Thanks for taking up space. Maybe soon you’ll figure out how to make a case. Or maybe your only goal is elicit comments.

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