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An Open Letter to Male Feminists

Dear Male Feminists,

Step up or shut up.

Your solidarity is appreciated and your cause is just, but your efforts often leave something to be desired because the effects have plateaued.

I’ve noticed a lot of you using the whole “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people” or “Feminism is just equality for the sexes” thing, and while this was great for the initial task of destigmatizing the term “feminism,” it’s time to move on from those basic definitions because they detract from the weight of the issues at large.

It’s too easy for a guy to hear “Feminism is just equality for the sexes,” affirm that they agree to that broad and vague definition, think “Why yes! I do believe that women are just like normal people!” and quickly congratulate themselves for being progressive and dismiss themselves from being “part of the problem,” even though nothing in their behavior has changed.

Feminism is, by it’s very nature, inclusive, but we need to draw the line to differentiate people based on their ideology. This isn’t a superiority thing, it’s a “trying to figure out who is actually serious about the cause” thing.

Most of you are at least partly correct: you (generally) do not actively discriminate against women, but most of you also aren’t doing anything to stop your male peers from doing the same. You shouldn’t be getting accolades for doing the bare minimum to not be sexist. Call your friends out when they call girls sl*uts, wh*res, or “crazy b*tches,” because the chances that every girl your buddy has ever dated or had a fling with is actually a “psycho b*tch” are extremely low. If this is true, maybe you should ask what about him is so terrible that it drives every girl he’s ever had a relationship with over the edge, because he’s probably the only thing they have in common.

It’s wonderful that so many men are claiming the title “feminist,” but this is essentially useless if they aren’t educated on what that entails. We need to move past the age where all it took to be progressive was to label yourself with a word and move on to a new era where that word actually accomplishes things.

I’m not asking you to stop calling yourself feminists; rather, I’m asking you to make an effort to fully embody and execute what it means to be one. If you join a rally or write an potentially inflammatory open letter, that’s great (and we will publish it!), but it doesn’t even have to be that big. Make a conscious shift in the language you use to describe women. Gently (or not) call your friends out when they say or do something sexist. Take a step back and listen to what women have to say about gender issues before busting in with your opinions. Don’t use “feminist” as your ticket to get a girl’s attention and don’t claim to know what women think if you’ve never even bothered to ask them.

If you don’t want to do these things, then step aside and let the real feminists – men and women – handle it.

With love,

Megan

 

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Megan Valley

Notre Dame

Megan Valley, Notre Dame class of 2018, is majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies and English. Some of her addictions include chai tea, naps, popcorn, flannel shirts and floral print dresses. She enjoys reading, writing, smashing the patriarchy, binge watching television shows of questionable caliber, and speaking about herself in the third person.
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