I am currently learning to speak Italian. It extends my horizons and is fun. When learning a new language there is always a peculiarity: swearing becomes – often quite early – a topic of discussion. In my circle of friends, people would want to know how much progress I had made already. A few common expressions were offered to me and I could actually already translate them. My friend Olaf suggested an insult, which startled me: “Feminist.” I disagreed and explained that for me, feminism is not a dirty word. There was a moment of silence. Then Olaf said, to be called a feminist was, in his opinion, about as welcome as a sudden sneeze inside a motorbike helmet. Feminism is that uncomfortable for men? Surprised by the unexpected mindset of my friends, I dropped the conversation entirely.
However, the situation bothered me and I wanted to find out more. I asked – first myself, then Google – what feminism means. The explanation offered by Wikipedia is unfortunately quite obtuse and doesn’t really induce sympathy for the cause. Fundamentally, feminism is quite clearly laid out: it supports equal rights regardless of gender and is against sexism in all of its forms.
Feminism for Men – When is a Man a Man?
So what makes the idea of feminism for men seem so difficult? Why do some people even go so far to describe “feminism” as a dirty word? After some consideration, the only logical explanations that come to mind are:
To implement the rights of women, some seem to think it is only possible with the consequence of weakening their own position. And besides that, men have always been superior – who else defended the cave with a club? As it was, so it shall remain.
Men have it hard, yet bear it easily – that we have known since Grönemeyer. But what exactly would men have to lose, if women were to be treated in exactly the same way as them? Among us men the principle of merit is recognized and goes without saying – why would this be overruled as soon as the person in charge has XX chromosomes instead of XY?
This state of affairs is irritating and questionable, because you have to agree with two things: without women, things don’t work and women are often just as strong or stronger than men, with a whole line of examples. Travel back to the start of humanity, stop at Adam and tada!
Without Eve AKA women there would be absolutely nothing. That alone is reason enough for equal treatment. Additionally, women are often more resilient than men and do just as much. A few quick examples would be the act of giving birth or the absence of a female version of “man flu.”
The poorer sex, but not the weaker
Nevertheless, feminism is still often a taboo topic for men, even though this furthers injustice in terms of recognition and salary. My wife, for example, works as a nurse in an intensive care unit for premature babies. We talk about our workday (often around the struggle between life and death, in which struggle is exactly the right word), and I often feel quite bad. Even though she does so much more for the community than I do, she doesn’t earn (or receive) nearly as much as I do.
Standing up for the equal treatment of women should come as naturally to every man as respectful, equal treatment of any other person. Whether you are a woman or man, old or young, straight or gay, local or foreigner – one thing is clear: in the end, it always comes down to the fact we are all different, but essentially the same. Simply put, we are all people.
For my own part, I realize that even as a man you can be a feminist – actually, you should be. And to Olaf and any others who are bothered by the connection between men and feminism, I would actively reply with: “Vaffanculo!” That is, as I have learned in my Italian course, indisputably a real dirty word.