I started a feminism club on campus and one of the most prominent recurring questions I’ve been hearing is “Why?” Why do we need feminism? Women are already equal, right? Or, at least, aren’t we close enough that we don’t need clubs for it? But that’s the thing: feminism isn’t just for women. If my feminism doesn’t fight for the rights of people of color, who is my feminism for? If my feminism isn’t for the LGBTQ+ community, who is it for? If my feminism isn’t for men AND women, who is it for?
A lot of the men I’ve invited to join Feminism Club have seemed put off by it. “Are men even allowed?” they ask. “Feminism isn’t a men’s issue, why would I go?”
Feminism is a men’s issue. Feminism is a women’s issue. Feminism is for everybody. It is the belief that people of all genders should be legally and socially equal. It is the ideology that argues for LGBTQ+ rights, gender equality and race equality. Feminism is not the notion that women rock. It is the notion that all humans rock equally.
Feminism is a men’s issue because the Association of American Universities’ 2015 campus survey on sexual assault found that five percent of undergraduate men say that they are victims of sexual assault or harassment. Feminism is a men’s issue because 20 percent of undergrad women said the same thing.
Feminism is a men’s issue because men are harassed and teased for being too feminine. Feminism is a men’s issue because “like a girl” is an insult. When we live in a society that demands masculinity, we restrict men to one area of society. When we live in a society that shames femininity, we condone the abuse of women in sexual, domestic, and verbal spheres.
We do need feminism because, according to Womankind Worldwide, one in three women across the globe experience violence against them due to their gender. One in four women will experience domestic abuse. One in six women experience sexual assault. Only 17 percent of seats in Congress are held by women. Only six seats are held by those in the LGBTQ+ community.
Another big question I’ve been asked is “Why not call it equality club or humanism club? You’ll get more people. Feminism is kind of a scary idea.” It is Feminism Club not because it isn’t about other demographics but because it is mostly about women. It’s about the 468 restrictions on women’s bodies that state legislatures had introduced and established in 2014. It’s about the 46 percent less money that Hispanic and Latina women made in comparison to their white, male counterparts in 2013. It’s about the discrepancies in our legal and societal systems that leave less space for women to reach equality. It’s about the immediate acceptance of misogyny in our day to day lives.
Feminism is a men’s issue because men should care. It is a men’s issue because men should be bothered by the statistics listed above. Men should want to change these things. They shouldn’t be afraid to say “I’m a feminist.” Men should be able to express their love of equality without the fear of retribution for being too feminine.
Feminism isn’t anti-men; feminism is anti-oppression.
Join Feminism Club. Come for the snacks, stay for the equality.
Natalie Dulka is a sophomore English Writing and Theatre Art double major from Minneapolis, MN. She keeps herself occupied by holding the position of Chief Executive Officer of Feminism Club, being involved with the theater, and writing plays. Her passions include sarcasm, wool socks, and equality.