Can a Man be a Feminist?

On Friday mornings I usually go for a walk and I often find a place with reclaimed wood to drink an over priced herbal tea before the calamity of the weekends work! It's a chance to have a bit of a day dream and listen to Radio 4 - I think this means I'm aspiring to be middle class.

This morning, around 10.05am I threw my flat bread on to the table and sighed through a discussion on Woman's Hour - can a man be a feminist? 

The notion of questioning if a man could or should be a feminist is a bizarre one to me. My Mum raised me proper - she empowered me with femme rage and showed me how women were and still are having to fight for equality. I was (a) feminist from the age I could read the cover of 'Fat is a Feminist Issue' on my Mum's beside table. 

Before this discussion I thought all feminists, like myself wanted men on board. In fact regardless of our gender if everyone gets behind feminism surely we move towards a gender balanced society? Apparently not.

Karen Ingala Smith's got beef with blokes, she thinks feminism is about 'the liberation of women from male oppression' I agree... but because we 'socialise differently and have different experiences of the world men can't be feminist'.... sorry, what? 

I spent and continue to spend most of my social time with women and I'm all too aware of the affects of patriarchy so does that mean I'm exempt? Am I allowed to be a feminist?

She then went on to say '..[why would] a group of power hand over that power to the oppressed group? This I think is really interesting as it implies that the feminism Karen wants is one where women are in the current position of men - oppressive. My version of feminism is about equality and liberation not oppression.

I'm starting a new project that will come to fruition on 2016 with Roundhouse that explores extremism in oppressed or semi-liberated groups - I'm really interested in why this exists and want to work out the logic behind it - I wonder if Karen would be a good candidate to interview?!

She continues '..if you get men involved in feminism you water down what feminism is' - and now you see why I spat my tea out. The idea that only a woman can keep feminism integrity is faff - it's a bit like saying only white people are racist, only straight people are homophobic, only men are misogynistic! 

This idea of 'mine' marginalises feminism, it keeps it underground and is counter productive let alone reductive! The owning of an 'ism' is dangerous - shared values, understanding and action create change. 

...and then the show stopper 'gender equality is an oxymoron'

This mornings radio has told me I am not a feminist, I'm not allowed to be one and I'm watering down the cause - confused? No.. really bloody angry but what an insight.

I'm really annoyed at this short sighted feminism, the sort that dictates what equality should look like - that's the oxymoron, Karen!

I'm frustrated that the producers didn't have a counter voice in the studio after all it is the BBC. I feel misrepresented shouting at my iPhone.

What have I learnt this morning? Karen nor Woman's Hour, BBC, feminists or misogynists can decide if I can or cannot be a feminist... I ALREADY AM!

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