Today, Newsweek and The Daily Beast reporter Lizzie Crocker published a piece in Women in the World about why women are distancing themselves from the loaded F-word. Citing a handful of well-known celebrities, Crocker’s call to rebrand the movement is important for women whose fear of feminism’s murky social reputation keeps them at bay. We can surmise that if women are concerned about using the word- what are men thinking?
Last year, I was at an activist night sponsored by the National Organization for Women when I received a text from a male friend who asked what I was doing. When I told him where I was, his low-brow response of “Isn’t that for lesbians?” made it quite clear that some men are not on the same page.
The need to debunk misconceptions about feminism is crucial to the future of the movement if we are to diversify the base and acquire far-reaching support. As a feminist, the I-can-do-it-myself claim is popular as we demand to be viewed as independent entities living in a man’s world. However, we must remember that we need men in this movement. We need their understanding, their voices, their inclusion and alliance. Right now, men are often the invisible ally- their existence is known but infrequently seen. Rebranding the movement must include more male-centric outreach- rather than shaming the men who don’t understand, why don’t we work to help them understand?
After all, a women’s rights movement without men is like a rowboat with paddles- and right now, we’re stuck upstream.