Can A Heterosexual Dad Legitimately Be A Feminist?

14 months.

It was a sort of liberating experience a few weeks ago at the Nashville Zoo, to realize A) that in addition to carrying around my son’s diaper bag, sort of like a purse, I was also actually toting my wife’s purse and B) I was strangely okay with that.

If you know me in the least little bit, you know how it’s simply my nature to ask deep, random questions both in real life and on Facebook, like “What is the male equivalent of a feminist?

The first answer I received confirmed my own preconceived answer: “Wouldn’t that be a male chauvinist?” (It was a female who said that.)

The second response I got confirmed my own understanding of what feminism simply is:

“Good feminism: a movement to eliminate gender-based discrimination against females; promote fairness and equality previously not experienced by females in society; and expand the gender roles of females beyond traditionally accepted roles which previously limited their contributions, productivity, and value to society.”

By the way, it was a guy, Mike Zeigler, who gave that answer. He went on to further explain my frustrations with the kind of feminism that annoys me:

“Bad feminism: a movement to revolt against the male gender and usurp their position of dominance to the extent that women achieve complete dominance and precedence over men, thereby emasculating and feminizing men in the process.”

Meanwhile in the land of Twitter, fellow daddy blogger Zach Rosenberg of 8-Bit Dad gave an answer that caught me by surprise. I never thought of this, but I think he’s on to something:

“A feminist. Men, especially fathers, make the best feminists.”

What if the answer to my question is that simple? The male equivalent of a feminist is a man who himself is a feminist.

Look back to that paragraph defining “good feminism.” That’s what I believe in, support, and depend on. How can I not back feminism like that? I’m married to a woman and we have a son together.

If that’s not the kind of movement I am a fan of, then I am simply irrelevant as a modern dad. Therefore, in all seriousness, I consider myself a feminist.

Let’s back up again, though- all the way to the title. Why was it necessary for me to specify “heterosexual” dad?

The main reason is that as a heterosexual man, I can not relate to the social injustices that women, as well as homosexuals, have encountered throughout history.

To make matters worse, I happen to be middle class and white. Clearly, I do not represent a minority in any traditional sense: not for my gender, race, income level, nor sexual orientation.

Quite possibly, I am demographically the most unpitied stereotype in America. So for me to claim to be a feminist, it’s natural to assume I’m joking or making light of the subject; attempting to be ironic for a canned laugh. But I’m not.

It may not count for much, but for the simple fact that corporately sponsored daddy bloggers are extremely rare and I just happen to be one of them, representing the many dedicated dads out there who truly aren’t male chauvinists, maybe I actually do know a thing or two about being part of a minority.

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  1. by Zach Rosenberg

    On January 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks for the shout-out, Nick! And yes, I think that a heterosexual male (or any male, let’s not exclude here) can be a feminist. If the goal of feminism is to ensure and protect fairness for women, then that’s a job anyone can do, regardless of gender and sexuality.

    And I stand behind a later comment I made on Twitter about feminism (and masculinism, which is probably not a word) are both “humanism” if done correctly. We spend so much time living in the poles that we forget that in the middle-ground, men should fight for women and women should fight for men – not because it’s “fair” to do so, but because helping men helps women and helping women helps men.

    Think about how much better the workplace is with women? They couldn’t have entered the workplace without men. And think about how great it is having men as primary caregivers at home! Men couldn’t have done that without women. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of the other gender letting go of the reins. But sometimes it’s a matter of fighting for some injustice so that the underdog gets proper support.

    But we can’t do it if we keep up the idea that for women to win, men lose and for men to win, women lose. And similarly, we don’t need to ask if heterosexual men can be feminists – we just say that they can and make it happen!

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