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The Rife Team

An article with a lot of insults about feminism

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling

Dan Squire discusses male feminism and the language of insults and why we need to all embrace feminism. 

(Warning: this article contains bad language… but only to show how ridiculous it is.)

So why don’t more men identify as feminists?

I am a bloke. I like rugby, and steak, and going to the gym. I play guitar and I drink whisky and I make dirty jokes. But do any of those things stop me from being a feminist? Of course not. Because the only thing needed to be a feminist is simply to believe that women are not intrinsically inferior to men, and that they shouldn’t be treated as such.

So why don’t more men identify as feminists? The vast majority of people I speak to actually agree with feminist principles when it comes down to it. Perhaps the problem isn’t that we disagree with feminism, but that we just don’t care: it doesn’t seem like feminism is relevant to us.

What can feminism offer to men anyway? Aside from appeasing our sense of ethics, what is there to gain from relinquishing our historically-instilled birthright to a life of higher salaries, greater job opportunities, and an understandable sense of entitlement? Why should women’s rights be our problem? Does being a feminist make you any less of a man?

Yes. Yes it does. Of course being a feminist makes you less manly, just as it makes women less womanly. That’s because feminism breaks down the distinction that says that ‘man = good’ and ‘woman = bad’. Unfortunately, male privilege is instilled in the everyday language of insults, and it only works because men don’t notice it.

When Frank Lampard recently stated that the England team needed to be ‘men’ for their last world cup match against Costa Rica, what he really meant was that they needed to be brave, strong, and not let their previous failures affect their performance. On a recent ‘Game of Thrones’ episode, Sam Tarly says that ‘what men do’ is protect their friends, keep their word, and defeat their enemies, even as his girlfriend is cowering in the cellar. These are drastically different examples, but both are implying the same point: men are strong, women are inferior.

You are a f*nny if you’re no good at sports.

You are a f*nny if you’re no good at sports. You are a p*ssy if you show fear. You are a girl if you cry. You are a tit or a boob if you are stupid. You are a fairy if you are gay. You are a b*tch if you complain or acknowledge your own emotions. Think of the most offensive word in the English language: if you aren’t thinking of ‘c*nt’, you are almost definitely thinking of a racial, ableist or homophobic slur. Is calling someone a vagina really so negatively inscribed in our cultural heritage that we find it more offensive than insults in those other categories?

Anything a man does that diverges from our cultural stereotype of masculinity is described in female terms. On the other hand, think about insults from the male semantic field, – c*ck, d*ck, w*nker – which all point toward being arrogant, headstrong, rude, uncompromising: traits that our culture encourages in boys. If you don’t conform to the male stereotype, whether it is because of your sexuality, your body type, because you don’t identify with your gender assignment, or simply because you don’t enjoy sports, this entrenched misogynistic language has the potential to be incredibly damaging to your self esteem. This might be the core of the problem. Our language is constructed in a way that teaches men that they are superior to women. The language we use shapes the way we think, the way we act, the scope of what we can possibly imagine. So unless we all try to start a shift in language that stops proclaiming that white, able, heterosexual men are the pinnacle of evolution,  we’re going to continue to teach our children the same counterproductive binaries (whether sexist, homophobic, ableist, racist) that equality movements have been trying to overturn throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

What I’m saying is this: men are constricted by misogynistic language too, and forced to adhere to a mould that is undesirable and unachievable for most. It’s in our interest to stand up to misogyny, because at the end of the day it degrades everyone, not just women.

What do you think? Are you a male feminist? Do you think the language of insults is misogynistic? Let us know on @rifemag