Can a White Male be a Feminist?

This is my final official post for the Fem+Media+Health class that I took this semester.  I’ll certainly keep this up and running even after the class concludes tomorrow, although I would imagine the postings will be a little less frequent.  If they were more frequent, I guess that’d be sort of ironic…

It isn’t obvious who is a feminist.  I certainly believe in the equality of both genders, but the fact that I am a man does not lend itself easily to the classic portrayal of a feminist.

I think a white male can be a feminist, but let me first give a quick recap of and explain what I liked most about the class.

I’m not a fan of the pharmaceutical companies.  They do save a lot of lives, but it isn’t as if they do it out of the goodness of their heart, they make a pretty penny in the process.  Which is fair, we live in a capitalist society so they can make their buck.  If it was up to me things would be different, but nobody put me in charge.  I did find it interesting that we began the class with this discussion of the modern health industry.  But looking back it seemed to be the best place to start.

We spoke about body image and the way the panopticon of society forces women to follow a specific beauty regimen.  I would imagine that most women would like to break away from this pressure, thus it seems that men are the majority of active participants who reinforce these beauty principles.

The feminism movement has come to encompass other persecuted groups, specifically the LGBTQ community which suffers under the concept of compulsory heterosexuality.  This isn’t always an active compulsion, but the way our society is constructed tends to promote straight relationships over gay ones.

I will add that of all the guest lectures we had, not one was conducted by a man.  It is interesting to point out, and it only adds to the argument that men cannot be feminists.  Never the less they were all so interesting.  The ones that stands out in my mind the most though were the one from Professor Tiger and from Shelby Knox.  They are both gifted and clear speakers, highly engaging, and left myself and the class wanting so much more.  And to say one more bit about Shelby Knox; what an inspiration for anybody who wants to achieve a goal!  I know that I’ll look back on that movie and her guest lecture whenever I find myself frustrated

But what made the class truly special was the free range given to us, the students, to speak our minds; both our ignorance and our expertise.  We all learnt together.  And that is important, because in determining equality, there is no guidebook.

I did feel a little awkward at times.  At Hunter I’m used to being the minority gender in a classroom, but this was definitely a percentage of female to male students that I had never experienced.  But that had far more benefits than I could have imagined.  It forced me to listen and think and then respond, I couldn’t say something -anything- unless I knew it to be logically sound.  Which is good, because the only way to learn is by exploring new ideas.

So I thank my two professors.  I know many of us in didn’t know some of the terms and ideas that we used on a regular basis in class until we learnt them throughout the course.  But that is what school is for, to learn.  I can’t thank Professor Daniels and Professor Richardson enough for opening my eyes to a whole world of ideas that had been left undiscovered.  I have already seen how the tools I learned in this class will be forever used in my life.

And to my classmates, there is no better learning tool than to bounce ideas back and forth off of each other.  Whether it was before or during class, or on the twitter.  I was reluctant to use it at first, but I’ve had so much fun with it.  I hope people still use the #hons201 after we finish the course.  I was always a little nervous around new media.  But now I have confidence to use it and wield it when I need to.

Finally, to resolve my initial question, the answer must be Yes.  The goal of the feminist movement is to achieve equality throughout all aspects of society for women.  How can that happen without the active participation of men?

I know I learnt a whole lot this past semester and I sure plan to implement that as I move on in my studies and then into my career.

Oh, I almost forgot.  The interviews I did with Erin Gloria Ryan and Jill Filipovic were so much fun and really eye opening.  I owe them so much, that these two rising stars took the time out of their lives to answer my questions with honest, candid responses was truly amazing.

Thanks,

-Zachary Schrieber

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