With 2016 drawing to a close, the question which needs to be asked is whether or not feminism is still needed in the future. Conducting a survey at The University of Greenwich, four male students from a variety of backgrounds were asked to share their thoughts on the topic of feminism and its relevance.
Results suggest it is their experiences as youth, which have a fundamental impact on their views of feminism today. Calin Epure, a Politics and International Relations student commented that, “growing up in Romania you are subject to certain views and notions and honestly I don’t know if I’d be the same person had I not left at the age of 16.” Similarly Karl Howarth, currently studying Creative writing talks of his life as a child, describing his “single mother and her extended family, in a council house” an experience at the root of his feminist identity. Recent graduate Michael Odewale, however though raised in a house with his mother and sister does not identify as a feminist.
This would suggest that experiences as a child is not instrumental in male feminist identity. There are other factors, in terms of skepticism towards male feminists which contribute. Michael holds this view, having stated “if people see the things I do and say and they that its feminist then ok then but I’m not going around blowing a feminist horn”.
The resistance of the feminist label is very much alive, but Politics student Tom Owen, though he does not identify as a feminist is aware of its importance. “Feminism is a moral principle or belief value,” he said. For him feminism is necessary, though a label he would rather not use. Karl on the other hand argued “feminism is essential in striving for equality”. Continuing on to say, he “believes in the destruction of all oppressive systems, including patriarchy and constrictive gender identities” as an anarchist.
Ideologically Karl stands out among his peers. It is clear his political ideology shapes his view of the world and why feminism is still relevant in his world. Michael, Tom and Calin do not identify as strongly with feminism, but one thing that is consistent within all four men is an awareness of the experiences women face. Regardless of whether or not they identify as feminists, they understand why the movement needs to exist.
It then must be considered if adopting the feminist label is necessary. Though not representative of the entire male population, each student is aware of sexism and why feminism is needed in 2016. Identifying as a feminist is not an essential feature of this awareness. Whether it be political ideology or early experiences as a child, these are the factors that can be seen to influence male feminist identity.