I don’t care whether a man considers himself a feminist or whether he does not, but I do care if he falsely goes around telling people he is one.
In a way I am lucky; my male peers consider it fashionable to identify as feminist and taboo not to identify themselves that way. A man who considers himself hip and well-informed will definitely call himself a feminist; almost all of my male peers will identify themselves that way if directly questioned (when the other option is to identify as a non-feminist) and a bunch will volunteer that information without being prompted. Men who want to make it clear that they are not “bros” will definitely make sure that they participate in this exchange at some point because they do not want to be seen as uncool, but the thing is that even bros will do it sometimes, because identifying as feminist is seen as a basic and unquestionable part of being modern, civilized, and generally un-backward. For a man, calling yourself feminist now is kind of like not calling yourself feminist at pretty much any other time in human history–it’s just what you do, and doing otherwise doesn’t make sense. Doing otherwise is so out of the question that it isn’t even thought about; the affirmative answer is automatic. Do you have a mother? Do you have a sister? Are you unhip? Are you a complete neanderthal? Are you a real, true red-blooded American who believes in all good things and hates things that are bad? Then you are a feminist.
Like I said, I don’t care if a man identifies as feminist or not, but I do care if he lies about being feminist, and most men who claim feminism are lying. Like, the vast majority. How can you see all the unwelcome advances, street harassment, inappropriate and dangerous invitations, touching without permission, lying, deceiving, joking, false joking where they use joking as an excuse (or false false joking, where they say something serious, then pretend they were joking in the first place so that they can take it back), not to mention physical abuse, rape, and general attempts to one-up a woman at every step until the last one just to make sure she ends up with a little less than the man does–how can you see all those things and still believe that all the men who say they are feminists are telling the truth? I’d say about fifteen to twenty percent of men do this stuff seriously and often, about half occasionally do it and nearly all have the desire to do it, or think it’s funny, cool or acceptable when their peers do.
One example of this is the Shit Men Say to Men Who Say Shit to Women on the Street campaign. This campaign is dishonest, and it is dangerous. It is dishonest for the reasons I have stated above.
And it is dangerous because it advocates that men hide how much they want to assault women. That’s all it will really result in. Threatening to punish a man legally (at 1:03 the guy says “you could get in trouble” for street harassment) or socially through feigned stigma from his peers, will only result in a woman’s being naive to the intentions her temporarily-silenced male peer has toward her. Do the makers of the video really believe they can stop something so common and pervasive which has been happening for so long and in so many different places?
Do you, the viewers, honestly believe that the men in this video have never harassed women?