There is no such word, activity or concept that can simply be termed feminist. Feminism in the singular is an outmoded–anachronistic– term referring to radicalism and fury and signifying nothing. Nowadays, we speak of feminisms: socialist, marxist, difference, egalitarian, Asian, Muslim, Arabic (not necessarily Muslim), North American, Latin American, English, French etc… There is a qualifying adjective for every type of activism that has the concerns of women at its core.
In my book, Introducing Feminism, I presented a general and concise picture of the state of feminist activities nowadays and I charted the development of the concerns about the plight of disempowered women over the past century.
I do not believe that feminist activity is limited to women. I do not believe that there is a conspiracy against women. I do believe that there are certain traditions, policies, religious interpretations that promote discrimination against individuals from particular classes, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and political leanings. These individuals are suppressed because they do not fit in with the establishment’s policies and they are marginalised as a result of their difference. Gender is one way, an easy way, to differentiate between individuals but it is curious to note the sheer number of impoverished women who are kept out of the centre. Aristocratic women, upper class women have been involved in pro-feminist activity when specific laws have limited their access to their children or dictated their inheritance and access to wealth. On the whole, women in poorer societies, in developing countries and with limited access to education are the ones who suffer.
But men in those exact situations–poor, economically deprived, illiterate–suffer as well. When women marched in Tahrir Square, they were protesting against oppression towards the lower classes. Their voices chimed with those of their male counterparts. When women complain about unequal pay, they do so with regards to all forms of equal pay. When women point out that there are few females in UK boardrooms, a thoughtful process is initiated whereby everyone consequently notices that there are very few non-white individuals, very few boardroom members who were not educated at the top universities, etc…
Men who support the feminist movement, support its quest for equality, transparency and fairness in dealing with all individuals in their private and public lives. Men who support feminism share the burden of contemporary life equally with a partner to whom they confide and with whom they can embark on life-journeys. Men who oppose feminist activism, restrict themselves to a lonely world where they are seemingly in control, a fantasy of power that falls apart at the first hurdle because contemporary life requires us to form allegiances and alliances based not on gender but on philosophy. My partners in life are socialists, difference feminists, color blind and full of optimism. Regardless of gender, class and race.