Men cannot be feminists, because feminism is for women. Specifically, females. I don’t like using that term, but with the issue of trans activism and the hostility of some m2fs, I have to. F2ms count, as they are biologically female, born women. They also make far better allies to radical feminists than trans women, because they grew up female; they were not socialized into masculinity, nor do they have male privilege.
Third-wave feminism is into (hetero)sex-positivity, kink, the sex industry, and postmodern queer/trans theory. It upholds every liberal take on feminine practices as women’s “choice” and is supportive of their supposed “free will” so we should too, just because they are women. I don’t buy this, because it encourages gendered tropes like “weaponized femininity” and lesbophobia like,”I’m a feminist, but it doesn’t mean I hate men or am a lesbian/I’m a feminist, but I still shave my legs.” It is an oxymoron in terms: femininity is weakness, infantilization and masochism, and in the hierarchy of gender is below masculinity and is hence subordinate, submissive, powerless. I have described such a fetishization of supposed female power or “weaponized femininity” elsewhere on this blog; in short, this pretend power is based on the beauty myth and the belief that the sub is the one with the real power in order to flatter them, blame the victim and hide the truth (it’s a role-reversal).
The problem here is that any critique of femininity and traditional roles of females becomes “misogyny” and a personal attack upon individual women rather than a critical analysis of the systems and institutions that oppress them (marriage, motherhood, religion, prostitution, etc.). Yet it has nothing to do with femaleness. Trans women and effeminate gay men are “feminine,” too, and if the fashion, hair and beauty industries are any indication, gay males are the leaders in femininity. Femininity is hypersexualization according to the male gaze, and turns “womanhood” into a fetish of stereotypes. It is dehumanizing. And the fact that men find some women either sexually attractive or aesthetically pleasing does not mean they are not misogynists; especially telling is their sexual harassment of women and after being rejected, calling them “ugly” and other names. Urban Dictionary defines a misogynist as “a man who hates every bone in a woman’s body except his own.”
If there is a connection between femininity and femaleness, it is about turning women into fuckholes rather than breeders, which is a slight variation on the same theme. Language is being lost here, and whole bodies are erased and reduced into mere parts: the whole of a woman’s genital region is the vulva, not the vagina; it includes the clitoris (which extends internally) and urethra, the mons pubis, pubic hair, labia majora and labia minora. Breasts also become hypersexualized. Vaginoplasties, breast implants and other plastic surgeries are encouraged. And where’s the liberation in being a fuckhole? So women don’t have to fear being used as breeders, but they still have the fear of pregnancy, plus rape, tearing of the throat/anus/vagina, and STDs; most of these things thanks to PIV sex.
Women are oppressed based on their sexual/reproductive value and emotional labor, and onto biological females is then forced the feminine gender role. So it’s not that males hate makeup and other feminine things, clothing and behaviors; they love seeing them on or practiced by females, because that’s what they expect them to do. They only hate it when the sexes don’t conform to their prescribed gender roles. They hate femaleness because femaleness is a reality that cannot be contained by or reduced to gender socialization. Another thing is that males have more freedom because when they dress in drag they can take all that off at the end of the day (hence why Judith Butler said “gender is performance,” which is not true except for males). For females, not only are they socialized into wearing makeup, dresses and so on, but some employers will fire or not hire those who don’t wear makeup, are planning to have children (not so for prospective fathers), etc. I noticed also that the common “misgendering” (really: “mis-sexing”) of people is based on gender cues, not sexual characteristics such as bone structure, hairlines, jawlines, throat (Adam’s apple), depth of voice, height, etc.
But even then, there are differences. Women who either don’t conform to gender or attain a high rank in a “masculine” field are “wanting to be men,” are “dykes” or (if they’re bosses) are “bitchy” and “sleeping their way to the top” (men who are bosses are “assertive”); these are the “prudes” and uppity women trying to lower the prestige and usurp power from males who need to be fucked to be put back in their place, preferably in the bedroom. Men who don’t conform to gender are “faggots” “sissies” “failed men” or “bitches.” This same theme plays itself out in gay kink and gay porn, where the bottom is in the position of “woman” (submissive) and the “real” gay; however, his redemption lies in having as much sex and ingesting as much sperm as possible to bestow him with masculinity (this is also a theme in some barebacking groups and androcentric tribes, where they have sex with women only for procreation). For women in porn (marketed to straight men, even so-called “lesbian” porn) their status only gets lowered as they are heaped with degradation. Even “tranny” porn has a higher reputation because although trans women are indeed objectified by tranny-chasers, they are fetishized as the “ideal woman” and they have a penis rather than a vagina (called a “gash,” and “axe wound,” a “cunt,” and other derogatory terms).
From what I’ve described, males who enjoy gender essentialism and liberal views of sex believe they have the right to infiltrate the feminist movement and female-only spaces (bathrooms, Michfest, etc.). Men can stand in solidarity with women, they can be pro-feminist, but they cannot be feminists. Some don’t even call themselves allies. And if they are quibbling over being able to call themselves feminists, and wanting to steal this term from women, then they are not allies – they are a threat.