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All Canadian women acquired the right to vote only in 1960, when Native American women were then given this right. In the United States, it was in the 1920s, though multiple structures stopped women of color, mostly African-American women in Southern states, from freely exercising their right until the 1960s. For many people, certain turning events in the history of oppressed groups seem to mark the end of the oppression against these groups. For Black people, it was the end of slavery; for Jewish people, it was the end of World War II; and for women, the right to vote. Now that all of this is behind us, why are these groups still complaining? Obviously, it is not that simple. In 2018, many women consider themselves feminists and aren't afraid to say it. But is the identification with this group a deal breaker when it comes to finding a boyfriend? I wanted to know what relationship young heterosexual men have with feminism, and I was quite surprised by the result.
Why are they feminists?
First of all, I think we need to start with the basics. Why would a young woman, in 2018, identify as a feminist? The goal of this article is not to dissect the values of modern feminism but actually to question ourselves on why the term is being used, and why many girls and women identify themselves with it, regardless of their own set of values. Generally, it's about legacy. When they think about the feminist movement, they think about the women who paved the way for them, who fought so they could go to school, work, take decisions for themselves—in short, to be in charge of their own life. They think it would be disrespectful to repudiate the title that these women wore with so much pride. They hold onto it because it is necessary. The day that equality will be reached, then maybe they won't consider this identity as necessary, but until then, it is.
To discover the opinions of the young men I was about to interrogate, I approached the question like so: let's pretend that you are on a dating app and you see a girl that you find physically attractive. You look further into her profile and read her ''about me',' where you see that she identifies as a feminist. What is your reaction? Do you accept to know more about her before posing a clear judgment, or do you refuse right away to give her a chance? To my surprise, the majority of the guys I questioned replied with the first option. For them, it is not a problem if a girl calls herself a feminist, and it would also not be particularly important to have a discussion about the whole topic from the start. Some even went further and said that they don't understand how come some girls aren't feminists, considering the obvious inequalities still present in our society.
Others specified that it would be important to have a talk about it to clarify some things; however, they would let the girl explain her point of view before posing a judgement.
On the other hand, one of the subjects that I talked to didn't have the same opinion—at all. To him, the values of feminism aren't the problem, the label is.
This debate isn't new, though. Many asked themselves if the term ''feminism'' was appropriate when it comes to gender equality. For this young man, the label ''equalitarian'' is the one we should take if we really want to achieve equality. According to his point of view, it is impossible to battle gender oppression if we call ourselves feminists because the fight and the title are incompatible.
The results of a survey I posted on my personal Facebook page demonstrated that three other men held the same opinion. In other words, they would categorically refuse to give a chance to any feminist. Fourteen others were perfectly splatted between the two other options, which were that they would accept to get to know her considering they themselves support the feminist movement and its set of values, and the other option being that they wouldn't have a problem with it, but they would like to talk about what the label means to her before setting their opinion into stone.
Prince Charming, don't run away!
According to the reactions I collected, it would make sense to conclude that it isn't necessarily a faux pas to write that you are a feminist on your Tinder profile. With this in mind, some will, perhaps, wonder why it is necessary to do so, which is a valid point. Why would you try to make enemies before making friends? Why would you risk having cute single dudes turn their backs on you from the start? To maximize the pool of potential soulmates, wouldn't it be better to not declare ''controversial'' statements on your profile? As surprising as it may seem, guys don't have the upper hand in this situation.
For instance, many young women say their values have a lot of impact in the choice of their partners anyway. Don't get it twisted. Don't think that they are waiting desperately behind their screens, waiting to throw their beliefs out the window at the sight of any guy with a cute face and shoulder length hair.
Although this is true, some young women are still hesitant to talk about their convictions, which is understandable. They are being told that they shouldn't be so difficult. Otherwise, they will stay single forever, or that if they are dating a guy with questionable values BUT who is taller than 6 feet, they should shut up and consider themselves lucky for who they have. This horribly problematic way to think is often applied to several other groups of people (transgender people, disabled people, and plus size people, for example), which is unfortunate. We shouldn't be ashamed of our principles if they are close to our hearts, nor should we feel like we need to make a choice between supporting our beliefs and having a dating life. Even though not all men are comfortable calling themselves feminists, the ones who are are more numerous than we might think. Therefore, why should young female feminists ''settle'' for a partner who doesn't share their values?
To conclude, I think it is fair to say that young men are starting to have a pretty precise opinion of what is and is not feminism; likewise, the opinion they have about the women wearing the feminist label as well. I had two goals writing this article: The first one being to discover whether or not young, straight men are afraid of feminism, and it turns out, they are not. My second goal was to prove to young women who have the feminist cause at heart that their principles deserve to be cherished without any shame if that is what they want. For some, it will be good news to know that feminism is a movement respected by many guys; for some others, it will be a tragedy. Meanwhile, I suggest that we stop judging so much based on preconceived ideas and that we simply give people a chance.