The Male Feminist

Several months ago, I started really thinking about what I was looking for in a woman as a potential mate. You probably wouldn’t call me an “alpha male.” I don’t fit the traditional male paradigm. For thousands of years, society has given us traditional roles for both men and women. American society is no exception. What I do find interesting is how relatively quickly America has become more progressive. I think we are getting closers to “…all humans are created equal.” Still, we cannot ignore the fact that challenges with regard to equality still exist.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of feminism lately, especially when it comes to dating and love. I wonder if more men today, even if they don’t realize it, are more accepting of feminism. Feminism, in some circles, is still considered to be anti-male. I was talking about this with a male friend of mine who said he couldn’t respect feminism. At the time I felt his opinion was a bit condescending. We defer on a lot of issues, but it still bothered me. I wonder if he has ever met a real feminist and why he sees the stereotype as being true.

I just graduated from Ashford University, which originally was a college for women in the early 20th century, with a BA in psychology. My studies have opened me up to an understanding of human behavior, but has also strengthen my belief that prejudice is not always obvious. Even when it’s subtle, our initial judgements about people are often wrong, because a person is too dynamic to be properly “pegged.” Sometimes I wish my friend was less judgmental.

Our conversation brought me to really think about feminism and what I have learned about it from my academic study and from personal research. The more I learn about feminism, the more I agree with it, which is in part why I joined this website and follow the twitter feed. I consider my self a feminist now, which may make some men do a double take, but I feel that there are values of the feminist movement that I share.

Coming back to where I started this post, I’ve thought a lot about what I’m looking for in a woman: assertive, ambitious, intelligent, strong, confident, these are qualities that many women are looking for too. It’s re-instilled my belief that men and women are not all that different than what we have been told by “traditional” society. Are there genuine differences? Sure, but they pale in comparison with the similarities. Both men and women have masculine and feminine qualities and this is natural.

I’ve always known I had a strong feminine side. I’ve always been very empathetic, passionate, and giving. All of which are generally thought of as “feminine.” I see them more as human qualities. I did at times wonder if I was too sensitive. However, I figure if I was born this way, then there must be women out there that are attracted to someone like me. After all, genetics and my parents made me this way, and I don’t believe it was an accident!

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  • nicole mercier

    I really like your post.

    I would like to point out that when you say there are differences between men and women, you need to consider that statement in relation to the psychosocial context in which we live our lives and respond and adapt to perceived and assumed identities and how they manifest IE women may seem more empathetic because we are told they are and we happen to live in a society that eased women in as workers by first permitting their entry into “women’s” fields, namely caregiving, not jurisprudence, politics, or neuroscience. If you said men are generally less likely to (insert “female” trait here), perhaps that is because they have been conditioned to respond or behave a certain way to fit in and reflect the expectations of those they admire or fear (parents, peers). You would LOVE the book DELUSIONS OF GENDER by Cordelia Fine. She rips apart all the “science” claiming there is a difference between “female” minds and “male” minds. In fact, it was reviewed by a feministing community blog poster. Check it out!

    • Scott

      Thanks for the suggestion of the book. I do agree that these differences that society has believed in are really based on a perception that has been created. In fact, neurosciences shows us that there is no real difference between a mans brain and a woman’s brain. They both function the same on a physiological level. This supports the theory that gender differences with regards to behavior are environmental, not biological.

      Thanks for the great comment!

  • Jeremy Burton

    Cool post. I’ve sometimes felt in the same boat, and can say there are positively women who are out there who are interested in men who don’t fit into macho sterotypes. As for my wife, she rejected a lot of that after seeing domestic violence, her perception of physical strength and manliness changed drastically. Now I don’t recommend seeking out someone who has suffered through that. Nor do I think you should necessarily lead with a discussion that you are a feminist. That’s overdoing it a bit and likely to be viewed as a ruse.

    But yeah, I love this site and all of its issues. And one of the best parts is seeing that to some extent everyone is constantly struggling to grasp these issues and try and make the world a little nicer place – for everyone. It’s already fairly nice for white, straight, property-owning, males (that’s me). I have constantly questioned and re-questioned my actions based on coming here. I bristle at work when “friends” point me out to new female hires as another woman who works at the firm. I don’t know what to say when some of the guys I hang out with say they are so happy to be apart from their wives. I prefer sitting and talking to the women at parties, if the genders separate. (turns out they talk about the same stuff largely). I object when I hear tired arguments about how women and men are so different and guys who say they don’t understand women when the truth is, they refuse to try. And then there are the little everyday things like, is it okay to love how a LBD, red nails, and heels look on a woman or is that something I should try and reject as part of the patriarchy? Am I splitting the housework fairly? Are we handling our finances, careers and child-raising fairly or are gender based assumptions trickling in?

    And lately I’ve been racked with the thought about how to act in an elevator when leaving my work late at night and a woman walks in by herself. Its stupid, but the world we’ve built up, I get concerned is designed to put me at ease and her at unease.

  • John

    I don’t know if I’d be considered an “alpha male”. I very low key and have many traits that would be considered “feminine” like compassion. I blame being raised by a single mother for that. My father died when I was two. I used to kick box and weight lift. I’m calm under pressure and resolute. A female coworker once remarked about me that the day he’s intimidated hell will freeze over twice. People who know me might consider me an alpha male, but people who don’t won’t.

    The main thing I would look for in a mate is the same thing that I would look for in a friend kindness and generosity. Then I look for good humor and intelligence. Can she hold a conversation and is she pleasant to be around? Then I consider beauty, but I’ve noticed that even if not physically attracted to a woman initially, I start to become physically attracted to her if she possesses the previous qualities. A female friend told me that once you start to care for someone, you don’t see them the same way. Confidence, assertiveness, perseverance, ambitious and marketable skills are nice also, but no one is perfect and you need to prioritize.

    Except for beauty, ambition and marketable skills, these are all traits that I would look for in a friend. I’d same they were human traits.

  • John

    I don’t think that this completely explains the gender gap in corporate America, but I did find some interesting information playing “devil’s advocate” on the subject. 19% of the fortune 400 charities CEOs are female (Joslyn, 2009).

    Charities tend to not be as profit driven as for profit corporations and would theoretically be more conducive to women on the “mommy tract”. If we assume that women on the “mommy tract” are unaffected when working for a charity and we factor in women’s under representation in the workforce, a more reasonable estimate of the number of female CEOs should be about 7%, since only 1 in 6 women (3%/19%) cane overcome the “mommy tract”, still a disparity, but not as egregious as presumed.

    If we assume that there is some effect, then the percentage drops even further. Even some remaining statistical disparity may be insignificant. In other words, there remains a real possibility that there is no gender bias in the hiring of female CEOs.


    Jpslyn, H. (2009). A man’s world big charities overwhelmingly run by white males, a Chronicle survey finds. The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved November 30, 2011 from