OPINION: Why Howard Men Should Be Feminists

(Photo Courtesy: TUMBLR)

By Justin Jenkins, Campus Staff Writer
Posted 1:15 PM EST, Mon., Oct. 3, 2016

Often, promoting women’s rights is perceived as a threat to an idyllic, 1950s version of the American way of life: Circle skirts, Elvis and rigid gender expectations. This dismissal of feminism counters with a Howard education, which better understands than most society’s predilection for judgement based on physical characteristics.

But there’s a problem men of the Howard community specifically face: We are constantly contradicting ourselves by supporting our ‘sistahs who birthed the world’ and equating them to female dogs in the same breath.

In August, President Barack Obama wrote an inspiring piece for Glamour magazine entitled “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like.” In it, he addresses the stigma of stereotypes surrounding the feminist movement and those involved. President Obama goes in detail about how he unfairly put the responsibilities of parenthood onto his wife, Michelle, and even admits to having misogynistic tendencies.

These inclinations aren’t stemmed from a hatred of women, but from what he refers to as “a manifestation of my youth and insecurity.” To him, pressures and expectations specific to the Black community require young men to provide and protect a woman in order to enter adulthood. Therefore, an independent woman is seen as a threat — she disrupts the validation of masculinity.

“We need to keep changing the attitude that teaches men to feel threatened by the presence and success of women,” Obama wrote. And I agree.

When we talk about valuing attributes of confidence, competitiveness and ambition in the workplace, women should not be the exception to the rule. Their success should not have to be deemed as bossy to be acceptable.

To change the world we need to unchain ourselves from these contradictory patterns. Right now, I officially call a change for the men across this campus. If you still refer to women (in general) out of their name, you are chained. If you can’t tolerate a relationship with a woman who is more successful than you, you are chained. Conforming to stereotypes of what a Black man and woman are supposed to be, “limit[s] our abilities to be ourselves,” in the words of President Obama.

Just like how “Black Lives Matters” doesn’t condemn another race, being a feminist doesn’t make you any less of a man. It makes you more of one.