Sunday 20 January 2019

Are Irish blokes man enough to own up to being feminists?

"What 'feminism' means to me is that you don't let your gender define who you are - you can be who you want to be, whether you're a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, whatever.

"However you want to define yourself, you can do that...That, to me, is what 'feminism' means. So yes, I'd absolutely call myself a feminist. I'm a believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it's better for everyone. It benefits society as a whole."

Who do you think said those words? Well, obviously a feminist. But which one? Germaine Greer? Nell McCafferty? Lena Dunham?


Nope. This feminist is a man. A loud and proud advocate of women's rights. They're the words of the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

He's not the only man to proudly call himself a feminist.

The actors Patrick Stewart, Ashton Kutcher and Daniel Radcliffe have also openly spoken about solidarity with women and are not afraid of the 'F' word.

This week, the actor Emma Watson gave a ground breaking speech about feminism when she launched the HeForShe campaign - a solidarity campaign - for the UN.

She took aim at those afraid to call themselves feminists and spoke in particular about the need for men to get on board too.

Bar the group of male actors mentioned earlier who are comfortable with the feminism label, where are all the other male feminists?

Where are the Irish ones? Can you name one high-profile Irish man who has advocated for women and has called himself a feminist?

Bono. The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. Colin Farrell. Brian O'Driscoll. Ryan Tubridy, Gay Byrne. I can't recall any of them ever saying they were or are feminists.

Between them, they've spoken about just about everything - poverty, the economy, sport, music, human rights, history and the women in their lives. But I can't recall any of them saying that they are a feminist.


Perhaps they're wary about the label in a way that some women are (a pet hate of mine), because of some ill-informed stereotypes that feminists are men-hating and humourless or that we blame every man we know for oppression.

They may be confusing a misandrist with a feminist.

Irish men: why not accept Emma Watson's invitation and call yourself a feminist?

Can a man be a feminist? Yes he can. Can Irish men be feminists? Yes they can. The only real question is: are Irish men man enough to admit it?

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