On “Male Feminists” and Spotting Fake Allies

In my becoming as a feminist, there are certain ideas I have either let go off totally or learnt to criticise. One of such is the belief that men should identify as feminists. 

The second thing I have come to question is the statement: “We need men in feminism because men listen to men”.

In my early years identifying as a feminist, I often thought that it was okay to have men on groups I created to discuss women’s issues. I also did not see how disrespectful it was to say that women’s issues could not be taken seriously until a man who would never experience it came to speak on those issues to his fellow men. 

It was almost as if even in feminism, women could not be allowed to use our own voices and speak just because “men listen to men”.

A few experiences made me change my mind towards the two viewpoints. The first was when I began to notice how a lot of self identified “male feminists” online, often used it as a cover to be misogynistic and to make women lose our guard. These men would one minute say pro women things and women will be oohhing and awwing at their words. But, when the misogyny jumped out, even the smartest women found it hard to criticise them because afterall these men had claimed to be “feminist” or “allies”. 

In some instances, some of these “male feminists” would claim to be feminist for a while and build their platforms using the support from gullible women happy to see a man give voice to women’s issues for once. The next thing they did once they got a huge following and endorsements was to dramatically abandon the feminist label as though they were resigning from a job. 

This is as if women can ask to resign from misogyny that affects us whether or not we identify as feminists. To illustrate this point no other person comes to mind than Solomon Buchi. He used to give very pro women takes and even at some point dubbed himself the “King of Feminism”. After a while, he said he was leaving the feminist label because it was against his beliefs as a Christian. He has since gone on to have a podcast and now continues to give harmful takes regarding women even in rape situations.

Personally, I believe that feminism is a safe space for women in addition to being a movement for freedom and equality. If men who are the oppressors are allowed the right to identify as feminists and can access predominantly female groups, can we really say feminism is still a safe space for women if those women on the platform cannot discuss issues without fear of male judgement lurking? 

Even more, why must men identify as feminists? Why can’t these “male feminists” simply use their financial and social privilege to ensure that women are safe enough to speak on our own experiences to the whole world using our own voices? Practically speaking this can be seen in financing female filmmakers, storytellers and writers.

I must also add that my distaste for men calling themselves feminists also applies to gay, “effeminate” and bisexual men. This is because when some queer men call themselves feminists, some feminists who say straight men shouldn’t call themselves feminists, magically unlook. No matter sexuality, men should not be calling themselves feminists cause feminism is a safe space for women and girls and queer men are still men who can also be very misogynistic even to straight women.

Why can’t these “male feminists” do their advocacy in the form of actually mentoring young boys? People complain about the lack of guidance that young boys have and the lack of space for them to discuss issues like childhood sexual trauma and YET expect it to be women who would create safe spaces for young boys with our limited resources. 

The “male feminists” who fight tooth and nail to access women’s groups and to hold on to the label so that they even manipulate and sexually assault young women, need to be reminded more often that they can use that energy to mentor young boys and not bully “pick me” women on the internet.  

They need to be reminded by women and not praised endlessly because a man happened to say what women have been saying for ages cause that makes it seem like even in feminism male voices matter more than women.

Speaking with Vivian, a writer and chef, she explained that she stopped believing in male feminism after experiencing bullying at the hands of one.

In her words: “I stopped believing in male feminism in 2020 after this guy who claimed to be one bullied me. I can’t really remember what happened but I think my friends and I were calling him out for something and he left my friends and bullied just me. I’m talking about going to my Instagram, screenshotting my page and using it as some sort of ‘You shouldn’t be the one to talk’ kind of thing. It hurt then because at that time, my self esteem was starting to be better after I struggled with it in 100 level. Anyways, my friends defended me. 

He used to be friends with Solomon Buchi but I don’t know if they are still friends.”

For Joan, a content writer, she says that sometimes “male feminists” take on the label in order to be financially lazy in a relationship whilst avoiding domestic care and demanding submission.

To quote her: “My ex used to call himself a feminist, but he was the worst of the bunch of bad people in the world.

I think he only supported feminism because he liked the idea of having a woman that works so he could benefit financially.  But he consciously and subconsciously pushed every other patriarchal nonsense in my face.

Because it’s weird to appreciate a woman that works hard and applaud it for feminism, but then frown when you hear that those same women would have less time for domestic work.”

She continued by saying: “So I think many men that claim to identify as feminists are just mentally lazy. They like smart women that make good money, but only for the financial benefits. 

When it comes to other aspects like being domestic or having a say in their affairs, they can’t stand the absence of submission. There were so many times I got heat because I refused to sit back and let him make important decisions about my time and life.

Basically they want to eat their cake and have it, I think!”.

True support of feminism requires that men respect women’s right to safe spaces free of men in them. It should see men actively listening to women and not speaking over us under the guise of “men listen to men”.

More men need to mentor young boys as opposed to using the feminist movement to build their platforms and then leaving it to spread harmful beliefs against women on platforms built on the back of feminism.

Recent Articles

Related Articles