Men open up about why they identify as feminists

Aug 5, 2016

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President Barack Obama hugs his daughter Malia Obama at the Fourth of July White House party on July 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. Maila Obama celebrated her 18th birthday during the party, which featured guests including singers Janelle Monae and Kendrick Lamar.; Credit: Pool/Getty Images

President Barack Obama wrote an article for “Glamour” magazine Thursday on his role as both a father and a feminist.

In the “Glamour” exclusive, “President Barack Obama Says, ‘This Is What a Feminist Looks Like,’” Obama gives a positive outlook on the opportunities for his daughters and recounts the struggle of his single, working mother. He also acknowledges there’s more work to be done for gender equality and how his feminist ideals were shaped by rejecting the stereotypes around masculinity.

So what does it mean to be a male feminist? What can dads teach their kids about being feminists? Patt Morrison speaks to a feminist father and to listeners today for an inside look.

Hayden in Palm Springs: I’m 23 years old and I think among people my age, it’s not such a big deal to consider yourself a feminist. I agree with your guest, I think feminism has moved towards a humanist standpoint, which I think it’s great. It’s much more inclusive—in terms of the whole LGBTQ+.

Even beyond that, my mom is one of the toughest and smartest people that I know. And because of that, it’s very easy for me to be with women who are powerful and smart. I think more and more, that is the case with people my age; however, I do think that part of the reason that I hold this belief is because my mom just went back to school for her master’s degree, and she puts in about 60 hours per week at work—but she’s on salary so she doesn’t make any overtime pay.  However, she makes less than my dad, who doesn’t have a college degree. He’s been at the company for 20 years and he’s pretty high up in the ranks, but it’s frustrating for all of us in my family right now that my family busts her butt the way that she does. She’s such a tough, wonderful woman and she doesn’t get the extra pay. My mom is the most bada** person that I know.

Anthony in Silver Lake: I’m so disappointed that feminism has to be an issue. I was raised with five sisters and believe me, I know what it’s like to go to the grocery store for tampons. It has nothing to do with being feminine or masculine, it’s about intelligence. My sisters have taught me that it’s not about being male or female, but intelligence. I feel bad that women have to have this distinction, but it’s ridiculous.

James in Hollywood: I have been surrounded by wonderful, strong women in my family, my profession and in my relationships. But I think I really started identifying as a feminist was just before graduate school, and in graduate school. I started connecting the lack of feminist values in our culture, in a broad way, to larger issues: to ecology, health; to men’s issues, in terms of the way that the men’s culture is and how that can be awkward and stifling and limiting; to sexuality and to gender issues. I started to see how calling myself a feminist sort of aligned with all the values I had socially and politically, and not just in terms of women’s issues.


Kathleen Gerson, a professor of sociology at New York University, where she writes about gender, work, and family life in the US. She is the author of many books, including “No Man’s Land: Men’s Changing Commitments to Family and Work” (Basic Books, 1994)

Michael Kasdan,  Director of Special Projects at The Good Men Project, an online publication focusing on modern masculinity. A declared feminist, he is a dad of a son and a daughter

This story has been updated.

Listener comments have been edited for clarity.

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