“I am not a feminist.”

Luke Ilett-Mackie gives his take on equality and feminism, discussing how the word can ‘divide a room of extremely close friends’ and offers up a new ideology of equality.


I am not a feminist.

This simple statement seems to cause the most terrible controversy I have come into contact with in recent years and can either make people look at you admirably or feel disgust for you. It can divide a room of extremely close friends, all because of the subjective nature of defining the phrase.

The Oxford dictionary’s definition of feminism is something I wholeheartedly agree with, being the ’advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of equal rights of the sexes.’ I believe that feminism has done and will continue to do amazing things to shrinking the discrepancies that exist between the sexes, both socially and legally. Using this definition as my basis and ignoring the fact that there are extremists that exist that condone female superiority, I still don’t identify as a feminist because it is too limiting. It only looks at half the story and expects to create an adequate solution.

Photo: Getty Images

When you exist as a male who strives for equality between the sexes, and you live by that philosophy, being handed a ‘formal invitation’ by a movie star to actively help the feminist movement is a little bit insulting. Some men have been helping women to gain equal rights since the dawn of the feminist movement and to ignore that aid, and to feel the need to ask for help ‘formally’, disregards this entirely.

I detest ‘Lad’ culture and the objectification of women in the way that occurs amongst that group of people; it is despicable, and I do not think that’s what being masculine is. When women talk about being sexually assaulted in clubs, or catcalled or blamed for being raped, it is only a minority group of men that do that; a minority that I would like to not be associated with, of course. But surely this is exactly how the feminist movement and real feminists feel about the extreme few who hate men, and want to ‘overpower’ them? This association is hardly ever made. But that group of men is not the definition of masculinity in the modern world.

Men don’t generally feel emotions as powerfully as women. Men don’t just act like men because society told them ‘this is how you act as a man’. They act as a man because they have a Y chromosome that makes them act differently to a female. There are clear physical differences between both sexes; in case you didn’t realise men don’t have breasts or vaginas and women lack a penis. So why is it so hard to believe that there are psychological differences too?

Another issue I have seen recently is the sexualisation of issues that should apply to all people. For instance, I saw a post that said ‘when do you owe a man sex?’. There was a whole list of things such as, ‘is it his birthday’ or ‘did you disturb his football game’ and at the bottom it said in each line ‘you don’t owe him sex’. This offended me, as it made sexist remarks towards the times at which a man would demand sex, but also made it gender specific. ‘When do you owe a MAN sex?’ not ‘when do you owe a PERSON sex?’ Does this mean men can owe women sex? Or is it making the assumption that every man that exists demands sex from his partner? I don’t know, but it doesn’t need to be sexualised.


Photo: Flickr.com

Modern day feminism is adapting to the number of people who see that there are issues to be dealt with on the masculine side. Parental rights are not equal at the moment, although they are improving. The objectification of men in the media is largely ignored, yet men are ‘commodified’ by the clothes they wear, the car they own and indeed their over sexualised body. You don’t get many films where the main protagonist is an ugly man, and if he is he is still unrealistically successful in some way – how many Disney Princes can you name me?

I understand that women are worse off in our society than men. And because of this I see the benefits of true feminism. However whilst there are still equality issues on the masculine side, the issues on the feminine side will not get fixed; compromises need to be made by everyone.

I have been told that because I’m a man I can’t possibly understand the plights of women. This may be the case, but I would argue the reverse as well. Women can’t understand the plights of men, as they aren’t men. Feminism, by definition, will never try to truly understand the masculine perspective and for this reason, I am not a feminist.

With this in mind I extend to you a new ideology. Forget feminism. Forget gay rights activism. Forget race rights activism. They are ALL the same thing. We want equality for all people everywhere all the time. We are human and we should all be treated humanely. Equal marriage, equal pay, equal rights, equal opportunities. Equality doesn’t need a stance and without a stance it can flourish.

I identify myself as a human and that is reason enough to fight for the equality of others less fortunate than myself.

Photo: Chichester University


5 Responses to ““I am not a feminist.””

  1. The Dude

    Oct 14. 2014

    Well said. You’ve put the thoughts that I’ve been unable to properly articulate into words.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Harriet

    Oct 15. 2014

    This is an almost textbook example of the “not all men” response to feminists trying to make any kind of statement about the oppression of women, and it’s really quite depressing to see it reproduced here.

    Nobody is claiming that being male automatically means you are pro-lad culture, can’t be objectified, discriminated against and so on. But what this article fundamentally misunderstands is that (particularly straight, white) men are in a position of power and privilege in society that women don’t have access to. See the gaming analogy – if the world were a video game, the default, easiest setting is that of straight, white male; the game gets more difficult if you are a woman (and even more so as a queer person, woman of colour etc) as you are denied certain options, have to fight harder for what the male character is simply handed and so on. This is the basic point of why we need feminism and not “equalism” or whatever vague philosophy is being proposed here – certain groups need targeted strategies for their liberation because those in power in patriarchal society naturally do not want to share that power. Assuming that ditching women’s rights activism will magically lead to the dismantling of oppression because everyone suddenly realises they want everyone to be equal after all is sadly misguided. In the words of German journalist and general awesome human Carolin Emcke: “Those who conform to norms can afford to doubt that those norms exist”.

    As a side note, I also have to strongly object to the reduction of gender differences to the purely biological. People of all genders differ in lots of ways, and how men do or don’t behave has a lot more to with socialisation than the possession of an X or Y chromosome.

    TL;DR – If you really want to “fight for the equality of others less fortunate than [your]self”, become a feminist.

    Reply to this comment
    • Luke

      Oct 30. 2014

      I think you misunderstand the point I’m making in this article. I actually say that I support feminism, and that I believe it should continue to do what it’s doing. What feminism doesn’t do (and what it is claiming to do at the moment) is also fix masculine problems. It does attempt to do this, but does this from a feminine perspective. That approach doesn’t work. Just as taking a ‘masculine’ approach to feminine issues wouldn’t work. It’s a reductionist approach.

      Likewise I am not claiming that it is harder for men than women in society. I have no illusions to the fact that women have more societal and legal problems than men. Does that mean that issues that do affect men should be ignored for the time being whilst we focus purely on women first? I don’t think that should be the case, no.

      I also strongly object to the reduction of gender differences to the purely societal, which I see so frequently. Not every aspect of gender is decided by society, that’s why people who would be seen to have an abnormal (I use this word in the scientific sense) gender identity often can’t control that identity, it’s inherent in them. Ignoring biological differences in psychological phenomena is like ignoring the X and Y chromosome altogether.

      Also, with regards to the ‘not all men’ argument, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for people to protect themselves against negative labeling from critics. Just like the feminist movement does when people describe feminists as men-haters.

      I don’t feel that I need to be categorized as anything to be able to fight for the rights of those less fortunate. I’m just a person that wants everyone to be equal. My philosophy is not ‘don’t fight individual battles but just imagine we have equality and it will come’ it’s ‘EVERYONE who feels like society is unfair fight in EVERY individual battle’ don’t limit yourself to just one equality issue. For instance, feminists and LGBT marching at a race rights rally that has nothing to do with gender or sexuality. If we fight together it’ll be an easier ‘win’.

      Reply to this comment
  3. peter houston

    Jan 01. 2015

    Men do feel emotions as powerfully as women do.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Freddy

    Apr 06. 2015

    Why in gods name do you feel the need to redefine what feminism, lgbt or race rights activism is called? You’re not who it’s for. It’s not your place to define these movements.

    Reply to this comment

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