Why I am a feminist

I am a man, and I am a feminist.

The current, sustained assault on women really pisses me off. Women are being attacked right here in the U.S. for daring to stand up for their basic human rights. In 2012! What the actual fuck, America?

I have a brilliant daughter (and a second one on the way), a wonderful mother, and the best wife ever, not to mention a large number of female friends. These women mean the world to me. But they aren’t the reason I am a feminist. No, I am a feminist because women are human beings, and I believe in the essential equality and dignity of all human beings, regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or other method dreamed up to subdivide us. And yes, that even includes gender.

What does this mean in my day to day life? It means that I don’t think rape jokes are funny. It means that talking shit about women drivers is a good way to show me you are a simpleton with a sense of humor that calcified in the third grade. It means when some hateful bigot with a radio show decides to slander any woman that chooses to use birth control, I get fucking hostile, and when some moron defends him to me, I am likely to react with venom and insults and escalate it from there. It means when one of the front-running candidates of one of the major parties in the U.S. launches a war against women in the media, and his cohorts trip over themselves trying to out-hate him instead of calling him on his bullshit, I am going to consider that party Public Enemy No. 1. It means if you attack a woman for speaking up, for exercising her rights, or for just being a woman, you just made an enemy.

Feminism is something I studied only briefly in college, so I can’t tell you what sort of feminist I might be, or discuss the finer points of feminist theory. I may even be a bad feminist for not really caring a whole lot about those distinctions. Whatever. What I do know is that women are people, and as people, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They deserve to be able to make their own choices in life. They deserve the same protections under the law and the same rights as men.

Believing this doesn’t make a man less of a man. It makes a man a decent human being. Not believing this—believing instead that women are too stupid, too venal, too “female” to deserve your respect and recognition as fellow human beings—doesn’t make you more of a man. It makes you an asshole.