I’ve said for a long time that the only requirement for being a feminist is to believe that men and women are equal. It’s a pretty low bar (that a disturbing number of people still can’t manage to achieve). You’ll notice that this low bar totally allows for the existence of male feminists. That’s partly because the favored enemy of feminism, The Patriarchy, is a structure that hurts everyone, including men.
Also including men that in other ways totally benefit from the patriarchy—even Donald Trump would probably not freak out so much about his tiny, tiny hands if our culture didn’t associate hand and foot size with penis size, and penis size with power and worth as men.
However, there is still a big difference between being male and also a feminist, and being male and also being a feminist ally. Being a feminist ally is the next level up from being a male feminist (aka, the “put your money where your mouth is” level). Other people have already outlined how to be a male feminist ally and how to be an “ally” (aka how not to be an ally) but in general it comes down to two principles: listening to women, and supporting women when they are working to critique, confront, or dismantle the patriarchy.
So in an effort to have a happy article and not send my blood pressure into actual “you should be taking medication for this” realms, this week I’m going to cover a recent example of male allyship that I think is pretty cool: the gender breakdown of Patreon supporters and commenters on Anime Feminist.
Anime Feminist is a relatively new website “for reviews, interviews and discussion on anime and manga through a feminist lens, run by a team of writers from academia, the industry and grassroots fandom.” When I first heard about it, my first thought was “oh my God this is going to end so poorly/with so many rape threats.” Because in my experience, the Venn diagram of “people who are willing to threaten to rape women when they apply feminism to video games/comics/movies” and “people who are willing to threaten to rape women when they apply feminism to anime” is pretty damn close to a circle. When it comes to fanservice and some anime fans, you can pry it from their cold, dead hands.
So I was pleasantly surprised when Richard showed me an update on the site where the creator, Amelia Cook, explained that, as far as she could tell, the majority of the paying supporters of the site were men. Though she is using a fairly non-scientific method of “looking at people’s names and trying to decide on the masculinity/femininity of said names,” Cook found that men are (likely) the dominant supporters of her site. Looking at her first 75 Patreon supporters (and removing the ambiguous names from the list) Cook was left with 16 (likely) female supporters and 45 (likely) male supporters, meaning that she has roughly three times as many male supporters as female supporters. Supporters actually spending money. Speaking as someone who writes on the internet every week, you have no idea how rare that is. (You’re all cheapskates, but I love you anyway.)
Cook also got some pretty nice comments from those same fans, some of whom totally agreed with her and some of whom at least grudgingly respected her for having civil conversations about the topic. But as Patreon supporters, they all are supporting her work—supporting her critique of the industry, and the feminist stance she’s taking. That’s huge. Because hopefully the types of men who are willing to put up money to help a woman critique a popular pop culture medium are also willing to be allies in other places in pop culture, and in culture in general. If we get to the point where feminist allies outnumber non-feminists, then maybe someday women will write on the internet without worrying about being doxxed or threatened. Maybe someday I’ll go back to writing under my real name! The world will be our oyster of not fearing constantly for our safety and sanity.
So there. I wrote about a happy thing, for once. Tune in next week, when I’ll probably return to being a “nasty woman” and complaining about the world.
Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not spreading warm and fuzzy feelings about men becoming and supporting feminists, she studies gender in popular culture.
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