Published by the Faculty of Business, Government and Law, University of Canberra

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Research and Stories through a Gendered Lens

Meet the Male Feminist: Peter FitzSimons

Jan 17, 2018 | News

Q. Can men be feminists, or is it perhaps not a term men are entitled to appropriate? 

A. Interesting question. I am happy to call myself a feminist if female feminists are happy to have me. Like many men of my generation, however, I am more an intellectual feminist than a visceral one. That is, I entirely agree with all the central points of feminism, but because I have no clue what it feels like to be done down by misogyny, by expectations of gender stereotypes etc, I am not sure my actions live up to living a life that all feminists would beam upon. 

… in my own household these days, I have a level of domestic blindness that does not please my wife and nor should it.

I know, I know, a tangled answer. It is my way of saying I was raised in a very pre-feminist, traditional household and some attitudes and behaviours formed in those times, that do not pass muster for feminism, endure. As a small example, in my own household these days, I have a level of domestic blindness that does not please my wife and nor should it. I appreciate intellectually, 100 per cent, that I need to bear equal share of domestic work, but don’t come remotely close. Does that make sense?

Nevertheless, I am proud to be the son of a strong woman, the husband od a strong woman and the father of a strong woman.

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AAP Image: Mick Tsikas

Q. If asked publicly whether or not you call yourself a feminist, what would you say? And why?
A. Yes. Because the idea that the genders should be equal is incontrovertible.

Q. What does it mean to be a male feminist?
A. It means to espouse and ideally live, equality of genders.  

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Q. In 2015 both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader declared themselves ‘feminists’. Is male feminism newly fashionable?
A. Haven’t frankly focused on it.

Q. Why do you think a significant cohort of young women refuse to use the term ‘feminist’ about themselves, and yet ascribe to all tenets of  feminism? 
A. I find that part sad – and disrespectful to the feminists who have preceded them, who have done so much for the rights they enjoy, only for them to sneer unpleasantly.

Q. Should all men, young men in particular, be encouraged to behave as feminists?
A. Yes. And both of my sons, I am proud to say, pass muster. 

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