Yes, You Can Be Feminist and “Ragel” – They’re Not Mutually Exclusive BTW

By: Mariam El Naggar

There are unwritten rules embedded in the skin of every man around us. They’ve not only created a gender superiority but they’ve also created a constant pressure on men to fit into the ‘perfect’ mould of a man. When in reality the mould itself is far from perfect. Fulfilling the never-endless expectations bracketed under the concept of “ragel” doesn’t define you. I watched my brothers getting drip-fed the characteristics they needed to have to be a man. I watched boys at school get mocked for not fitting into these characteristics. I’ve watched men reject any inkling of ‘femininity’ in fear of jeopardizing their masculinity. When it wasn’t even femininity they were illustrating but courage. Expecting men to be the epitome of strength no matter what is delusional.  

Being a man is speaking openly and honestly about your feelings. Being a man is apologizing when you’re wrong and letting go of your ego. Being a man is caring about your loved ones. Being a man is realizing that your maleness and masculinity isn’t something you should fear and that you should embrace your full authentic truth. Being a man isn’t about perfection but growth. Being a man is taking the time to listen and learn because you don’t know everything. Being a man is standing up for women’s rights. 

I can already see the eye rolls following that last sentence. But being a feminist doesn’t mean being an angry misandrist and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to be a woman. So many people don’t actually understand the true concept of feminism. Feminism is at its core about the equality of men and women, not their ‘sameness’. I’ve heard the misguided “men and women aren’t the same so they can’t be equal” argument brought up in nearly every anti-feminism discussion. But the issue here is equal rights and equal access to opportunities. Men and women don’t have to be the same in physicality to have the right to equality. 

My own definition of feminism is realizing that there’s a problem with gender today and wanting to fix that. There isn’t enough female representation, there’s violence against women, sexual harassment, women’s health, education and more. Real men won’t be threatened by feminism because real men realize how dire gender issues are. And they don’t just affect one gender, they affect everyone. So, when a guy realizes how important feminism is and decides to support it, you aren’t “weak” or “girly”. You’re strong and brave. You are aware that the people who are mocking you are the ones who are insecure about their masculinity because of the toxic ideas rooted in them from childhood. 

A lot of people question why the movement is called ‘feminism’ if it’s about both genders. Feminism was originally focused on advancing the status of women in society, giving it its name. Thus, it was derived from the suffrage movement of the early 1900s, when historically women were campaigning for their right to vote. Hence, the movement was almost only focused on women, because why would men fight for a right they already have? Today it is different because there are people who suffer from various degrees of oppression ranging from racial issues, caste, sexual orientation, discrimination, disabilities, among other things. People who demand to change the name are overlooking the actual concept. Wanting to change the term because you are afraid to identify under a movement led mainly by women for the rights of women, essentially says that one you don’t actually know what feminism is, two you care more about the semantics than the history of oppression and discrimination of females that led to this movement, and three you don’t hesitate to humiliate the actions of countless females who fought and are still fighting for the rights of women. 

I’ve said this before but I want to emphasise that being a feminist doesn’t mean being against men. And that uplifting one sex doesn’t remove any value from the other. Personally, I think that the idea behind incels* and a lot of men’s rights activist (MRA) movements are just a response to women’s movements. Whether this response is out of fear or hatred I can’t be sure but it confuses me as to why men think they need to create such movements. When feminism in itself is about the equality of both genders hence it gives men a platform to talk about the inequalities they’ve experienced themselves. It isn’t a competition between men and women, it’s a collaboration

*incels (short for involuntary celibate) is a group of young men who feel furious at their perceived rejection by women and meet online to discuss and spread their ideology. They abide by the “black pill,” a belief that women use their sexual power to dominate men socially and want revenge for that. 

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