Today the pro-feminist men’s movement champions causes ranging from reducing violence against women to raising awareness about male suicide and prostate cancer. Adherents dwell in gender studies programs, social justice groups, and mental health organizations—and in small groups of men who gather in coffee shops and living rooms for heartfelt talk.
Pro-feminist masculinity has remained relatively obscure, though #MeToo may be changing that.
“It’s allowed male feminists like myself to come out of the shadows,” Michael Kehler, a University of Calgary masculinities studies professor, told me by phone. His career, after two decades of “quiet, diligent work to move this agenda forward,” has flowered with media requests and speaking engagements. In January, Kehler became North America’s first masculinities studies research chair.
“Until recently, there was an allowance, or even an expectation, for men to behave badly, like it was a natural way of being,” Kehler said. “[I]t was written off as ‘boys being boys’ or ‘that’s just locker room talk’. If you didn’t talk about sports or engage in sexualizing banter, other men might question the adequacy of your masculinity.”