The Illustrative Value of ‘Pro-Feminist’

Forest Green Feminism

A couple of decades ago, when I was part of an activist’s listserv, I heard a compelling argument for keeping feminism by, for and about women, and using a different name, pro-feminist, for male allies.  Because feminism’s effects — all those repercussions, all the outrage and the consequences and the benefits, alike — accrue to females only, feminism is a word for female activists.  I don’t recall which radical woman staked the territory, but the fallout was dramatic.

Draw the hard line, and men, who will NOT be denied their entitlement, their access to naming, their right of defining, fight fiercely for this no-woman’s land.  They will demand, badger, cajole; they will rally other women’s support — either in the group itself or among personal acquaintances; they will challenge the credentials of any woman who blocks their easy access to this simple word.  Since the first battle I witnessed, I…

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