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How to Come Out as a Male Feminist at Thanksgiving

For families entrenched in double reverse patriarchy, Male Feminism can be hard to stomach.
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Thanksgiving is a stressful time; it's not just potatoes boiling up to the surface. Maybe you picked up a drinking problem while you were at college. Maybe your aunt discovered a vaguely racist strain of over-concerned liberalism. Maybe your dad got into bass fishing. The possibilities are endless, and endlessly worrisome. Ever since I invented Male Feminism at my college orientation in 2007, to explain why I was a women's studies minor in addition to my major in economics (you have to understands all sides of the issues), I've wondered if I chose the best way to explain it to my parents: at Thanksgiving. Though I actually call it Wokesgiving, for pretty obvious reasons.


Here's how it went down: I plopped my bags on the curb and asked my cab driver to carry them up because I was very tired from sleeping the entire ride—you know how napping makes you tired?—and once he finished knocking on the door for me and figured out that I didn't have enough cash to tip him, I walked into the house. My dogs rushed up and I hugged them, near tears. I didn't know if I would be disowned.

Read more: Which Presidential Candidate Is the Most Male Feminist Candidate?

"Mom," I said. "Dad. I'm Male Feminist."

"That's nice, honey," they said. "Now please help with the dishes."

I didn't, but that's not the point. The point of Male Feminism is to do dishes without being asked. Being asked is insulting and is technically double reverse patriarchy, because I'm actually too aware to do dishes—my time was and still is better spent writing allied posts, online. Incidentally, at the time I was also in an epic Facebook flame war with an irony dude bro who was saying that The Second Sex had actually become problematic, so I was too busy to do dishes. People weren't using Twitter then.

Anyway, point is that this wasn't the best way to go about it; my family doubted my convictions, and they didn't understand why I wasn't doing the dishes. So I've put together a little guide for the Male Feminists who will come after me—a step-by-step for how to handle the awkward family conversations that ensue when you let them know, respectfully, that you are different now. I've conducted a lot of field research and been kicked under the table by a lot of friends and girlfriends. My bruised shins are like the shock troops of making people understand that you get all sides of the issues—maybe even more than any of them thought possible.


Photo by Jill Chen via Stocksy

First thing you do when you walk through the door: Immediately act really upset about the latest news. If you don't read the news, you don't have to; trust me, it's bad. The real point is that you should be upset to the point of inaction. Faint if you can. This will give them a good idea of how sensitive you are to issues

Second, offer to help your mom with whatever she's doing. If she's loading the dishwasher, muscle her out of the way and tell her you know the ideal space-saving technique. It's helpful if you actually do know, but not necessary—you're a smart guy, just wing it. If she's going to walk the dogs, take the leash from her hands. You're probably stronger than she is, which is just biological fact; if she gets mad, she's against evolution, sorry.

Hug your sister.

Inform your dad that he's problematic and part of the patriarchy that you're fighting so hard against. He may act hurt or ask if you want to take a ride to the store, but stay strong. Ask why he gets to make all the purchasing decisions and not mom? She's just as valuable a member of the team as he is; he is actually way less valuable because he's not woke. If he protests that your mom made a list and that he is just getting what she wants, tell him that Derrida said reading is reinterpretation, so technically he's saying that he knows what she wants better than she does. Checkmate.

I'm actually too aware to do dishes.


Tell your brother he's a piece of shit.

At dinner, if anyone is still talking to you, get really drunk because you can't stand being around them. If they stare, let them. They don't know the pressure you're under. I'm just presuming you are leading some campus women's issues groups. Maybe you can trumpet your role in getting yoga classes shut down for being oppressive.

After dinner, refuse to do dishes, see above.

If you can somehow bring up the most recent posts that you've read online, please do so. This is an invaluable move and reinforces your dedication to the issues.

Above all, remember, throughout the dinner and the aftermath: Stay true to the tenets of Male Feminism. It's not a competition, but you will likely win. Despite the difficulties of my coming-out experience, I have since converted my entire family to being Male Feminist, including my mom and both of my dogs. None of them are doing it to humor me. I can tell, because I ask them every time I see them exchanging looks.