I'm a male feminist. No, seriously

Story highlights

  • Male feminist John Brougher says feminism conjures images of radical ideology
  • Brougher identifies as a male feminist and often has to defend his position
  • Men have a crucial role to play in quashing sexism, says Brougher
Feminism's gotten a bad rap lately. For many, even just the word itself conjures up images of radical ideology.
Pop music star Taylor Swift and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, to cite two famous examples, asserted that they're pro-equality, but won't identify as feminists.
Explaining her position in February of this year, Mayer noted that she didn't have the "militant drive" or "chip on her shoulder" that comes with feminism.
I'm not particularly militant, nor do I have a chip on my shoulder (I hope), but I get my share of weird reactions nonetheless. See, not only am I feminist, I'm a male feminist. People aren't always sure what to do with that.
"You're a man. Isn't that a contradiction?"
"Wait, are men allowed to be feminists?"
"Are you even a man at all?"
As far as I know, men are absolutely allowed to be feminists. And when I declare that I'm a feminist, I should explain what that word means to me.
My feminism is a simple belief in equality. I'm a feminist because I believe that men and women are and should be equal, but we're not treated equally right now.
We see it in a distorted conception of female beauty, we see it in dehumanizing portrayals of women in film and on television, and we see it when the response to rape all too often isn't support, but consists of loud cries of "she was asking for it!" and "her skirt was really short!"
The basic sexism undergirding our world is so pervasive that I (and others) have grown up with it and see it at every stage of our lives.
From the much-discussed pay gap to constant street harassment to denying of basic rights to women and girls, we see it everywhere.
I'll never forget the meeting I was in a few years ago because the visitors to our office never made eye contact with my female manager.
I'll wager that they thought, perhaps unconsciously, that because I was a man, I was the boss. As an incredibly junior staffer, that was a