The Complicated Calculus of Feminism for Men

An interview with Michael Messner, whose recent book explores three generations of feminist men.

Male feminists take part in a 1980 protest. Photo by Rick Cote

Described as a "solidarity movement for gender equality," the HeForShe campaign is the United Nations' attempt to recruit men to the feminist cause. Launched last September with the star power of U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, the campaign became thinkpiece fodder and a Twitter trending topic for weeks after the Harry Potter actress took the stage to formally invite men to the women’s movement. As with anything attached to a feminist label, the campaign inspired plenty of contentious online discussion, from those who thought that it didn’t do enough for men to those who thought it did too much. These popular, contemporary debates embodied one of the major conflicts simmering within the feminist movement since the ‘60s and ‘70s: What role do men have in the women’s movement?

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