The Guy's Guide to Feminism


By Michael Kaufman

By Michael Kimmel

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 25, 2011. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Written by and for men, the ultimate guide to becoming a strong male ally in the 21st century

In just one generation, age-old ideas about women have been swept aside . . . but what does that have to do with men? Authors Michael Kaufman and Michael Kimmel, two of the world’s leading male advocates of gender equality, believe it has everything to do with them — and that it’s crucial to educate men about feminism in order for them to fully understand just how important and positive these changes have been for them.

Kaufman and Kimmel address these issues in The Guy’s Guide to Feminism. Hip and accessible, it contains nearly a hundred entries — from “Autonomy” to “Zero Tolerance” — written in varying tones (humorous, satirical, irreverent, thoughtful, and serious) and in many forms (“top ten” lists, comics, interviews, mini-stories, and more). Each topic celebrates the ongoing gains that are improving the lives of women and girls — and what that really means for men.

Informal and fun yet substantive and intelligent, The Guy’s Guide to Feminism illustrates how understanding and supporting feminism can help men live richer, fuller, and happier lives.


To the millions of feminist women around the world—and the men who support them.
And to Amy and Betty, because the political is also personal.

Both of us, both Michael K's, have had the same conversation over and over with the men we meet. Happens when we visit university campuses. Happens when we're speaking in a community. Damn, it happens with our own sons.
A guy stands up. Says, "I believe in equality and all that. But it's been years since women needed feminism." Another jumps in, "I mean, who actually calls themselves a feminist anymore?" A third says, "And even if they did, we've gone beyond all that women battling men thing, haven't we?"
We've each written a bunch of books and we each speak to a ton of men and women every year. But we figured it was high time that we actually answered those questions.
We believe that, whatever any of us think about the label, the ideas of feminism are still relevant.
More than that, we figure that these ideas are relevant not only to women, but very much to men.
And in a good way. One of the things we want to show is that in spite of all the garbage jokes and media stereotypes, feminism is also an amazing gift to us guys. Even if bits of it might make us uneasy, it holds out the promise of better relationships, better lives for the women we love, and better lives for ourselves.
Strange but true.
So, here it is, laid out from A to Z.
Read it. Cheer. Hiss. Laugh. Cry. Cheer again.... And then let us and others know what you think by visiting our site:; or Facebook page: www.GuysGuidetoFeminism/Facebook.

1. to unite or form a connection
2. to enter into an alliance


Men as allies of women (men az 'a- əv wim'in)
1. not an act of collective guilt, collective shame, or collective blame
2. an act of collective love for the women in our lives
3. strengthening our connection with women
4. seeing that we have a common cause
5. because we believe in the goodness of men
6. what this book is all about

A minister, a rabbi, and an imam were having a coffee.
The imam said, "This sounds like the beginning of a bad joke."
The minister said, "We're all the children of Abraham."
The rabbi said, "Yes, but which of his wives?"
The imam said, "Is that why feminists are so angry?"
The minister said, "What do you mean?"
The imam said, "They're angry at us for several millennia of bad things that men have done."
The minister said, "I like to tell my flock that women aren't angry. They're just insistent."
The rabbi said, "What's so wrong about a little anger? Imagine the world from their perspective."
At that moment another friend, a Buddhist monk, arrived. They told him what they were talking about. The monk said, "See the world from women's perspective? Well, let me start: How would you feel if every time you went out on a date, you worry you could join the one in four women who'd been sexually assaulted?"
The rabbi said, "Or what if there were people who wanted to make it illegal for you to have control over your own reproductive system?"
The imam said, "Or if you earned less for doing the same work as a man?"
The minister said, "If half the human race felt it was entitled to stare at your body or make comments about your breasts."
"And then, if you get angry, they accuse you of being a lesbian—"
"—as if that were a crime—"
"—or say how pretty you are when you're angry."
The four men thought about this for a moment.
"And it gets worse," said the minister. "Imagine that you start speaking out against these daily injustices and people start telling you to lighten up. Stop taking things so seriously. It's only a joke."
The rabbi said, "I wouldn't just be angry. I'd be ballistic."
It was Friday, and the imam soon went off to Friday prayers. "Anger," he said to the worshippers, "is a rational response to injustice. Anger can be a healthy emotion to feel, an expression that something is wrong."
The next morning at Sabbath services, the rabbi said, "Anger can be a motivating force, an impulse to get up off your heinie and do something, to at least say this inequality is not okay."
That afternoon, the monk said to those he had meditated with, "The problem isn't anger, it's finding appropriate ways to express it. Perhaps only by expressing it, can we ever let it go."
The next morning in his sermon, the minister told his congregants, "Anger can also be coupled with a desire to change things. It can carry a belief that things can change for the better. Resigned despair is what happens when you don't think you can change things. Anger can mean hope."
On Monday, the four men got together again for a coffee. They were joined by another friend, a Hindu priest.
The priest said, "But you're not saying that anger is the main thing that these feminists feel."
Now, this coffee shop had a waiter who'd been serving perfect cups of coffee for years. He'd heard the men talking the previous week and now heard this exchange. He'd often had this very discussion about women's anger with his girlfriend, so when the priest asked whether anger was the main thing feminists felt, he didn't hesitate to jump in.
"Excuse me," he said, "But when a woman feels angry, perhaps she is most angry that she has to feel anything but love and trust and how it feels to be an equal in the world."
The minister, rabbi, imam, monk, and priest nodded sagely to each other.
And that is no joke.

Imagine that you couldn't vote or couldn't go to college. Imagine that you couldn't work, or, when you did, you couldn't join unions or hold certain jobs. Imagine that you couldn't serve on juries or hold public office. Imagine that you were prohibited from driving a car, or from having a checkbook or a bank account with your own name on it.
Imagine that stereotypes about you were the basis for discrimination in employment, housing, and education. Imagine that you couldn't own property in your own name. Imagine that in the eyes of the law you were property.
Imagine that you were afraid to walk on the streets of your town or city, afraid to stay late at work or work late in the library, afraid to walk alone to your car in some parking lot. Imagine if you even felt afraid in your own home. Imagine that everywhere you turn, everywhere you look, your body is being used to sell things, from automobiles to stereo equipment.
This was the situation for women for most of the last two centuries. It was against this that women have been fighting. And boy, have they been successful—most of those rights have been won (except, alas, the ability to live without fear of violence).
Feminism is a political ideology that fights for the rights of women to be treated equally, without discrimination, and to make their own decisions about how they will lead their own lives. The idea of autonomy is the heart of feminism: "the radical idea that women are human beings," as one feminist writer put it. Autonomy means women can choose to become what they want to become, and to be safe in following their own path.
Is this really such a radical idea? We don't think so. It's nothing more than what men take for granted as our "inalienable right" every single day.
If you think about it, women in the United States have been fighting for the same rights that were the basis of the American Revolution—the rights of individuals to find their own way, to make their own decisions, to live their own lives. The Founding Fathers fought for independence—of the colonies from Britain, and for individuals to make their own choices about their lives. They fought for autonomy.
Feminism in the United States was born of women's desire to experience the same sense of autonomy that the revolution had guaranteed to men.
We believe that men should support women's autonomy because we believe in the rights of individuals to make their own choices about their lives. We believe that men care about the women in our lives and we want—our wives, our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our friends, our lovers, our colleagues, and our workmates—to be happy, safe, and fulfilled as human beings.
More than that, it will benefit us as men. It's more fulfilling and, frankly, more fun to be with people who are independent and strong, not supposedly weak, helpless, and dependent. It takes away some of the burden men often feel to always be in control, make the decisions, be the provider, and know where we're going without asking for directions.

NEWS FLASH: Most Guys Dig Beautiful Women.
RESPONSE OF MOST MEN: Uh, you got a problem with that?
RESPONSE OF A LOT OF WOMEN: I feel fat. My boobs aren't big enough.
Why's my hair so curly? So straight? Where can I get a pair of those pouty lips? Do these jeans make my butt look too big?
The majority of men are attracted to women. When it comes to heterosexuality, that's part of the deal. It's in our jeans and might even be in our genes.
The problem arises when a woman feels valued more for her looks than for her brains, personality, or skills. It's an issue when a girl is told by her teacher that she shouldn't worry about math: "You're pretty, you don't need it." It's an issue when women say that even in serious discussions at work or school some guys can't unglue their eyes from their breasts. It's a creepy problem when eight-year-old girls are pimped by advertisers to get all dolled up to look sexually alluring.
And it's a big issue that so many of the women we all know feel a desperate need to live up to virtually impossible definitions of beauty. Impossible, for one thing, because there's no timeless definition of women's beauty. What's considered beautiful changes from culture to culture, era to era, year to year. But relentless advertising hammers home only the latest version that applies to a tiny fraction of women. This has a terrible impact, particularly on girls and young women. Almost half of all underweight women think they are too fat. Over half of all girls are unhappy with their bodies by age thirteen; over three-fourths by age eighteen. Nearly half of all nine- to eleven-year-olds are on diets; by college, the percentage is over 90 percent. Who benefits? Check this out: The diet industry pulls in $33 billion per year worldwide; the cosmetics industry, another $20 billion.
Back when feminism first emerged, lots of guys thought women were overreacting to worries about beauty and advertising. But do you know what's happening now? Men are starting to get the same treatment: In our case, the main emphasis is how buff we're supposed to be.You end up feeling like crap if you can't land a job as a Calvin Klein underwear model.1 No wonder increasing numbers of males work out obsessively, transplant hair, diet, or have plastic surgery. Psychologists call it "the Adonis Complex"—the constant measurement of our bodies against some Greek god–like standard.
So we can finally understand firsthand how oppressive it is to be pressured about how we're supposed to look and to be evaluated based on our looks. The Adonis Complex and the Beauty Myth: his and hers. This obsession for beauty can get under your skin.
Of course, this beauty question is a bit more complicated for straight men. We have to discover ways to allow ourselves to experience and express our attraction for women while at the same time challenging ways that we might degrade, embarrass, discomfort, or harass the women around us. One of the best ways to do this is to talk to women in your life about things you feel and the best way to express them. The goal isn't to become a sexless creature who can't delight in women and their bodies. It is to discover ways not to do so at women's expense.

But first, a word from the makers of Good Sex:
"Want better sex? Of course you do! Brother, does feminism have a deal for you. . . . "
Before we get slammed for false advertising, here's the thing: If you've got to worry that a moment of pleasure is going to lead to an unwanted pregnancy, it's going to cramp your style. For many generations, women learned to put the brakes on sex because they knew they'd be the ones to live with the consequences. Birth control is the miracle invention that frees women and men from this fear and opens the possibility for better sex.
That's right, sex just for fun.
(Of course, the other miracle invention that does this is same-sex sex, a.k.a. homosexuality, but here we're talking about the male-female thing.)
These days, most of us take birth control for granted. But that's only because feminists fought so hard for it since the beginning of the last century. Margaret Sanger, one of the pioneers of the birth control movement, was arrested for passing out a leaflet that told women how to limit births—as if mere knowledge of birth control was a threat to the status quo, which perhaps it was! Many other men and women (including Dr. Thomas Hepburn—actress Katharine's dad) have devoted themselves to helping women get access to safe, effective methods of birth control.
Access to accurate information and reliable birth control are the best combination for preventing unwanted pregnancies. We hear a lot of blather about abstinence programs—just say "no." Here's the thing. Saying no to sex doesn't even work as well as saying no to drugs: In school districts where abstinence is taught rather than sexual responsibility (including birth control) there is now a higher rate of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
So why should we men support women's efforts to have access to birth control? Because it will enable women to plan their lives, allow women and men to decide when to have children, and give more people more options on what to do with their lives. Internationally, it is key for economic development and women's freedom.
Birth control is at least as much men's responsibility as it is women's responsibility. After all, what type of birth control is also the best method of reducing the risk for contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS? Condoms, of course. And condoms are a method of birth control for men. (Not us getting pregnant, but you know what we mean.)
Some men think they're not up to the task of being responsible for birth control. If we want to have great sex without fear of unwanted pregnancy or AIDS transmission, then we'd better take a quick lesson in sexual responsibility. Feminism has enough faith in men to know we're up to the task.



1. What was the focus of one of the early feminist campaigns?
a. Men's insistence on controlling the remote control.
b. Men leaving the toilet seat up.
c. Booze.
2. What is the most common date-rape drug?
a. Rohypnol.
b. Tickets to the Super Bowl or the Final Four.
c. Booze.
3. What is a common trigger for wife assault?
a. Beer.
b. Wine.
c. Hard liquor.
d. All of the above.
4. What can get you into a ton of trouble when mixed together?
a. Cement, bad debts, organized crime.
b. The name of your last girlfriend/boyfriend and the name of your current fling.
c. Booze, partying, sex.
d. All of the above.


1. (c) Some early feminists were active in the Temperance Movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The backbone of these movements to rid the world of The Evil That Is Alcohol tended to be conservative types. But some early feminists were aware of the relationships between drunkenness and violence against women and also how drinking destroyed household incomes. Meanwhile, of course, many other feminists fought to be allowed into bars alongside men. French feminists could never understand why anyone would want to stop drinking wine.
2. (c) Alcohol (sadly) is the winner. Although they may not be thinking about it as date rape, far too many guys will keep pouring the booze to get someone so bombed they don't know what they're doing. (See CONSENT.)
3. (d) Drunkenness doesn't cause wife assault in the way that beans cause farts. Booze is an enabler. It reduces a person's inhibitions and sense of right and wrong (part of what neuroscientists call "executive functioning of the brain"). And, for a guy who has a lot of pent-up feelings of hurt, sadness, and rage, this lowering of inhibitions can release a ton of feelings that get acted out in very inappropriate and destructive ways.
4. (d) See CONSENT.

Never happened. Well, not like they say it did. Yeah, there were a few bras tossed symbolically into a small fire in a trashcan at the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City in 1968. But "bra burning" was mostly a media myth to ridicule feminists.

Is chivalry dead? Does feminism mean I can't hold a door open for a woman or pay for a date? Does it mean I can't compliment a woman when I think she looks nice?
I Don't be ridiculous. Of course you can. Feminism is not a reaction against politeness or kindness; it's a reaction against inequality and the perception that women are weak, passive, and helpless.
If you feel kind and generous toward someone, it makes perfect sense to go out of your way for them. But ask yourself this: Are you doing it because you feel kind and generous toward that person, or because she's a woman and needs special treatment? Would you hold the door for a man?
So go ahead and hold those doors open—as long as you are not assuming that she can't do it for herself.
And go ahead and treat your date to dinner. Ask beforehand. A simple "I'm having a really nice time and I'd like to treat you to this dinner" would probably work. And then, let her treat you the next time. That way you'll have the pleasure of both giving and receiving that generosity. And that way, there'll be a next time.

Consent simply means "to agree with." It's a positive statement. And sexually, it's when both people agree about what's going to happen—and they let the other person know. There are four rules of sexual consent:


When it comes to sex, only yes means yes. "Maybe" doesn't mean yes. And "no" never, ever means yes.


  • "The Guy's Guide is a fun, quick read that makes the case that feminism is as good for men as it is for women."—Feministing
  • "The book is an easy, entertaining and informative read and makes the clear and compelling case for why feminism can improve the lives of boys and men."—Huffingtonpost

On Sale
Oct 25, 2011
Page Count
224 pages
Seal Press

Michael Kaufman

About the Author

Michael Kaufman is an educator and writer focused on engaging men and boys to promote gender equality and end violence against women. His work with the United Nations, numerous government and non-governmental organizations, and on university campuses has taken him to fifty countries. He is the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women, and the author/editor of six books on gender issues, democracy, and development studies, including Theorizing Masculinities and Cracking the Armor: Power, Pain and the Lives of Men. He is also the author of the award-winning novel The Possibility of Dreaming on a Night Without Stars. Married with two children, Kaufman lives in Toronto, Canada.

Michael Kimmel is a professor of sociology at SUNY at Stony Brook. He is the author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, which was featured on The Today Show and Good Morning America, and in over one hundred radio show, newspaper, and blog reviews. His other books include Changing Men, Men’s Lives, Against the Tide: Profeminist Men in the United States, 1776-1990, The Politics of Manhood, Manhood: A Cultural History, The Gendered Society, and, most recently, Misframing Men. He also co-edited The Encyclopedia on Men and Masculinities and Handbook of Studies on Men and Masculinities. He is the founder and editor of Men and Masculinities, the field’s premier scholarly journal, and a book series on gender and sexuality at New York University Press; and he edited the Sage Series on men and masculinities. He lectures extensively in corporations and on campuses in the U.S. and abroad. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and co-author, Amy Aronson, and their 10-year-old son, Zachary.

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Michael Kimmel

About the Author

Michael Kimmel is a distinguished professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University in New York. The author or editor of more than twenty books, including Manhood in America, The Gendered Society, The History of Men, and Guyland, he lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

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