Originally Published: Washington Post • March 10, 2015
NEW YORK — Michael Kimmel, a sociologist who studies gender inequality, has been pitching feminism to American men for almost 40 years. This can be a tough sell, though he notes that when he omits the F-word — feminism — he does better.
But here, at the first International Conference on Masculinities, no such half-measures are necessary. The Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan is filled with male feminists. They brainstorm how to combat sex trafficking, they discuss wage inequality and they talk of masculinity not as a fixed biological state but as an evolving cultural construct.
“Most men don’t see feminism as being about them, let alone in their interests,” says Kimmel, who ran the four-day conference gathering some 700 academics and activists — the pinnacle, says his wife, of his many decades of work. He is the organizational and philosophical center of a progressive movement to transform the American male — and it turns out this is a busy job.