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The Men of MM: What Feminism Means to Me

Filed in: Humans of MM

Although we’re proud to be a female-run, female-founded company, we work with quite a few good men, too. This week, we polled some of the fine gents in our office about the definition of feminism, and what it means to them. Their wise responses are below.

“I grew up in Belgium, and I didn’t really know what feminism was until  I was 16 or so. Before that, I didn’t even realize there were situations (at least in the developed world) where women were not equal partners to men. My mom is a neurologist who raised four kids and worked at least the same amount as my dad. She was just as much—if not more—of a decision-maker in the household. It was the same situation for everyone in my extended family and for all of my close friends. So I thought equality was the norm, not really the exception.

“When I initially heard about the term ‘feminism,’ it had a bad connotation, equivalent to ‘man-haters’ who wanted the world to be solely run by women. So even many years later, I don’t really like the term, but that’s never affected my strong belief in the idea of equal partnerships. To me, it’s about how women make our lives better, richer, and more fulfilling, and what we can and should do as men to make their lives better, richer, and more fulfilling. We are all interdependent.”

-Michiel Maes, VP of FP & A and Strategy

“My understanding of feminism has evolved throughout my life, from the simplest idea of ‘women are equal’ to a more complex comprehension of intersectionality, microaggressions, and institutional discrimination. Like software engineering, it feels as though the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t understand. I’ve been very lucky in my life to have caring people around me that have helped educate me, and good friends that have pulled me aside and been critical of my behavior, even when I was reluctant to hear that criticism. As to whether I consider myself a feminist—it depends. If being a feminist is as simple as believing in the principles of feminism, then I am. But as I grow older, I see ‘feminist’ as a title that I need to earn through dedication, advocacy, and consistent action. I have a lot more work to do, and a lot more to learn. Being surrounded by the brilliant and strong women here at MM certainly doesn’t hurt.”

-Eric Frank, Senior Managing Engineer

“Until recently, I had never considered myself a feminist because it seemed like a given that women and men were equal. Then I realized that the women in my life seemed to be held to a higher standard than a lot of the men. I’ve always worked with (and for) very smart, successful women who were often more well-spoken, more organized, and—in my opinion—more professional than many of their male counterparts. It wasn’t until I became more introspective about my own gender identity and personal experiences as a queer person in the workplace that I began to understand why these amazing women seemed so indomitable. It was because they had to be.

“Sarah LaFleur made a comment in a recent interview with The Huffington Post that really stuck with me. She said that one of biggest issues for women in the workplace is ‘feeling like you can’t ‘be yourself’ at work.’ We live in a culture where femininity is (still) often equated with weakness, and those of us who don’t overtly express what are considered ‘masculine’ characteristics have a harder time being taken seriously. I think that’s a mistake. It leaves talent untapped and puts organizations at a disadvantage. The success of MM is a testament to what a culture of open gender expression can achieve. To me, feminism is about gender equality, and in the workplace that means viewing femininity as just as much of a strength as masculinity.”

-Michael Bartoli, Customer Logistics Analyst

“Feminism is women’s rights. It’s that simple to me. We live in a world where women have never had the same rights as men, and I hate that. It’s definitely gotten better over the years, but it’s still not where it should be.

As a corporation, we are years ahead of most others when it comes to women’s rights. I’m proud to talk about everything MM to everyone who will listen—from our all-women team of  founders, to our values, to our three months of maternity (and paternity) leave.”

-Luke Evers, Engineer

“My feminism is an intersectional commitment to demolishing structures that oppress, even (and especially) when those structures may benefit my white cis-male self. My feminism is also a commitment to a proliferation of glitter, a battle cry of stomping stilettos, and an unrepentant loud fucking of gender norms.”

-Jonathan Hendrickson, Inventory Control & Quality Assurance Associate

“To me, feminism is the belief that women are equal to men in every sense, and should be treated as such in the workplace, in social life, and in politics. My ideas around feminism were formed by my mother. She did so many things on her own that many people—including most men—would have found too difficult, all while fighting to be taken seriously as a woman in a male-dominated society. I definitely consider myself a feminist, because I am surrounded by so many amazing women who I believe are just as capable, if not more, of achieving the same things as their male counterparts. I think women bring a different, and very valuable, perspective to every facet of life, and for that perspective to be considered lesser than (or not considered at all) is extremely limiting to us as a society.”

-Kei Furuichi, Associate Art Director


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by

Charlotte Cowles is a New York-based writer and the editorial director at MM.LaFleur. Her work has been published in Harper's Bazaar, New York Magazine, and Art in America. She'd always rather be at book club. Read more of Charlotte's posts.


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