Mike Tyson Isn’t A Feminist

Mike Tyson Isn't A Feminist

Britni Danielle from Clutch Magazine has the audacity to suggest that Mike Tyson might be a feminist. Danielle’s article, “Mike Tyson Is Sort Of A Feminist–And I love It,” describes how some of Tyson’s recent comments, and his changing lifestyle position him as a burgeoning feminist.

Just to clarify, she is talking about Mike Tyson the boxer.The man who bit off a chunk of another person’s ear. The convicted rapist. The dude the guys in The Hangover steal a tiger from.

Calling Mike Tyson a feminist–even with the words “sort of” tagged on the end–is bullshit.

It is bullshit because being an advocate of feminism, and by extension, a feminist, means that you engage in a tireless effort to eradicate the world of intersecting systems of oppression. Being a feminist takes work, and when Danielles applies the label to someone who doesn’t actively advocate a feminist ideology, she minimizes the work that feminist activists, scholars, and writers take on.

It is great that Tyson acknowledges the problematic socialization men receive, the messages that teach young boys that:

“We as people — men — in my experience, we are told we are superior to women, they come from our rib and this and that. That’s all our insecurity, to make us feel like someone, like a slave master. I’m so happy to reach a stage in my life, a paradigm shift. Everything I did believe was a goddamn lie.”

His statement is accurate, albeit far from radical, but one comment a feminist does not make. Danielles explains how she cannot, “condone his violent behavior, especially when it was directed toward women,” but she can understand,  “how he got there.” Wait, what?! Ultimately, she tells the reader that, “Feminism seeks to ensure that all people, regardless of gender, are treated as equal human beings. And that’s what Mike Tyson wants–to be seen as human. It’s what we all want.” Fair enough, feminism advocates for fair treatment of human beings, but fair treatment of human beings doesn’t necessitate that feminists overlook a harried history of an abusive misogynist because he makes a few salient comments.

We can only hope that Tyson’s recent comments are indicative of  changing beliefs (and subsequent behaviors), but even half-heartedly labeling Mike Tyson a feminist is just plain silly. Mike Tyson, like all people, is a nuanced and complex human being, and perhaps he deserves more credit than he is commonly given, but let’s not overreach and call him something he hasn’t earned.

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