I support feminism. I’m stating that up front in case anyone gets the wrong impression from the title and then gets angry and claims to be triggered by some kind of bait and switch writing tactic. This post is about why I think we should all support feminism, and why the male knee-jerk #NotAllMen response to every social media post about feminism should be avoided.
Women have been treated badly for thousands of years. Sexism and misogyny is baked in to every major religion. From Judaism to Christianity to Islam, the texts are clear. Women are possessions, who should be quiet, submit, and often cover themselves. Their bodies and what they can do with their bodies are often the subject of debate and scorn. Even in these modern times, one has only to read the comments on any platform that allows them to see that this is true.
Women who do the same work as men are not paid the same amount. Often the fact that they are women and can get pregnant is used to justify this. Often in the workplace, if one finds oneself in the company exclusively of men for a few minutes, crude comments are made about a woman. Not that there’s anything wrong with sexual comments in the right context, but it’s clear when men see women as little more that sperm receptacles, and don’t think of them as people who can think and have views that mean anything; don’t think of them as actual human beings. Sometimes these words can be subtle, in the form of vague condescension, but this mindset is always present.
In public opinion, virginity is synonymous with purity. But only in the case of women. This is especially true for religious people. Why? Why should a woman’s vagina and what she does with it have anything to do with you? This view extends to the victims of rape. Just last year, I read about a pastor in the US who raped a teenage member of his congregation, one to whom he was supposed to offer therapy. After this became public, his congregation and his wife forgave him, but blamed the victim, and shunned her. This kind of thing is common. It happens all the time. It happens so often that questions implying the blame lies with the victim are standard procedure when interviewing rape victims, all over the world. Truth be told, even if a woman walks down your main street stark naked, you still have no right to rape her. But millions of men refuse to understand that.
Every time I share any status on social media about feminism, at least two men respond to a comment made by a feminist friend of mine with the #NotAllMen rhetoric. I get it! Sure, you may be one of those men who were brought up to respect women, and the horrible things about MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) do not apply to you, but why do you feel the need to respond on behalf of all men? You’re missing a bigger picture here…
A woman can’t walk alone to her car at night without being afraid of that one guy who shows up in the parking lot. If a woman dresses in revealing clothes, she’s a slut and she was “asking for it”. If she dresses conservatively, she’s a prude, an ice queen… Either way, she’s always the one who’s wrong. Either way, there are always men who are quick to correct her, to police what she can and can’t wear, what she can and can’t do, and what she can and can’t do with her own body.
So yeah, when you read a status that generalizes how awful men treat women, it makes you feel uncomfortable. It can give us (men) just a tiny window into the experience of what it must be like to be a woman. That discomfort you feel – that’s the whole fucking point! When you respond to it on behalf of all men, firstly that’s highly ironic, and secondly you completely missed the point. Have some fucking empathy. Or better yet, do something… Maybe next time you’re in a room full of men and some jackass makes a comment about women, or some guy catcalls a woman in public, speak up… Say, “Hey asshole! That’s inappropriate.” It’s not much but it’s a start.
I never decided to be a male feminist. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that feminism exists, and the views held by feminists happen to coincide with mine. Because I am a humanist who cares about equality, I care about feminism. That’s why it is important to me. We male feminists are called all kinds of names, which do not hurt, by the way. If you think you’re insulting a guy when you claim that he’s only professing to be a feminist because he wants to get laid, that doesn’t say anything about him… It says plenty about you and your opinion of women though.
We’re all entitled to our opinions. If you want to pick sides, you can be for or against feminism. But time will tell, those who are opposed to it picked the wrong side.