What Don't You Understand About Feminism?
What is it about men that just don't 'get' feminism? How hard is the concept of basic respect to understand? Even those who present an image of solidarity and understanding are often woefully self-indulgent men-children who splutter out "not all men" and whine about how the entirety of their gender get tarred with the same brush when any feminist issues rise to the fore and it's a ridiculous state of affairs.
Before we start getting complaints about how women can't understand the male thought process or that this article has a biased female agenda, it's written by a bloke so I don't need you mansplaining away my arguments by leveraging your gender against them. Also, straight out of the gates, I'm not the perfect feminist. I haven't read a great deal of feminist theory and I have undoubtedly said and done things that I now look back on and cringe at in sheer shame and a lot of that comes from male privilege (which 100% exists) but, as is the case with most privileges, if you are benefitting from it, you don't necessarily recognize how because you are not the one suffering the setbacks and thus aren't going out of your way to try to identify them but I'm trying to be better each and every day. Also, if this article sounds like I'm patronizing you, it's probably because I am. If you don't understand these simple ideas, you need to be talked to SLOWLY AND LOUDLY!
Now, we've gotten all of that out of the way let's get back to the matter at hand and discuss what feminism really means and we're going to do that with the aid of a useful visual clue below.
In case you can't see, that is the basic definition of feminism that took me all of 6 seconds to google. It defines feminism as "the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes" and, you'll note, there is no mention of 'man-hating' nor suppression of men. In fact, the keyword to be picked out here is 'equality' and if you have an issue with the word on those grounds then your issue is not with feminism but with semantics and you need a dictionary thrown at you. The feminist movement is not a screaming, anti-male collection of angry or hysterical women but people who see society today and know we can do better.
If your sense of romance is telling a woman she's beautiful and feeling begrudged that she didn't instantly fall into your arms then you are part of the problem. If you laugh at sexist jokes or fail to pull up your other male friends when they tell one even if you know they don't mean it, then you are part of the problem. You are contributing to a culture of complicity that makes women feel unsafe and men feel as though they can get away with these awful things without being called out and you playing the defensive and shocked little angel does nothing.
I'm writing this article now because we are currently engaged in a culture war that has boiled to the surface of the public consciousness through the revelation of people in high places being sexually abusive. This issue is not a singularly female one in that men have also been taken advantage here and it is a case of the powerful abusing that power regardless of gender or sexuality, but what is truly worrying is the sense of righteous hurt that men have felt at being targeted and the awful justifications of certain actions.
The amount of think pieces or opinions I've read or heard that postulate that women will soon become wary of all men whilst the decent ones are left by the wayside along with the trash are as innumerable as they are stupid. Do you know how terrifying it must be to be a woman? Do you know what it is like to exist in a world where you are 9x more likely to be raped because of your gender? Do you know what it is like to exist in a world where you are paid a third less for doing the same work because your value is defined by your gender? Because I sure as hell don't! If you get this sense of wounded pride that you, a good, honest man, will now also be viewed with suspicion and that hurts your fragile male ego because you've never done any of these things and never would dream of it, I've got news for you buddy...you're probably a part of the problem. You don't get a reward for doing the right thing because it should be your default setting. You don't assault women that's great, now what do you want, a goddamn cookie?
If you are feeling that the onus of proving you are a good person is now on you is unfair and that you have to tiptoe around women for fear of being accused of sexual abuse then you need to take a look at your actions that make you think you might be accused of these things and just by having this good-guy persona, it does not give you a free pass, you are not relieved of distrust nor alleviated of past transgressions, take, for example, comedian Louis CK.
The star has conquered television, film, and standup with his routines on moralistic themes that quite often included a healthy dose of feminism and yet now he stands accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour by 5 women who have previously worked with him and it only adds fuel to the fire that, just because you're a man who talks a good feminist game, you are still just as likely to feel you are owed something by women, that by virtue of being a man you feel you can get away with this stuff and women are there for your gratification.
Is it any wonder then that some women get angry enough to shout about it, to draw attention to this toxic masculinity and to try and level the playing field? Surely not and yet this painting a picture of feminists as unwanted slighted women with an ax to grind only serves to belittle this perfectly acceptable anger. Your body is one of the few things in life that you truly get to control, that remains yours and yours alone to decide what happens to it, who you get to give it to and how you get to present it and if you take that away from somebody, anybody, you are robbing them of a fundamental part of human identity. The fact that so many men feel they have the right to comment on women's bodies, clothing, and sexual encounters goes to show just how far away from equality, or even a basic understanding of one another as human beings, we are and if a little more superstition towards myself and other men helps protect that right to identity then so be it. If this sounds fundamentally unfair to you, that you are being punished for your gender, then maybe you're starting to get the point!