Let's be honest: Feminism is a term that makes most men very uncomfortable. They see it as an attack on their masculinity, and an affront to their very way of life.
If a discussion surrounding feminism comes up, they might change the subject, roll their eyes, walk away, or make an inappropriate joke.
Recently, we have even seen a lot of females coming out against feminism. Literally, there is Facebook page entitled, "Women Against Feminism."
It should be retitled to "Women Against Equality."
In early July, Buzzfeed published an article with pictures of women from this page holding signs that said things like, "I don't need feminism because I am not a victim" or "I don't need feminism because I respect ALL humans... not just one gender."
Well, they may not "need feminism," but all of these individuals at least need a dictionary... It is apparent that they don't understand the basic meaning of feminism and what it represents.
What's more, several female celebrities have also recently come out against feminism. In June, Lana Del Rey stated, "Whenever people bring up feminism, I'm like, god. I'm just not really that interested."
So... what you're basically saying is that you're really not that interested in equality.
Feminism can literally be defined as "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities." This is straight out of Merriam-Webster folks.
An encouraging side note: While looking this up, Merriam-Webster was kind enough to alert me that "Feminism is currently in the top 1 percent of lookups and is the 54th most popular word on Merriam-Webster.com."
Hopefully, some of that traffic consists of the followers of "Women Against Feminism." Spread the truth to the youth.
The key words in this definition: MEN AND WOMEN. It's not about the victimization of women, or the vilification of men. It is about equality. Plain and simple, end of story.
The fact of the matter is that certain movements associated with feminism have stigmatized the term over time, yet people forget to realize that it was always about overcoming obstacles both genders face in society.
It is true that there are radical elements to the feminist movement, but they do not represent it as a whole.
Feminism is fundamentally about equality and solidarity, and anyone who tells you differently desperately needs a reeducation, and possibly a hug.
In today's world, women have it much harder than men do; that's a fact. As Charles M. Blow notes in a very pertinent article for the New York Times, the statistics surrounding violence and discrimination against women are astonishing, and deeply troubling.
Men, on the other hand, typically do not have to worry about being subjected to such physical and psychological violence. In essence, men are the definition of privileged.
Moreover, feminism is not only about the empowerment of women, it's also about reassessing masculinity and the pressures we put on men in terms of the individuals they aspire to be.
In our society, men are expected to exhibit a certain level of machismo, which only serves to further the distinction between men and women.
Simply put, the gender roles we have established, as a society, perpetuate inequality between the sexes. Sexism and misogyny are a very real parts of everyday life, and in most cases they are considered perfectly acceptable.
Accordingly, as Blow so eloquently puts it:
Yes, we should all be feminists, but too often we believe that the plight of the oppressed is solely the business of the oppressed, and that the society in which that oppression is born and grows and the role of the oppressors and beneficiaries are all somehow subordinate... Fighting female objectification and discrimination and violence against women isn’t simply the job of women; it must also be the pursuit of men. Only when men learn to recognize misogyny will we be able to rid the world of it. Not all men are part of the problem, but, yes, all men must be part of the solution.
Violence against women around the world is very real, as the chart above shows. What's worse, women are often ridiculed for being assaulted.
Last year, in the now infamous Steubenville rape case, a teenage girl from Ohio was sexually assaulted while incapacitated from alcohol and then ridiculed for it on Instagram and Twitter.
What's more, this would unfortunately and disgustingly happen again to another girl named Jada, who was also a victim of rape. This has sparked a movement on the Internet under the hashtag #IAmJada. The only encouraging aspect of this horrific incident is the solidarity that other women are expressing with the victim.
Furthermore, women face a number of other significant challenges beyond being subjected to violence and ridicule, many of which are economic. As the Center for American Progress highlights, "women are still earning less than men across the board."
Correspondingly, according to Forbes, the gender pay gap has seen hardly any changes in recent times. As U.S. Census Buerea data shows,
For the last decade, median earnings for women working full time, year-round have been just 77% of men’s earnings.
Simply put, women are not granted the same respect and opportunities as men in the workplace.
This is not the kind of society that I want to live in, which is precisely why I, as a man, need feminism too.
I want to live in a world in which men and women are respected equally, and where they are afforded the same opportunities. This includes the opportunity to walk out of the door every day without feeling threatened, as well as earning a wage based on merit and not gender.
With that said, I am not trying to be some superhero for women; they don't need men to save them.
They particularly don't need a white male to save them, as I am the epitome of what it means to be privileged. I am well aware of my privilege, but constantly struggle to remain cognizant of it.
Moreover, I am certainly not arrogant enough to assume that men can singlehandedly solve all of the problems associated with femininity. When it comes down to it, I simply desire to foster a more egalitarian world. After all, our survival as a species depends on healthy relations between men and women.
Likewise, during one of his stand-up routines, the comedian Louis CK once joked:
How do women still go out with guys, when you consider that there is no greater threat to women than men? We’re the number one threat to women! Globally and historically, we’re the number one cause of injury and mayhem to women. We’re the worst thing that ever happens to them… You know what our number one threat is? Heart disease.
His observations are both hilarious and painfully accurate.
Thus, we need to take the basic tenets of feminism seriously, as it is apparent that many people are in desperate need of a reeducation on what it's all about.
So I am happy to stand up and say, "Yes, I'm a man, and I'm a feminist because I believe in equality for all people."
I'm not asking for applause for this, I'm simply asking you to join me in this cause. If you're not willing to, understand that you're contributing to the degradation of humanity.
As Malala Yousafzai once aptly stated,
We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.
Photo Courtesy: Tumblr