To The Men Who Hate Feminism: It's About Equality, Not Domination, And We're On Your Side
Feminism is on your side.
I know, you’re sick of hearing about feminism. I’m sick of talking about feminism, trust me. But that doesn’t mean it's going to go away anytime soon. And men who complain about the feminist movement, insult women as a result of it, and ask “What about me and how I’m suffering?” miss the point and reinforce my need to talk about feminism. So, let's talk about it.
Feminists wish this whole social justice movement could be called humanism (to semantically encompass the problems of all humans) instead of feminism. That would be awesome.
Calling it humanism, however, has problems. First, the word already exists to describe something else.
Secondly, calling it humanism (or equalism or personism or whatever) would mean that we live in a world where everyone has the same experiences as everyone else that a single movement can address all at one time.
It would mean that males and females of all races, classes, and socioeconomic backgrounds have the same exact problems and opportunities.
This is simply not true. Due to a variety of uncontrollable circumstances, such as your DNA makeup and socioeconomic upbringing, you are born into a place in this world that will craft your life experience.
We all must play the hand we've been dealt with -- and there are too many possible combinations of hands for one movement to address them all. Even feminism repeatedly gets criticized for not covering the experiences of women of color, varying socioeconomic classes and sexualities.
The movement is called "feminism" because it's about making the world a more equal, just place for women. It's about addressing the issues that disadvantage women while benefitting men.
There are flagrant, measurable statistics that support the fact that men are economically, politically, and institutionally advantaged at the expense of women. This is what feminism is trying to fight against.
Women are underrepresented in the media in virtually all ways. Women only made up 16 percent of all writers, editors, directors, cinematographers, executive producers, producers for 250 top-grossing films in 2013.
Women only made up 28.4 percent of speaking roles in movies in 2012 and 43 percent of speaking roles in entertainment television shows in 2012-2013, and they were mostly significantly younger than their male speaking counterparts.
Women in film were also more likely to be sexualized: In the top 100 movies of 2012, women were three times as likely as men to be partially naked and four times as likely as men to wear hyper-sexualized clothing.
The highest-paid female actor in 2013 was Angelina Jolie; she made $33 million, which is the same as what the two lowest paid Hollywood male actors on that list of the top-20 highest made.
Women are continually undervalued and underrepresented in important, influential leadership positions.
The United States ranks 95th in the world for its percentage of women represented in politics, which is embarrassing.
Women constitute 51 percent of the country, but only make up 18 percent of Congress, 24 percent of state legislatures, and 10 percent of governors. There's obviously never been a female president.
The gender salary gap doesn't look like it's closing, either: Women still make less money than men in a plethora of professions.
Now, I'm not "playing victim."
To say that there are no systematic inequalities in place to favor men and to keep women away from these aforementioned roles, jobs and salaries is to imply that men are just naturally smarter and more skilled at everything.
It implies that men are in these roles, have these jobs and make these higher salaries because they are just better.
When a person is born a woman, she will not (as a whole) make as much money as a man, be able to succeed in any field she wants, or see herself represented as much in the media or in powerful positions doing worthy things.
And this matters. The effects of women being absent from the media and from positions of systematic power trickle down into our everyday lives. It creates a society in which men are more powerful than women not just economically, politically and institutionally, but also socially.
We live in a world in which men continually assert their social dominance, as shown with high rates of female domestic violence and rape, with men ruling in the workforce and women remaining in the home (though those numbers are slowly evening out), and how men exert more confidence than their female counterparts and what happens to women who exert the same amounts.
It's not that men are more confident because they're better at doing things: Studies have shown that men overestimated their performance and abilities on various tasks, while women underestimated both -- even though the quality of both genders' performances were equal.
Sometimes, the projections of male dominance are subtle, like when men tell women to "smile," harass women with catcalls and value women mainly on surface-level things like their appearance.
"What about me?" you ask. "What about my problems? Men are falsely accused of rape, hide instances of domestic abuse, and lose custody of their children in divorce battles!"
Well, I know you have problems, and I'll get to those in a second!
Feminism aims to counteract these overarching, systematic inequalities that continue to favor men at the expense of women, so making feminism about non-female-specific problems undermines the problems that are female-specific.
It would also imply that both men and women face problems equally, which statistically isn't true, and which harms the effort to fix problems that are female-specific.
This is important because female-specific problems affect equality -- and feminists want equality!
Equality is the point of feminism.
As it stands right now, though, women are behind. In order to achieve equality, we must empower women to the same economic, political, institutional and social levels as men.
It seems like feminism is a movement for women because it is a movement for women -- to reach the same levels as men, who already hold the vast majority of positions of systematic and social power. Denying that this is true is insulting to the people (women) who face the economic, political, institutional and social realities of it every day.
Feminism is not trying to make an unqualified woman president just because she's a woman; feminism is trying to give all women the same opportunities as men have to reach their full potential in all positions.
Feminism doesn't want to force a woman into a CEO position if she doesn't want it, but feminism doesn't want systems in place to stop her from doing so if she does want it.
Men, I understand that you, individually, cannot change these things, and that you, individually, did not put these systems in place. I understand that you don't think a woman is unfit for a CEO position and that you aren't a rapist.
I'm not saying you are the problem; I'm saying there's a system in place that cultivates the vast array of problems.
As far as personal attacks on you go, sure, there are radical feminists who hate men. Personally, I love men and think they're wonderful creatures, but misandry, or the hatred of men, is real.
It is, however, a very small percentage of feminists. Adhering to the logic that "all feminists hate men" because a small percentage of them do is to adhere to the logic that "all Muslims are terrorists."
It's ridiculous to apply the perspective of extremists that populate a tiny percentage of a group to an entire group.
And while misandry is "real," it's only real in its abstractness: There is not, nor has there ever been, a power structure in place that systematically advantages women at the expense of men.
There is not, nor has there ever been, a power structure that hates men.
Systematically, misandry does nothing. Misogyny -- a power structure that hates women -- does many, many things.
Look, I really am sympathetic to your problems. It sucks being a man. You're held to such unreasonable standards in regards to your feelings, your body, your career and your general competence.
You have to be tough, unassuming and unemotional. You feel pressure to adhere to rigid forms of masculinity, much like women feel pressure to adhere to rigid forms of femininity. It is totally oppressive on both ends, and I get it.
The good news about feminism fighting against engrained systematic inequalities is that it automatically addresses your problems as well.
Feminism challenges the perceived notions of femininity that determine what women are and aren't capable of -- which, by default, means it also challenges the perceived notions of masculinity that determine what men are and aren't capable of, too.
Feminists don't want you to be falsely accused of rape; those false accusations undermine real rape victims, and this reinforces rape culture and the idea that men can't "control themselves" when in a sexual situation, which is a product of systematic inequalities. You are not a violent, insatiably sexual being.
Feminists want people to believe you when you say you've been domestically abused; the idea that only men can be violent and only women can be victims is a product of systematic inequalities. A notable percentage of men are indeed domestically abused.
Feminists don't want you to feel like you must pay for dinner; continually making more money than women and feeling like you must "provide" is a product of systematic inequalities. Pay for dinner only if you want to.
Feminists don't want you to be the only gender drafted in war; the idea that women are too feeble or weak to fight in a military setting is a product of systematic inequalities. Women can battle just as well as men.
Feminists don't want you to relinquish custody of your kids or feel belittled for being a nurse or a stay-at-home dad; the idea that women are more sympathetic and better caretakers is a product of systematic inequalities. You are just as capable of driving your son to soccer practice as your wife.
Feminists don't want people to assume you're a predator when you walk alone with your child; the idea that men are inherently aggressive and uncontrollably sexual, and that women are better caretakers, is a product of systematic inequalities. Again, you are not a violent, sexual being.
Feminists don't want you to feel stifled in your sadness; the fact that you have to repress your emotions in the name of "being a man" is a product of systematic inequalities. Everyone feels lonely sometimes and deserves to talk about it. Even you.
Feminists are on your side -- if you'd just let us be.
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