Feminism is a hot button topic at the moment. Everyone seems to be discussing it, or maybe that’s just the cyber world that I live in. I’ve watched a couple Men’s Rights Activist vs. Feminist videos and I have thoughts. Oh boy, do I have thoughts. Tuck in, kids, this is going to be a long bedtime story.
So as this battle rages, it is increasingly turning into a men vs. women all-out war. Women say “Our lives suck because of our society”, and then men come back with “Quit whining, we have it worse”. It goes back and forth like that until it just turns into a huge shouting match that doesn’t accomplish anything. The truth is, and I know this may be hard for some people to accept, we have it equally as bad. Each group just has it bad in different areas.
Women are taught that our worth comes from our physical appearance. We are the nurturers, the domestic sex, the property. We aren’t allowed to be thinkers, to be the outspoken ones, to be the strong protectors. And when I say “we aren’t allowed”, I know that by law we have to be allowed. I also know that, by law, people aren’t allowed to do drugs, and what still happens? It’s all about societal expectations, not what the law does or does not allow us to do. It’s about changing people’s perspectives on the capabilities of women and girls and, more importantly, changing women and girls’ perspectives of themselves.
Women have a lot of trouble being equally represented in STEM fields, and as the heads of companies. And, no, I don’t think that companies should hire less-qualified people in order to diversify. I think that we should change the way we bring up girls, so that they can be more interested in CEO positions than in whether or not they look presentable enough to leave the house today. This is not to say that someone shouldn’t be allowed to care about their appearance. People should be allowed to be passionate about whatever they want, as long it doesn’t harm anyone. The key word here is “want”. I don’t want to have days where I look in the mirror and cry because I feel so terrible about the way I look, as if it were the epitome of my being. No one wants that, but that is often forced on us by the views of the world we live in.
I also understand that men feel self-conscious about their appearances as well. Everyone is taught to hate their bodies in our society, but that’s a discussion for a different time. The fact of the matter is that men are not taught to base their importance on how physically attractive they are to the female gaze, like women are with men.
What men are taught to base their importance on is status symbols. How nice is your car, how big is your house, how much money do you make in a year? Men aren’t allowed to have emotions, or feel pain, or be anything other than the aggressor. Where women must remain eternally weak, men must remain eternally strong, with no help and no faltering. Common points that I’ve seen discussed are that “Men are the ones expected to fight wars”, “Men are the ones expected to protect women, at their own peril”, and “Men are the ones who have to financially support women in romantic relationships”. All of these things are true from a broad societal standpoint. None of these things are fair.
I understand the fighting, I really do. No one likes to be accused of things. People are passionate about equal rights, and I think that is an amazing thing. And, it’s true that women will always be more passionate about gaining their own rights than helping men gain their rights, and vice versa for men. I don’t think that that is a bad thing. We should all be at the center of our own lives. It makes sense that we care about ourselves more than anyone else in the world. It’s called survival. The important thing is to not only care about yourself. Men can care about their rights more, that’s fine. But they should try to care as close to equally about women’s rights as they can, and vice versa is true for women.
Neither side should be holding the other back from gaining the equality that they need. There shouldn’t even be sides. I think people often forget that we shouldn’t be fighting each other. When we fight each other, it only makes progress harder. Instead, let’s turn our attention to the real problem- society, the media, and the reigning factor- gender roles. Let’s break down the ideas in ourselves, and in others, that it means a certain thing beyond biology to be born a man or a woman. Let’s try to create equal opportunities for both sexes by battling the ideas that got us into this mess, instead of the people who are trying to get us out.
And so, with all this equality, I think of another common argument that I see- “Why call it ‘feminist’ if it’s about equality? Doesn’t that already exclude one group?” To me, it doesn’t. The word “feminist” works for me because, as I see it, I am fighting for femininity to no longer be seen as weak. I want women to be allowed to be feminine and strong. I want men to be allowed to be strong and feminine. The word itself assigns a gender to certain attributes, and that is also a problem, but for now, it keeps everything in plain terms.
The thing I find funny is that “meninist” and “feminist” are the same thing. Well, I’m not actually sure of that. I’ll be frank, I haven’t actually looked into what most self-proclaimed meninists believe, but it makes sense to me that they would believe that men should be allowed to be masculine and vulnerable, and women should be allowed to be vulnerable and masculine. If that’s not what the movement is, please feel free to correct me, but I think you get the gist of it.
When it comes down to it, the words we use are irrelevant. They don’t matter even a little in comparison to what everyone is trying to accomplish. You can use whatever word works for you- feminist, meninist, equalist, whatever- as long as everyone comes to understand that we’re in this together. We’re all fighting toward a common end goal. We all want to live our lives happily and true to ourselves, without feeling shamed by our society.
And with this final statement (at last), I implore you to stop arguing among other people who simply want equality. We need to band together so that we can solve our first-world issues, so that we can, in turn, fight for those who have even worse lives than we do because of the age-old gender roles that still have such a tight hold on us. And though it can be difficult, I also ask you to try and present your argument to those who don’t understand this issue in a calm and kind manner. At one time or another, none of us was aware of the unfairness of gender roles, and you might not be the person you are today if someone had been condescending and shamed you because you hadn’t realized this problem existed. Shouting and being defensive really does not help to inform people. I know you’re probably passionate about it, and that’s wonderful, but just try and give others a kind introduction so that they can learn to be passionate as well.
Be kind to others and try to see things from their perspective. Close-mindedness is for people who would hold back progress, not those who want equality. Stay happy, be nice to people, and and get your activist on.