Men: Everyday sexism and being a male feminist…
Being a young, white male I understand that I’m probably the last person on earth that should be schooling people on feminism. But feminism as a whole is something that a lot of men tend to shy away from/fail to understand. It’s mind blowing to think that in 2016 there are people who still can’t grasp the importance of feminism. So here is my take on things…
By Ryan Mules
There’s a common misconception (mostly amongst men) that feminism stands for female superiority.
Let’s just nip that in the bud quickly. The Oxford Dictionaries’ definition of the term reads: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes.” In a nutshell it means that everybody should be equal, no matter how you identify – whether it be as male, female or neither. In an ideal feminist society there would be no gender roles and no pay gap (women are still earning 14.2% less than men per annum). One contributing factor is everyday sexism. So, what do we do about it?
Here are just 3 simple first steps for the male readers…
- Please stop using the term “Friend Zone.” Not every woman wants to sleep with you. If a woman tells you she wants to be just friends, then you’re just friends. She hasn’t placed you in a socially constructed vortex because she doesn’t find you sexually attractive.
- Don’t be offended when she offers to split the bill. Believe it or not, women are just as capable (and as entitled) to support themselves as men are. Please do not force an ancient view that the role of a man is to pay for everything.
- Respect a woman as you would a man. It’s as simple as that. Embrace and empower everybody from all walks of life regardless of cultural background, sexual preference or their line of work.
I know that understanding feminism as a male can sometimes prove difficult. From the day you were born you have lived in a patriarchal society and have been force fed these values. But as an ideology, feminism is about deconstructing this patriarchy.
For those guys who still don’t get it…but want to:
First of all, just listen. After all, feminism was founded by women and aimed to end the oppression of women. As a male, it’s our duty to listen and respect another’s point of view… even if you don’t understand.
Second, don’t over cook it. One of the most perfect ways to describe how to understand a social movement is “just pretend you’re an intern. Like what would you do if you were an intern?” It’s perfect. As an intern you would sit back and observe, get the coffee’s in and never speak out of line.
As a person with the highest social privilege (white and male) it has been instilled in me to speak up and lead the charge. But having never been oppressed/pre judged, I’m not in a position to school women on their own matters. That said, as an ally to this social movement I feel it is my job to challenge other men. The term feminist can often have negative connotations, so as a supporter of gender equality I spread the word. A lot of women feel uncomfortable to speak up when they see or experience sexism and sure, some men will too. But the opportunity to educate other guys should be something we all thrive on.
After all, it’s a small challenge compared to the daily struggles many women have to deal with.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below…