September is almost here and so the parents everywhere are shopping in preparation for sending the kids back to school. While shopping among some of these parents I overheard something that infuriated me.
”Mammy please can I have the Hulk lunchbox?”
Said the little girl
I watched as her Dad clutched the lunchbox waiting for permission to grant his daughter's wish.
”No! That’s for boys!”
The mother said.
I was disappointed to see him put the lunchbox back on the shelf.
He could have been a feminist!
When asking men “are you a feminist?” most men will say no.
But there are some very important reasons why
Feminism Needs Men and Men Need Feminism
The HeForShe campaign encourages men to get involved in feminist activism. Although Emma Watson does address men's issues as well as women’s there is a problem in my opinion with the exterior appearances of the campaign. The name ‘HeForShe’ suggests that the motives of male feminists should be for the progressions of women in society. To a certain degree it is true that this is in the interest of men, especially men with daughters.
Womens issues are your mothers, sisters and daughters issues
If like this father, you "want there to be [no more] glass ceilings for [her] to have to break through", then it would be wise to learn about these issues of women and try to understand how we collectively reinforce them.
But if feminism is for equality of both men and women then we cannot disregard areas in which men are oppressed. I am not writing this in support of “Mens Rights Activism” as that would suggest that feminism does not include the issues of men. ‘MRA’s’ are not interested in treating the genders equally. If they did, they wouldn’t insist that men who do not behave the way their prescribed gender insists they do as “pussies”.
There are men and women everywhere who reject feminism. But if asked “do you believe in gender equality?” the same people will say “yes of course!”
The core value of feminism is of course gender equality.
And if you believe in gender equality but you don't wish to identify with the word then it's due to misinformation or misinterpretation. Feminism is incredibly complex and contradictory which I believe is what causes people to reject it. There will always be something within feminism that you firmly disagree with.
The question is not are you a feminist, but what kind of feminist beliefs do you hold.
For instance one side of feminism believes that women who flaunt their bodies to the male gaze are reinforcing female objectification. Then there is another feminist argument which completely contradicts this, which is that women should be free to express their sexuality without being made feel ashamed.
Feminism has for centuries been given a bad name
There are of course 'bad feminists' who believe that by calling themselves feminist they are somehow better than others. They also choose to define feminism by their own personal values, and reject ideas that contradict their own as "not feminist". These people abuse the name and might say that your argument is misogynist or "against feminism" when in fact feminism is not an argument, it's a conversation. One in which we all have different views.
It's only natural that people don’t want to associate with bad names. Unfortunately, being anti-feminist means believing that men should in fact be valued and empowered more than women. Don't let the media fool you! They propagate this bad name by representing radical feminism as feminism.
Feminism is a conversation, not a rulebook!
(Skip to 3 minutes 20 seconds)
Even the word, I often hear people reject as sexist. But people need to remember where we were when feminism began if we are to argue about the origins of the name. This is the reason that the word feminism is gendered. It was not just a movement, it was also a study of femininity. But of course, as it progressed it was realised that femininity is not the only learned gender and masculinity also causes restraints for men and women in society.
Mens issues, if derived from gender inequality are of course feminist issues.
Feminism is as much for men as it is for women. In fact, I would go as far to say that when it comes to parenthood, it is fathers who are oppressed. It is in men's interest to be feminist if they are ever to fight against the pre-conception that mothers are more nurturing by nature.
(Apologies for the Facebook link, I couldn’t find this anywhere else)
If they wish to be able to change their own babies nappy in a restroom like mothers can, or if men wish to have more parental rights when not in a relationship with the mother, or to have as much right to paternity leave as mothers have to maternity leave, then it is actually in men’s interest to study feminist theory so that they can coherently bring up these issues of gender inequality.