MAN-UP AND THINK LIKE A WOMAN. WITHOUT APPRECIATING FEMINIST VALUES, WE’RE ALL ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX.
BUT MEN SHOULDN’T BE MALIGNED DUE TO GENDER EITHER.
Okay, brace yourself because a man is about to start mansplaining feminism. This should be good…
Eyes roll any time a man mentions the F-word. That’s why we rarely bring it up in conversation and when we do, we approach the subject like it’s an unexploded device. Plus, it’s still one of those vaguely scary terms, like “pension” or “smart-casual”. You sort of know what it means, but everyone’s hazy on the details except to say that when you get it wrong, you’re really in the shit.
But feminism needn’t be a social minefield for men because in all likelihood, by most people’s definition, you’re a feminist already.
How can you tell? Well, here’s the abridged version: you’re not a dick. You believe in equal pay for equal work. You don’t think a short skirt is an open invitation. You’re sickened by female genital mutilation. And you don’t have your head in the sand. You know that for decades and centuries women were denied the same rights as men, and still are in some cases and some places.
Knowing all this is part of the reason most men tiptoe around the subject. We find it hard to air our views, partly in fear of a backlash (that may or may not be coming) and partly through some weird, inherent male-guilt. And actually, that’s a problem in itself.
I’m hardly the first person to raise this idea, but the world is at risk of teaching young men to feel ashamed of their gender. The problem with the “battle” of the sexes is that it pits one side against the other, and there’s a temptation to see everyone on Team Man – the oppressors, the old enemy – as part of the problem.
Even in this article, I’m guilty of it. I used a word in the very first sentence that describes the gentle man-bashing that has seeped quietly into our culture: “mansplaining”, which makes the assumption that a man’s opinions are about as welcome as a dick pic. Rough translation: “Shut up, son, you’re talking rubbish.”
If gender inequality is to be stamped out, then both sexes should be involved – because there’s still work to be done.
Yes, men still earn more than women. Women are also underrepresented in the upper echelons of business and politics, and have to swat away misogyny on a daily basis. But don’t forget that men are victims gender inequality, too. When it comes to life expectancy or exam results or the casualties of suicide, violent crime or workplace accidents, there is no such thing as male privilege.
Some of that can be traced back to the issues that feminists have been battling for decades – the idea that men, not just women, should know our place. “Man up. Admit no weakness. Don’t be such a woman.”
Refute feminism, and you’re also putting yourself in a box – confining yourself to those tired, 50-year-old ideas of masculinity. You can’t speak up about your feelings or mental health. You can’t be a stay-at-home dad. You probably shouldn’t even be into fashion. What the hell are you reading this trash for?
So yes, I do think men should be feminists. Because it’s not just a question of respect for women, but respect for yourself, too.