What does it mean to be a man who supports feminism? This is a question I have been asking myself recently due to the topic coming to the forefront of American culture once again. Feminism has become a hot-button issue as of late due to many reasons such as celebrities bringing awareness to the topic, legislation being passed or not passed in favor of women, and recent threats against those who label themselves as feminists. That latter of which I find most disturbing.
Women have been fighting long and hard for an equal place in society, and some people have seen this push with an extremely negative connotation. These women have faced much scrutiny and were barely taken seriously in the past. However, the negative outlooks on those who do fight for their rights may come from a place of hate rather than reason. Feminism contains many ideals, but the ideal of most importance is that we as humans are created equally and deserve to be treated as such.
As a member of the male population, I pride myself in my support of equality for all genders and I realize that I am still learning as I go along. For example, I have unknowingly turned a blind eye to many issues that women face today. Of course, I consider the fact the women, on average. earn less than men for the same amount of work, but this is not the issue I want to focus on with this piece. What I do want to focus on are the underlying fears and reasons behind why some still find themselves being put down solely based on their identity. Chosen or not. There is a problem with how we treat those who are different.
To expand on this idea, one of the biggest issues I see with the mindset of society is the way men treat women or those who can accept having feminine qualities. As a man, I believe it is my responsibility to treat women with the utmost respect, because to me that is what a man does. However, I don’t feel as if that is a trend within male society. I’ve seen this mindset of not having respect for women accentuated on the Internet. There are those who openly express their destructive opinions, but even more disturbing are those men who hide behind anonymity on apps like YikYak and sites like Tumblr. I scroll by thousands of misinformed, hateful messages towards women.
Since women deal with situations like this on the Internet and in real life on a more than regular basis, I have noticed and heard from many women that when men are trying to actually compliment them, it is hard not to feel a bit uneasy. This is not in all cases, but more than there should be. Being a guy who likes to compliment girls if they have dressed well that day or if they did something new with their hair, I don’t want to be considered a creep. I often feel extremely anxious and often don’t compliment at the fear of being labeled as something I’m not. This type of situation uncovers an underlying lack of trust between people in general. When it becomes hard to treat others in a positive way, there might be problem.
Everyone needs to take responsibility of his or her actions as humans whether you want to call yourself a feminist or not. There needs to be a shift in how we treat each other. People choose not to be themselves for the fear of being judged.
Due to this fear, some people abuse substances as an excuse to free themselves from the pressure of what others expect them to be, so that if they were to be judged, it doesn’t matter because they can use excuses like, “I was drunk” or “ I was high.” This isn’t the right way to deal with our problems, and we shouldn’t need excuses to love one another and ourselves.
Maybe instead of hiding behind anonymity, substances, and excuses we could instead learn to respect each other. We all have our struggles and quirks, but isn’t that what makes us interesting? If we weren’t afraid of our own feelings, we could express them to others, and maybe the next time I compliment a member of the opposite sex she won’t feel uncomfortable or wonder what my motives are if she doesn’t know me, instead it will make her feel good about herself like a compliment should.
Overall, to me feminism means equality and if we start really understanding and respecting each other as men and women then equality would manifest itself. Life can be hard enough without struggling to be ourselves.