I am not a misandrist.
I have not been especially active, in the past, advocating for social and political change to bring the rights, entitlements and treatment of women equal to those enjoyed by men.
However, it occurrs to me, without realizing it consciously, perhaps the primary reason I have avoided identifying myself as a feminist is because of the negative connotation associated with the term. This negative connotation is primarily assigned by men who are threatened by women, as if being respected equally would soon lead to a complete estrogen takeover.
I suppose I consider myself a humanist—and for me to be a humanist, I have to be a feminist.
I erroneously, passively, believed that feminism meant misandry and some extreme form of demanding not just equality but more. While some feminist activity may be extreme, feminism need only to advocate for women to be realized for what and who they are. Like our male counterparts, we are an indispensible part of society and culture, the world as we know it.
What is so difficult about that?
I’ve made my share of jokes about men and women without ever realizing that I have quite possibly been perpetuating the divide regardless of on how little of a scale. I’d venture to guess many men think they respect women quite a bit, don’t really have an opinion on it and/or wish to stay out of it all together.
I fear that some of those men actually do have an opinion on the matter, regardless of the leaning. For varying reasons, they were never given or taken the opportunity to explore it or express it and b) even indifference on the matter is in many ways perpetuating a male dominated culture.
I used to joke that feminism ruined things for women, killed chivalry; when considered more seriously, feminists had little choice but to go for the whole pie in order to get just a slice or two.
Feminism isn’t soley responsible for those ruined things; instead, the very men who felt threatened have acted out in spite.
“Well if she wants to work and vote then why should I open this door for her or offer her my jacket. No one offers me a goddamn jacket,” as if by asking for and demanding the same opportunities, women took away those afforded to men.
It seems somehow things have gotten twisted; that me wanting a share of the pie means I want the whole pie.
I could entertain that often unspoken misconception that women—if given true equality in politics, education and the workplace—will automatically get more, because they are always having things done for or given to them. The notion that just because they are women they use their feminine wiles all the time.
Well, it is rarely women who objectify themselves in such a distorted context, not from the outset anyway. Secondly, free drinks are really not that much of a perk.
I think it is perfectly plausible that the level-headed, intelligent, rational woman who endeavor for equality could inspire the men around them to become feminists.
For a man to become a feminist may elicit a different negative connotation from some. That “he’s whipped, weak or a fag” or, that he’s a gender-defector. I feel certain that this negative connotation would be assigned by those completely ignorant of the immeasurable value of men and women standing on even ground acting as counterparts with equally valuable and diverse contributions.
More men should outwardly and unabashedly endeavor for women to be treated equally and with more respect, making it a point to consciously acknowledge just how amazing women are.
These two truths are not mutually exclusive. Until the merits of men as feminists are fully realized and the motivations are purely humanist, perhaps I should be willing to accept that men should become feminists because they will be more appealing to women and thusly will get laid more frequently (and that is my inappropriate and somewhat counterproductive joke for the essay).
Furthermore, as a feminist I do not purport to be the same as a man; there are glaring differences and I happen to love those differences.
I only purport that the equality and respect I seek as a woman have absolutely nothing to do with those differences and everything to do with the points at which we intersect.
What inspired my feminist revelation? Please watch the following videos and see: a) how one woman’s brilliant idea will help bring future generations of women into a male dominated field b) just how rampant, extreme and absolutely frightening sexism is right now; and c) how one man gets in touch with his inner feminist and doesn’t lose one ounce of masculinity or credibility.
*Note that the man in video (c) is responding to the extreme misogyny and sexism discussed in video (b) and he is awesome.
Alena Q. Reed is a 34-year-old Pennsylvania native, Air Force veteran, and holds a B.S. in Community & Regional Planning from Temple University. Alena says some of her most valuable qualities are open-mindedness, compassion, adaptability, and tolerance.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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