4.8
February 15, 2014

Feminist Goddess Offers Alternative 4 Letter Word for Men.

Old Couple

In response to: A 4 Letter Word to Give Our Male Lover…And it Takes a Brave Woman to Say It.

Overall, I like the sentiment of the article—men are awesome, let’s give ‘em some props. However, there are several elements that didn’t sit well with me.

First, I’d like to address the line that bothered me the most: Feminists may gag but Goddesses will get it and their men will know they get them.

Why separate the two? Can’t a woman be both? Merriam-Webster defines feminism as: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. Goddess is defined as: 1) a female god, 2) a woman who is greatly loved or admired; a woman whose great charm or beauty arouses adoration.

Personally, I am of the belief that a woman can be both greatly loved, admired, charming and beautiful, yet also support the ideal that men and women deserve equal rights and opportunities. I’m not sure why it felt necessary to indicate that women reading the article will simply be one or the other, but certainly not both.

Also, is the author saying that she is not a feminist? Since “feminists may gag” i.e. not support the message, I find this statement to be contradictory in regards to another portion of the article, where the author declares: “We are all equals. No. Matter. What. Re-empowering our men will not take that away.”

So then I wonder— does the author feel are men and women are equal? That pretty much sounds like the definition of feminism. Yet, in this piece, being a feminist feels like it has a negative stigma attached to it. (Feminists won’t get it—but goddesses will.)

I consider myself to be both feminist and goddess and I have another point I’d like to address. The main message behind the article: let’s empower men by calling them heroes.

In the opening statement, the author says: “Whether it’s our lover, father, nephew, son or grandson, all males can be our Superman.”

Hmm. Do we (women) need a superman? By urging women to make men their “heroes” or their “supermen” does that actually empower men? Or does dis-empower women? (I feel that) a bit of an assumption is being made here—that all women need saving. And to boot, women need to be saved by (super) men.

I have to say, this doesn’t sit well with me.

To be fair, there is probably a time in everyone’s life that they need “saving,” to some degree. We are all weak, helpless and vulnerable at times. However, I take issue with the picture that (appears to be) painted, as far as women being the weaker or more vulnerable sex in general.

And that women require saving.

Again, although I feel the author wrote her piece with positive intentions, I can’t ignore the sexist undertones.

The article claims: “Some of the ways women, and certainly I, have emasculated men include criticism, complaining, condemning, condescending, closing ourselves off, controlling, ignoring, interrupting, taking for granted…”

Well, let’s be fair here. Is she describing women? Or is she describing people. All people. Being human.

We all criticize, complain, condescend, close ourselves off, can be controlling, take things for granted, etc.

We are human! We are imperfect, and we all do these things! I just don’t see how this is valid evidence of how we (women) emasculate “our men.”

Do women do these things? Yes. Do men? Yes. Should we all work on being kinder, more empathetic and just better people in general? Yes!

And what of the suggestion to call “our” men—heroes?

The author says:

“What is a hero? A man is a hero when he takes out the garbage, even if we need to remind him kindly and thank him sincerely. A man is a hero when he works hard to provide for his family. A man is a hero when he sticks up for you when you’re not around to hear it. A man is a hero when he opens the door for us at the coffee shop and/or gestures us to enter first. A man is a hero when he recounts a ‘biggest fish’ story so he can appear manly for us…”

Ok, whoa. A hero for taking out the garbage? Sorry, no. A thoughtful and helpful person, yes. While I do appreciate it when my hub hauls the big cans out to the curb, I do not consider him my hero for doing it. I consider him my loving husband. And you know what? There are days when I will lug those cans out, because I am a loving wife, who can also be thoughtful and helpful. And that’s it. It’s moving stinky garbage cans, not rescuing a child from a burning house.

Is a man a hero when he works hard to provide for his family? Well, I’m going to say yes, to this one. Bravo to all the heroic men and women who work hard to support their families. Many families in this day and age have a team of both superman and wonder woman working hard to put food on the table and pay the bills.

How about a man opening the door for me? Very polite. Thank you for being so courteous! Do I ever open the door for others (both men and women)? Yes. I try to be courteous to others too. You’re welcome.

And what of: A man is a hero when he recounts a ‘biggest fish’ story so he can appear manly for us.

Here is the thing…

This man is not a hero—he’s sharing an anecdote. That’s great! Share your cool story, by all means—but don’t do it to “appear manly” for me. Don’t tell stories to appear to be anything. Tell them because you want to share an experience that meant something to you. Just be yourself! Whether “yourself” is surly and gruff, or smooth and gentle, I feel it’s much more heroic to be who you truly are. Don’t try to uphold some stereotype of what society (or god forbid your partner) thinks you should be.

I appreciate the sentiment the author puts forth in regards to honoring the men in our lives—but I can’t help but feel that the sexist stereotypes in regards to men and women are exacerbated.

Can men be heroes? Surely and absolutely. But is it really empowering to call them so? Men can also be vulnerable, sensitive and in need of support from their partners. Is it fair to slap the label of “hero” on a man as a means of urging them to live up to that title? And do we really need to send them a message that women are damsels in distress, needing to be saved?

Would it be more empowering to encourage men to embrace all aspects of who they are? Because men are not just heroes, or any one thing, all of the time. Nobody is.

So this feminist goddess says—women, don’t call your men heroes—call them allies!

An ally is a four letter word for another person you can connect with. Someone who’s got your back. Someone you can support and also receive support from.

Let the significant person in your life, man or woman, be your ally. Then see what kind of great things you can accomplish together.

(Author’s note: No disrespect is intended toward the author of the piece cited here. I applaud her effort to encourage women to give love and respect to the important men in our lives. I thank her for her article, which engaged me and made me think, even though we may not agree on all points.)

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives

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