August 20, 2015

He for She? How About She for He?

feminist man

*Editor’s Note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the authors, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? We’re happy to share your experience here.  


Last year, at the UN headquarters, Emma Watson made a speech asking men to become involved in the conversation for equality.

I was moved and felt compelled to respond to her call.

But first, I need to clear something up.

Third wave feminism is inclusive, (or at least it’s meant to be) and largely focused on social change as a whole. But at its roots, radical feminism is divided about whether this is a conversation for men in the first place. The rise of political lesbianism, a separatist ideology, which branched away from feminism, encouraged women to seek a life away from men and their patriarchy. So I’m not sure everyone knows which feminism they’re backing?

There is a distinct difference between the two viewpoints in that one seeks to exist without men and one seeks to work with men.

That said, if we’re seeking for men to understand certain things, let’s take a second to look at our garden variety, backwards-hat wearing, protein-shake hugging, beer-burping bro and consider for a minute that he might be resistant to certain four-syllable words that get thrown around.

Douche 1: “What was that chick on about?”

Douche 2: “I dunno, who cares man, she was a total four anyway, I wasn’t even that nervous.”

Douche 1: “I was still nervous.”

I don’t know a single guy that would instead think, “Ahh, so much entitlement. All the butts are mine.”

And if it’s unconsciously ingrained in culture, should we not acknowledge that using big words might be a little over these kind of guys’ heads?

When we say “objectify,” we really mean “dehumanize” and even that’s a big word. Evolutionary biology has been discounted by feminist ecologists, but if you ask any guy about viewing women through a sexual filter, they’ll all agree that it feels hard-wired into them and it’s something they struggle with every day of their lives.

Images of fertility are the way that the species continues to procreate.

And whether the Y chromosome is shrinking or not, you can’t just tell men to stop watching porn. They don’t have a reason to.

There’s no pay-off.

Particularly if they are being shamed for their urges.

Shame forces things into darkness. Shame causes creeps in the bushes. Shame is why men don’t report being raped.

But where men are excluded from the discourse, then all we have left is a communication breakdown.

I recall a time when I saw a guy standing over a young girl on the train. He wasn’t doing it intentionally. He was just holding onto the rail and he didn’t realise his body-language was really intimidating her, because men don’t teach each other about body language. She buried herself in her phone. He was trying to look around so it didn’t seem like he was looking at her, but his feet were completely pointing at her and he was standing above her.

He was obviously oblivious to the effect he was having, poor guy.

So how do we deal with our day-to-day creepiness?

#teachmennottorape has been met with criticism because every decent man agrees that rape is wrong, but if we can water down radical feminism and still keep its integrity, let’s try something else here. If the premise that feminism will catch on is something you hold dear, let’s try getting something else to catch on, my friends.

Teach men not to creep.

In martial arts we call it neutralizing a threat.

Sure, guys should learn not to be creepy, but in women taking control of these situations by neutralizing the threat, we empower women and teach men how to stop being so creepy.

The guy standing over the girl could have easily been told that what he was doing was creepy if he understood body language.

Now we know that women understand the subtle telepathy of body-language much better than most of us guys, but if your real problem with men is their apparent stupidity, let’s give away a little cheeky power in the name of equality shall we?

That guy on the train standing over the girl, a dude taking up too much room—these things could be easily sorted with a bit of assertive yet tactful feedback like “You alright there buddy?”

When a guy pulls up in his car at night saying “You need a lift gorgeous?” instead of saying just uncomfortably saying “No,” and just causing another rejection, another resentment towards women, how about a little bit of feedback?

“It’s actually really creepy when guys do this. I’m sure you’re a nice guy but y’know, stranger-danger and all.”

Or when someone is anxiously staring at you, “You alright there buddy?”

Trust me, if he’s your average guy, it will actually scare the sh*t out of him.

When a guy comes up and asks for your number, what would be the harm in saying something like, “Look, I’ve got a boyfriend, but that hairstyle is totally working for you. You were a bit too direct which scared me a little and you’ve really got to spend more money on your shoes.”

Thanks for playing, better luck next time.

This would alleviate the need for Pick Up Artist communities trying to use social dominance techniques to coerce women into bed.

I know a lot of girls might not-want to help men to be less creepy, but if you’re really passionate about change, not just women-sharing-feelings-with-women, you might need to try positively re-framing some of your experiences with men to alleviate some of your ill feelings.

If you want to be respected for your mind over your body, you might need to revisit some of those old feelings about the men in your life and look at the positive lessons that emerged from those experiences.

If you feel like those gym-selfie girls who love objectifying themselves are getting way too much engagement for their uneducated opinions, or you can’t stand that those dramatic high-maintenance women are getting all the attention and understanding from men that can understand all their loud obvious gestures, I ask you to consider educating the men around you about body language, about how women work and about how certain things are creepy.
When a guy is staring at you he is often thinking nothing more than, “What do I do?” and in turn this triggers your “What do I do?”

Silence is not golden. Communication breakdown has never lead to progress.

#teachmennottocreep might require cultivating calm-assertive behaviour but that also has never gone astray.

Communicating with a child never works when you lose your temper. Communicating with men with those liver emotions (anger, rage, frustration) doesn’t work because anger is the only emotion that men teach each other about.

And because a woman’s aggression mechanism is wired to protecting their young, men always see it as too much anger for the context and write women off as crazy and irrational because the only emotion most of us learn to regulate is our anger.

If third wave feminism is still really about social change, then please, teach men not to creep.

Use little words that they understand.

Teach them how to not fear rejection, or become paralysed with fear when a woman’s curviness triggers their shame.

If you tell a guy “You know if you watch porn where the woman orgasms, you’re more likely to be good in bed.” They have a reason to do it.

If you tell a guy “Look I’m tired, I can’t really deal with being hit on right now, but that shirt is totally working for you,” there’s less rejection and resentment. Ultimately less misunderstanding and, you got it—objectifying.

I guarantee you, if the pay-off is getting closer to women, they will listen.

If you don’t feel compelled to help the men that annoy you, I seriously recommend looking back at events that shaped your perception of men and trying to see what lessons, if any, you can take away.

Try and see men as people too, we’re all just lost souls trying to meet our hierarchy of needs.

Any woman could have whatever she wants in this modern world. You could pick any company in the world and become the CEO. You could build an amazing family and have a thriving business. Or, you could never leave your house and be rich and famous.

Because actually, everybody (except maybe Donald Trump) loves a strong woman.


How Gentlemen Ruined My Feminist Views.


Author: Michael Zoupa

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren

Image: Steve Baker/ Flickr

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