I know what you are thinking; you could not have possibly read that correctly because there is absolutely no way I just stated that feminism is about men. Even as I wrote the statement that tiny little feminist inside me shouted to the heavens asking how I could take this one thing away from women. Feminism has fought so hard to get women recognized as being equal to men, how could I take the one platform specifically designed for women and give it back to the male oppressors. I understand all this, but I feel that I have to remind some people that feminism is about equality for ALL people, including men. We have made some strong and great strides for women, I know that there is so much more to do, but I feel that feminism, as a whole, is stalled if we do not take this moment to look at the ways in which men are still being treated unequally.
The standards for masculinity can be just as rigid and unfair as those for femininity the problem being that we do not, typically, pay as much attention to them. We rail against magazines for photoshopping “real” women’s bodies, but there is not a peep to be heard when it
comes to men being shown as having those perfectly chiseled abs. I know people who fight for women to be able to show aggression and anger unapologetically, even though they are the same ones that when they see men behave sensitively or cry berate them for being “weak”. Women shouldn’t have to do the dishes or wash the laundry. Men should still take out the trash and clear the garbage disposal though. These rigid standards of men being required to be strong and virile enables an environment that makes men more prone to participate in dangerous violent activities and then on top of that not seek medical treatment when hurt/sick. This has such an impact on men’s lives that the more patriarchal a society, i.e. the more a society strictly adheres to gendered norms, the shorter men’s lifespans. Patriarchy is literally KILLING men!
Men cannot even express love towards one another without their sexuality/masculinity being put into question. How many times have you heard a guy say, “I love you man…no homo” or “He is a really attractive guy…no homo”? Seriously? We live in a society that requires men to put a caveat on the very human experience of love. Granted this is a testament to our backward ideas of sexuality but still. ATTENTION MEN! It is okay to love another man, you can even say it to them without adding “no homo” saying “I love you” is not a declaration of your sexual orientation, although it can be, it is a declaration of the importance of another person in your life.
At this point you might being saying, yes, well, what about violence against women? That’s a feminist issue about women! But is it? I give to you this statement: Not all men are rapists, but the majority of rapists are men. Yes, the majority of victims are women, I acknowledge that there are male victims as well, but if we live in a culture that does not blame the woman then this actually is not a “women’s issue” but one that belongs to men. We all know, however, that we live in a society that does blame the victim from what she wears, to how much she was drinking, even to what she was doing her assault was her fault. These sentiments enable the idea that whatever the woman was doing she was “asking” for it or “provoking” the assault. Even if we accept this as true, which I wish we didn’t, what is this saying about the men who commit these crimes? In essence, we are basically saying that men are naturally predatory beasts who cannot control themselves and have to be excused for their “natural” behavior.
I myself have more faith in the humanity of men than what our society gives them credit. This is why I argue that feminism is just as much about men as it is about women. Yes, it fights for equal pay and birth control, but it’s so much more than that. Feminism is about seeing men as human beings capable of doing a multitude of things they can cry, love one another, cook, sew, be obsessed about fashion, and work on cars. Feminism is a call to men to be more than the base beasts that society makes them out to be. If you take a critical eye then you realize that these problems aren’t natural they’re learned, meaning we can change them when we want to. More importantly with a critical lens you see that these aren’t “men’s problems” or “women’s problems” these are human problems. And aren’t we all human?