As a Christian woman that runs in mostly conservative circles, I get flack from all sides when I say that I am a feminist. It comes from men and women alike.
I know it’s a complex issue, but I think the biggest reason why some of the closest friends and family in my life have a problem with the feminist movement is because they interpret it like this:
“Women all over the world think that they have gotten cut a raw deal and they want more rights.” WRONG
I fear that many think I see myself as a victim or I have an axe to grind because of my gender and its perceived oppression.
I wish they would interpret my stance on the feminist movement like this:
“People of every gender all over the world think that gender stereotypes are harmful and need to be broken down.” RIGHT
“Feminism” is a misleading word (see Joss Whedon‘s amazing thoughts on that,) but what we are fighting for as feminists with nothing else to call ourselves for the time being is equality and freedom for all of us.
Don’t buy it? Well, here are 6 of my favorite reasons why feminism is for men, too.
1. Because Sexual Expectations for Men Are Unhealthy
“If a key opens many locks, it is a master key. But if a lock opens to many keys, it’s just a bad lock.“
This is obviously an analogy for the ridiculous double standard for men and women when it comes to sex. What many don’t realize is that this common social ideal is just as damaging in its depiction of men as it is of women. Sure women are considered sluts if they sleep around and prudes if they don’t, but men are valued based on their sexual prowess.
Here are some of the ways masculinity is judged daily based on sexuality:
- Number of sexual conquests
- “Skill level” in bed
- Perceived hotness of women they have “made it” with
- The size of their genitals (Really? What are we–animals? Why is this a thing?)
- How often they “need” sex
- Number of girls’ virginity they have taken (Admittedly not as common)
The fact is, the undeniable objectification and sexual misuse of women in media and culture as a whole has led to a severe pressure for men to objectify and sexually misuse women, whether they want to or not!
This is wrong. No man should ever be made to feel inferior in the slightest just because he won’t talk about the new girl’s ass while standing around the water cooler.
2. Because Men’s Platonic Relationships with Women Are Suffering
Some people may disagree with me on this, but I think sexism keeps men and women from having meaningful relationships. Sure many men are wonderful to their significant others and spouses. There are definitely still gentlemen out there who have deep, meaningful relationships with the women they love romantically. But does that always translate to women they love platonically?
Can a man love a woman platonically and talk about it, feel at ease about it, benefit from it, etc. without being accused of ulterior motives?
How are men and women supposed to experience genuine fellowship and companionship when there is so much tension around their interactions? Why can’t I hug my pastor whom I love dearly without a pang of guilt?
I’m saying this as a woman who has been sexually harassed by a man I liked and admired. There is no excuse for such behavior, but I am just as sorry for him as I am for myself. He missed out on the real me by subtly reducing me to a sexual fantasy.
A) Men need to stop objectifying and abusing women in their lives so that they can experience the joy of just being friends with them.
B) Women need to stop assuming that men in their lives are looking to take advantage of them so that they can experience the joy of just being friends with them.
3. Because Women Hold Untapped Potential That Men Would Benefit From
Bill Gates was invited to speak in Saudi Arabia in the early 2000s. In the question-and-answer portion of the engagement, a member of the audience asked if Saudi Arabia becoming one of the Top 10 technological powers in the world by 2010 was a realistic goal.
Gates looked to the small group of women in hijabs segregated to one side of the room and replied simply, “Well, if you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country, you’re not going to get too close to the Top 10.”
Obviously women are not oppressed in Western culture nearly as much as they are in Saudi Arabia, but the key to this tragedy lies in the two words “fully utilizing.”
Because of the glass ceiling phenomenon, the wage gap between men and women, and everyday acts of sexism in the workplace, many women are not making the impact in the workforce that they could. Especially in (but certainly not limited to) fields such as engineering and technology, women feel just enough pushback because of their gender to make the career climb not worth the effort in many cases.
Yes, this sucks for them, but it sucks for everyone who doesn’t get to reap the benefits of these women’s talents they might have offered the world.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 including reasons 4 through 6 for why I think feminism is for men, too.