6 Reasons Feminism is for Men Too: Part 2

Please see my introduction to this topic and reasons 1 through 3 here.

4. Because Fathers Do Not Get the Same Parenting Support as Mothers

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Raising children is hard, and how it looks is changing. Many fathers are finding a renewed joy in parenthood, and mothers are finding their help invaluable while pursuing professional careers of their own in many cases.

Why does the society and government in America not recognize this? Because parenting is a woman’s job, it seems. By limiting women to “appropriate” work in the home, we inadvertently limit men to “appropriate” work outside of the home.

We do not have paternity leave. We do not have the same family allowances or ministries available for single dads as we do for single moms (I mean, WIC stands for “Women, Infants & Children”). We make men feel guilty or less-than for not being the provider or “breadwinner” in their household.

There is also this inexplicable stigma that a single dad is somehow “more tragic” than a single mom, because women are “supposed to” raise children. How dare she abandon a helpless man and expect him to know how to raise a kid? News flash: Dads aren’t stupid! They can feed, clothe, and change diapers, too.

Maybe when a woman can be a CEO without anyone batting an eyelash, the same can happen when a man is a stay-at-home dad.

5. Because Men Cannot Admit to Liking What They Like

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I know this seems like a minor issue, but it still makes me sad.

Some (definitely not all) feminists will present their position on the female plight by talking about how the oppressive gender divide begins in childhood. While boys get to wear a whole rainbow of colors, girls are relegated to pink and purple if they want to seem “girly.” While girls are provided with dolls and doll houses, boys have a wide array of action toys marketed directly to them.

By feeling like little boys are privileged to be able to wear colors like red and black and play with action figures, we ignore the fact that some boys do not want to.

What about the boys that love pink and want to play with dolls, but are told that those things are “for girls?” They are just as oppressed as any girl who wants to play with matchbox cars. And what’s worse, they often grow up into men who are still afraid to admit their true likes and dislikes.

What about men who love to sew? Who actually enjoy shopping for clothes? Who enjoy babysitting? Who watch Pretty Little Liars? Who love figure skating but can’t stand hockey?

Of course girls shouldn’t stand out or be teased because they like sports or video games. I think these are beginning to be viewed as more normal. Hopefully a guy who is good at crochet will be equally normal soon.

6. Because Society Believes Men Cannot be Sexually & Physically Abused

This one is huge for me.

First I will start with the stupid of the stupid–the age-old phrase “Never hit a girl.” Never ever hit a girl. They’re weak and dainty and never deserve to be hit or hurt.

Really? Boys, never hit a girl. But girls, if a boy bothers you, kick him in the balls.

This is literally giving a get-out-of-jail free card to anyone, mail or female, who wants to hit a guy! I’m sure this is idea is a big part of why male victims of domestic violence are on the rise. Mentalities like this say it is okay to hurt them if they “deserve” it!

How about never hit ANYONE except in self-defense? And then if they pull a knife on you, I don’t care if they’re male, female, neither, or both–punch them in the freaking face.

The following issue is a little more serious.

There are a lot of arguments flying around that one of the biggest reasons feminism needs to transform society is that women are taught “don’t get raped” instead of men being taught “don’t rape.” Obviously this is a problem that transcends just sexism, but think about the ridiculous ways we portray the victim in a sexual assault case.

Woman Is Molested: Well, sure. Women are easy to overpower, and they often dress in a way that makes it hard for men to control themselves.

Man Is Molested: What? Men can’t get raped. They’re too strong to be coerced, and they always want sex.

The trauma that female victims of rape have to endure is an atrocity. How much worse is it for male victims who have experienced the same abuse and then a) have people try to convince them it was actually consensual. (“You’re a guy. Don’t you like sex?”) or b) are ridiculed or looked down on as weak.

This is not a an issue that women invite by being the “weaker sex.” Men can be hurt, too. We need to make it okay for them to seek help.

 

Thank you for exploring some of the reasons why improving the rights of women will open the doors to improved treatment of all human beings oppressed by gender stereotypes. We love men!

I can’t recommend enough Joss Whedon’s thoughts on why “feminism” isn’t a good word, but I still tend to use it because I know a lot of people disagree with him. Maybe I’ll transform my vocabulary someday soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Reasons Feminism is for Men Too: Part 1

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

 

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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

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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.

 

An Artist Finds True Love in P.S. I Love You

“My business is to create.” 

In this post about art-related films, I mentioned that I thought P.S. I Love You was “not a good love story, but a good art story.” After my traditional St. Patrick’s Day viewing of the film (more on that in a moment), I’ve decided that I may have made a hasty judgment, and that art and true love might be more closely related than they seem.

So once upon a time, Josh and I went to Ireland for Spring break and St. Patrick’s day. It was a wild ride and totally exhausting, but absolutely beautiful. It’s something we would love to do again. Spending time in the land of the shamrocks those years ago put me in an inexplicable mood to watch P.S. I Love You–inexplicable because when I last watched this flick as a single and hormonal teenager, I completely hated it. The critic in me thought it was depressing and cheesy as all get-out.

Relax, you swooning and now-irate Gerard Butler fans. Upon watching the film again as an adult in conjunction with Dear Frankie (Butler accent marathon!), I quite surprisingly found it among some of my favorite films of the decade. Not only this, but Josh was quick to second the motion–and it’s a chick flick, guys. Needless to say, it’s now a family favorite.

I’m pretty sure that where I went wrong when I first watched this movie was in watching it as a chick flick–as a cliche story of romantic love, romantic love lost, and romantic love rediscovered.

As a traditional love story, P.S. I Love You is mediocre at best; however, as a story about art, identity, intimacy, and true love it is quite touching and maybe even outstanding.

According to the quirky Holly’s quoting of William Blake in an attempt to impress roguish Irishman Gerry Kennedy, “My business is to create.”

As an art student with no idea what she wants to do with her life, the only thing of which she and (she believes) everyone else on the planet can be sure is that we each need to create something–not because we are obligated to offer something beautiful to the world, but because this something is an inescapable part of who we are, how we are unique, and how we communicate that.

“All I know is, if you don’t figure out this something, you’ll just stay ordinary, and it doesn’t matter if its a work of art or a taco or a pair of socks! Just create something . . . new, and there it is, and it’s you–out in the world, outside of you–and you can look at it, or hear it, or read it, or feel it–and you know a little more about . . . you. A little bit more than anyone else does.” 

What do you know about you?

Not enough? Well, you don’t have to know everything, believe it or not. If you did, what would be the point in looking for yourself through the soul-searching act of pure creation–of pure art?

Which reminds me of another favorite P.S. quote . . .

Holly: “I see people buying bigger apartments and having babies. I get so afraid sometimes our life’s never gonna start.

Gerry: “No, baby. We’re already in our life. It’s already started. This is it. You have to stop waiting.

Man, this scene hits me like a ton of bricks every time.

I know that I and many others like me are constantly guilty of looking to the next milestone of graduation or getting our dream job or buying a house or having kids. We’re too busy looking ahead to inhabit our own lives in the moment.

As far as I’ve been able to figure out in my meager 22 years, life isn’t about scrambling to find out what you’re supposed to do with your life so that you can blissfully do it for the rest of your days ad infinitum.

The scrambling–the journey–the search is your life.

Personally, I believe as Holly does that creating is a big part of that search. It’s a part of the process of knowing and being known–or trying to. It’s reaching deep down inside yourself and and pulling out a piece of what you value or how you see the world, and it says out loud (even if only to you) “This is who I am.” When you appreciate the creations of others, you’re stepping into a bit of who they are and taking a walk around, willing to share that intimacy with them.

This ideology is how I try to approach every moment of each one of my days on this earth. It’s my goal–my mantra–

To know and to make known.

This is love to me. Self-love and love for others all wrapped up in one beautiful life mission. This mantra includes tolerance and acceptance but also challenge and discussion when it comes to really getting to the bottom of what makes a person tick. It sounds so over-simplified, but it’s really not simple. Sometimes what you know about yourself, your God, and your friends/family/etc don’t quite jive, and you have to reconcile that.

But somewhere in the process of constantly pursuing a depth of knowledge of yourself and the world around you, you encounter people who love and understand you for who you really are.

So make something. Make a poem. Make pasta. Make a mess. Make love. Make mistakes.

Every time you let that glimpse of who you really are and who you want to be out into the world, you are leaving yourself vulnerable–open to being known and loved fully, or fully rejected–and you are promising that same love to those who open themselves to you.

Okay, so I know that I waxed a bit philosophical in this post, but I hope that I’ve encouraged lonely people everywhere to let art lead them to every pure form of love.

The Good, Bad & Ugly of Cat Parenthood

IMG_0675 This post is written in lieu of an Awkward & Awesome. Because cats.

I definitely haven’t been secretive about Josh’s and my recent pet parenthood . . . except for my initial joke that seemed to hint at a very different kind of parenthood. On the other hand, I haven’t spoken about our new kitties very explicitly at all here on the blog.

Probably because I am freaking exhausted.

Here is a post dedicated entirely to our new little loves in all of their ups and downs.

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Good:

  • Beautiful tiger stripes and angelic face
  • Loves to get her belly rubbed. She thinks she is a dog.
  • Hops around on hind legs. She also thinks she is a person.
  • Likes me more than Daddy 😉

Bad:

  • Gets lonely, cries like a fiend, and scratches the door when locked out of any room

Ugly:

  • Obsessed with shiny things like glass and water. Must knock over anything made of or containing these materials. So much wet. Many broken. Wow.

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Good:

  • Beautiful charcoal, rust, and white fur coat
  • So affectionate. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so loved.
  • Likes Daddy more than me so he doesn’t feel left out

Bad:

  • Won’t let you get anything done if she’s in the mood for loving on you. You will be immobilized by her tiny body of cuddlage.

Ugly:

  • Plays in the litter box and flings litter EVERYWHERE
  • “Loves on you” by holding your face down with her paws and licking your nose raw with the world’s scratchiest tongue

Both

Good:

  • Love absolutely everyone. Not skiddish at all. They make everybody feel like a best friend.
  • Cheaper than a baby

Bad:

  • Own anything made of fabric in the whole house. Your sock? Theirs. New leggings? Theirs. Favorite scarf? Theirs. It can be reclaimed in the bottom level of their cat tower, aka “the stash.”

Ugly:

  • Knock over the garbage can and eat gross things like egg shells, boiled kale, and a paper towel that chicken was sitting on–or drag them all around the house to play with.
  • Can’t spend more time with them because of work.

God and Game Shows

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So, as I mentioned in Awkward and Awesome Thursday a little while back, I am a fail daughter and missed church on one of the days my dad was preaching.

He wasn’t hurt by my absence since he knows I’ve heard this story a million times, but I tell you, I get something new from it every time. My dad preached about his experience getting on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? I may not have explicitly stated this previously on the blog. It’s such an understood fact among my family and close friends that I often forget to actually talk about it.

When I found the podcast of the sermon on our church’s website, I sat through the whole thing even though I know the tale by heart. I laughed, cried, and had mini heart attacks all throughout. The Millionaire theme music still gives me anxiety.

Sermons might not be your thing, but this is not a typical sermon. My dad is brilliant, hilarious, and a storyteller, and all of those things shine in this audio clip. If you can hang in there, I know you will be entertained and inspired by this story about my family.

God and Game Shows

“Cold Water” (Hamlin Beach)

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Josh and I recently had the wonderful and much-needed opportunity  to spend an afternoon relaxing with friends over a picnic on the beach. We hadn’t planned it this way. but it ended up kind of being a celebration of Josh landing his new job at Paychex and Neme scoring not one, but two part-time jobs as a line cook. Kristen and I are so proud of our men 🙂

I packed some beachy snacks (trail mix with real coconut slices for the win!), and we made the long trek to Hamlin Beach State Park where we relaxed in the breeze and the sparse sunlight. Everbody kept complaining that they were cold, but I was praising God that my pasty limbs could enjoy the day without fearing the sun’s beating rays.

The swimming area was actually closed, so we went to a secluded area to make sure no one could see us get into the water–

I mean, so we totally didn’t get in the water! *cough*

Actually, I was the only one who ended up appreciating the, shall we say, “brisk” waters of Lake Ontario. I had a ball frolicking and swimming on my own, but there’s only so much solitary swimming and frolicking you can do before you get really bored . . . and look really stupid.

And they were having so much fun without me . . .

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I cannot express enough love for this picture

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The trip was all Stryker’s idea!

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“Photo shoot!”

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“Does this look pensive and mysterious?”

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“Gah! Skirt getting blown into the waves! Better go for cute and quirky . . . and wet.”

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“Eh, screw it. I’m just wet.”

Title is from the song of the same name by Damien Rice

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: My Baby’s Birthday

Awkward:

  • Not really having spare money to buy Joshy a present :-(. But hey! It means I get to be creative!
  • Spending three and a half hours in the library trying to get Josh’s surprise gift printed (for 25 cents a page) and the darn printer just will not cooperate!
  • Josh texting me from home when he gets home from work all like, “Where’s mybaby and the dinner she was supposed to make me?” Fail. I’m thinking he would have been more blessed by me remembering to feed him than by his birthday present that totally didn’t work out.
  • No present + no dinner = not the super awesomest birthday ever
This is basically the worst photo ever, but it is the only one I have from tonight :-/

This is basically the awkwardest (worst) photo ever, but it is the only one I have from tonight :-/

Awesome:

  • I got him Taco Bell and a muffin with seven bucks my mom gave me, so he’s pretty sure I still love him.
  • Soul Calibur IV date! It was only fun because we’re pretty evenly matched. There’s no way I would have let him win just because it’s his birthday . . .
  • I am so conquering that printer tomorrow.
  • Party this weekend with old and new friends 🙂
  • My grandma is coming up from PA to visit!
  • Family is coming from far and wide next week to spend some time on the lake.
  • The only job I’ve gotten an interview for so far is for the position that I want most of all! It went well, too! Please God, this is all in your hands . . .
  • Feeling hopeful about my IC symptoms after a routine appointment today.
  • The man I love said “Hey world!” 23 years ago today. Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Thurston!
  • Josh is no longer the only one around the house that I call “baby.” Think a little bit about what that means . . . 😉