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

Kartika on hijab II by viegreeny

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.

 

Do I Want to Be a Hipster?

“I wanna be a hipster,” she says simply, pointing to her biblical tattoo and short-cropped hair in the middle of a conversation about her favorite folk music lyrics. “I’ve decided. I wanna be a hipster!” She is one of my best friends, and I generally respect her taste a great deal. But I don’t know how to react.

Maybe you can relate with her.

Maybe you most certainly cannot.

Maybe you’ve been enthusiastically jabbering on about your favorite band, independent film, art collection, or philosopher, when suddenly your conversation partner shakes their head and says, “Oh, you’re such a hipster.” You stand there in your plaid shirt, lace cardigan, maroon skinny corduroys, and vintage oxfords unsure of how to take this–and even less sure of how to respond. “Do I say ‘thank you?’ Do I shrug shamefully? Do I adamantly deny it?” This last course of action is the most dangerous, because many people believe that the strongest mark of a hipster is the inability to admit that one is, in fact, a hipster.

I felt that a lot of this trouble could be cleared up by settling on a concrete definition of what it means to be a hipster. Of course, no such definition exists. Even less-than-scholarly Urban Dictionary offers about seven encyclopedia-entry-sized explanations of this cultural phenomenon. Even so, this one seemed like a safe place to start:

“Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”

That doesn’t sound too repulsive, does it? Especially for an Urban Dictionary definition. Those can get grody.

Honestly, I want to be a lot of those qualities described in the above definition. I am a lot of those qualities. I love me some intelligent, witty banter and independent thinking. I’m a huge fan of art and indie music. I keep close tabs on progressive politics. I’m creative. I’m in my twenties.

Am I a hipster? And more importantly, is that a bad thing?

What People See as Desirable About Hipster Culture:

Creativity and experimental fashion

So the style in the hipster world is pretty fly. It’s incredibly diverse and usually an eclectic mix of a variety of other styles–bohemian, punk, preppy, scuzzy lumberjack, etc. I know labels are the worst, but words are what we use to make sense of the world, so deal with it, hipster readers. My point is, their fashion and beauty creations tend to be interesting and refreshing.

Also, this gallery of celebrities re-imagined as hipsters is my favorite thing since Benedict Cumberbatch photobombed U2 at the Oscars.

Refusing to get caught up in fads

I dislike sweeping fads as much as the next person, although a job in marketing basically means I have to make a career out of studying them. So when a chunk of the population says, “No, thanks,” and continues to do their own thing despite social pressure, I enjoy that. I appreciate the courage to be oneself without needing the approval of the masses. I knew a girl in college who got engaged to her boyfriend without a ring because they didn’t see the point. I think that kind of freedom has to feel so good.

A genuine appreciation for the arts

Yes, some hipsters only listen to the music they listen to or watch the movies they watch because no one else does. Others, however, really look for a higher standard of quality when it comes to the media they consume. While the masses are content to watch Transformers, hipsters call BS and curl up with The Iron Giant instead. I also notice that hipsters are more likely to be interested in theatre and visual art. Sure, it can feel like snobbery at times, but I really admire it.

A genuine appreciation for vintage culture and nostalgia

I am all about nostalgia lately. I cry thinking about bygone days when people didn’t take a miniature telephone/computer with them every time they left the house. I like it when hipsters value the past and the simple life. They upcycle grandma’s old jewelry and dad’s old trousers. They ride bikes and tune up old record players. This kind of respect for the things of the past is heart-warming to me.

Enjoying knowledge for the sake of knowledge

This might not be an “official” hipster trait, but it’s something that I’ve noticed. Hipsters generally like to know things about the things they like. They make a hobby of gaining knowledge about their hobby. These are the people who read Bukowksi for fun and study coffee growing and roasting techniques. Fine by me. If you care about something, invest some time and effort into it, I say.

P.S. But remember no one likes a know-it-all.

Frugality and resourcefulness

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with appreciating vintage goodies, but hipsters really are responsible for thrifting being as popular as it is now. No, it wasn’t Macklemore. We were doing it before it was cool.

A desire to discuss important topics

Again, maybe not a hallmark of all hipsters, but it’s a trend I’ve seen. Those I’ve encountered who fit the hipster mold are eager to engage with others about social justice issues like feminism, marriage equality, and human trafficking as well as political and economic topics. I personally find it delightfully refreshing to encounter people who are not only educated about what’s happening in the world around them but who also think and feel passionately about those happenings.

What People See as Repellant About Hipster Culture: 

Refusing to acknowledge genuine talent and quality just because it is popular or “mainstream”

This drives me freaking nuts. Yes, Lady Gaga is an overrated mainstream fame-monger. That does nothing to change the fact that she is a stellar vocalist and an out-of-this-world performer. Just admit it! Millions of people love her for a reason! Why does that deter you from admitting she is good?! I can’t even . . .

Seriously, I have never been able to wrap my head around the “They’re famous now, so I can’t like them anymore” thing. They’re famous because they’re good, for crying out loud!

Condescension or snobbiness

You’ve all felt it–judgment from a holier-than-though hipster who felt the need to inform you that your fedora is actually a trilby or that your Chai tea isn’t fair trade. Nuff said.

Excessively expensive or excessively abnegating lifestyles

These are two sides of the same coin. (Abnegation is a 50-cent word for denying yourself things you want). Both extremes are bad as far as I am concerned. Some hipsters are the style who will blow their money on organic everything and memorabilia signed by the Smiths. Others are the kind who won’t wear shoes or eat chocolate in order to make a statement. I’m not a fan of either.

WORST EVER: Caring about being different more than they care about interpersonal connection

This takes the cake in terms of bad hipster qualities. It’s unfortunately come to be the signature of hipsters everywhere. These people find their sense of self in participating in only aspects of culture that are unknown or “underground.” Often the minute these bands, or anime series, or clothing brands, or whatever begin to become popular, their hipster followers will abandon ship and move on the the next heretofore undiscovered thing. It’s as if the only way they can be truly unique is to like things that hardly anyone else likes.

They form their identity based on the things they enjoy rather than the people they enjoy them with.

The irony? Now hipsterism itself has become popular, so the hipsters have nowhere to go. They’re having a massive identity crisis.

So Who Do I Want to Be?

In light of acknowledging the positive and negative aspects of hipsterism, what can those of us who are “on the fence,” if you will, conclude about who we want to be going forward? I can only speak for myself, but I think I’ve learned some important lessons in studying hipsters.

I want to be myself first of all. And I want to be with people second.

Being myself means that if I do or do not like or care about something, I will be honest about it–to myself and to the world.

Being with people means that I will never let these passions alienate me from those I encounter. I will embrace connection.

hipYes, I occasionally enjoy some obscure and/or unpopular things. That just means I’m all the more delighted when I meet someone who shares that interest. If we have that obscure thing in common, odds are we have other things in common and we’ll probably hit it off! Yes, my style of dress is a little unorthodox sometimes (not so much anymore,) but I do it to feel happy and free about my appearance, not to scare people away. Yes, I value academic intelligence and being politically and socially aware, but why would I want to keep those things to myself by avoiding people who are not “up to my standard?”

I want to love and be loved, and if I can love on someone while we both love on existentialist philosophy, Chvrches, Attack on Titan, matcha green tea, blackbox theatre, pad thai, and Modcloth, that does not threaten my sense of self at all.

Why can’t we all embrace intelligence, activism, resourcefulness, creativity, critical consumption of media, multiculturalism, and other admirable qualities without trying to label such things as being counter-cultural and “hipster?”

Alienating ourselves from others through our cultural identity is unhealthy, but so is mindlessly consuming the pop culture fed to us on a large scale. That’s why I love the fact that hipsterism is not a subculture anymore. Hipsterism is becoming mainstream because people are realizing that they can explore the culture beyond what is readily accessible to them and in so doing encounter others who are also happy to challenge the status quo.

Yes, we are all forming our own identities, but our identities are tangled up in the people we let into our worlds. Let’s fill those worlds with the things we love and trust that they will attract people who we might come to love as well.

How to Incorporate Women into the Superhero Shuffle

Hi all! I’m so embarrassed, but during my week-long blog absence, things went a little haywire on Nine to Phive. Posts that I had scheduled promising to finish them at a later date published while completely unfinished–and in one case, completely blank.

So yeah, sorry about that. Josh quit his job this week in a career-changing move, and though he has another more satisfying position lined up, the change had been stressful.

Translation: I’ve forgotten literally everything about doing my life.

Anyway, I’m back! Not only that, I’m actually guest posting over at Ink and Image today, the blog of an old friend with lots of compelling and creative ideas. The gentleman interviewed me about the status of female characters in superhero films. I was flattered that he thought I knew enough about women, superheros, or film to solicit my opinions ;-). His questions were very thorough and led to a fascinating (albeit long, I’ll admit) critique of sexism in superhero film.

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

“Is including a female member in every major team of heroes a good sign, or should more be done?

I suppose it’s better than nothing, but it feels patronizing in its current state. It reminds me of the character of Token Black from South Park. I don’t think I’m grabbing at straws when I suggest that his presence in the cast is not an honor but an insult–albeit a clever one with a lot of social commentary. I feel the same way about “Tokena McHotchick” on every superhero team, except she does not exist to be ironic and to make a comment on the state of gender relations in the modern world. She often exists just to “appease the feminists” and provide male viewers with a little diversion. She is not a commentary on sexism–she is a sexist creation.

If you’re not going to write her a good character, don’t write her in at all. The fact that she’s female is not enough.

Read the full piece here.