Society and Culture
Dear Men: Feminism Makes You Sexy
Happy graduation week, folks!
My office is right across the street from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and I’ve been watching NYU’s Class of 2014 swarm the neighborhood all week. To all of our wonderful readers receiving diplomas — congratulations! You fuckin’ did it.
It’s been an eventful week, what with Michigan passing this craptastic rape insurance bill (excuse me while I barf all over my keyboard), and the backlash around Shailene Woodley’s not-a-feminist comment still swirling. Plus, the internet is filled with awesome commencement speeches. We’re looking at you, Sandra Bullock and Charlie Day.
Basically, this has been a week where we’re all looking ahead to the future. And so, we’re going to take a moment here and talk about the future of feminism.
SPOILER ALERT: It doesn’t just include the vagina-bearing likes of Shailene Woodley. Nope. It also includes men.
So, dudes of the world, here’s why feminism isn’t just for the ladies. It’s a fairly big deal for you too.
Let’s start by saying that, unless you’re a close-minded, neanderthal jerk, you believe in social, political, and economic equality between the sexes. If you DON’T believe in said equality — i.e., you’re a big fan of women being treated as inferior and subservient to men — then you are gigantic douchebag and I advise you to reform your troubled ways immediately.
Seriously, guys. We’re calling it like we see it. You’re not old-fashioned or traditional. You’re just a jerk. Get it together, would you please?
Thanks. Now, for the vast majority of you wonderful, well-intentioned, equality-minded men, listen up. I’ve met a lot of you who don’t actively identify as feminists. You’ve told me that it seems like a women’s club that you don’t really have a place in. Not to mention, you don’t entirely get it. Sure, ladies should be getting equal pay and all that, but we’re not the only ones who are suffering in this gender-biased society. Men get kind of a crap deal too.
Yes. Yes you do. And that’s why feminism needs you.
See, feminism isn’t just about securing safe and affordable access to abortion services, or raising a woman’s 77 cents to match a man’s dollar. Those are important aspects of the feminist cause, for sure, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
As a whole, feminism is about creating a more open and egalitarian society. As feminists, we’re fed up with gender roles that position women as sex objects and men as commodified breadwinners. We’re tired of values that expect women to cook and clean and men to pay all the bills. We’re sick of being told to “act like a lady” — to look pretty and keep our mouths and legs shut. We’re equally sick of being told to “be a man,” to be emotionless and aggressive to prove your masculinity.
Feminism is about achieving social, political, and economic equality for women — yes — because that’s something we still don’t have.
But it’s also about destroying the gender binary that’s currently ingrained in our society. It’s harmful to men, women, transfolks, genderqueers, and everyone in between. We’re all expected to play roles that don’t quite fit, to prove ourselves and our identities over and over again, to punish ourselves with shame when we fail to measure up.
We’re all left with a constant and nagging feeling of insecurity in our selves — in our worth as human beings — when we feel the need to qualify our desires, our actions, and our feelings with disclaimers like “no homo” and “man up.”
And all of us deserve to feel totally secure in our wants and needs, to feel completely comfortable in our skin, to be entirely at ease with our individuality.
Feminism wants that to happen. We’re working to make our relationships with each other less about power struggle and arbitrary expectations, and more about mutual respect and genuine human connection. And even more importantly, we’d like to make our relationships with ourselves less about shame and insecurity, and more about radical acceptance and self-love.
I feel like that’s a cause we can all get behind, can’t we?
So while you’re getting inspired by all the commencement speeches that are going viral this week, think about the future you want to help create. If it’s one where we break down this dysfunctional gender binary that’s holding us all back, then you’re a feminist.
Own it, menfolk. You’ll be making the world a better place.
Hannah R. Winsten (@HannahRWinsten) is a freelance copywriter, marketing consultant, and blogger living in New York City. She hates tweeting but does it anyway. She aspires to be the next Rachel Maddow.
Featured image courtesy of [Toban Black via Flickr]