I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my feminist voice and my feminist opinion. I began to identify myself as a feminist about 2 years ago. I studied sociological theory in university and in my studies I took a fantastic course on feminist ideologies in a sociological context. Feminist theory was not a new concept for me, I have always believed in gender equality, but this course gave me the knowledge and the language that I needed to take the step towards identifying myself as a feminist.I am very lucky. I have never been victimized or hated for my beliefs but I often get eye rolls or “yeah yeah yeah” responses to my feminist opinions. And not from strangers, from my family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, these are great people, they love me and respect me but they don’t understand the feminist movement and so they, along with many others, find it annoying and unnecessary. Not super recently but at some point in the recent past I was asked a question by a male friend (I’m paraphrasing here): “why do I need feminism? I can vote, you can vote. I work and get paid, you work and get paid. We have equal rights. So why do I need feminism?” At the time I wasn’t quite sure how to answer his question, I was drinking and quite honestly I was tired of arguing so I said “you just do” and we left it at that. But his question has been sitting in the back of my mind since then and the other night I think I arrived at an answer…
Ladies, has this ever happened to you? Your walking alone at night, you’ve got your headphones in and all of a sudden you notice someone walking behind you? Immediately your body stiffens, you turn off your music, you increase your pace and you cautiously look over your shoulder every 10 seconds to make sure you aren’t being followed. By the time you reach your destination you are practically running through the door. This situation. Right here. This is why men need feminism.
Did you know that if you ask a male his top 5 fears statistics sate that most male fears be physical. Heights, spiders, snakes, small spaces, ect. Where as if you ask a woman, the fears are primarily safety based. For example: being followed, being attacked, being alone, ect. Is this because men are scary and bad? No. Is this because women are irrationally afraid? No. Is this because our sexist society has taught women to irrationally believe that men are scary and bad? YES!
Sexism is not limited to women. Last night when I was practically running home because a man was walking behind me I realized that my assumption about him, which was entirely based on his gender, is just as bad as him assuming things about me based on my gender. Women shouldn’t fear men and men should not be feared. But they do and they are. Because our society promotes fear and victimization. Because our society teaches men that they can have whatever they want. Because our society tells women that they are objects to be wanted. Because our society is not a feminist society. How messed up is that? For me, feminism is the opposite of man hating. It is man loving. It is woman loving. It is everyone loving!
So to answer your question male friend of mine, you need feminism because you deserve to be respected instead of feared. You need feminism because your female friends deserve to feel safe in their communities. And you need feminism because you just do.