I'm A Guy And I'm A Feminist. Here's Why You Should Be Too
"Women's issues" are all of our issues.
It's International Women's Day, a day where we raise awareness about gender inequality and fight for women's equal rights around the world...
Here's Courtney Act talking all about consent...
Full disclosure: I'm a guy. Though Game Of Thrones star Maisie Williams famously argued against calling anyone a feminist because, “You are either a normal person or a sexist”, and some people argue men can't be feminists without the lived female experience (only allies of the cause), I would identify as a feminist. Because while it's great to support women who're voicing their experiences and pushing for equality, us men can't just sit on our arses, smiling and nodding - we need to step up. Here's why I'm a feminist, and why you should be too.
Being a feminist may not mean what you think it does
Though it’s of no surprise that the p*ssy-grabbing president of the United States isn’t exactly a feminist role model, Donald Trump got it wrong recently when he admitted in an interview with Piers Morgan that saying he was a feminist “would be, maybe, going too far”. Yeah, um, maybe a bit.
But seriously, Trump went on to reject the term because he’s supposedly “for everyone”, which highlights a time-old misunderstanding of the word. Feminism isn’t pro-women and anti-men, it’s about equality of the sexes, so yes, you can be a feminist and still be equally ‘for men’.
HeForShe ambassador Emma Watson absolutely nails explaining it here:
Because we know things need to change
There’s still a while to go until men and women are equal, and nothing demonstrated that better than the #MeToo movement which blew up at the end of last year. It unveiled millions of accounts of assault and sexual misconduct, and proved that this kind of thing was definitely found outside of the hotel rooms of gross Hollywood producers.
The whole thing threw the meaning of sexual consent into question. The Aziz Ansari-gate proved that two people can seemingly have opposing understandings of the same situation — it was a date-gone-wrong for Ansari and an incredibly uncomfortable position of vulnerability and violation for his accuser “Grace”. Ansari refused to pick up on verbal and non-verbal signals that she didn’t want to engage in sexual activity.
As journalist Hadley Freeman put it the difference in perspectives between Ansari and his accuser “Grace”, and the resulting public reaction, was as widespread and divided as that blue or gold dress sensation back in 2015. Such conflicting visions over the same event clearly shows that there’s a real need for us all to get on the same page - to understand the true meaning of consent and to shed the systematic pressure on women to please rather than to prioritise their own desires. Sex needs to be a completely consensual and enjoyable experience for both parties.
#MeToo and the consent conversations that followed dominated the news, but there are many more issues that need to be addressed, and they're clearly not just female issues - they're definitely male issues too.
Because the patriarchy is damaging for men too
Yes, that dreaded “P”-word. The patriarchy affects men as well as women, perhaps most obviously in the pressure we feel to “man up” and silently deal with problems and anxieties ourselves. Though the issue of gun control in the US is rightfully at the forefront right now in the wake the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, many are arguing that that the unforgivable amount of school shootings by young boys are extreme consequences of toxic and outdated perceptions of masculinity.
Bottling your problems up or feeling emasculated doesn’t mean you're going become a monster, but it does perpetuate a system with very real and unhealthy consequences; according to the Office for National Statistics, three-quarters of all suicides in the UK in 2016 were male. Writer and comedian Michael Ian Black argued in the New York Times that men should look at feminism as a kind of inspiration to move towards a healthy expression of our gender. In understanding that feminism seeks equality, we balance the scales of gender and lose the ills that weigh us down on both sides.
How can we help to change things? Well, a selection of men from Hollywood have just launched their own movement called #AskMoreOfHim to encourage men to be more active in stepping up to fight for equality. Celebs like David Arquette, David Schwimmer and Matt McGorry are all on board, and signed the open letter because they, "believe that men must speak out against sexism, even as we engage in our own process of critical self-reflection, personal growth and accountability. So consider this our pledge to support survivors, condemn sexism wherever we see it and hold ourselves and others accountable."
So if you're a guy who's sick of sexism and toxic masculinity, be a feminist, and voice your support for gender parity on social media using the hashtag #AskMoreOfHim. It's our fight too.