Several months back I wrote this post in my personal journal.  I wanted to share it here now.

One of the criticisms again Feminism is that the movement is exclusive to women and that, as the stereo-type says, feminists hate men. I am a strong believer in men becoming more involved in feminist issues. I think that if you believe as I do, that we live in a Patriarchal society that generally privileges a certain group over others (that group being White, Upper Middle class, Christian, Able Bodied, Heterosexual Males), then part of the struggle towards equality does include men.

Yet, how do we get men more involved? And how can they be convinced that as privileged persons they will have to learn to put that privilege aside?

I got to thinking about this after a conversation that involved a twenty-something white male lamenting about his cell phone being ruined after it had taken a turn in the washing machine. It was suggested that he perhaps check his pockets before washing his clothing when he burst out, “I would but my mother always gets to my laundry first!” I was taken aback. He continued to comment that he just had a higher tolerance for un-tidy behavior than his mother did but that he wished she wouldn’t internalize the female role of doing all the house work, including her 20-something son’s laundry. He then joked about not wanting to “give up a good thing.”

His response, at least in my experience, is typical. He wishes she wouldn’t feel like she needs to do housework to be a good wife/mother/woman and claims to have preached the gospel of Feminism to her only to watch it “fly over her head”. However, the whole time he is doing this he fails to make attempts for change himself. And this is something that more men will have to realize to become more involved in feminist issues of equality: it isn’t about women fixing themselves and each other, we’ve been told enough through self-help books, tv shows, and magazines that this is what we should be doing. Instead, men need to start stepping up and taking responsibility for their part in things like “internalized housework” as self worth.

Another example and one that is brought up in feminist communities often, is the lack of male vocalization against violence towards women. Many of us know about the sexual assaults that took place on York University campus a few weeks ago. As pointed out by a friend, when news reports were discussing the arrest of the individuals allegedly involved, they also made note that the dorm room doors of the victims had been left unlocked. The news eventually dropped this piece of information, I would like to imagine because they were told how damaging and victim blaming it is.

When violence occurs against wimmin there is a strong tendency to make comments such as:
“Why did she put herself in that situation?”
“What kind of clothes was she wearing?”
“Why did she walk that way instead of another?”
“Didn’t she know any better?”
And some of these questions, that can also be phrased as ‘helpful advice’, places blame on the victim. It is somehow assumed that it is her fault or could have been avoided if only she had been more wise.

We need less of this, immediately. Instead, where is the advice to men that they should, to put it simply and bluntly: Not Commit Violence (physical, verbal, sexual) Against Women!
I would suggest more men need to stand up and be willing to take responsibility for themselves and others. More need to speak out against the repugnance of rape and partner abuse. And more need to take actions in their own lives that support equal partnerships and work relationships instead of not wanting to “ruin a good thing.”

So, how does one convince men that they need to be involved in the struggle to equality instead of letting those who are less privileged try to claw their way up to those who are?
I wish I had a clear answer. But I’m an advocate for education and awareness, which is at least a start… And I’m starting at home with my partner. (Which I’m sure he will be happy to read, as if he is a science project for something 😉 But he knows what I mean.)

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