Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dudes and Chicks: What Men Can Gain from Joining Feminism

As of late, it seems that other people’s blog posts spur me into writing. Like the rape culture post, I’d been contemplating the role of men and feminism in my head for a while now and then read a really interesting post by Andrea Doucet this morning and thought, I gotta do this. Men have much to gain from feminism and why they haven’t figure that out yet is a problem.

The role of men in feminism and the very obvious ways in which men benefit from it has always been apparent to me. Not because I grew up in a progressive, hippie household or that I went to some alternative school. Quite the opposite, in fact. I came to feminism not out of some deep hatred for the male species or a general chip on my shoulder, but by being curious about gender as a whole.

I’ve been challenged on this before but I do think gender is the foundation of society. Regardless of whether or not you’re conscious of your gender or your knee-deep in trans* politics, gender is everywhere, all the time. Most of us take it for granted until we date a trans* person who can’t use public washrooms or we compare our 72 cents on our male partner’s dollar. Most people require a serious dose of reality before we start unravelling how gender plays into our daily lives. Which brings me back to how frustrated I am that ‘good men’ don’t understand how feminism can benefit them.

I say ‘good men’ because I do believe there are some dudes who aren’t ever going to get it. These are the men who are well aware of gender dynamics and like them just the way they are, thank you very much. They like women to stay in their place and pray so deeply to the altar of misogyny that we shouldn’t waste on breathes trying to recruit them to the feminist team. But I think most men fall outside of that shitty box and are either clueless or confused. So if you’re that person, listen up brother because it’s about to get juicy!

Well actually.. not really. Because it’s all rather obvious. The primary function of feminism (or rather, feminisms like mine) is to challenge people about gender assumptions and in turn, to emancipate all genders. That means, as a an educated womyn, I want to make 1$ for every dollar my male partner makes. I want to walk down the street without being hollered at and want every man with a passion for fashion, beauty, nursing, homecare, women’s studies, etc. to be able to work in that field. I want all genders to stop competing against each other while vying for a mate. I want womyn to stop feeling like losing 10 pounds of weight and wearing 10 pounds of makeup will make them worthy and I want men to stop feeling like the only emotion they’re allowed is anger. I want trans* to stop being the butt of every fucking joke, too. I’m being simplistic here but hopefully you catch my drift.

See, you can’t emancipate womyn without emancipating men and trans* people. To say that womyn are equal to men and deserve equitable treatment gets people thinking “Well, why is that? Are womyn not that different from men? And if womyn and men aren’t that different, then trans* people can’t be scary, then can they? And if trans* people are legitimate people and womyn aren’t to be afraid of, then why am I so paranoid and worried about protecting my manliness?” And that’s what it all comes down to.

You can’t combat rape culture, without emancipating men from stiff definitions of masculinity that see men as necessarily aggressive, violent, homophobic and misogynist.

You can’t combat gender discrimination in the workplace without emancipating men from the definitions of masculinity that see men as competitive, unemotional and all-too-happy to give up time with their family over a pay check.

I could go on and on and on. Because as much as stereotypes of womyn see us as overly emotional, irrational, catty, motherly (and of course, white, straight, cis, able bodied, fertile, middle-class and ‘beautiful), stereotypes about masculinity aren’t healthy either.

I’m not a dude, but if I was, I’d want to live in a world where I could drink beer with my friends, watch UFC , work out at the gym AND attend social justice rallies, spend quality time with my grandmother and blog about gender issues. I’d want my desire for a challenging job AND a close-knit family to be accepted. I’d want to have no shame in discussing my plans to start a family. I’d want to drive a car that I like and not have it send a message about the size of my genitalia or feel like I can congratulate a male friend on a job well done without ending it with ‘no homo’.

Unfortunately, in today's world, the only people loudly advocating for TRUE male emancipation are frightening ‘Men’s Rights Activists’ or ‘Pick-up Artists’. Both are deeply, deeply entrenched in misogyny and paranoia about womyn and in turn, will do nothing to create a more equitable world.

So men, be brave and join us feminists who are sick of being raped, beaten and denied equal access AND who know you are, too. There’s no deadline and you’re never too young or too old. Plus, we have some pretty cool swag. Just sayin’.