the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
I got into an interesting discussion today on twitter in response to a blog post about feminism. I will post a link at the end here. First I want to talk about why feminism is important and what we all can do to help change the world for the better.
Killing StereotypesLook up and re-read the definition of feminism. Does it say anywhere that feminists must be unattractive lesbians who hate men? There are several zombie stereotypes that need to die first before progress can be made. I suggest you aim your confetti cannons for the head.
Feminists are regular people like you or me. Err.. maybe more like you than me. I like Legos and everyone knows that feminists can't play with Legos or their face will explode. See how rediculous that sounds? That's how rediculous it is to try to fit all feminists into a nice neat box of stereotypes.
Feminists can be anyone, even people who don't identify themselves as feminists! That's right! There is no secret handshake to get into the club. We don't need no stinking membership cards! All it takes is for people to stand up and support gender equality.
The Denial MentalityIt seems like there is always an excuse for men and women to keep the status quo. Some people don't like to rock the boat because it might sink. Well I have news for you all, the boat already has a leak. We're bailing out water slower than it's filling up, and then saying it's OK because this is what we've always done. It's denying the facts.
The fact is that a lot of women live in constant fear, and it shouldn't have to be like that. How many times have you heard that 'boys will be boys', 'she should take it as a complement', or 'she deserved it because she went to a bar/wore skimpy clothing'? These are all copouts. People making excuses for what shouldn't be excused. When someone responds like that they are denying that the man's actions were wrong. They are saying that the woman shouldn't be threatened or frightened. Yes it's possible that they are overreacting, but isn't it just as possible that the guy was being inappropriate? Why do guys get a pass for that kind of behavior?
Making excuses like that undermines and invalidates the woman's feelings. Instead of making excuses or ignoring it as a bystander, people need to stand up. If a man is being inappropriate then everyone should let him know. There is strength in numbers. All too often people ignore the problem or do nothing to stop it. We need to promote a culture of action where people stand up for women and men who are being wronged. Too many people have the mentality of 'not my problem'. If you think that then what's going to happen when something similar happens to you? Do you think others will help you while you stand on the sidelines when others need your help?
A Guy's PerspectiveGuys have been conditioned for hundreds of years to act the way they do. As teenagers we are never really taught how to talk to women that we like. It's something that we have to figure out on our own. Generally our parents are scared to death their sons getting a girl pregnant at an early age and possibly ruining the future for both. At least when I grew up that is how it was. Guys grow up knowing how to treat their mother, but they seperate that from the way they treat women that they are interested in sexually.
What guys learn is that persistent aggressive behavior works.. for the most part. That doesn't just go for talking to women. That seems to work for us in sports, business, putting our pants on in the morning, etc.. almost everything. We learn that fortune favors the bold. This in itself causes us to be more aggressive and persistent when going after what we want. Our ego and confidence play into it as well.
When a woman rejects us, we aren't sure how to react so we go with what we have learned has worked for us in the past. We have found that women have a lot of walls we have to climb to get to where we want to get, and that no doesn't neccessarily mean no. I can tell you that men have no clue what a woman is thinking. It seems to us that they change their mind as often as they blink their eyes. This causes a lot of men to go into things thinking that a woman's no really means maybe.
A lot of the inappropriate behavior men exibit in public has to do with our ego. Many of us like to show off for our friends. In our minds sometimes we think of the catcalls as being complements, but at the same time we're showing off to our friends or trying to amuse others. Everyone likes to think they are right. We justify our actions in our minds. That's why some guys don't seem to understand why it's inappropriate to say some of the things they say. They have already convinced themselves that it's OK. It's not something they would say in front of their mother. Deep down they know it's wrong.
The fact that men know it's wrong, even if only subconsciously, is reason enough to stand up to their crap.
Final Thoughts and LinksI posted this last night before it was finished, I had a few more things I want to say. Not all men disrespect women in public and treat them inappropriately. I don't think men should be rewarded for doing what they should be doing anyway, but small things like a thank you or a smile is enough to encourage that kind of behavior.
http://youtu.be/gkjW9PZBRfk - This is Emma Watson's speach on the HeForShe campaign. I have heard all kinds of rumors about her being 'moody' or 'bitchy'. All I see is a passionate and intelligent young woman that has decided to speak out when the mentality of most is to keep their heads down and be quiet.
http://thefeveredpen.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/24054/ - This is the original blog post that started the conversation which in turn led to this blog post.
I also want to give credit to the two ladies who contributed to the conversation. Please follow them on twitter! @Greytopia and @laedwardswriter