I am a man, and I would call myself a feminist.
Some might think those two statements are contradictory, however, I am passionate about fighting for anyone who isn’t given the same rights as everyone else.
Why shouldn’t I be? What’s wrong with treating women like people?
I do realize there are objections to feminism; in fact, I used to share some of them.
For example, some people object to it because they believe it only focuses on women’s issues.
The truth is feminism is not one single idea shared across the entire group. It’s a range of ideas, just like any other ideology. There are feminists who focus more on women’s issues than men’s, but there are also feminists who fight for men’s rights as well.
So let’s get to the big question: Why as man, am I feminist? After all, I have all the power I need, don’t I? Isn’t that the entire point, that men have too much power and they use it to oppress women?
Not really. Some men do have too much power, but others are victims as well. Feminism often talks about unhealthy standards set for women by our media, but the media also sets unhealthy standards for men to aspire to.
According to the media, women are supposed to be impossibly thin, yet still have large breasts and butts. They are supposed to be innocent and pure, yet still crave sex every second of the day. Also, according to the media (although not as much anymore) women should be housewives, the people who do all of the work, but get none of the credit.
A brilliant deconstruction of the unreasonable standards for women in our media can be found in David Fincher’s recent movie Gone Girl, where the wife delivers a passionate monologue about the pressure of being the “cool” girlfriend.
Yet for men, there are plenty of unreasonable and unhealthy standards as well. As a man, I am not allowed to show any emotion, as that’s exclusively for women. A man who shows emotion is ridiculed and mocked, which often forces men to hide their emotions deep down inside, often refusing to be honest about them even to the people they are the closest with. Women want a man who talks about his feelings, but a man has been told all his life that he is never supposed to have feelings, and he definitely isn’t supposed to talk about them.
As a man, I am not allowed to feel pain, because I am supposed to be ‘tough’. Since women have been traditionally viewed as weak and helpless (see the ever present and overused damsel in distress trope for a few thousand examples), the implication is that men are inherently strong, powerful and immune to pain. What this does is forces men to hide what they truly feel.
This is where the stereotype of the man that never goes to the doctor comes from. Of course we never go the doctor because we were told to shake it off, take it like a man, or grow some balls. The implication being that testicles bring a superhuman level of increased pain tolerance despite the fact that our testicles are the single most vulnerable part of our body.
Probably the worst of all though is the overwhelming assumption that men are inherently violent. It is true that men tend to be more violent than women, but this is not because of an inherent violent nature, it is because our society not only assumes men to be violent, it expects men to be violent.
The manly thing to do is punch another guy in the face if you disagree with him. The manly thing to do is to start a fight if somebody is annoying you. A man is attractive if he is violent, if he represents the bad boy image.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not shifting responsibility. Any violent action is a choice. If you choose to commit violence it’s always a choice. There may be factors influencing your decision, but it is still a choice.
However, there are some factors behind why some men tend to be violent. This can be seen even in some feminist messages. All violence towards women is wrong. I agree with that one hundred percent. However, I would take that a step farther. All violence towards men or women is wrong. Why is it not OK to hit a woman in the face, but it’s OK to hit a man in the face? Because we were taught that a man is ‘tough’, that he can take it like a man.
I firmly believe that it is never okay to beat a woman. But I also firmly believe that it’s not OK to beat a man either. Otherwise, you are the one perpetuating the stereotypes. If it’s okay to beat men, but not women, then it is true that women are weak and helpless and men are strong and tough.
I am a feminist because women are not inferior to men and should not be treated as such. I am a feminist because a man should not be thought less of if he displays feminine traits such as showing any type of emotion. I am a feminist because there still sexist people out there who are fighting hard to suppress women’s rights and we need all the voices we can get to stand up to them. If you really start to think about it, I bet you might discover you are a feminist too.
Mike Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]