Everyone’s Guide To Gender Equality

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image – Flickr / Purple Sherbet Photography

Let’s get a couple facts straight at the start. Anyone you know who is involved, in any way, with any sort of “Men’s Rights Movement” is stupid, and you should laugh in their face until they go home to their parent’s basement.

Second thing, and a less popular fact, “Internet Feminism” is a casual, self-serving movement which hurts people more than helps, and it is becoming more destructive as it gains popularity.

I know. Being so flippant with the word feminism minimizes, marginalizes, upholds the patriarchy, downplays sexism, encourages cat-calling, etc. Saying that only a small portion of the population does bad things against women (#notallmen) only makes it worse.

Still I have to wonder if internet feminism (not the feminism that involves real world application which is vitally necessary in parts of the world where women are treated as lesser than men) is distracting us from the broader solution. That when it comes down to it, all of this debate is moot beyond a simple axiom: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” #yesallwomen, yes, but what about #yeseveryone?

This is, I should mention as well, both the hardest and easiest way out.

There are still going to be assholes who hassle women, who start rumors because they won’t “put out,” or the worst of the bunch, the ones reptilian enough to prey on those physically weaker than themselves. But here’s the thing, and I know it’s not a fun fact, or a helpful one for the victims of assaults: the people who commit those crimes are assholes in every facet of their lives. They commit crimes against men. They commit crimes against everyone, all the time. And they don’t seem to feel a lick of guilt for doing so. If someone is willing to force himself onto someone else, or shame someone for having sex, or even dictate how one should and should not use their body – as long as they are not harming anyone else – he has no soul. Man or woman, they have no regard for The Golden Rule. Which is the only way out of this.

To illustrate.

I know someone who wants to be free to walk the streets wearing whatever she wants to wear and to have as many sexual partners as she damn well pleases without condemnation- and should have both things – but who will then turn and admit to me that she feels excitement when cheating on a man who she knows does not condone cheating, who will cry over a guy who has treated her worse than a dog, and who will openly try to break up relationships when there’s a man she is interested in seeing. And she will do these things because, as she says, she is a feminist.

Disregarding whether or not she is a “real” feminist. What’s more troublesome is how ingratiated she is within internet feminism. She will tweet about rape culture and support think pieces by Jezebel and Thought Catalog authors who, in unison, all agreed that Conor Oberst was a rapist, based on the fact that an anonymous commenter on the internet once said so. All of which leads me to believe that, most often – though not always – the people tweeting and writing in 2014 about feminism on the internet write solely about “the problem” to gain online followers, not to help women in their struggle against a repressive male-dominated culture. Narcissistic and unhelpful, these authors upset me because they do not improve the dialogue.

Let me illustrate further.

For a few years, I online dated, and I admit, I was an example of an asshole, not calling people back, making up lies to not see someone, having sex with someone I knew fully well was only interested in a relationship. Though just as many times – perhaps it was the universe balancing itself – those things happened to me.

So I decided I’d give up on dating. Of course, just when I said that, I got a message from an honest-to-goodness writer, pretty and smart and enough reason to keep my profile, if just for another week or so. She asked me to submit to her literary magazine, then she asked me out on a date. I said yes of course, and we were set for that Friday night.

Before that Friday, I had never been stood up. Maybe that kind of thing happens all the time, though I had been on perhaps 100 dates in my life and it never happened to me, but it did that night. She didn’t respond to my text wondering where she was until the next day when she said she was sorry. I believed her, and because she was so pretty and interesting, I acquiesced, and we had another date. By the late morning we had set a time for that evening but not a place, so I asked where, in my most aloof way possible, to which she responded five hours later, a half hour before we were to see each other. Sure, it was an agonizing five hours. But she was going to be great. So I went.

And she was. We had margaritas and laughed and talked about writing and Minneapolis and OkCupid and guys having cats and everything was great. We went to another bar where we talked about sleeping with each other, but maybe not that night, because, as she said, “we’ll have something more than that.” Then we went back to her place holding hands and made out and ate pizza and touched butts and it was, and I don’t say this lightly because I went on quite a few, the best – or maybe the second best – online date I’d been on. At the end, I asked when we’d see each other again. We agreed on soon. Everything was so wonderful.

The next day came and she texted me to say had a lot of writing to do. A few days later, she said even less. After that, there was nothing at all. The next week, I ended up going another date, though it was more of an investigation by someone in the same writing blog circle in Minneapolis, and that person told me, regarding the situation, it was just “her way.”

It was just her way to stand other people up. It was just her way to lie. It was just her to treat others like she would not want to be treated. Perhaps then coincidentally, or not, she also is one who writes and tweets on this matter.

Now many of you now saying. You’re the fool, guy. It was just one date. This has nothing to do with men subjugating women and Hobby Lobby being regressive. Get out of here, Eliot Rodger. And that’s fine enough, if you want this to be about another sad man coming out of the woodwork, it can be.

Just know that, until we untie ourselves from the idea that one group of people is bad and the other is good, nothing will change. There will be a million more wasteful blog posts. A billion meaningless hashtags. And everything will always be messed up. TC mark

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