When it comes to questioning gender roles and the social constructs created by society, I have always felt that it creates some rift and controversy between people. Many individuals have their own opinions on race, gender, and popular culture, although I feel that the majority of people prefer to lace their viewpoints with what society deems as “right” or “normal”. I believe that everything, especially gender and race, is a very fluid and wide spectrum of ideals and options.
I’m part of a program called Gender Studies, which can is also known in many other universities as Women’s Studies. My program is an extremely small one, with less than 60 people in my out of the hundreds in my graduating class, unsurprisingly all who are females. My program discusses everything from feminism, to rape culture, to racialization, to cover the absolute basics. It has opened my eyes and my mind up to so many viewpoints and idealizations of life that I never perceived or even considered before in the past. Picking this as my major has made me a stronger, more open-minded, socially advanced, and emotionally accepting individual. But not everyone sees it that way.
As I felt myself opening up more as a person, I found myself wanting to share more about my newly acquired knowledge and opinions. I anticipated sharing my opinions with those around me; I was in university so henceforth I was bound to be surrounded by enlightened, appreciative, mature individuals who loved to acquire new knowledge concerning today’s societal and political issues. I, instead, received silence, half-hearted nods, awkward pauses, and long baffled stares for the most part. The majority of the time, to be completely honest, from men who claimed to not identify as feminists or even as allies.
I have been on one too many dates to count where I have sat down with a man, and had a wonderful conversation up to the point where he asked me about my major. And once I went into my love and passion for feminism, it was like I had somehow magically turned both externally and intrinsically repulsive to the person sitting across from me at the table.
Truthfully, it hurts me but even more so, it frustrates me to know that so many men that I’ve met are so scared of feminism. I felt like any time that I talked to most men about my passions consisting of many things including equity, women’s rights, and LGBTQ issues; they would run away and hide into a corner until the big, scary feminist was done mentioning the F-word. It frustrates me to know that when I ask men my age, “do you identify as a feminist?” The majority of them say something along the lines of, “oh god no, I’m not a feminist.” But that’s just it, is it men my age? Is being a feminist in my twenties some sort of man repellent? I don’t understand why men wouldn’t want to be around a woman who is passionate and successful in her field just because she is the F-word.
If you are a man, and you support feminism, you are not succumbing to the overlord ruling of a nation of women. You are not bowing down to some sort of mystical, fantasy altar of feminism and apologizing for anything you have ever done in life as a man. That does not help anyone, it does not help women or men, and it is not what feminism is about. Feminism is not about chivalry; paying for expensive presents and dinners for your female loved ones, or being the Prince Charming to save their honour, as that is undeniably sexist and denies the entirety of equity. Feminism is about equal treatment of the sexes, and if you don’t support feminism, are you saying you don’t support equality? Being a feminist as a male, or even simply being an ally of feminism, is about knowing that as a male in this day and age, you live in a world of privilege, a place where you have privilege over women. Rather than attempting to apologize for this, and instead standing as allies alongside with females instead of for them, working to remove this issue, and treating women as human beings. That’s all feminism really is.