I have come across many pieces of writing and many people who falsely believe feminism is just about women’s issues, this is simply not the case. I don’t mean that in a “well I have a daughter/mother/sister/insert-female-who-matters-to-me so feminism matters to me” kind of way, I mean that men are directly affected by feminist issues too. Many issues described as “men’s issues” are also feminist ones. From male victims of sexual and domestic violence, to men being treated unfairly in family courts, these issues are all relevant to feminism.
Allow me to break it down for you. A true feminist would want the playing field leveled across the board not just where men have the advantage. Male victims of sexual and domestic violence should be taken seriously. It is a fact men are the victims of domestic abuse at the hands of women (and men) and that men can and are raped and abused by both men and women. It is incredibly hard for those men to come forward because of the stigma attached because it is seen as weak to be a victim and here is the catcher, because women are perceived to naturally be victims because they are viewed as inherently weak and so it makes perfect sense they would be the victims and thus could never be the perpetrator against a man. That is a feminist issue, true feminists want not just want an end to victimisation female victims, but for male victims as well. For male victims to be able to come forward in a safe environment, to get fair treatment and justice. The current mainstream mind set is damaging to both men and women. It debases men to nothing but animals incapable of controlling themselves and turns women into inherently asking for the abuse they disproportionately are victims of. Not all men are rapists, but the current victim blaming climate we live in paints them in that exact picture, when the onus to not get raped in placed more highly on victims and not, not to rape on the rapists, then it creates something that negatively effects both sexes.
Men should get a fair shot at it in the court room when it comes to custody. Being in possession of a vagina does not make you automatically the better parent. Family courts should be far more unbiased and more in favour of children and what is right for them. That doesn’t mean men should automatically get custody either, it means a more fair and balanced way of dealing with a very serious issue such as custody of children. In this strain demonizing women who go back to work, or degrading men who chose to be stay at home dads is wrong and needs to stop. Labeling a man looking after his own children “babysitting” is so old fashioned I find it hard to take it seriously. Fathers can make equally brilliant parents as women, it’s not about their gender but about them as individual people.
Men and women should both be represented in a proportionate way in TV and movies without having to make one a caricature to enable the other to be a rounded form of a person. There are awful stereotypes that are pushed on both genders (not to mention the awful representation any minority gets). The fact is real men and women coexist all the time, but the TV and film industry still fall short of balancing the two. That is not to say there are no shows or movies that depict believable female and male characters, coexisting without having to take anything away from one to benefit the other, just that we still have a long way to go.
Boys and men should not be told it is wrong to show their emotions and derogatorily described as “sissy” or told to “man up” because emotions are inherently female, because they are just bags of uncontrollable emotion. Gender prescribed expectations for how a human being feels is damaging to EVERYONE not just men or women. Women are just as capable of being cold and detached as men are of being empathetic and sensitive. We are all human beings capable of a spectrum of feelings and expecting either gender to squash a part of themselves just because it does not adhere to out dated and unrealistic gender norms is damaging to everyone.
Boys and girls should get equal treatment when it comes to education, there should be equality of opportunity across the board. It again comes down to unrealistic and damaging gender expectations that are pushed on our children and the cycle needs to break. Boys and girls should be treated as individuals in school, individuals with strengths and weakness, who need to be nurtured and helped in their respective areas. Expecting one gender to be good at one thing just because of their gender is out dated and damaging.
Sexism absolutely does not just apply to women, feminism is not just a women’s issue. There is female privilege, just as there is male privilege. It is not about measuring whose privilege is bigger, it’s about recognizing where there is an imbalance and correcting it. We cannot redress the imbalances by attacking each other, we need to work together for the common good. It is not about taking the cake from men and giving it all to women. It is about making sure everyone gets an equal slice. Feminists do not want to turn a patriarchy into a matriarchy. Feminists aren’t men hating misandrists. Feminists are not just women and not all women are feminists. Anyone who wants the cake shared equally in all issues is a feminist.
There are many other issues where there is an unfair balance, some areas men get a raw deal and others it is women and true equality cannot be reached while either exists. We have come so far in the last 50 years, but we still have so far to climb. Equality isn’t about denying what makes us different, it’s about appreciating those differences while accepting and embracing what makes us the same.