Men and Feminism
I hope you guys know about the documentary that just came out called ‘Miss Representation.’ It’s not easy to see unless you have the Oprah network, which I found out recently my house does! I taped it to avoid commercials and sat down to watch it with my dad, who is a documentary producer. Strangely, he kept me waiting for him for two hours till finally I gave up and watched it solo. I don’t think my father has ever kept me waiting more than 60 seconds to watch a documentary, even one he’s seen before, so I was a little surprised by his resistance to this film. But, maybe I shouldn’t have been. After all, when it’s time to talk about this kind of stuff, few men want to participate.
I was at lunch with three friends, one of whom will (hopefully) be a writer for TheFearGirls come December when she’s out of school. The other two were my past writing and literature classmates. When my female friend and I casually brought up feminist-related topics (how women are depicted in the media mostly), my two very intelligent, thoughtful male friends could not have been quicker to get the hell away from us. Had the topic been race, money, or even homophobia, I am 100% sure they would have participated, because we’ve had those conversations before. Yet in the case of feminism…they didn’t.
I know my father and my two male friends are not chauvinist pigs. But the one thing (the only thing, actually) my friend did say during our lunch struck me in particular when discussing women’s depiction in the media. He said: “Well you can’t change the media. So there’s nothing you can do about it.” I disagree, obviously. But I wonder if he feels that way about Occupy Wall Street? Should they just pack up and go home? I don’t think so…
That response is not an uncommon one. I’ve heard it before. I’ve heard it from women, too, but I hear it a lot more from men, even men that I respect and care about. I think that women being portrayed the way we have been, has become a habit. A habit that is not easy to break, and that may be threatening to even the most confident of men. Clearly, it’s threatening to some women, too – will breaking out of female stereotypes (image and beyond) require us to second guess choices we’ve made? I think it will, and I think that’s important.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred to a girl as “fat”, “ugly”, “bitch”, and “slut” in the course of my life. I’ve been just as bad as the Kardashians in that respect. But in this new period of my life, I’m really trying to change the way I talk about women (and men). It’s my own way to help the environment and to elevate myself to a level I could respect. Because self-respect and self worth are the key essentials in becoming a stronger person and a stronger feminist.
P.S. And it’s working! Dad sent me a feminist article over email the other day. (That means he’s listening!)
I totally agree about men seeming to be afraid to talk about feminism or anything, really, that has to do with what could be considered “women’s issues.” I think the issue must seem emasculating, and they probably don’t want that. It might not be that these guys actually are disinterested in the issues, but since the issues are commonly thought of as “girly” and “women’s terrain” it makes sense that men wouldn’t want to discuss them. It’s for GIRLS! But there are guys out there interested and active in the arena of feminism. Here are a few examples:
Yashar Ali: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yashar-hedayat
Michael Kimmel: http://creativepromotionsagency.com/mk/
ad the White Ribbon Campaign: http://www.whiteribbon.ca/
There ARE men out there, interested in feminism, culture, and masculinity studies (because I for one am very interested in the impact of society on men and senses of masculinity). But nevertheless, many men we come into contact with on a daily basis don’t seem interested. I’m not sure how to bring the issue around to them without scaring them off.