While waiting in the men’s changing area for my son to try on another pair of dress pants, I noticed an issue of Topman, “The Modern Masculinity Issue.” So, I quickly flipped through the paper and stopped at an article catching my eye, “Should men be feminists?” At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of the title, only to read further. But I thought it was brilliantly written and on point.
Journalist Ian Taylor starts immediately with “brace yourself because somebody with a penis is about to start mansplaining feminism,” I’m thinking, this guy is ballsy, no pun intended. He continues with his clever male stereotypes and tells men to “man up and think like a woman without appreciating feminist values, we’re all on a collision course with the opposite sex, but men shouldn’t be maligned due to their gender either….” So this guy gets it, and he’s not shy about putting it out there.
When I first read the title, I immediately thought of “war of the sexes,” but reading further, he says, “you’re probably a feminist already…How can you tell?” In his abridged version, “you’re not a dick if you believe in equal pay for equal work. You don’t think a short skirt is an open invitation. You’re sickened by female genital mutilation. And you don’t have your head in the sand…” I say. Wow! He’s writing to a male audience and “mansplaining” that it’s ok to support women; you can drop the “macho,” it doesn’t make you any less of a man for doing so.
With everything that’s been in the news these days, allegations of yet another famous actor or politician accused of sexual assault or harassment and the list keep growing, this article couldn’t have come at a better time. Sex and Social media have exploded, and with no real filters in place and so many grey areas, how is this generation going to get it right? What are the rules? This is a great teaching moment.
I am a mother of two young men, 17and 20, and I honestly couldn’t tell you if we’ve ever had a “sit down” conversation about feminism in any great detail. I mean, sure, we’ve touched on equal pay, being respectful towards women, practicing safe sex, and using a condom because it’s not just up to the women. Women are strong and independent individuals, but this doesn’t mean you let the door slam in our faces (literally or figuratively).
Here’s the thing, I’m teaching the basic facts, but it’s more than that. For example, discussing female circumcision does not come up every day. Yet, it happens every day in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Over 200 million women living today have undergone this procedure; this is insane! I want my sons and their generations (all generations), to understand that it’s ok to fight for what’s right. Whether you are a feminist or just a human with a soul. Let’s drop the labels entirely and help each other. No tiptoeing; both sexes need to get involved if anything is going to change. Men need to know that it’s okay to support us and release those traditional “old boys” ways of thinking.
So in my attempt to “womansplain,” minus the “penis,” yes, men can be feminists, but there’s a lot of work to do, and sometimes it takes more than a village. We need amazing role models for our children, and it’s NOT ok for people in high power and influential positions to disregard or cover up allegations of sexual assault or harassment. As a society, we need to speak up. We cannot continue to be immune to bad behaviour. Turning a blind eye is no longer acceptable. These are serious issues. Not just for feminists who have been battling this for years, but for the human in all of us.
Photo by TopMan Blog