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 newspaper, “The Modern Masculinity Issue.” I did a quick flip through the paper and stopped at an article that caught my eye, “Should men be feminists?” At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of the title, only to read further, I thought it was brilliantly written and on point.
Journalist “Ian Taylor” starts off 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 “war of the sexes” but reading further he goes on to say, “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,” 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 keeps growing, this article couldn’t have come at a better time. Sex and Social media has exploded and with no real filters in place and with 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, 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 subjects of equal pay, being respectful towards women, practice safe sex, use 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). The thing is, I’m teaching basic facts, and it’s more than that, obviously…but discussing female circumcision is not something that comes 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 crazy! I want my son’s and their generation, 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 completely and help each other, no more tiptoeing, both sexes need to be involved if anything is going to change. Men need to know, it’s okay to support us, release those traditional “old boys” way 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, 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 at hand, not just for feminists who have been battling this for years but for the human in all of us.
Photo by TopMan Blog