The Bro Guide to Feminism
Here’s the thing, I write article after article towards women. Anything from empowering women to fighting inequalities against women, I’ve covered it.
And in the midst of all this women talk, I want to let the men know that I haven’t forgotten about them too.
Feminists get this awful reputation of being “man haters.” And although there are people out there who may be “man hating,” this stereotype is simply not true. I love men! I have a boyfriend, many of my best friends are guys, and believe it or not, there’s even a few men in my family!
The problem is not men, it is patriarchy— two totally different things!
Wikipedia describes patriarchy as,
“a social system in which males are the primary authority figures central to social organization, occupying roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property, and where fathers hold authority over women and children. It implies the institutions of male rule and privilege, and entails female subordination.”
In other words, feminism is not about a battle between the genders. It’s not male versus female. It’s about fighting against a patriarchal system that leaves women in a very disadvantaged position, to say the least.
Last year, Huffington Post conducted a poll that revealed that only 16% of men considered themselves a feminist. What’s going on, dudes? I mean, women were still at a shockingly low 23%, but only SIXTEEN PERCENT for guys? That’s unacceptable!
I feel like the main reason that number is so low and why so many of my male friends are hesitant to be self-proclaimed feminists is because they’re misinformed. In an effort to counteract that, here is the bro guide to feminism:
To begin with, let’s talk about women. Because, let’s be honest, feminism’s central focus is toward the gender that faces the most inequality: females. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not using “women” as a unitary, master category. Intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and class are always taken into consideration!
Now guys, please picture a woman you really care about and love. She can be your mother, sister, aunt, friend, teacher, significant other, daughter, or any other important female figure in your life. Have someone in mind? Good.
Now, do you think it’s fair that person is making 77 cents for every dollar you make? And that’s only if she’s a white woman, if she’s a woman of color, she’ll be making even less. How about the fact that she is way less likely to be promoted than her male coworkers thanks to a glass ceiling and a sticky floor? Now compare that with the glass escalator men experience when entering female-dominated work forces.
But even if we put employment aside, there are still so many inequalities your loved one(s) can face. Do you like the idea that there is a one in five chance that she will be a victim of attempted or completed rape? Or what about having a one in four chance of experiencing domestic violence in her lifetime? And if she were to be raped, how would you like it if society blamed her instead of her rapist?
Gender inequalities definitely don’t stop there and I would continue, but I know that I’m already hyperlinking all my readers to death.
Sometimes putting a face to the injustice that can occur because of patriarchal structures can make it easier to understand how important feminism is.
But enough about women, let’s talk about YOU.
Just like women, you fall prisoner to your gender.
Masculinity is socially constructed. You’re held to impossibly high standards to be “tough”, and “burly.” You’ve probably been told multiple times to “be a man” or “man up.”
Because of hegemonic masculinity, you’re not supposed to show emotions, you have to be overly aggressive, you must be the breadwinner, you can’t make mistakes, you’re supposed to know all about sex, you have to know about sports, you need to be in control of women, and the list does not stop there, as I’m sure you know.
And if you step outside of the realm of “masculinity”, you’re called: a bitch, a pussy, gay, etc. Side note: notice the theme of these insults? Yep! If you don’t act like a “man”, the biggest insult you get called is a “woman.”
I can only imagine how exhausting it is to live up to these standards of masculinity, just as it is exhausting to live up to the standards of femininity. But what if we stepped outside of these boxes?
What if you were allowed to express your emotions without fears of your “masculinity” being questioned? Not to mention, violence and aggression are an imminent problem in our society because of how prized the construct of masculinity is.
I can understand why you’re hesitant to want to give up your male privilege. I mean, you get to enjoy some sweet perks without doing anything at all! But at the same time, more than half the population doesn’t get to enjoy these unearned advantages. And giving other people rights doesn’t mean we take away yours. Equality means just that: equal.
If you’re uncomfortable with the word “feminist”, that’s fine but you should still totally be on board with the feminist movement and gender equality.
And if you don’t want to do it for the women in your life or don’t even want to do it for yourself, do it because equality is awesome— no matter what gender you are.
And now that you’ve come to the conclusion that feminism really is for everybody regardless of gender (I hope!), there are a few more things my male friends should know. So here are a few sources for all you male feminists out there! :
10 Ways to be a Better Male Feminist
I’m a Male Feminist. No, Seriously