The true meaning of feminism is equality, right? We want equality for all. Feminism feels a little binary now. Like we can only fight for the rights of women and couldn’t possibly factor men into the equation. Instead of seeing these social issues as binary could we not view them as a spectrum? A spectrum that isn’t linear, but rather a vast space filled with a thousand lines and squiggles on which all aspects of intersectionality can fall.
The statistics for male suicide are sickening. And there is still such a huge stigma around men and their feelings. Toxic masculinity falls under the feminism umbrella. We’ve fought tirelessly for the positive effects feminism can have for women, but can we also look at how feminism should be helping men too?
Feminism seeks to dismantle gendered stereotypes. So, there should be as much talk about dissembling toxic masculinity as there is about the gender pay gap and rape culture. This in hand helps women as it removes a culture in which men can’t talk about their feelings. What happens when we can’t talk about how we feel? We bottle it up and it comes out in other ways. Violence, self-sabotage, cheating, emotional abuse, self-harm, suicide etc.
If we really want to ‘smash patriarchy’, then we need to see men as victims as well as perpetrators. We need to use nuance in the conversation. It can never be as black and white as women are right and men are wrong. It’s never as black and white as ‘all men’. It can never be that women are the only victims. Because the fact of the matter is, yes men carry out sexist practises every day, but patriarchy is not the fault of all men. Patriarchy is a societal structure that men are also a victim of.
I will never stop fighting for the rights for women to live in a world free from the fear of rape and sexual abuse/harassment etc. But now I feel that there must be more conversation around building a world that is safe for men and free of gendered expectations for men as well as women.
Raise men who are sensitive and teach your sons that there is no such thing as ‘manning up’. Let your men cry. Teach them to be gentle and tentative. Tear down all expectations of gender so that we can thrive as a human race.