In some circles, the word “feminism” has earned a bit of a bad rap. When some people think of a feminist, they think of a bra-burning, aggressively loud woman shouting about how all men are to blame for the struggles of womanhood. In truth, feminism isn’t at all about hating men, nor is it an ideal relevant only to women. Men and minorities have a lot to gain from such a movement that preaches universal equality.
At its core, feminism is a challenge to the systematic way of thinking that claims men and women are innately unequal. Feminism is therefore the advocacy of women’s rights, and claims not that women are superior to men, but simply equal, and as such should have access to equal rights and opportunities as men. This fight for gender equality is as important for men as it is for women, which is why it’s so critical that men and minorities find their voice in the feminist movement.
Men Need Feminism
The problematic division of the genders is causing men to fall behind in work and in school, as boys are not taught to value traditionally “feminine” characteristics like empathy, creativity and cooperation that are prerequisites in today’s changing economy. Men are discouraged from talking about their feelings, asking for help and addressing their mental health, which doesn’t help to decrease suicides—currently the biggest killer for men under 50. This is why it’s so vital for men to show feminism their support. Feminism fights for everyone to live safer, more supported and healthier lives.
Feminism Combats Racism
The intersectional feminism of today looks at the complex dynamic of a person’s identity and how it marks them in society. Race, gender, sexual identity, economic class and disability are just some of the characteristics that these complex identity politics cover. Fighting for feminism now means fighting for the betterment of many different and often overlapping disenfranchised social groups. Feminist leaders have been championing these causes since as early as 1868. This is why it’s so critical and beneficial for minorities to support this cause, too.
How Can Men and Minorities Help?
There are plenty of ways to get involved and take a stand. Here are a few ways men and minorities can lend a helping hand to the feminist cause:
Teach Sons to be Feminists
How do you raise a feminist son? It could be as simple as encouraging him to express his emotions, allowing him to engage in activities that might be traditionally labeled “feminine”, having him help out more with housework and caring for younger siblings or older family members.
Acknowledge Stereotypes in the Workplace
And challenge them! Are women always expected to take meeting minutes or tidy the area after group events? Call attention to these unfair dynamics and offer alternative solutions. Take turns recording notes during meetings and draw straws for cleaning tasks. If you’re in a position of power at your workplace, use it to champion your female equals. Call upon their expertise publicly before the rest of your team and sponsor them for promotions. If you’re involved in hiring, challenge yourself and your peers to remove all hiring bias—especially when filling senior level roles. Giving women increased responsibility and authority can have positive downstream impacts on gender equality throughout your organization.
Register a Domain and be an Online Activist
If you think ThePatriarchy.Sucks, then get online and let people know. The internet can be a toxic place if you’re a woman, whether men are using professional platforms like LinkedIn to hit on you or hurling abuse your way on Twitter. The online sphere is a place where women desperately need to feel protected and supported, so making your support known there is vital.
Men’s opinions and voices tend to be more prevalent at work, in academia, in government and in the media. When it comes to being a feminist ally, sometimes it’s important to just be quiet and listen. Women have the life experience of constant harassment, discrimination and objectification, so let them speak and—most importantly—be heard. Try active listening techniques to make sure you are listening productively.
Read the works of famous feminist theorists like Judith Butler and bell hooks. Listen to female-led podcasts. Read fiction by women authors and starring female protagonists. Pay attention to news regarding women’s issues: health laws governing women’s reproductive rights, sexual harassment cases in Hollywood and beyond, support women running for political office and so on.
When you boil it down, feminism really means: Let’s make the world safer and more equal for everyone. This is why men and minorities can’t afford to be silent. We all have to take a stand to make sure these issues are not only understood but truly addressed.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / quietbits, Shutterstock / Nong Mars, Shutterstock / Shawn Goldberg, Shutterstock / file404