Good article — read it, then we’ll talk…
One of the most striking paragraphs is this one:
What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, so men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behaviour. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis.
I rarely write about my partner — but I’m going to now. He’s growing to understand feminism in a deep way — he’s always agreed that women (shockingly) are people too.. and that we deserve equality etc..
But, what he’s recently come to see is how it’s possible that he has acted in what seems to have been a perfectly reasonable and acceptable manner at the time, and still have been a sexist. That’s a hard realization for a man with good, liberal values — a daughter who is now a young woman — and a son whom I’m noticing has a growing awareness of feminism and male-privilege.
The thing is, we’d like to achieve “peoplism” — the blissful state in which all people actually ARE treated equally. The thing is, that’s not the way the world IS — and pretending that you don’t see gender (and along with it sexism) is as offensive to a woman as claiming not to see a person’s race (and along with it racism).
Perhaps for good reason, well-intentioned men bristle at the idea that all men have benefited from sexism. They don’t see themselves as having personally benefited from sexism, they’ll say they’ve never raped anybody, that they don’t hold ideals that keep women at home tending for kids and out of college etc.. and all of that is true. It’s also true that well-intentioned men didn’t ask to be born male in a world in which women are routinely harmed, discriminated against etc.. for their gender.
Men will object, saying holding all men responsible for the actions of the majority of men is reverse-sexism… we ought not hurt their feelings when we say things like that, blah, blah blah — and, the thing is, that often works because it plays into the socially constructed ideal that women should play nice and not hurt men’s feelings.. yea.. right..
So — what’s a well-intentioned man to do? How should he support his daughter and teach his son so that the next generation will be better than our own..
You can choose, as a man, to help create a fairer world for women – and for men, too. You can choose to challenge misogyny and sexual violence wherever you see them. You can choose to take risks and spend energy supporting women, promoting women, treating the women in your life as true equals. You can choose to stand up and say no and, every day, more men and boys are making that choice. The question is – will you be one of them?