A Letter to My Fellow Men [guest submission]

The following is a guest submission by Reid Bagwell, entitled ‘”A Letter to My Fellow Men”.

A lot of you aren’t feminists. Why?

For some of you it’s just misperceptions. Some of you feel like feminists hate males and everyone with privilege at all. This is not completely unreasonable, there’s no shortage of “what do we need males for anyway” and “males start wars!” rhetoric out there. It’s fairly unpleasant. Also, fortunately, it’s not what feminism is about.

Feminism is the belief that men and women are equal. That simple. It’s the belief that we can’t look to one group and say “this group should be the one who sacrifices their careers” or “this group should have a more restrained attitude towards sex.” It’s a belief that isn’t, as a matter of fact, particularly arguable.

But plenty of people do disagree with even this. The worst offenders outright view the other gender as inferior. Those people aren’t really who I’m writing for. But a lot of fairly well-meaning males adopt the attitude “men and women are equal, sure, but they are different in various ways.”

And they are different. Men tend to be a bit taller and a bit stronger, for instance. Which has a lot to do with who does most of the wrestling large animals. But really should have absolutely nothing to do with who sits in an office at a computer making money. Weirdly, hunting mastodon with a wood spear and typing memos don’t have the same physiological requirements. And for that matter, let’s remember that these are on average claims and plenty of women are stronger or taller or faster than plenty of men.

See, this is where pop evolutionary science has enabled a lot of mostly decently meaning people to find a way to justify offensive views. Because people will stand up and confidently go “this is how it’s always been. The man is the breadwinner.” So if someone has to take a career concession so the family can move where opportunity is for the other, it’s pretty much always the wife. If someone is going to stay home for the kid, it’s usually her too (as if evolutionary history has caused wives to love their children more – a notion that fathers ought take offense to and which divorce courts should stop privileging as well).

And the funny thing is, even men who know better often instinctively find this kind of rhetoric appealing. Because while gender roles certainly hurt less powerful groups more, they hurt men too. That paralyzing sense of insecurity you get when you imagine your wife making more than you? You don’t have to feel that. Society and toxic gender roles and constant pressure from other less enlightened people causes that feeling. And you can transcend it and stop feeling it.

So is feminism for the woman who wants to be able to choose her career? Yes. It’s also for the man who wants to choose being a father and still feel like a man despite not being the “provider.” And it’s for anyone who recognizes that the fact that men used to go on hunting trips shouldn’t have a ton to do with the modern economy. In fact, women who are good at taking down mastodons probably should have been sent to do that too and left their husbands to gather. And given how little we know about prehistory, it’s quite possible they were.

It’s not just about career and work type stuff though. The sexual instincts are just as problematic. How easy is it for us guys to instinctively want to salute a guy who gets around but have that “slut” instinct when we hear a girl does this? What a problematic standard, that enjoying pleasure makes someone worse. In fact, if you buy that, it really means that she’s worse now than she was before she was with you because you added one to her tally. Doesn’t reflect great on you to soil everyone you touch, does it? Maybe that’s not how we should think about it.

I don’t think you’re evil, or mean, or even necessarily knowingly sexist. Being a feminist doesn’t mean calling males the enemy or assuming there’s some grand scheme most males are in on. Being feminist means recognizing double standards that don’t have anything to do with merit. It means recognizing those instinctive irrational strong sentiments you feel and realizing they’re from society, and that they’re making your life worse, not better. It’s about letting them go. Being a feminist is about treating people as people, not as genders.

And there’s no reason you can’t be feminist, too.


~ by Randi Saunders on December 28, 2012.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: