Hey guys: Let's make our own sandwiches for a change, yeah?
As of late, it seems that a lot more men are coming to the same conclusions feminists came to years ago: our behavior around and treatment of women is unacceptable. We need to change it if we are to evolve in any capacity as a society.
That’s all well and good, but there’s a problem. We have spent so much time pushing back against that conclusion in particular, and even fighting to reinforce some of the worst aspects of patriarchy, that the people we should be listening to – the women we’ve oppressed for years through our actions and our words – want nothing to do with us. And rightfully so.
Feminism, as many other people have pointed out, is not about replacing patriarchy with matriarchy and calling it a day. This is not a new idea, but it is one that us dudes are only now starting to realize the veracity of. Feminism, fully realized, would actually benefit everyone by eliminating a major oppressive hierarchical structure.
The fact that guys are only just now starting to get this – in 20-freaking-12 – would definitely be a little infuriating, especially for the people who have invested so much time and energy into the feminist struggle.
No, feminism is not about hating men. But we kind of have to admit to ourselves that we give people a lot of reasons to hate us. We should not be surprised when we are met with distrust. Yes, guys can be feminist but we need to understand that we are coming to the party very late and with a pretty massive bundle of social iniquity behind us.
And so, what are we going to do?
One thing we should not do is drop the feminist moniker and call ourselves “equalists,” or any other skirt-around-the-issue-y names. Feminism works just fine, as long as we are able to remind ourselves that we are not, strictly speaking, operating on the same playing field. We’ve got a lot of catch-up to do. To use a sports analogy, you wouldn’t want to start on the varsity football team if you were a freshman with no knowledge of the game.
Speaking of that, a big thing that we can do is educate ourselves and educate each other on relevant feminist issues. You will notice that there isn’t a lot of dude-oriented feminist literature out there. That’s because we haven’t really written it yet. The responsibility falls on us – and us alone – to learn our stuff and pass it on. With Google, this is stunningly easy.
Action-wise, something that we can do right now is vow to create safe spaces wherever we are – places with spoken or written policies against victim- or slut-shaming and which keep creepers away. We can choose not to laugh at our friends’ “make me a sandwich” jokes (which, really, were never funny to begin with). We can call out the jerks who clog video game chats with sexist BS. We can question the logic behind putting a girl in a bikini in that one beer commercial. We can do all of this, and it takes relatively little brainpower.
But mostly, we can accept responsibility for our actions and hope that, going forward, we don’t make the same mistakes again.