Feminism: From A Dude's Perspective
I am a man, I am not subject to certain criticisms and assumption, certain inequalities and trials. I have never feared bodily harm and emotional violation from a member of the opposite sex. I have never been held at arms length and examined or criticized for being a man. I have never had my being flayed open and twisted to misrepresent my strengths for weaknesses. I am not a woman.
I am a man, I cannot feel or connect to the people around me too deeply for fear of being questioned. I cannot voice my inadequacies to my peers without loosing something. I cannot shed too many tears, for fear of being ostracized or belittled for my capacity to feel. I cannot be strong and soft, for the desire to do and understand comes at a cost of being labeled. I alone cannot stop the inequalities I witness all around me. Now more than ever we need to try to change the conversation from a sheepish 'what can I do?', to a collective 'what can we do?'. As men helping women, as people helping humanity.
I have had the privilege to see things a little differently in my life with regards to women; whether through nature or nurture I do not know. Recently my girlfriend, who is both the love of my life and the friend I always needed, along with her friend Alice; started a project to highlight women of beauty. Not the type of beauty that instantly comes to mind, but rather the kind of beauty that you feel when you look into someones eyes, and feel the warmth of their soul through their smile and the words that tumble from their lips with different shapes and cadences. A project which continues to astonish me and impress me with the ripple effect of its goodness. “The Connection Corner.” The name rings with truth; they keep it real and aren’t afraid to tackle thoughts and feelings, and dig deep into someone, something. The project is designed to highlight what it means to be a woman, to change the conversation surrounding women and to encourage women everywhere to be their best self. Talking to Molly as this project has taken shape always inspires me to do something to help.
I think that when we think about feminism and equality we think about women taking to the streets en mass with hairy armpits and exposed breasts, shouting “down with the patriarchy”. But feminism is something else. To me, feminism, even more broadly: equality, is recognizing someone for what they are without judgement or distaste. Its about understanding and listening to someone and their respective trials. Feminism is about men as much as it is about women, and to affect real change we need to change the conversation. The way our languages tells the story of humanity creates this harsh divide of us versus them. I am a man, and I love women. I love what you love about women. I love the way they look, and talk and walk and smell and feel; how they invigorate us with the physicality that they present. I love my mother, for holding me when I was young and telling me that it’s going to be OK and that I’m allowed to cry. I love my friends for listening and indulging my dreams without it feeling like a competition. I love my lover for making me feel both vulnerable and strong at the same point. I do my best to embrace these things; but I hear things from my own and others mouths that say we have a long way to go. “She was a good fuck”, he said sheepishly but with pride. “I would do her”, I hear with bravado and confidence as his gaze simmers over a girl walking by. “She’s a bitch”, he says when she just doesn’t feel like talking. “Quit being a pussy”, they jeered.
Lets take a moment to appreciate the strength of women. They give life, they nurture life, and they encourage growth. That alone is worth celebrating, and because of that undeniable fact they are our future. They fight for their right to be strong and struggle for their right to feel beautiful, they are constantly working against the grain in a world where those who are most aggressive and decisive control our fates. In a world where their greatness was never recognized with the scope it deserved, yet they still soldier on unhindered as men turn their heads the other way and claim it an anomalous event. It seems their very bodies rebel against them with a monthly gift to remind them pointedly of their natural duty to populate. In a world where having something to say comes second to what you have to physically present, they hold their ground patiently. This they do with the expectation that they should look good. I generalize this as if to say that all women are super, and all men are bad. Let me clarify; this is not a damnation of those amongst us who hold different views, or a call to arms. Its a call to action, a call for those of us who see women with reverence and respect in a way that doesn’t patronize them with the assumption of their inherent need to be helped or protected. A call for us to make a bit more noise with our appreciation. To participate in the conversation of appreciation, and to extend the invitation to the men of the world to connect and understand what it means to be a woman, because ultimately it is what it means to be human. Let us cast off the fear of being called a girl for our participation, and in place show pride to be among the enlightened who can see a woman as someone with something to say in the same beat as we can appreciate the curvature of her waist.
Craving more inspiration that aligns with these words? Become a part of the 'He For She' movement. A solidarity movement for gender equality.