Recently I read an article in which a male journalist was telling women that if they want men to support them they should stop treating men as the problem. My eyes rolled so far back in my head that my contact lenses folded over. He then boo boo lipped that he knew he was going to be accused of mansplaining. This man just proved why we need feminism and why I will continue to tell men that you are definitely part of the problem.
Last week I was passing a man while walking the recreational trail. This was not a young man, this was a man in the vicinity of my age. I was listening to an audio book, he was on a bike. I didn’t catch what he said, barely registering that he said anything. I did hear him however when he stopped his bike to yell at me, ‘Ignore me, you fucking bitch.’ It was annoying, humiliating, and frightening. It was a reminder of all the times as a younger woman I passed men on the street that commented on my beauty, my nice tits, nice ass, insults hurled at me from passing cars. It was a reminder that as a woman my safety is not always a given.
What about the unsolicited messages I have received on my Instagram account? Men commenting on my appearance, then offering to get to know me, an account that has pictures clearly labelled of my husband, my dog, and whatever caloric shame I’m about to eat. This isn’t an account that remotely looks like I’m looking for a date.
My husband meets with a group of friends one night a week to eat chicken wings and debate world events. On one of the rare occasions I joined this group, one of the men at our table offered to spank the server. When I pointed out to him that he was treading not only through the swamp of sexual assault but sexual harassment, his response was that she started it. This grown ass man’s response was to blame the young woman who was the age of our daughters. He was in a position of authority, what was she expected to do at that point? Challenge him? Create a scene? Risk her tip, or his wrath if he complained to the management? The most heartbreaking thing for me at that time was that not one man at that table called out this man for behaviour that no woman should have to endure, behaviour that was based on her appearance and where she worked.
So, Mr X, when you contemplate the idea that #notallmen deserve to be lumped into the same box, and that women need to stop blaming men for the need of feminism. I hope you will ask yourself if you are complacent when you see or hear anyone treat a woman as anything but equal. That you stand up for a woman when you hear a man comment on a woman’s body, her looks. Whether she identifies as female, a woman of colour, or is wearing clothing that identifies her religious identity. I hope that you are standing for all women, and in doing so teaching the men in your life that women deserve respect, they deserve to not be treated as objects. They deserve equality. I hope that when you witness the societal expectation that men or boys are supposed to be stoic, aggressive, sexually promiscuous, that you will stand up for them. I hope that you don’t label a woman a slut because she has sex, or a bitch because she stands up for herself in the workplace. I hope you don’t discourage boys from playing with dolls, or girls from playing with trucks.
This is the point of feminism.
I wrote this and have had it sitting in my drafts folder for a couple weeks, It felt like another feminist conversation that wasn’t accomplishing anything other than adding to the noise. Not that, that matters, this blog is my thoughts, grammatical errors and all. Fast forward to today and I read an article explaining that the 17 year old kid who shot two fellow students in Maryland was Lovesick. Lovesick. Seriously. Let’s just gloss over the fact that a 17 year old young man thought he was entitled to the affections of this young woman. By all means, lets keep pushing the idea that men are not the problem.