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Why We All Need Feminism

And Why Men Need It Too

By Gabriel ObenPublished 6 years ago 4 min read
Feminism- Definition 

Feminism. A word that contrary to popular belief, does not signify a movement of man-hating, angry white women complaining about a lack of female traffic light signals. Instead, feminism has a rather simple meaning. In its truest sense, feminism is about the uplifting of all women, regardless of their race, sexuality, socio-economic background, or any other factor.

Feminism (that is, intersectional feminism) is about the advocating of the rights of all women, whether they be transgender, disabled, black, or an intersection of any of those factors. It is not about the 'supremacy of women' nor is it an attack on men, instead it is an effort to dismantle a global power structure that places men at the top and women at the bottom, and the dissolution of the oppressive ideologies that have been created as a result.

However, when feminists shed light on the issue of patriarchy (i.e. a male-dominated society), more often than not, men either dismiss the idea entirely (giving the example of Theresa May as Prime Minister as evidence) or are outraged at the idea that anyone could think that women hold less power than men in today's 'progressive' society. However, they are failing to recognise that patriarchy is about more than just the ratio of men to women in government, it is about the societal norms and attitudes that disadvantage women on a daily basis.

For example, according to Rape Crisis UK, one-in-five women have experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16. Nearly 85,000 women are raped in England and Wales alone every year, at a rate of roughly 11 rapes an hour. When confronted with these statistics, many men either attempt to derail the conversation with statements such as 'but it happens to men too!' or 'why don't they just go to the police?' Undoubtedly, rape is an issue that affects both men and women, and many male rape victims feel incredibly ashamed and unable to talk to anyone about their ordeal.

However, not only is it possible to combat the rape of both men and women simultaneously, but it still stands that women are more often the victims of sexual violence. On a day-to-day basis, most men do not fear a random sexual assault, nor do they feel compelled to tailor their choice of clothing for fear of being perceived as 'promiscuous' and being subject to catcalling, groping or other such actions.

Furthermore, due to the justice system's incredible contempt for victims of sexual violence, many women feel that they cannot come to the police, as they fear that not only will they be heavily scrutinised, but that justice will not be served. Contrary to the popular, but misguided, belief that men are so often jailed for rapes that they did not commit, rape has the lowest conviction rate compared to other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction.

As a result of the patriarchal attitudes dominant in society, female rape victims are often asked scathing questions about their past sexual history, what they were wearing at the time and other such questions, which instead of placing blame on the rapist, put the onus on the victim, blaming them for wearing clothing that would 'entice' men or painting them as a 'loose' woman that 'wanted it' based on their completely unrelated past sexual history.

Clearly, both the justice system's approach to sexual violence cases and the attitudes underpinning it need to be radically overhauled, and by raising awareness of the sexual violence epidemic present globally, feminists will spark the conversations that will facilitate societal change.

For some, feminism's relevance to men seems ridiculous, because after all, it's about hating men and the supremacy of women right? Well feminism, whilst being of obvious benefit to women, can also be very beneficial to men as well. From enabling men to divert from the traditional and restrictive 'breadwinner' role to allowing for more emotional expressiveness, feminism can work for both women and men.

Through feminism and its promotion of a more equal gender balance in the workplace, a greater number of women will be able to enter the higher levels of many industries, therefore not only reducing the mental and physical pressure on men to be the family 'breadwinner', but also allowing men to spend more time interacting with their children, therefore allowing for a better family dynamic.

In addition, feminism can enable men to become more expressive with their emotions and to feel less of a need to constantly affirm their manliness through behaviours such as unnecessary aggression, catcalling, the objectification of women and others.

By sparking crucial conversations on gender identity and masculinity, feminism can allow men to question their beliefs on what constitutes manhood, and as a result, enable them to feel more able to open up about their emotions to each other and no longer feel the need to express them as either anger or aggression.

This would have a significant effect on the number of male suicides (in 2015, 75% of all UK suicides were male), as instead of bottling up their emotions until the point where suicide seems like the only option, men would be able to talk about their feelings openly and without fear of appearing 'weak' or 'less of a man.'

However, in order for feminism to be truly effective, it is going to take us as men to make a conscious effort to change our actions and beliefs. It is going to require us to call out our mates when they attempt to touch a woman without her consent in the club, or slut-shame a woman for sleeping with more than one man, or catcall, or exhibit any other such behaviour that perpetuates misogyny.

If we make the effort, we truly can help to make the world a better place. Change doesn't start at the top, it starts at the bottom. You can make that change.

feminism

About the Creator

Gabriel Oben

Languages Student/Martial Artist/Purveyor of Prequel Memes/South London

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    Gabriel ObenWritten by Gabriel Oben

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