First, it seems important to speak about me, as I know this is going to be the first thing people judge when reading this post. I am an American male, who identifies as someone who believes that everyone (including women) should be able to live how they want, free from the oppression of others. I am current with the debate through traditional and social media, and generally being the type of person who ensures that his own opinions are complex enough to contradict each other sometimes. Nor do I feel that I have all the right answers (who does?), only opinions informed from a life studying philosophy and psychology. With this out of the way, these are some things that I feel feminists, everybody actually, should hear concerning feminism/ equalism.
1.There is no best way to be a woman (or man).
The point of the feminist movement, as I know it at least, is about removing barriers for women and allowing them to live the type of life they choose, not about telling people how to live their life. There is no ultimately correct way to live (e.g., Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir), and telling others how to live is fundamentally what the movement is working against. This means if you want to be a stay at home mom (or dad!), or a female astronaut, that is perfectly legitimate. It is important to note that, if (any)one intentionally goes into a culture and violates their norms (e.g., wearing a short skirt in a Muslim nation, wearing a hajib in the US), one must be aware that they will encounter resistance, though these actions can, of course, be undertaken ‘for the greater good,’ (suffering inspires others to act). We cannot force change on anyone any more than we would accept them trying to force change on us, the movement is simply about removing barriers for people to live how they desire.
2. Perhaps tradition is evil, but men are not.
The situation today is the result of exactly that, tradition. Unfortunately, someone must create the children or eggs. The fact that females took care of the children before modern times is probably a result of females also being the one in which the infant is ‘created.’ Now that technology has enabled us to ease the burden of childcare and running a household, we are working together to remove the limitations placed up women (and men!). While we are removing these limitations, it is important to recognize our (biological) history, whether or not it is innate, and its effects on modern culture rather than demonizing men by saying they are intentionally keeping women down (which is indeed a common criticism and one feminism would do well to address).
3. Women do not Always get the short end of the stick.
It would go a long way toward removing this idea that feminism is demonizing men if the movement made more effort to address those instances where it is empirically worse to be a man. Nobody is saying that there are not negative aspects of being a female, but there are also negative aspects of being a male as well. For instance, it is an empirical fact that males are more likely to die young, to go to prison (and get harsher prison sentences), to end up with a mental illness, and to more likely end up homeless. Simply put, men are at the top, but they are also at the bottom. Male parental rights are also a major area where the movement gets criticism. Simply put, men have no say in whether they become a parent or not (in the case of an accidental pregnancy). For instance, if a male wants a child and the female does not, it (the child) is aborted, but if the male does not want a child and the female does, he cannot stop it and is forced to pay child support, even if the child is the result of the man being raped (!!!!). Let me repeat: a man can be raped, and then forced to pay 18 years child support. That is unfair no matter how you look at it. While men perhaps have higher paying jobs, this is changing (new studies indicate more females are graduating from university than men) and it will largely benefit the adoption of feminist ideals for the movement to also work toward removing the negative aspects of being male (or to increase the negative for women, but less suffering all around seems preferable to me).
4. Relationships are about give and take.
Sometimes we have to do things for our partners that we don’t want to. Regardless of whether the male sex drive is innate or the result of socialization, a female simply cannot phenomenologically understand the sexual urges a man experiences, similar to the way a male cannot phenomenologically understand the emotional urges females have (which is why females fight for emotional support and males fight for sex). Hundreds of studies suggest that males and females differ in the amount of sex and emotional support they desire from a partner. I can understand a women not desiring to have sex at a particular moment and I believe she should have a right to say no. On the other hand, I can also understand a man not desiring to talk about something emotional at a particular moment and he should also have a right to say no. It is unfair to deny males the ‘extra’ sexual support they desire while also expecting the ‘extra’ emotional support females desire. Especially getting a male sexually aroused and then leaving is similar (though phenomenologically incomparable) to getting a female emotionally aroused and then leaving. It is simply not something one should do to someone they truly care about.
5. Men also suffer from the media’s idealizations.
Simply put, it is no easier to be Ryan Gosling than it is to be Emma Stone. Perhaps males are not influenced to the same degree (we can debate about this in the comments; idealizations demand different things), but that men are idealized is unquestionable. I would find it hard to take seriously anyone who suggests that Twilight or 50 Shades of Gray do not contain romanticized (idealized) male characters. Video games and comics also have their share of idealized males (e.g., Superman, Batman, and Spiderman). I agree that females have greater demands placed upon their beauty, but let us admit that males have greater demands placed upon the goods they keep around them (e.g., car, house, accessories). While we could make an argument that body transformations are more harmful for health, there is no doubt that both behaviors are considerably self-destructive and it does little good to argue about who has it worse. It is simply an empirical difference in what the genders desire from a partner (though again, we are working to change this).
6. Real change will not happen until people are willing to suffer for the cause.
This is actually for anyone who wants to change the world. Look at changes in thought throughout history (e.g., religious, political, scientific), almost none have been successful without significant suffering, and real change often comes at the expense of a particular leader’s life (e.g., Socrates, Jesus, Ghandi, Lincoln, MLK, Quảng Đức, Bin Laden) and change oftentimes comes decades, or even centuries, after that leader dies. There is little reason to believe that the equal rights movement is any different. Indeed, some have suffered (e.g., Woolf, Monroe, abortion doctors, female engineering students), but it is only when many (the majority of) people are willing to suffer that real change will occur.
So, I guess those were the main things I wanted to say. Join the conversation below with your agreement or disagreement, I hope you’ve found value in reading these 6 things I want to point out about feminism and the feminism movement. Find me on Facebook or Twitter for more.