“The biggest detriment to Feminism has been its alliance with the Battle of the Sexes”
One could make the usual complaints about how Feminism fails to gain male allies through its misrepresentation by extreme Feminists, the fact that there are many definitions or that the name Feminism doesn’t lend itself to the idea of equality. All of these reasons however don’t actually deal with the real life situation in which men actively push back on Feminist agendas.
I was watching an interview with US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who detailed some of the sexist behaviour she had experienced at the hands of her colleagues in Congress. She touched on issues of equal pay, college campus sexual assaults and how hard it has been to pass a bill addressing sexual assaults in the military. Then it hit me. The reason men get defensive on such issues, is simply because they feel attacked.
Now this isn’t a sob story on men feeling bullied by feminists. In fact it is far from it, so don’t stop reading feminists. All i’m saying is, if you want to understand why there aren’t more male allies on these issues, you have to understand a male concept I’ve detailed many times on this blog, and that is teamwork.
Men thrive on teamwork and competition. I’m just stating that, and will not go into studying whether it is true or not. I think statistics on sports, business, the military or simple personal observation can clear that up for you. What is often highlighted in competitiveness though is a lack of empathy, care and cutthroat ruthlessness. That’s where the mistake is. Being competitive doesn’t mean you don’t care. It simply means you may not care about your opponents. Men selectively distribute their care in times of competition and it only goes as far out as the team. When a team celebrates a victory they don’t take a second to empathise with how bad the other team must feel. Each person is just happy for their team mates. When men show each other footage of their exploits with women, no man stands there and argues that it must be embarrassing for the girl if she finds out that her intimate moments are being shared. They simply live vicariously through their friend and they are genuinely happy for the guy. Through teamwork and competitiveness men are conditioned to be OK with the suffering of others as long as it translates to the success of their team. (This is not to say men cannot empathise outside of their team, but I’ll address that soon).
The title of the article is a bit of a misnomer, because men actually do care about feminist issues, they just don’t care about them in the way they are currently presented. Most men don’t care about equal pay, because if they did, it wouldn’t be an issue in society anymore. However, if a man and his loving wife sit down to do their finances and she mentions that in her office, she is paid less than her male peers, he will go to hell and back for her. That is because the teams are no longer men vs. women, it’s now his family team vs. the company.
Let’s take another example; victim blaming. If you tell most men that some girl at a party, got drunk, flirted with a guy, then had sex and reported that she had been raped in the morning, most men will get defensive. That is because most men will play that scenario with themselves as the man and think of how easy it is to find themselves in the same situation. They’ll think back to some time they had drunken sex and imagine the horror of the woman saying he took advantage of her, in the morning. He will exonerate himself and will seek to do so for the man in the original story. Now, lets say it’s the same story, except a man is told his sister has been raped. The chances are he is no longer going to ask what she was wearing or if she had been drinking. He will automatically become his sister’s ally in the situation and be ready to detach testicles from anyone deemed to be a suspect.
I am of the opinion that the biggest detriment to Feminism has been its alliance with the Battle of the Sexes. In the minds of many men, Feminism is equal to “boys” vs. “girls” and so in that situation, men become OK with the suffering of women. Men can detach themselves from the suffering as long as they can maintain power and privilege. It will probably hurt the pride of many women to admit this but women need men (and vice versa). Going to war with men was never a good idea, as it results in bloody battles and no one ever wins.
Gender issues have a unique opportunity that you don’t find in race. You know when white people say that silly phrase “I’m not racist, I have plenty of black friends”? Ever wondered why men don’t say “I’m not sexist, I have plenty of female friends”? It’s because there’s no need. A racist white person can go their whole life never caring for a black person or even interacting with one and it’ll be OK. All men already have at least a mother. Then on top of that, they may have a sister, daughter, female cousin, female friend, girlfriend or wife. The chances are that most men already have a woman in their life that they care about. If a man can go through all of the above and still not care about issues that may affect those women in his life, then we’re dealing with a sociopath.
I feel like the secret lesson we refuse to learn is that we were made for each other. If men and women went to bat for each other more and more, the team structure would change and feminist issues, would become human issues. MRA (Men’s Rights Activist) issues would become human issues. I mean it in both ways, not as a competition for who is more afflicted. That way you can drop the whole attitude that says only your struggles matter, whilst you belittle the grievances of others and be surprised when the same is done to you. Men are supposed to feel protective of women, and women need to stop making men feel stupid when they exhibit this. If anything, women should welcome this sentiment and also protect men.
In addition, I’m not saying men are incapable of empathising with people outside of their immediate family. I’m just saying family is the most obvious team a man has. However, men add people to their team everyday for various reasons including shared interest, shared experience or inexplicable bonding. The easiest way to make a man empathise is to become like family. That is why through the shared experience of slavery, murder, torture and rape, a culture was born amongst African Americans of referring to themselves as brothers and sisters. This came at a time when black people needed to be reminded that they were not each other’s enemies, despite the efforts of their oppressors, and were in fact all in the same boat and all on the same team. On top of all that, if you do want an example of what happens when you change the teams, consider the fact that there were white people who died in the struggle, on the Freedom Buses. For them, the teams were not black vs. white anymore. They had risen above that to be on the side of love against hate.
Even many ancient cultures will tell you that the male and female energies must be harnessed for harmony and balance. This will involve each person, playing their part, not pulling each other down from playing theirs. Men and women are like shoes. As a pair they are equal and opposite. They are not interchangeable, they are both needed. Unfortunately though, in today’s society, they are constantly trying to stay one step ahead of each other, so one can feel Right and the other can feel Left behind.
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