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Gender Equality: Why Men Need Feminism

Updated on December 27, 2013

Seneca Falls

The Seneca Falls Convention of July 19–20, 1848
The Seneca Falls Convention of July 19–20, 1848 | Source

Feminism: A Brief History

There have been key women in history who have pushed the ideas of gender equality long before the "First Wave of Feminism" occurred. The "First Wave", however, started a movement that helped to spread the ideology that women should have a voice in political matters. Women began to realize that they needed to be able to vote in order to truly have representation regarding women's issues.

The "Second Wave" happened in the 1960s. A woman by the name of Betty Friedan wrote a book titled "The Feminine Mystique". The book helped to raise awareness of the inequality between husbands and wives within the home. This wave, combined with the sexual revolution allowed a freedom for women to explore their sexuality outside of marriage and, with the introduction of the birth control pill, allowed women to control whether or not they were ready to bear children.

The "Third Wave" of the 1990s brought about the idea that a woman can choose to look sexy and still be taken seriously. Wearing lipstick and push up bras should not automatically negate intelligence. Equal pay and equal opportunity have also been a key focus and continue to be.

It's time to rethink masculinity.
It's time to rethink masculinity. | Source

Why Should Men Embrace Feminism?

Feminism is defined as: The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

Being a feminist does not mean you hate men. It does not mean that you believe men are dispensable. Being a feminist simply means that you believe men and women should be treated as equals. As long as women have been fighting for equality, there have been those in opposition trying to portray feminism as a negative thing. They say that the equality between men and woman will bring about the downfall of the family. Men who are raised around those who promote this ideology are often chastised if they try to practice equality in their own homes. They may deal with being belittled for "allowing their wives to wear the pants". This ideology is taught early. It begins with teaching our little boys that, because they are boys, they are not permitted to cry. They have to be tough. They can't be sensitive. More subtly, we separate the boys from the girls from the beginning by the colors they wear, decorating themes, the toys they play with, and the programs they watch. As they grow, their masculinity is always in question, always having to prove their "manhood". Being compared to anything feminine is an insult worth fighting over.

Because of the way many in society force this idea of masculinity on our boys, our boys are in much greater danger of suffering from low self esteem as well as other psychological issues they feel they cannot talk about. Because these boys believe that opening up and sharing their feelings is something reserved only for girls, they are also in greater danger of committing suicide. Those who survive the teenage years and move into manhood still have to deal with criticism from society if they are not playing the role that is expected of them. So again, they end up with self esteem issues. This can have a devastating effect on their relationships or marriages. Feeling as though they are supposed to be the provider of the family, when something happens that prevents them from being able to accomplish this, they are less likely to be content with switching roles with their partner. It can cause an inner "masculinity crisis" causing them to feel like less of a man rather than a helpful, equal partner.

The Mask You Live In - The Representation Project

So, How Do We Raise Our Boys to Embrace Feminism?

Raising boys to embrace feminist ideals in today's world is not as easy as you would think. Media is full of examples that will teach them otherwise. There are shows, however, that will allow our kids to see the "non-traditional" family as a positive thing such as Modern Family. Shows such as these are gaining popularity and doing a lot to change the perspective of those who watch them. It allows them to compare these families to their own and see that they are not so different.

A lot of young couples today are making the decision to raise their children in a gender neutral environment. This often raises eyebrows as there are plenty of misconceptions regarding this type of parenting. Not subjecting your kids to a dichotomy that says girls must be feminine and boys must always be masculine will not cause them to be confused about their sexuality. It also doesn't mean that you never let your boys play with cars and dinosaurs and your girls may never play with dolls. What it will do is allow your boys to explore their "feminine" side without feeling as though there is something wrong with it. It will teach your girls that they can be anything they want to be.

Allow your boys to express their feelings. Let them know it is OK to cry. Show them there is value in an equal partnership and that parenting is not just for Mommies and work is not just for Daddies. Lead by example. Let them explore interests that society may label as for girls such as music, drama, dancing, art. If they are not interested in sports, let them know that is perfectly ok.

Teach equality while they are young and it will stay with them as they grow into adulthood. We need more of this. Much more.

By: Traci Ruffner

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      Kelli 3 years ago

      Great post!

    • Amariah profile image

      Angel Amariah 3 years ago

      awesome

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      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      I really love the ideas you bring forth in this hub. I think it's a shame that boys are still taught that there are certain jobs that are only "for the girls", that men aren't supposed to cry, and so on. I truly believe that each person on this earth should follow their own dreams even if in doing so they're stepping outside of the boundaries of what a lot of people consider the traditional roles. And to not show emotions is ridiculous! As you said, it leads to more pain and heartache because they keep it bottled up inside. You did a wonderful job presenting the information and I hope more people learn to live this way.

    • Traci Ruffner profile image
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      Traci Ruffner 3 years ago from Raleigh, North Carolina

      Thank you Sheila! I appreciate your feedback a lot =)

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      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub Traci, and I really agree with the new idea of raising children in a gender neutral household. My son and his wife have all boys (three), but they refuse to let them have any gift that is in any way feminine. If we buy a gift for instance that has any pink on it they will hand it back. The boys have grown the same mentality, anything pink, "yuck that's girly". This is totally wrong as far as I'm concerned but I can't change them. Voted up.

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      George McFly 2 years ago

      Men and women do not need Feminism.

      Feminism as a dictionary definition is fine. This is not how it is actively used in respect to Feminist policies. In fact it is anything but equal.

      Feminism has not done a single thing to redress any area in society where there is a disparity between men and women, whereby the women get preferential or advantageous treatment.

      Feminism teaches and is based on a belief system that women throughout history have been marginalised by men by a mythical entity call Patriarchy and that they are up against it, and unfairly treated in society. They are disempowered and disenfranchised, with no agency in life.

      It is a giant con.

      Women do not need this. Women have agency and choices. They can choose where they want to direct their efforts and ought to be supported when they do. So should men. Neither gender is oppressed nor short on rights and what they chose and the life they lead is dependent on their own agency. They are accountable for the result of their actions and if they are not getting were they want in life or they have failures in life or they feel up against it or unsafe or marginalised, then ALL people from time t time feel this. Life is not easy or simple. It is often unforgiving and harsh. That is not because of your gender or because of a Patriarchy and not because everyone else has it better. The game is not rigged against you.

      An adult has to take responsibility for their own position. This is empowerment. Feminism is not. Feminism is taught victimhood and entitlement. That is not equality or empowerment.

      Women ought not have anything to do with such a toxic ideology and men certainly should shun it too. Both should disassociate from it and hope it dies.

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      Henry 2 years ago

      The problem is that there is an enormous gulf between the THEORY of what feminism is allegedly about (the dictionary definition) and the PRACTICE of what feminism really is and does in reality.

      It is quite easy to demonstrate what I mean. You see, when your movement claims that it is simply fighting for equality with men, not special privileges above and beyond what men have, no silly, just equality, then your movement needs to explain why it still exists in the western world now that women have had all the same rights as men for quite some time now in addition to some female-specific special privileges on top of that which no man will ever have. Point me towards even ONE law in the U.S. for example which discriminates against women in favor of men. I hear crickets chirping. When you have already achieved all the same rights as men yet you still keep on playing the victim card to try to milk further gender-specific concessions out of society, guess what? You're making it pretty damned obvious to anyone with more than 2 brain cells to rub together that equality isn't nearly good enough for you, that you're a female supremacist movement unconvincingly dressed up as one that's "fighting for equality". (For crying out loud, even the movement's very NAME gives away its purpose. If it was fighting for equality it would be called egalitarianism or humanitarianism or something quite a bit less narrowly gender-specific.)

      If feminism TRULY was about fighting for equality rather than being a one-sided gynocentric superiority movement then ask yourselves why it constantly pooh-poohs any problems or injustices that aren't 100% exclusively about women. Ask yourself why it makes no effort at all to redress any of the imbalances that favor women over men.

      For example, where is the feminist activity on the issue of women being sentenced to 60% less prison time for the same crimes as a man? Why isn't feminism demanding that women be held to the same standard of adult responsibility as a man who committed the same crime? Why is your movement content with such an egregious disparity in sentencing? Oh yeah, because it is a disparity that favors women over men, whereas if the situation was reversed with men getting let off with 60% less prison time than a female you bet your ass it would be a feminist priority.

      Where is feminism's activism about the issue of women getting awarded custody in about 90% of child custody cases? To the extent that the woman would have to just about be a practicing prostitute or a heroin addict in order for the man to be given custody. Funny but this doesn't seem to make it onto feminists' radar either, I wonder why...

      Why has feminism remained silent about the huge discrepancy in funding for male homeless shelters versus female homeless shelters? When the overwhelming majority of homeless people are men rather than women, why on earth should men's shelters get short shrift compared to female shelters? This clearly isn't a problem for your imaginary "patriarchial" government which routinely ignores men's issues in favor of women's issues so why isn't feminism, the movement you never tire of telling us is not gynocentric but all-inclusive, fighting for equality not female supremacy, doing a damned thing to bring this to society's attention? You can bet any amount of money if the situation was reversed with the homeless population being mostly female it would be a crisis of Biblical proportions, worthy of the government declaring a "war on homelessness" to solve it. Why is the feminist movement just as disinterested in this matter as the government?

      Why is feminism content with men still having to pay alimony in 2014? Aren't you the same ladies who constantly tell us how women are just as good as men, just as capable and just as independent? Then why the hell should a man have the responsibility of paying for the upkeep and lifestyle of his former spouse on an indefinite basis? Why did this issue only make it onto feminists' radar (in Florida) when the infinitesimally small amount of women paying alimony to THEIR former spouses inched up a tiny bit while still remaining a mouse fart compared to men's alimony payments? Where is feminism's indignation that these supposedly liberated, independent women are entitled to being supported by a man that isn't even living with them any longer? Why don't you see this as an enormous insult and indignation? Oh yeah, because I suppose the convenience of getting a monthly check in the mail assuages your little feelings of shame and dependency, right? So long as it works in women's favor instead of men's it's perfectly OK with the feminist movement.

      Where is feminism's concern with the issue of men committing suicide at rates astronomically higher than women? You know if the numbers were reversed there would be a colossal shitstorm until we got the numbers of women killing themselves back down to acceptable levels but yet with the numbers being what they are this, unsurprisingly, isn't an issue feminists will lift a finger to work on.

      And I have yet to hear a single feminist push for women having to register for the draft. Why does a man have to register at age 18 or else he isn't entitled to any of the benefits of society, can't vote, can't collect Social Security when he's old etc. yet no woman has to register for the draft in order to enjoy any of that? Why are feminists content to let women avoid adult responsibilities that men can never avoid? Oh yeah, because it isn't a movement about equality at all but rather female supremacy, the same reason why the KKK never pushes for anything aside from matters that affect white people. As despicable as they are at least they're honest enough to not pretend to be fighting for racial equality.

      Or what about the biggest double standard on the face of the earth? By this I mean the elective abortion/mandatory child support issue. Let's say a woman gets pregnant accidentally, neither her nor her partner intended for it to happen. If the man wants to be a daddy to that unexpected kid but the woman doesn't want any parts of it she's going to go to the abortion clinic and get that unborn human dismembered and sucked out of her uterus without having broken a single law in the process. That man will now be the proud daddy to a bloody little pile of severed arms and legs. But if the situation is reversed and the woman wants to keep the baby but the dad doesn't want any parts of being a daddy? Tough tittie, he's on the hook for 18 years of child support payments for a kid he will never see. The law simply doesn't allow him to act like an irresponsible piece of shit at least not without facing the penalty of jail time for his irresponsibility. The law holds that man to his responsibility, forces him to act like a grown adult and take responsibility for his actions. Whereas the law makes no effort whatsoever to force the woman to act like an adult and take responsibility for HER actions, no, instead it lets her dance away from the consequences of her actions without a care in the world. When the man's irresponsibility results in the woman not getting a monthly check in the mail and that's illegal yet the woman's irresponsibility results in the death of another human being (the unborn human) and yet THAT is LEGAL?? Are you effing kidding me?? This has to be the most horrific double standard the world has ever seen, yet I guarantee you that if anyone was to start pushing for ending mandatory child support payments or tying the continuance of legal abortion to the ending of mandatory child support it would be the feminitwits who would be leading the charge to make sure things remain as one-sided as they are now. When the woman is allowed to act like a magical sparkly princess with no more responsibility than a child even though her irresponsibility and immaturity results in a human being's death and the man isn't even allowed to skip out on child support payments for a kid he never sees, clearly this abortion/child support situation can be called nothing less than overt female supremacy. Not equality between the sexes. Not egalitarianism. Overt, in-your-f

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      George McFly 2 years ago

      Absolutely correct.

      I find it amazing that you pooint out that Feminism is a toxic little ideology and they say "No, it is a sweet equslity thing". You point out that it isn't because of how it is driving inequality against males. They will then pretend your examples are one off exceptions to the rule. Show that it isn't, like you have done and they will do either of three things 1) Say "Yes that may all be true but we still have it worse....no actual quantifi=able reasons why - generally a bad case of the "feels", 2) It makes too much sense and goes against their ideology and so they pretend you said nothing and hope the next person does not bring it up, 3) Say something about payback for centuries of Patriarchy. (You know Patriarchy, that secret club us men apparently belong to with secret decoder rings and monthly meetings in secret club houses where we conspire against all women of the world and trade male privilege points with each other?)

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      Anon 2 years ago

      Feminists groups in Sweden, Germany and Australia are campaigning to prevent men from peeing whilst standing up. This is not a marginal group either, they were able to get a law drawn up to do this.

      http://www.thelocal.se/20120611/41358

      There are two types of feminists, those who believe in equity (equity feminists) and those who believe in fighting for female rights+privileges at any cost (gender feminists). The second type uses constructs like patriarchy theory and rape culture to convince the first type that they are actively oppressed despite most societal indicators among the millennial generation favoring women. This includes graduation rates, grades for single persons without children and pay.

      Any feminist that challenges the constructs used, such as Christina Hoff Sommers, is branded an anti-feminist. (I'm using Sommers' classification scheme for the types of feminists.) As such, I consider myself to be an anti-feminist in protest of both the continued usage of gendered terms (mansplaining, heforshe, women's party) by feminists, in protest of the ousting of feminists who support truly addressing men's issues and in general protest of the form the existent movement has taken.

      Another interesting thing to note is that, in the US, the majority of the population agrees with the concept of gender equality. However, only about 20% of the population (16% of men, 23% of women) label themselves feminists. This has recently alarmed feminists, leading to Watson's complaint during the unveiling of the heforshe movement. I include these statistics because gender feminists too often rely on shaming tactics and awareness of the lack of support for feminists should undercut these tactics, forcing feminists to actually rely on well constructed arguments.

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