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Gender Equality: Why Men Need Feminism
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.
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