**This article also ran in The Good Men Project, which you can find here**
“Paradoxically, those most likely to be shamed by this kind of Feminism were not the boorish, violent and openly prejudiced members of society; but rather many more mild-tempered characters who were very keen not to offend, and yet could see that some of their impulses might, if admitted to freely, cause sudden unwitting offense to the people whose friendships and respect they sought.”
On my last post I promised that I would talk about concepts and strategy instead of rhetoric and sensationalism. This is my attempt to fulfill that promise, because what the quote above me explains is the trap that most men fall into.
I found the clearest explanation through the Book of Life’s article Beyond Feminism (where all the quotes come from). A lot of men, as allies, as friends, and as lovers of women want to embrace the call of Feminism and empower the females in our lives. Yet when we do, the many theories, and think pieces lay the blame squarely at our feet.
The first time this blame shift happens, as an allied male it can feel a bit annoying and a little patronizing. Maybe you think about it for a bit in a little bubble of grief, or you want to speak out with sentences that begin with “But…” or “What if…” The rationale being that you want to help, you’re not the one oppressing women. Not only that, you want to empathize with women’s struggles with our pain, forgetting that we have never really felt a women’s true pain. So women tell you this when you bring up male related issues, and in many cases you feel silenced. This can feel infuriating. Now if you don’t follow the next few steps, this might get a lot harder for you, and maybe you’ll fall into the clutches of Men Rights Activist groups which in my eyes fall in the same spectrum as the All Lives Matter people. The me-first ideals that is reactionary to social movement.
(Remember, no one started All Lives Matter before Black Lives Matter. No one started MRA groups before modern feminism came along. This is all reactionary and amoral).
The barrier becomes, how do we separate our feelings of guilt, blame, and selfishness to help the women that are around us? How do we remove that part inside of you taking it personal, and be an energy of positivity? How do we stop this anger brewing at the people that are blaming you? You, of all people who want to help.
The first step is to be thankful.
The work that wonderful women and the people who support them have done since the 60’s and even before that has given males a sliver of release of the masculine strangle hold that has be prevalent for a long, long time. Because of feminism, we’re now allowed to think about our masculinity, and question it. The concept that men have to be providers-the bacon bringers, muscular, confident, silent, stiff upper lip person lest someone thinks you’re a woman or a homosexual (That masculinity also taught us to think that women and homosexuals were something less that males). The man who only cries when his father dies, or because his favorite sports team lost. The man who teaches his son to be dominant in the playground, lest he be mistaken for a weakling. The man who was told that sex and relationships are two different things, and something not be talked about in a meaningful way. Those concepts of manliness are all being taken to task.
Even though, a lot of people want some so called manly values back, in half-hearted ways to reach back to our primitive selves.
(I believe it’s to mainly want their beards and their leather, and their outdoors back. Listen, I like all those things too. Raw denim jeans, plaid, outdoorsy hiking, with the whiskey, and the craft beer. Getting dirty, and building something with your bare hands. All those things appeal to me. But are they purely manly things?)
It is a good time to say “That’s not me, and I’m fine with that.” Feminism allowed that. Be thankful.
I understand the part of taking offense, I was there too. I had conversations with many people complaining that I don’t feel included in the conversation. Even though I want to be. My advice is don’t take it personal and don’t interject. Women don’t need to hear your thoughts, yet. Not yet. Wait til they ask for it. The reason why this is a tough pill to swallow is because as men we’re not used to this. Masculinity has told us to be confident men with all the answers. Answers that should be given without hesitation, lest other men think you don’t know anything. Men though, should be able to talk about what they know, the problem is that we don’t know about our concept of manhood, so this is a good time to reflect and think about your own concept of what being a man is like, for you.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Why do you do certain ‘manly’ things? (eg. sports, drink, fight etc.)
- Who told you to do that?
- Who allowed you to be a ‘man’?
- Who in your life was allowed to be angry?
- What do other males do that make you upset? And why?
One of the main concepts of Feminism is that it’s not JUST about the advancement of women in modern society. It’s about everyone being KIND to each other. Kindness is the key.
“Though it may seem as if its concerns have been the rights and the position of women, Feminism has in its very essence arguably always been focused on a prior and much grander goal: Kindness.”
How does Feminism accomplish this? Understand and recognize that we haven’t been so kind to women in a long, long, time. Therefore we haven’t been kind to each other, including other males. Women are the teachers of feminism and the men are the ones been given the lesson and to spread it to other males. A flip of what is the traditional norm, which makes a lot of males uncomfortable, hence why you see the backlash. But know that it’s not the most important facet of feminism. Kindness is, and in all forms. That is the goal.
Trust me, it takes time and meditation, and self-care. I know I have work to do myself on this, but maybe we can chat about it. I’m all ears.