I find this topic especially timely given the recent interview Pharrell Williams gave the UK’s Channel 4 News.
Pharrell, who was behind hits like “Happy”, “Get Lucky” and the kind-of rapey “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke said:
I’ve been asked, am I a feminist? I don’t think it’s possible for me to be that…I’m a man. It makes sense up until a certain point. But what I do is—I do support feminists. I do think there’s injustices. There are inequalities that need to be addressed.
So when I ran across “Why would men support feminism?” on What’s Wrong With Equal Rights?, I was intrigued. The author opens the piece by asserting that there’s literally no reason men wouldn’t want to support feminism:
They wanted a free pass out of traditional masculine responsibilities to bear the sole burden of financial support for a family and traditional male duties such as all male conscription.
Whoa. That’s a bit of a head trip.
I grew up with the idea that feminists were rabid man haters, but I have to say, this is my first experience with the strong misandry/misogyny subtext in the Traditional Women’s Rights movement. In fact, this my first experience with that movement at all.
The blog goes on to say that men support feminism because they want free and easy sex, and that traditionally masculine men are hard to find. The blog says:
Other men, it seems, simply don’t know how to be real men because they’ve never been shown any positive example of what it means to be a man growing up. They grew up with dominant mothers, weak fathers and the media that shows incompetent men and successful career women who can fight just as good or better than any man.
According to the blog:
A woman should never be left in the position where she is desperate and vulnerable and feels no other choice than to cry wolf. Women should always be under the protection and authority of men.
There are real and true duties that mean owe to women.
I know that it’s been said that feminists are “entitled”, that they are seeking “special treatment”…but this is the most blatant example of a request for special treatment that I have ever seen.
Women need men to protect them, and men owe them that protection. There are duties that they owe women?
Give me a break.
It might surprise this blog, but men who are feminists often describe their commitment to the movement much different. According to John Brougher at CNN, in “I’m a male feminist. No seriously”:
And even though sexism doesn’t always cry out at the shrill pitch It once did, even though attacks on women can be increasingly subtle, men still have a crucial role to play.
Not only do we help create the inequality, gender norms, and messages that hurt and objectify women, but critically, we suffer from its barbs as well.
In a world that blames victims of rape, not rapists, our societies fundamentally don’t value the humanity of half of us.
In a world that pays women far less than men for the same work (or denies women the opportunity to work at all), we ignore the possible contributions of countless leaders and entrepreneurs.
Hell, in a world that valorizes men who sleep around while shaming and seeking to control female sexual power, relationships of all kinds are stunted by false, inhuman understanding of who and what men and women are.
Sexism doesn’t just hurt women, it breaks our very humanity.
And ultimately, that’s why I’m a feminist. Because women deserve to be treated as equal human beings, and it hurts every single one of us when that’s not the case.
I know it’s hard for someone with a narrow construct of gender roles to believe that men could, in fact, want more than just sex. It’s hard to believe that men could yearn for an emotional experience that is more authentic. It’s difficult to understand that men could want to move away from competitiveness to collaboration. That they could put aside a desire to conquer and try to achieve partnership. That they could want to do something other than control.
But it’s true.
The narrow construct of gender roles is damning. It’s captivity not just for women, but for men also.
True freedom comes only from a place of true equality.