– Oroginally Posted on http://www.thepundamentalinsanityclause.wordpress.com on November 20 –
Typically I use this space to fill the internet with bad puns, posts about the life of a complete stranger no one likes or cares about (yeah, that’s me) and generally irksome top five lists. But as an active user of social media there’s a real issue that seems to be coming more and more to a head everyday, particular in the ‘twittisphere’ and the online world. The ‘war on gender’ is becoming real. If I log on to my twitter page right now I’d be hard pressed to scroll for a minute and not see links supporting feminist groups; tweets some would call feminist activism,- others ‘male bashing’- and of course the oft maligned and equally oft retweeted @Meninisttweets.
Many would say that we are far closer to a society of gender equality now than ever, so why has this become such a hot button issue of late? Aside from the clear fact that there is still a large gap in certain areas between respect and empathy for genders, there is no doubt the influence of social media has only put fresh wood on the fire. Now there is lots to love about the technological age’s ability to spark important debate and progress in areas of crisis and inequity. The evolution of the Arab spring and movements such as ‘Occupy’ were undoubtedly aided by social media. But feminist ‘media movements’ such as #yesallwomen have been largely blackballed. Why?
I am far from an expert in social media tracking or feminist activism, but as a lifelong theatre kid I can say that a majority of my closest friends are of the female gender (yes, stereotype, but sometimes they’re true). This gives me the somewhat unique perspective of forming a ‘bridge of the river guy’ (yes, I’ll still make some puns) in the ‘gender war.’ With some of my best friends extremely passionate about the issue I feel that I can be more sympathetic to the female side of the argument than many. However, I still found myself getting somewhat defensive when I see these ‘man hating’ posts.
I was struck by a minor epiphany recently though, as I read one of the many twitter links raising awareness and accountability for the everyday instances of catcalling, the constant bypassing of pay equity legislation and deep-rooted persecution of women in human culture. It wasn’t that my views changed, but that my thought process towards these posts clicked into place.
I vehemently support pay equity, and gender equity within the workforce, the media and executive legislation. And while I cannot firsthand attest to the impact of catcalling and persecution women face, there is no justifiable reason why myself, or any other man, has a justifiable need to make our equals feel uncomfortable or persecuted against. So I realized, that core feminist values and movements are really nothing to be afraid of or feel defensive about, but highly reasonable pleas to abide by as humankind.
So why were some of these issues hard to get behind in the past? Perhaps a lot of it is me being part of an age-old story of the over-privileged white male holding on to what wasn’t ours to begin with and not letting go until Jackie Robinson stole it back, along with second base. But more of it perhaps lies in the aggressive and often unproductive way in which these debates play out over the social medium.
In a world of anonymity in blogging, it is easy to let stretched opinions fly for the goal of entertainment and sparking controversy. Even ‘tweeters’ that carry their own name find it far easier to hide behind the screen, saying something they may not otherwise believe when talking face to face. The lack of vulnerability carried through social media sometimes reflects in poorly thought or offensive posts which are found on both sides of the ‘feminism debate.’
True feminist activists I would imagine would join me in denouncing a sizeable portion of gifs, vines and tumblr reblogs that say to ‘promote equality.’ And these certainly bother a large portion of the males that would otherwise jump on board. Now many, I myself find to be funny- not productive- but amusing. Perhaps though, the point isn’t to make your post tolerable to one who isn’t as easily offended, as it is to reach out to those who are looking for a reason to join your movement.
Now this is where we get to the highly controversial ‘meninists.’ First of all, let’s be clear, there is no such thing as a meninist ‘movement’ if the ideology centres around eating sandwiches on the couch as a birth right. I realize that many of these are meant merely as sarcasm- and I’d be hypocritical if I didn’t acknowledge that I’ve had a few chuckles at some of them- but if these are men who truly feel that these posts are fair game by virtue of women’s previous antagonization, then they are missing the point.
Any progressive thinking, or competently thinking, male would agree with core liberal feminist values. Many, including myself for a time, feel defensive when confronted by radical or ludicrous statements that stray from ideals of equality for all genders, a cease of female persecution and discrimination, and firmly practised equal work for equal pay. If feeling antagonized is the problem, then the productive way to solve it isn’t to fight back with far more ludicrous statements, it’s to reach out to those that are trying to make a positive difference.
Feminism isn’t only for women in my opinion. If being emasculated is the issue in embracing it, let the male readers refer to themselves as ‘gender equalitarians’ from this point forward. For all of the years that women have struggled for recognition and respect, ‘uncharacteristic’ males have also been subject to social stigma and persecution. Gay rights have been fought for, and achieved legislative success, but continue to be abused. Transgendered, bisexual or even physically weaker and ‘less masculine’ males have been pigeon-holed to fit a mold that they don’t want to belong to. Feminism, or ‘Gender equalitarianism,’ at it’s core is a way to set an even playing field for all humans, and eliminate divisive tendencies in gender stereo-typing, something I can certainly get behind. Can you?
Auf Wiedersehen everyone, Yakob