Putting the men in feminism

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OPS - Ed Cartoon April 1 2013-BenBuckley

By Bryan Scott
Illustration By Ben Buckley

When I consider taking on a complex task, I try to find simple solutions that may lead to an ultimate answer to the problem. Feminism is a hot topic and I feel like more men are getting in line with equal rights. I am by no means an expert on feminism, nor do I know what it is like to be a woman, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help.

As a man, its easy to forget that women have a rough go in many aspects of life that we might not think twice about. For instance, I do a lovely walk from Terminal to Main and Hastings at 3:00 a.m. regularly after work. It is a little sketchy, but I don’t feel at risk. For all of the women I work with, this isn’t a perceived option.
Feminism deals with the complex social issues that arise through the struggle for gender equality. To resolve these issues, we need not look past men, as some feminists do.

In my experience, the majority of feminists I’ve encountered acknowledge that I am a man who can be a friend in the fight and not a de facto foe. My issue lies with the feminists who claim to be open-minded and yet hold back progress by refusing to view men as equal players in the fight for equality.

Based on history as an ex-college lacrosse player, I can understand the skepticism over me as an ally. But making assumptions based on my gender and pass-time activities is no better than telling a girl in a short skirt she’s asking for it.

Recently, I went to a meeting that was discussing women’s issues at a student press conference. One young woman publically called me out, asking what I was doing at the meeting as if I were an enemy infiltrator — they didn’t need some stinkin’ man to help them nor could I benefit from the meeting, which was a real kick in the balls. I wanted to gain more knowledge of the problems that my female journopeers face, but found myself regretting going after her reaction.

There is no reason a man can’t be feminist. Everyone can be an asshole. Most men love and respect women and want what is the best for them, as defined by women.

We are a social species, and there tends to be a cascade of follow-the-leader when things are normalized. So why not accept the help of the “enemy” and find a solution together? Last time I checked, women’s issues were everyone’s issues so lets drop the fences a bit, and get rid of this archaic way of thinking.

If you are man, remember there are always things that we can never understand but if we take the time to listen, we can help make a difference. It is time to man up, speak up and show these ladies our support.

And ladies, if a man is making a genuine effort to lead our sometimes egotistical gender in the right direction, please do not steer us off that path with discouraging comments. If we’re going in the wrong direction, don’t slash our tires, give us directions (you know we won’t ask for them.)

Let’s get on the same team and even the playing field; I promise you won’t regret it.