I’ll start this post, somewhere. I don’t know if it’s the right spot, or if I’ll be able to articulate what I want to say. I feel like I’m looking up at Mt. Everest when I start to think about what to write and where to start. As I take my third swing at writing something resembling a coherent post, I realize that this will be ongoing. I simply can’t get all my thoughts into a single post.
I’m not a self-loathing man who thinks it’s cool to dump on bros, for whatever reason – to curry female favour, pretend that I’m jumping on the bandwagon, or hell, even just looking for blog material. As a man, I feel I have a unique insight into where misogyny takes root in a boy. Being a boy whose frail frame is sixty-percent filled with a roiling vortex of hormones and insecurities, is confusing and scary. There’s no mystery here. The only thing boys fear more than boy alphas are girls. Girls can make boys on the pubescent cusp fold like a broadsheet with a smile or crumble to shards with a smirk. But boys can make a girl feel like she’s about to die. And men commit violence upon women often. Half of all women in Canada 16 years and older have been victims of physical or sexual violence. Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Even if there’s a woman out there who hasn’t been afraid walking alone, she’s been the recipient of stares, sneers and comments. Maybe uttered under bearded breath, but without a doubt about its context. Maybe she’s just been explained to, incorrectly corrected, gently pawed at, held a PhD and been called a girl, assumed to be less than she is, told to smile by some smarmy lech, etc. What I’m getting at here, my dudes, is that women are treated like shit with staggering regularity and with few consequences and men are to blame. We are not part of the problem, we are the problem.
So, if you need to ask why I would call myself a feminist man, you better ask yourself why you would even ask. There’s a pervasive answer that I’ve heard and I’m going to punch it down.
“You must be a / I’m a feminist because I have a daughter/mother/sister/wife.”
I have a wife, a daughter, female friends (imagine that, my dude) and a mom. Guess what, you don’t need an excuse to be one, nor shame for saying you’re a feminist. Just a conscience and some awareness. I’m a feminist because I’m not some vile little man turd who’s looking to blame someone else for his shortcomings or bad luck instead of working to change. I call myself a feminist because I truly believe in equal rights. I’m slowly filling with rage as I think about where some men’s minds may go as they read what I’m writing. Maybe that I’m a ‘pussy’ or I’m ‘whipped’. Something along those lines. Nah, bro, just a human who cares about other humans.
At the core, it has nothing to do with gender or the differences between men and women. It has to do with basic respect for everyone. However, there is a hierarchy of oppression that requires triage.
Sorry, dudes. You’re probably at the bottom. And if a commercial for razors that merely says “Men don’t need to be the toughest guy in the room. Nor do they need to sexually dominate and commoditize women to prove how irresistible they are. Your power doesn’t actually come from fear and intimidation” makes you feel attacked, consider that this is how most women may feel, much more often.
I’ll leave with this note for the imaginary toxic bros I’m pretending to talk to here (because who would actually read some faggy blog by some old fat guy). The sooner you realize you’re the problem, the better off we’ll all be, yourselves included.
The following is something I wrote on social media on the 29th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre that took the lives of 14 innocent women. I was looking for what has changed since 1989.
“What hasn’t changed enough is men. Misogyny is alive as much as it ever was. We now have quaint terms like ‘mansplaining’ and ‘manspreading’ for all sorts of odious man-doing that requires a quaint term to normalize the shitty behaviour of swinging dick entitlement. The obvious observation is that until men truly respect women as equals and people, there’s still a ton of work to do.
Here’s a simple workflow to employ, my fellow man-dudes, that will ensure clarity that your actions are courteous and not open to interpretation or innuendo.
Unless she’s your significant other or a family member (and even then, tread lightly), no woman wants to hear your compliments or opinions concerning any part of her body, how she looks or dresses, why she isn’t smiling or why she is.
If you don’t know her, leave her alone. Offer a smile. Be polite. Be respectful. And don’t expect a goddamn thing in return and do not play like you’re foggy with the signals you’re getting. Aim real low when you’re gauging a woman’s interest your attention.
And don’t follow women. Does that really need to be said? There, I said it.”
You’re welcome, my guy!
I hope I’m not alone in what I think. Like I said, there will be no end to posts like this, as long as the world keeps turning as it always has. But some more male voices would really be appreciated, and not just by me. Let’s hear yours, fellas. Write some comments, go to my social media and let’s chat.
It has been brought to my attention by my ‘life roommate’ whose opinion I hold highest, that I may be getting dangerously close to sounding like I’m speaking for women, when at best, I can only assume how a woman feels about anything. So, I hope I’m not coming off as explaining the female experience. I would never knowingly do that, but I also know that some amount of toxic male behaviour stems from innocent ignorance and a lack of information. So, I leave judgements up to my female readers to determine if this is just what I’ve done. If so, I apologize. And I’ll continue to keep my ears open and learn more from you.