By Rohail Spear || Contributing Writer
“I hate men.” “Men are the worst.” “Men are the reason why there are so many problems in society.”
I did not have to search social media for very long before these comments popped up. Some were captions for posts of women complaining (rightfully so) of how an old white man catcalled them today. Other images were simply of men holding up Trump signs.
As a man, I am personally offended by these comments. There is a difference between standing up for women and alienating millions of potential allies by degrading half of the human race.
If I wrote similar remarks about women, I would be criticized. And if the goal of the feminist movement is to persuade society to treat women and men equally, women should also be criticized. It is not acceptable to generalize men and act as if we all share the same thoughts. It is also not realistic. I am a feminist. I respect women. I do not appreciate being blamed for things I did not do.
Besides, from an analytical perspective, posting these comments only weakens the impact of the feminist movement. While it is true that part of the movement’s audience is women, the movement’s main audience should be men. Young girls need to be taught to stand up for themselves, but sexist men are the reason why this movement exists. Therefore, convincing those men to support the movement is the only way to achieve gender equality. By attacking your audience, not only are you forcing them to be on the defensive, but you are effectively contributing to their deafness on the topic. Your audience will not listen for the logic behind your argument: they will listen for weaknesses. They will be far less likely to support you if you degrade them.
While some feminists don’t necessarily attack men, the rest do not address their message to men. Most feminists, especially influential feminists, address their speeches and social media posts to women, advocating for “girl power” and telling women “[they] can do it.” They are primarily addressing women and educating them on how to advocate for equality. And while these lessons are important for women to learn, they are far more important for men to learn. Unfortunately, men have been completely excluded from this.
This idea is evidenced in movements such as Time’s Up and Me Too. Time’s Up identifies itself as an organization promoting “a world where everyone is… respected at work… where women have an equal shot at success,” and “where no one lives in fear of sexual harassment” (timesupnow.org). Men need to realize these ideas. Male hiring managers, for example, need to be taught how to view male and female applicants equally. While women need to understand that their application should be given the same consideration as a man’s, it is up to the hiring manager to ensure that their applications are equal.
Unfortunately, men were not addressed at all on the entire website. I could not find a picture of a man. I could not even find the words “man” or “men.” (For reference, there were numerous pictures of women giving speeches or in a group at an event. Women were addressed constantly). The website has an online shop where you can purchase Time’s Up merchandise. All of the models were female. This website, and therefore the Time’s Up movement, is effectively excluding men. Thousands of supporters, if not millions, are giving the impression that men should not be and do not need to be involved. There is even an article on the website titled “Women of Color are Leading the Way,” with a picture of a group of twenty or so women sitting in a room. The caption reads “TIME’S UP WOC is sparking critical discussions to ensure women… are in positions of power.” It is impossible to spark a critical discussion about how to create a more equal world without a single man in the room.
Men need to be having these discussions because men are part of the issue. The hiring manager should have been there to discuss how to make a change on a smaller scale. Men in the Senate and Congress should have been there to discuss how to make a change on a larger scale. Fathers should have been there to discuss how to adequately educate their sons—the future generations—on the topic. Society does not talk enough about how men should treat and advocate for women. It is simple to understand why several men do not think that they have a role in the movement: nowhere in society are they being told how to change, or even that they need to.
Metoomvmt.org was slightly more advanced in terms of including men. Although the logo is pink and most images were of women, I was able to find two images of men. In addition, the website did not as much address women as address survivors of sexual assault in general.
While it is true that women can accomplish a lot, it is a fact that women cannot accomplish everything. Women cannot single-handedly rewrite the laws that protect men from being tried in court for violating fundamental human rights such as domestic abuse or stalking. Women cannot solely pass laws advocating for equal pay. Women cannot change the mindset of billions of people by ignoring or even criticizing them. This is because for as many women as there are in government and society, there are just as many men. In this case, women need men. To build an egalitarian future for the first time in twelve thousand years, men need to be included in these discussions. Men need to be the target audience. Men need to be the priority so that they aren’t the priority anymore. For the world to change, feminism needs to change first.
First-year Rohail Spear is a contributing writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.