I’ve been thinking a lot on what I wanted to say on this topic for quite some time. There are a great many ways I could go with my thoughts, experience and understanding. I could talk about what I know about Feminism, the plight of the modern woman in society and the obstacles they face. I could easily speak on the side of men, showing both the follies and foibles, and those who stand true in the face adversity. I think, however, I am going to delve into the math.
Wait a minute… math? WTF does MATH have to do with Feminism? I heard you, despite the distance and our two computer screens. Take a look at the title of this post. Notice that little symbol between the two hashtags? If you will remember from your early algebra lessons, you will recall that it stands for “Does Not Equal”. That’s right, the title of this post is Feminism Does Not Equal Man Hating.
I think our culture hit a speed bump when it passed the 19th amendment. For over 71 years the Women’s Suffrage movement worked to gain women an equal footing with men. In 1919 the 19th amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote and in 1920 it was ratified making it part of the Constitution. And that was it. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying nothing happened, but that was one of the truly biggest movements, until the 1960’s and then… what? Name a massive movement of people marching on Washington D.C., petitioning, debating for women’s rights? I didn’t think so.
I am not saying that the movement stopped, what I am saying is that our country seemed to take an attitude of “Oh, women can vote now. Our work is done.” And for the past 50 to 60 years, not a lot more has been done to promote women’s rights. In recent years the topic has come to a head because of another, more insidious act: sexual assault and harassment.
Sparked, perhaps, because of outrage in the military, or a consensus that enough is enough among our culture, sexual assault has brought the rights of women to the forefront. With the increased awareness around these acts, the drum beat of Feminism has been picked up once again, and it’s not a bad thing. These topics need to be brought out in our society. They need to be talked about, discussed, debated and considered. Without discussion, no true change can really happen. It’s like that person in the office with bad breath, if no one says anything about it, you’ll still smell it.
With that little bit of history lesson, and if it was too much I apologize, I really was working to keep it neat, concise and to the point, we can move on to the meat and potatoes of what I want to say. Men, the feminist movement does not mean that every man is public enemy number one. Slow your roll, don’t get defensive. When you see hashtags on Twitter like #YesAllWomen I want you to apply some of those algebra skills you learned in Junior High School.
Many times, we like to think in logical terms: if A+B=C then B+C=D. If my friend has a garage, he probably owns a car and therefore has a house, a wife and children. Logic is a great thing, it allows us to make assumptions when we do not have all of the facts. These discussions are one time when we need to stop making assumptions. The #YesAllWomen hashtag refers to the fact that, at one point in their lives, all women have experienced sexual harassment, unwanted touching or outright assault. Many times when men see this, they automatically become defensive and state that “I’ve never done that!” This has birthed the #NotAllMen topic.
It is natural for a person, when they feel accused of something, especially by being part of a broad group based upon such things as gender, race or nationality, to defend themselves. Feminism is not that time. I believe that the majority of the problem comes down to the fact that we divide far too often than we include. We look at the idea of Feminism as a division between women and men, when in reality it affects all of us.
Let me lay some statistical knowledge out for you:
All statistics come from RAINN – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
- Every two minutes an American is sexually assaulted
- Every year approximately 237,868 people are victims of sexual assault
- 1 out of every 6 women has been a victim of rape in her lifetime
- 1 in 33 men have been victims of rape
- 60% of all sexual assaults go unreported
Sexual assault is not a feminism issue, it is not a male issue; it is a human issue. I would like for us, men and women, to attempt to diffuse the topic. It becomes so charged when we divide across the line of gender. It is something that touches each and every one of us, no matter what our sex may be.
I ask this: Men, when you see the word Feminism, do not equate it with the differences between men and women. Look at it as topic that affects humanity as a whole. No one is immune from harassment or assault. It is a violation of our basic right to live freely. It is a degradation of our society and values.
I also ask: Women, when men become defensive, do not immediately draw a line in the sand. Educate them, show them that this issue affects us all. Talk with them, discuss, and most of all listen. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Remember that the only way to truly change someone’s mind is to present them with a well-thought-out argument, evidence and discussion.
I try to keep my posts light-hearted, entertaining and fun. This topic has been gnawing at me for quite some time, so it had to be discussed. I hope that, even in some small way, it has given you a chance to consider stepping out of the divided landscape and into an understanding that we are all affected by this topic. Cheers!