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Boys Need Feminism, Too

01/30/2014 05:09 pm 17:09:04 | Updated Apr 01, 2014

When we feel strongly about our own viewpoints, we often disregard the perspectives of others. As a fervent feminist, my Twitter followers are often subject to read tweet upon tweet of female empowerment. Sometimes, I make the mistake of belittling the problems males face, snubbing them in comparison to our own.

It's true that men as a class possessed (and still possess) dominance over society. Protagonists in movies, novels, and video games are almost always male. Men hold almost all political positions. Industries such as engineering, computer science and sports are prevalently male. However, this inherent privilege does not automatically invalidate the hardships and prejudice men face. What opponents of feminism fail to realize is that feminism -- whose goal is to "crush the patriarchy" -- aims to dispel gender-based hardships and prejudices not just for women, but for men as well.

Male friends, in response to my feministic advocacy, often remind me of the stigma around males doing "girly" or "feminine" actions. Men aren't allowed to cry. Men have to play sports. Men can't do theatre. Men can't opt to be stay-at-home fathers. Men can't wear makeup, carry purses or treat themselves to spa days. Men are restricted from doing certain activities on the basis of their gender just as females are. Why, then, they ask, doesn't feminism address the struggles males face?

But, my friends, it does. Feminism is the fight for gender equality so that men and women may one day be seen and treated in the same way. Women have generally faced more institutionalized oppression and, thus, it may seem that advocacy for women's rights is the only focus. However, men will benefit from feminism as well. The patriarchy (i.e., the society in which males hold all positions of power) is responsible for these gender roles; without it, men will not be expected to be "manly," nor girls expected to be "girly." Female mechanics and stay-at-home fathers won't be questioned for their choices because, without a patriarchy, our choices are no longer limited to what men can do and what women can do.

Feminists don't hate men. (In fact, some feminists are men.) We don't discredit the societal standards that men face, and we don't want to flip modern society into a female-dominated one. All we want is equal opportunity for all -- a goal that is fundamentally American and fundamentally human.