The recent conversations that have been floating around online about Santa Barbara killer Elliot Rodger have opened my eyes to some issues that many of us probably should have thought about more before this.
One of the biggest issues is that it is almost taboo for a man to speak out for equality or stand with women against violence or abuse. Many of you probably have seen the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter, which is being used for women to express their experiences with harassment in many different forms. Some men chimed in with their surprise at just how many women have been abused or mistreated... by other men.
Running a website discussing romantic topics, I have gotten an extraordinary amount of feedback because I am a man. A man writing articles on how he believes men should act in life and in relationships will be seen much differently than a woman who writes the same exact article. I could have published many of the same things under a female name and I would've been seen as a "feminazi" or "just another woman tired of how men act."
Why? Why is this? Because our society has perpetuated the dismissal of women who challenge men to be better, partly because men don't stand with them when it comes to "women's issues." Here's a reality check: There would be no "women's issues" like sexual abuse or domestic violence, if it weren't for the men who were actually causing this harm. So, whose issue is it, really?
Of course there are abusive women and men who are abused, too. In fact, there are also many societal pressures on men that prevent them from speaking out -- but nobody thinks so because we don't talk about those, either. I was actually asked on Twitter if I was gay because my Elliot Rodger piece was "the most feminist thing from a dude, ever." Well... considering feminism is defined as equality between men and women, I don't see the problem.
But, why is this "gay?" Why does standing up for women and bringing these issues to light make people think that you are sexually attracted to other men? What a ridiculous, nonsensical thought to even go through somebody's head... but it still happens. In 2014 it still happens -- and if more men would stand up and voice their disapproval of other men being misogynistic, abusive, sexist or oppressive... maybe more people would listen.
We cannot stay quiet when our sisters, mothers, daughters, cousins, and friends are being harassed. When our girlfriends have been harassed or abused in the past. When our peers and fellow men are the ones doing the abusing. It should cause absolute outrage in us. It is unacceptable.
This is not the time for dismissal of these issues. This is not the time to remain quiet for fear of other men looking at you funny. This is not the time to sit passively in your corner because you don't want to be a blue fish in a pink ocean.
Gentlemen, this is the exact time when we need to stand together. We need to create a society of collaboration between men and women instead of conflict. We need to be the ones who say "not cool, man" when another guy makes the wrong kind of jokes about women, because if a woman says it, he will just dismiss her. It's sad, but it's true.
We need to be the ones who start the conversation among ourselves that women have been trying to have with us for centuries. We need to be willing to ask ourselves what being "masculine" really means. What is it to be a MAN? Does it mean acting superior to our equals? Making jokes about staying in the kitchen or bringing us a sandwich while we chug Bud Lights during the football game and grunt with our friends?
This is no longer about Elliot Rodger. This is about the other men out there who think like him, because there are plenty. The other men who think they are entitled to a woman, or that they "deserve" a date because they performed some act of kindness. The other men who think they should make decisions for women. The men who are the reason women don't feel safe walking alone at night.
This is about the men who make us, as boyfriends, nervous when our girlfriend is somewhere alone. The men who make it so women need a "fake boyfriend" with them because a woman's "no" isn't as effective as another man's presence.
Let us set examples for our younger generations. Let us set examples for our generation, and the generations older than us. Let us be the ones who alter the course of history by saying enough is enough. Now is the time for change, and let us be the ones who bring it about.
This post was originally published on JamesMSama.com.
You can connect with James on Twitter at JamesMSama.