Have you hugged your male feminist today?
I started writing this piece by reiterating my usual spiel about why I'm a late-blooming feminist and why it's important for all people to be feminists. But no one wants to hear that. No one likes to be told what they aren't doing, even if asking that all humans to be treated equally seems like a fairly normal request. So this isn't meant to be informational in any way -- it's the Internet; if you wanted to know about feminism, you would have Googled it by now.
Instead, I'm here to do is give a giant, public thank-you to the men I know who are active feminists. It takes a lot to be who you are -- because you take shit for it.
As a man, you don't take birth control. You don't need access to affordable pap smears/cervical cancer screenings/breast exams/etc. You don't have the choice to have a child or not have a child. But you do think that feminism is the radical notion that women are people, and that's what makes you important.
The fight for equal rights hasn't ever gone stagnant; the entire world hasn't gotten on the equality train quite yet. This is why feminists continue to be important contributors to contemporary society. But in recent months, non-Obama presidential candidates have used women's rights as the preferred punching bag/naughty mascot for getting voters fired up. So far, Santorum seems to take the lead as the most winningest other-sex hater (though Ron Paul's comment on "Honest Rape" could make him a shoe-in for most insane) in the fight for distraction from real issues.
But what's equally scary? Knowing there are people -- men and women -- who think women's rights aren't an issue of concern anymore. A co-worker at Shirt Folding Store explained to me recently that if I wanted to know what it was "really like to have it hard as a woman," maybe I should move to another country. (Pro-wrestler and feminist Mick Foley answered this very same ignorant statement on Fox News last year by saying, "The world gets an F in their treatment of women, but we're (America) getting a C-minus and we're bragging about it." Truth.)
Though I harbored the desire to make an outrageous statement by pulling my pants down and exposing my very modestly sexy drawers while screaming that if he was ever going to have safe, consensual heterosexual sex with a woman ever again, he might want to reevaluate that statement, I contained myself. Because I was on the clock. And because he doesn't get the right to observe the underpants of a feminist. And because I don't fight with weird, constitution slobbering Ron Paul obsessives.
But as I stood at the Rally to Protect Women's Health yesterday on the steps at the Capitol (with my pants up), I was reminded that there are some seriously sane men interested in women having equal, unalienable rights to their own bodies. And these men are just as outraged as I am about insanity-mongers like Personhood USA -- a group which is trying (for a third time) get a bill passed that would take the right to control their own bodies away from women.
One of the dudes at this particular rally was my friend Anthony. He's twenty years old. He's a comedian by trade. He's also feminist. He not only sees through the absurdity of this current incarnation of a centuries long fight, he's okay with telling people he supports women. He's even okay telling other twenty-year-old dudes who might think he's dumb or weird or just trying to get laid by participating in public acts of social justice. I wish every twenty-year-old man in the world could be just like him.
Last summer, I marched in the still controversial SlutWalk. I didn't march alone; fearlessly, my friend and fellow Westword contributor Britt Chester was there, too. SlutWalk wasn't even a popular topic among all feminists, but to see men there was a huge sign of social evolution. Not to mention it ruled to see guys getting behind putting an end to the exoneration of cat-callers, victim blamers, slut-shamers and perpetuators of our "asking for it" culture.
Sometimes, it's hard to think of asking even the most progressive men we know if they want to take part in something as public as a march or a rally for women's (human) rights. How can we get everyone on board if we don't open the dialogue to dudes, too? (Especially when the male opinion can be generalized before a guy gets a chance to open his mouth.) Next time you're hanging out with your radical man friend, ask him to go with you to the next feminist forum. Because sometimes, all it takes is asking. Feminism isn't a ladies-only club. Feminism is for everybody.
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