Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Equality. A Non-judgmental Partnership.

Thank you, Emma Watson. One, because you're super classy and have been my fantasy BFF for over a decade. Two, thank you for approaching the subject of feminism in the way that I think many women like me have wanted it to be approached and articulated. Finally we can attempt to wipe our hands clean of the complicated, super sticky double standard and support equality without fear of falling into the wild feminist pool we don’t all see ourselves in (The pool I don’t see myself in at all).

By actually embracing men and welcoming them to this whole idea without making them feel weird about it. Heyo! Sup boyz. 

I’m grateful for this because I *gasp* love and respect men very, very much. I have the great privilege of knowing so many fantastic men. (Shout out to you all, you know who you are!) Equality can't be achieved unless women treat men like the awesome partners they are, should be, and we want them to be. In turn, men will feel so much more comfortable to contribute and reciprocate the partnership.

Alienating men and making them feel like they're all back-alley murderers who are out to get women isn't going to do any good. If you want to be treated with respect, then you have to give respect, perhaps - and most especially- even when it isn't truly deserved. Golden rule. Those who mistreat will ultimately get judged for it, here on Earth or elsewhere. I believe this applies to both genders. I genuinely believe most men want the very best for the women in their lives, just as much as I want the very best for the men in my life. This is a large part of the reason I didn't associate myself with the YesAllWomen hashtag. It wasn't because I didn't understand its message. I just felt the instinct to defend men the entire time. I even remember reading through them, thinking to myself shamefully, "Maybe I'm part of the problem they're talking about."I want men and women to treat each other like teammates, not the enemy.

We spend so much time focusing on the crazies out there with warped ideas, we often unfairly fail to recognize and appreciate the guys out there who genuinely care for and support women. I’m glad Emma’s initiative is finally acknowledging this on a broader scale. Not every woman has been as fortunate as I have been with positive men in her life. I know I have been incredibly blessed. I hope Emma’s campaign also allows these girls and women to see there are so many more men out there who have their back. And to any of you awesome men reading this, I want you to know I've definitely got yours. 

On a different but very important note to me; in her speech, Emma Watson focuses on making the issue of gender inequality a conversation across the male-female spectrum instead of, as she puts it, two opposing ideals. In the U.S., we must also work even harder to make gender inequality a conversation that not only transcends gender, but also transcends political affiliation.

I believe there are a lot of wonderful men across this state and country who support equality and were raised to treat women with respect and see them as equals and yet, they keep themselves in the dark instead of openly showing support for what would be considered a feminist campaign. 

Whether we like it or not, feminists and pro-feminism movements are spotlighted predominantly from a liberal platform. Much like the "man-hating" stereotype Emma speaks of in her speech as keeping many women from wanting to fully associate herself with the label, I think there are many men (and women) from conservative and moderate backgrounds who are large supporters and advocates for gender equality but similarly hesitate to associate themselves. Believe me when I say I understand the hesitation. There are certain platforms which fall under the “women’s rights umbrella” that conservatives and moderates have personal conflicting or opposing beliefs on. Myself included. Is there a place where I'm allowed to support equal pay for women, zero-tolerance for prejudice in the workplace, zero-tolerance against violence or hostility towards women, but still be able to say I have conflicting personal views on other rights within the platform? Does that mean I'm a hypocrite?

It is incredibly unfair to conservative men that they are not often seen or recognized as supporters of gender equality (and are even ridiculed when they try) because they openly support traditional values and certain stances on issues that have become tied into this overall women’s rights package. Is it truly impossible to allow or accept men into the conversation without judgement because of this? Must it really be "all or nothing?" Perhaps it is naive of me, but I firmly believe humans are not built in the same black-and-white way as political platforms. I firmly believe a man can support pro-life, for example, and also believe his daughters or wife deserve equal respect to men and raise his sons to also be good and believe the same. If you guffaw at that and believe otherwise, then that, my friend, is also a stereotype and I do not support it. If Emma Watson is working to dispel the stereotype surrounding feminism, then let's also join her in working to dispel the other stereotypes we put on people based on political affiliation. 

The point I’m trying to make is, so much more can be achieved together if we allow the HeForShe campaign to be a giant showcase of support and positivity towards each other, man to woman and woman to man, without it leaning in any particular direction on the political spectrum or being another banner in another war. It's a shame that gender equality, which really should be–and is at its core–a bipartisan cause has gotten so isolated to one side it makes others hesitant or iffy to jump on board because of it. Let’s allow ourselves and each other the ability to say “Hey guys/ladies! Of course I'm with y’all!" without being ridiculed as a phony or being judged as a feminist stereotype. This is another reason I like the concept behind Emma’s initiative; it makes an effort to rid the stigma around the word "feminist" itself and bring gender equality out from under a political umbrella and into the bipartisan, both-genders-allowed arena. 

I still fervently believe anyone can come together to support the other bullets that make up the fight for gender equality. Let's not ignore all the other important aspects of HeForShe we can agree on just because one aspect causes a standstill. There is so much more to this cause that we actually share.

The fact of the matter is, ladies and gents, we're NOT the same. Chemically, physically, mentally, and scientifically. And I like that. I like all the things that make men masculine and me feminine, as long as neither of us feel burdened by them. I also like having conversations with men and listening to them like any other person and having my opinion valued. I'm going out on a huuuuge limb here to presume men appreciate those things just as much as I do! Wouldn't it be better to acknowledge all the differences and commonalities by nature and work with it together?

Wouldn't it also be better to not shame or isolate women and men who want and choose to be in a "traditional" gender role? Go for it, I think that’s great! I may end up in a "traditional" role myself, if it's what works best for me and my family. And for the record, future husband, I will gladly make you a bazillion sandwiches because, whoever you are, you're my most favorite, smart, sarcastic, kind, and not-so-perfect person. I think you will be just as worthy of a parent as I am considered. I think you can freely admit your weaknesses without worrying that I see you as less of a man. In fact, treating me as your co-captain and valuing my input and contributions makes you more of a man than anything else. (I do hope you're tall though. I'm 5"1.5, so... please help me.)

But here comes the most important part of this idea: 

All of the above spiel is, of course, referring to current conversation in our own country. No question that we have our own mess of problems, mentalities, and epidemics, but we are so, so, so, so fortunate here in the United States. It would be inconsiderate to the generations before us to claim we have gotten nowhere. The way the majority of us have it here —gender to gender— in the U.S. is many ways decades/centuries ahead of the treatment and horrors done in so many other countries across the world.

What I hope Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign can achieve is this: If we can scream from the rooftops, or say quietly with a gentle hand on a shoulder, how much we admire and support one another, as opposed to making it a Battle of the Sexes, then we are in an even better position to understand each other as equals. We can lead by example to younger generations and the new generation we will bring into the world, showing them men and women are partners and no greater or less than the other. Through our own compassion and mutual support for gender equality, we can share and spread this mentality anywhere and everywhere around the world - especially where it is needed most. 

It will be special because it won't just be women fighting for equality. It will men and women fighting for each other’s equality together.

As more men show their support for HeForShe (see @EmWatson on Twitta), I think this is a great time to open up the conversation to help us women understand the burdens and pressures on men in their roles as well. If anyone wishes to write a response to this from a man's perspective, feel free to let the Duds know and we will be happy to share. 
Because guys, I think you're GREAT! Girls, I think we're great TOO!

 What a concept, I tell ya. 


(And you know what, #SheforHe too!) 


If you haven't seen Emma's UN speech, here is a link!

1 comment:

  1. Caroline, truly I have missed your thoughts!! I agree with everything you wrote and sat here as a 70 year old woman thinking that these ideals are totally opposite to what girls were taught in the '50's and 60's. Oh how I wish I could become a young professional woman in this world but keep all the education of my 70 years. Thanks, Caroline