As a coach who specializes in working with men around issues of sex and relationships, there is nothing more likely to get a click from me than an on-line post about feminism. I find myself wanting to read and absorb what others are thinking on this subject, which quite frankly has become a source of great confusion for me, not only as a woman, but also as someone who listens to the voices of many conflicted men, who are trying to ‘be’ all things in the modern relationship. What confuses me most is the position of feminism and how sexism prevails over humanism.
A large piece of my work now is working with male survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Sexual assault is not a gender-based issue and yet the research and funding is driven to women’s causes. Statistically 1:6 men have been sexually assaulted, and given that most men don’t report– it’s under acknowledged and under researched—in reality, the number probably sits very evenly with the 1:4 statistics for women. Education campaigns on this topic treat men with what feels like a token effort; a small paragraph or acknowledgment that we get this happens to men, because we are only really talking about women.
There are feminist groups, government departments and research bodies that refuse to acknowledge the impact on male survivors because it will disrupt the focus from women. I find myself becoming outraged at the thought a powerful faction of our society that rules our funding and education believes that one gender in the human race feels pain more than the other. The divide that this is creating is having an enormous and negative impact.
Society has a great need to label and categorize us and since socially one of our fundamental needs is to make a connection we instinctively are driven to causes and campaigns. What I have noticed though is that there is much confusion of what we should be aligning ourselves with, what position we should take and how we fit in order to be socially accepted.
How we align ourselves has become very important to us and we are now making statements in public that we used to keep private, especially around discussions of a political nature. I think it’s great that we have found our voices and we want to share them, however I fear that in our need to be heard we are missing a vital piece of the equation, to listen.
It seems to me that our voices have come with a position of indignation that our ‘rightness’ is somehow more important than another’s point of view and I fear that we are losing our innate human qualities of kindness and compassion in the process. I can’t help but wonder where the humanity and respect for others has gone from our discussions.
As an independent, driven and liberal-thinking woman, I get confused about feminism and I wonder if others truly accept the mainstream point of view, or if they align themselves out of a need to fit. I don’t even know what being a feminist means to most people, and I say people, because we now see many men aligning themselves as feminists… and I wonder what does that mean for men?
In my coaching work I listen to and am often the voice for men that cannot find a way to speak out for themselves. I see glaring inequality in the way men are treated legally in relation to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. We view them as perpetrators and despite 40% of men being abused and assaulted in America and Australia, we do not accept that men are victims too. This system not only fails to support men but it actually harms them with the overwhelming majority of funding and research for women. There is a great anomaly here which society is not addressing because feminism is the only voice being heard. Where is the equality in that?
So I am forced to deeply question feminism and how it has become sexism. Can anyone just listen with a compassionate heart at the cries of humanity? I don’t want to incite feminists any more than I want to enter a dogfight, but I see a significant flaw in what many women and some men are aligning with.
I desperately want the feminists to just recognize the failings of their system and to acknowledge that feminism has now gone so far that it has become sexist. There are extreme factions spewing hatred at men purely based on their biology. I don’t want to be aligned with that.
What I do want is feminism to take men’s rights seriously and to open their hearts to the plight of men. As much as it is a reality bite, feminism needs to accept and acknowledge that women are also perpetrators of significant issues like Domestic Violence and that men should have equal parenting rights. The view that says men cannot be suitable caregivers of children is the same antiquated view that says a woman’s place is in the home. So which is it feminists really want?
The Men’s Rights Movement has been formed out of a need to counterbalance what has now become the inequality of feminism. They are angry, frustrated and fed up with the injustice they now find bestowed upon them in a society that says they don’t matter. Feminism is supposed to be about equality but it has gone horribly wrong with righteous indignation.
When will we all just stop and listen to humanity?’
Like it or not, biology says that men and women are different but this does not make any one more powerful than the other. Each of us has fears, frustrations, dreams and desires and each of us are vulnerable. It seems we have lost perspective on that.
At the end of the day, it is not the loudest voice or the largest group that will be victorious. No one will win this war unless we are genuinely united, not in feminism but in humanism.
How I see we can implement some significant change, even in the short term is to embrace our diversity not by so much by making myopic public statements that ‘have’ to be heard, but by opening our minds to the thoughts opinions and sentiments of others. To look through the lens of someone else and see where they might be coming from. To remove the shades from our own thoughts, so that we question ourselves before we question others.
I believe that most feminists are not aware of the plights of men and I see the extreme fringes being the ones who cause the most damage, because they also carry the most power. If you align with feminism, you need to look very closely at what you are supporting.
I would like to see our conversations shift from creating equality to creating a world that is harmonious. To do that, we need to start conversations that include the voice of compassion, acceptance, understanding and forgiveness as our primary mechanisms for communication. And we need to listen very carefully to the voice of others.
Imagine a world where we listened to each other with courage enough to be silent.