The Men’s Movement

In my Gender Communication class, I was asked to write a reflection paper on the Men’s Movement. Before I was able to begin to write an intelligent scholarly essay, I had to air my grievances. What better place to post than on my blog? The original essay I wrote is as follows:

 

Studying the men’s movement is, in a word, laughable. The website “Avoiceformen.com” displays statistics about how much males are discriminated against and the main ammunition for this website seems to be citing false rape claims. Don’t get me wrong, as a feminist I believe in equal treatment of all genders and sexes, and there are men who are mistreated on a daily basis. However, I believe the discrimination against women and especially women of color goes far deeper than these men want to see.

Men, or, in this case, white cisgender men, seem to have had enough. They have had enough of being falsely accused of rape and believe that the laws need to change. I’m not exactly sure if they want rape to be less of a punishable offense or what, because at the same time they are claiming that men get raped all the time and women should pay for their suffering. One main theme I am seeing is hypocrisy.

The men in this movement claim that women are more aggressive than men and domestic abuse of men by women is much more common than anyone really lets on. While men are abused by their female counterparts, the culture of toxic masculinity that men have created makes it incredibly hard for a man to come forward and admit he was injured or hit by a weak, inferior woman. Avoiceformen.com also quotes several instances where men claim they have attempted to report abuse and been turned away by those running helplines. Unfortunately, things like this can and do happen. The only issue I find with this is that countless women report abuse both physical and emotional every day and are not taken seriously. My best friend was sexually assaulted in her college dorm room and had multiple men in leadership positions at the University tell her that she would be better off just forgetting it ever happened and moving on because no one would listen to her case since she had no proof.

One issue I do agree needs some attention is the fact that women receive custody of children in approximately 84% of custody cases. I’m sure women have received custody when they were not the more capable parent, and that is upsetting. However, this all comes back to the fact that men have pushed women into the domestic sphere for so long that women are naturally seen as better caretakers.

Avoiceformen.com also brings up statistics about false restraining orders. This I found very interesting. I have personally been followed home before and, had I known the person, would have attempted to file a restraining order on him. From his perspective, he was doing nothing wrong and probably would discredit my restraining order as something silly and flippant. I truly believe many of these issues all come down to the matter of perspective.

Falling back on standpoint theory, it is always easier for those at the bottom to see the corruption and the issues than those at the top. There is no doubt in my mind that white cis men are absolutely at the top of the food chain in America and in the world. While they do face issues and discrimination in some aspects, it is nothing compared to the issues white women, women of color, the gay community, the transgender community, and countless others face on an hourly basis. I believe the men’s movement is toxic. The language and hatred they perpetuate toward women display this better than I ever could. Men in the men’s rights movement deny the wage gap despite ample evidence that it exists. They discredit women in everything they do. If a woman gets a promotion, it is because she is a woman. They fail to see the countless times women are passed over because their boss automatically puts them on the “mommy track”.

Are there people out there who have an anti-male attitude? Yes, absolutely. Are there problems and legitimate cases of men being treated unfairly because of their gender? Again, absolutely. But turning these issues into a movement is simply ridiculous. Men, especially white cis men, are not marginalized, they are not under attack, and they are not in danger of losing their privileges.

As a woman, I am offended by the men’s rights movement. The feminist movement is not just to better the lives of women; it is to better the lives of all of those who are oppressed. If men fall into that category, then the feminist movement is working for them, not against them.

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Millenials and Feminism

When did feminist become a dirty word?

Why do the vast majority of Americans believe in equality for women in the workplace and the home, yet refuse to call themselves “feminists”?

A 2013 Huffington Post/YouGov poll showed that only 23 percent of women and 16 percent of men consider themselves feminists — even though 82 percent of both genders believe “men and women should be social, political, and economic equals.”

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I believe it all goes back to the age of the person in question.

Feminism is generally divided into four “waves”.

First-wave feminists were the suffragettes who fought to give women the vote.

The majority of second-wave feminists were women of the 1960s and 1970s who believed that the rights and privileges of citizenship should not be curtailed on the basis of gender. They acted on these beliefs by fighting to improve women’s socioeconomic and educational opportunities, and to improve women’s access to reproductive health care (such as birth control and abortion). Philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers refers to these feminists as “equity feminists.”

But, ironically, it is the success of second-wave equity feminism that lead millenials to believe feminism has nothing to do with them. We have never faced a world in which employment ads were neatly divided into high-paying “Help Wanted: Male” and low-paying “Help Wanted: Female” categories, where women were forbidden entry into top-tier colleges like Harvard and Yale, where birth control was difficult to get and abortion was illegal. These scenarios sound like science fiction to us rather than descriptions of very recent history.

When I see young women sharing articles about the pitfalls of feminism or declaring themselves proudly anti-feminist, I tend to immediately get angry.

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But why? More often than not, these women are not fully aware of the millions of strong and courageous women who got us to where we are.

First-wave feminists fought to get women basic equal rights. Second-wave feminists tore down the barriers exposing better economic, political and educational opportunities for women.

It is up to us, the third- and fourth- wave feminists, to take the movement in the right direction. We must ensure that modern-day feminism is not promoting the supremacy of one gender over another, but bring attention to “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities; the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.”

Feminism has become controversial. Feminism often has a bad name. Feminism is at a crucial point in history, a “make-or-break” situation.

What are you going to do about it?

 

200 Years of Progress

In 2020, the United States will celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

It took brave activists and supporters nearly 100 years before 1920 to win the right to vote and the campaign was far from easy. Disagreements within the movement threatened to tear it apart many times, but on Election Day 1920, millions of women exercised their hard-earned right to vote.

How appropriate, then, that during this 100th anniversary, a woman will claim her place on the $20 bill.

Women on 20s has been campaigning for over a year to replace the less-than-virtuous Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill.

On Wednesday, April 20, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced that Harriet Tubman will replace the seventh president on the front of the $20 bill. Tubman, former slave and abolitionist, is the first African-American featured on U.S. currency and the first woman in over a century.

A mock photo of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill

Jackson will not disappear entirely from the bill but instead will be appear on the back next to an image of The White House.

Lew also announced a redesign of both the $5 and $10 bills.

The new $5 bill will still feature Abraham Lincoln on the front, but the back will show historical moments related to the Lincoln memorial including Marian Anderson’s 1939 performance there after she was forbidden to sing at the segregated Constitution Hall and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famous 1963 “I have a dream” speech.

Marian Anderson performing at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939

The new $10 bill will still feature Alexander Hamilton on the front, but the back will have Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony – all leaders of the suffragette movement.

This is the most significant overhaul of U.S. currency since 1929.

While some argue that this change of currency is unnecessary, I think it’s an incredible step forward for both women and African-Americans.

When people come together to fight for what they believe in, change happens.

So, who knows what will be next?

One, Two, Three, Four, Five

College is supposed to be one of the greatest times of your life. You’re free from parental control, you can meet new people and you can make your own decisions…Right?

Unfortunately, this is not always true.

One in five women are sexually assaulted while they are in college.

As a college student myself, this is absolutely terrifying. I know hundreds and hundreds of women, and I personally know several who have been sexually assaulted. I am sure I know many who have not shared their story with me.

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Add this statistic to the fact that an estimated 90% of sexual assaults on campus go unreported, and you have a breeding ground for bad behavior.

Sexual assault does not just include rape – it includes any form of unwanted sexual contact. While most campuses have policies in place to protect against sexual assault and abuse, these policies are often not followed correctly and the victim’s claims are dismissed. The Hunting Ground is an incredible documentary available on Netflix  that explores this problem in detail, and I highly encourage you to watch it if you have the opportunity.

By invalidating claims made by sexual assault victims, refusing to help them, protecting their abusers and allowing things like crude sexual chants at college orientation, we are simply perpetuating rape culture.

Rape culture has been defined as including  “jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as ‘just the way things are'”.

Basically it boils down to this: every single day, sexual assault, rape and violence are ignored, trivialized, normalized or made into jokes. Sound familiar?

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It is hard to go 24 hours without hearing a sexually violent joke, song, advertisement, or see a sexually violent scene in a television show or a movie. We have become so used to this behavior that we simply do not recognize it anymore.

We are supporting rape culture in many ways without even realizing that we are doing it. We listen to artists like Robin Thicke singing about “blurred lines”. We constantly blame victims for leading rapists to commit rape or invalidate the victims by dismissing their claims as false despite the fact that false reporting for sexual assault is in the range of 2-8%. 

Of course, women are not the only ones affected by this. One in 71 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. This is simply unacceptable on all fronts.

Something has got to change. I do not want my daughter to live in a world where she has a higher chance of getting raped than she does getting into Cornell.

I am taking a stand to help end rape culture. Will you?

 

Another Day, Another 79 Cents

Happy Equal Pay Day! This date that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Thanks a lot, wage gap!

Wait…what’s the wage gap?

The wage gap is a statistical indicator often used as an index of the status of women’s earnings relative to men’s. It is also used to compare the earnings of other races and ethnicities to those of white males, a group generally not subject to race- or sex-based discrimination (infoplease.com).

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To put it bluntly, men are getting paid more than women for doing the same jobs. There are tons of people out there who will argue until they are blue in the face that this isn’t true, but statistics don’t lie.

 

 

 

Women are just uneducated, that’s why they get paid less!

False. Education is not an effective pay gap solution. Educating women does not decrease this wage gap at all. Take a look:

 

Even the previous chart is not totally accurate, as it fails to take into account women of color who are often paid even less.

Way back in 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Actwhich required employers to pay women equal wages for doing the same work as men. Since this act, the wage gap has closed by a whopping 20 cents. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) estimates that at that rate, equal pay won’t become a reality for another 44 years. Humans could be walking on Mars before women achieve equal pay.

Skeptics love to claim that the typical 79 women’s cents per man’s dollar statistic is an oversimplification. The claim that “life choices” made by women are the real reason behind a wage gap is absurd.

Yes, many women choose to stay home or cut back their hours after having children. But many others don’t opt out. They’re forced out because they cannot afford child care, or can’t find a full-time job that is flexible enough to allow them to care for their family. Women also face the “motherhood penalty”. They are much less likely to be hired for jobs or offered promotions once they have children.

Often, outspoken activists who don’t believe in the wage gap claim that it can’t be true because when comparing the salary of, say, an offshore oil rig worker (usually male) to a kindergarten teacher (usually female) there will be a significant pay gap.

Therein lies the problem.

From the very beginning, girls and women are discouraged from pursuing jobs and opportunities that are considered “masculine” or “for boys” such as majors and careers in math and sciences or physical labor. Because of this inherent sexism ingrained in our society from the beginning, girls are not given an equal chance to achieve the higher-paying jobs of their male counterparts. This does contribute to the wage gap, but most statistics are adjusted for industry, position and seniority.

Even if the wage gap were only a few cents, a gap is a gap.

I have full faith that in my lifetime, we will see the wage gap close once and for all. Do you?

A Crash Course in Feminism

Ahh, the “F” word. No, not the fun one. “Feminism”. Say it three times in front of a mirror and a crazy woman in a burning bra will appear behind you and perform some strange type of witchcraft. Right?

Not exactly.

This blog and its posts will be centered around feminism. I think to explain what feminism is, you first have to explain what it isn’t. Here are a few common myths and why they just don’t hold up.

 

“All feminists are angry/man-hating/lesbians/etc.”

Sometimes, women are angry. Some women are lesbians. Some women even feel hatred toward men. Some of the same women listed might also happen to identify themselves as feminists. Not all feminists are women. None of these characteristics have anything to do with each other; no one characteristic caused the others to develop. Grouping “all” of any type of person into one category is a recipe for disaster.

 

“Feminism has changed and evolved into something a little too outrageous and I just can’t support it.”

“Feminism” is an umbrella term that encompasses a whole lot of people from a whole lot of places. There is no President of the Feminist Club who sends out rules every week on what feminists can and cannot do. There are some people and groups who have very radical opinions that you may not agree with, and that is okay. Just because you vote for a candidate does not mean you agree with every action that candidate’s millions of supporters have ever done, right? Feminism is your candidate.

 

“All feminists believe ______.”

This absolutely baffles me. The only way this statement would make sense is if you put “equality of the sexes” in the blank. Other than that, you’re just wrong. Assuming that every person that identifies as a feminist believes the exact same thing is just not rational.  Feminists are extremely diverse – John Legend is a feminist, and so is Malala Yousafzai. Diversity of opinions within feminism, as within life, is completely normal. While feminists may disagree on which issues are the most pressing or how to best address certain things, it all boils down to respect.

 

“The man is supposed to be the head of the household. Why would any woman want to take on that responsibility?”

First of all, you’re confusing your own views with the overarching goals of feminism. If you have no desire to be the head of a household, you don’t have to do it. You can still be a feminist. Some women would jump at the chance to be able to provide for a household were they presented the opportunity. Just because it’s not your personal goal doesn’t mean no woman should ever have the option. This is also assuming that women should get married and submit to men. Some women don’t get married. Some women marry other women. Some women (and young girls) are forced into marriages. We cannot ignore these women.

 

In the end, if you choose to ignore feminism or even proclaim that you are “anti-feminist”, you are willingly choosing to turn a blind eye to a multitude of problems, including but not limited to the following:

  • 1 in 5 women in America have been raped in their lifetime
  • Over 200 million women and girls alive today have been victims of genital mutilation
  • An average of 15 million girls each year are forced to become brides before the age of 18
  • Around 100,000 women died from illegal abortions between the 1950’s and the passing of Roe v. Wade in 1973.
  • Women of color systematically face more oppression and are at a greater disadvantage than white women.
  • An estimated 20 to 30 million people are suffering as sex slaves around the world, of which 80% are female with the average age of a slave being 13 years old.

Feminism is about freedom. Feminism seeks to provide all humans with the freedom to make their own decisions regarding their bodies, their relationships, their careers, their families and their futures.

So, I have one final question for you:

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Let me know your opinions in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter. More to come!