Men: why being neutral is a such huge part of the problem

mariah-bouillaut

Women are being repeatedly raped, abused and humiliated. Men are repeatedly being given free passes for their inexcusable and despicable actions.

Not that it should be necessary at this point, but here’s a list of disclaimers so we’re all on the same page:

  • Yes, not all men (for the last time).
  • When I refer to women, I really mean all women whether they be cisgender, transgender, or gender non-conforming.
  • Going further; when I specify women, I am referring to femininity as a whole and its presence in both men and women.

As feminists, our well of patience dried up a long time ago. How much louder do we have to scream sexism? How many more platforms do we need to be represented on? How much larger does our vocabulary need to be? What more can we possibly do to get others to sit up, pay attention and realise what the fuck is going on and help us do something about it?

It often feels as if we’re screaming into an abyss. It’s infuriating. It’s heartbreaking. It creates another layer of issues to be dealt with (as if we’re not already exhausted); not only are we fighting sexism and gendered violence, but we’re also fighting for the opportunity to be heard, taken seriously, and believed.

That’s a lot to carry around. So forgive me if I refuse to appreciate the people who are complicit in their fence sitting. Eve Ensler put it gloriously –

“I am over the passivity of good men. Where the hell are you? You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us? Why aren’t you so driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?”

We are enraged that the patriarchy we all live and suffer under requires men to kill off the emotional parts of themselves. We are desperately infuriated by the suicide rates of men. We watch on, hearts breaking, as you helplessly deteriorate under the firm grasp of toxic masculinity. We are compelled to deeply sympathise and fight for your rights as if they were our own because, ultimately, they’re ours too.

So why do men so rarely do the same for women? Where is the reciprocation? By over-representing straight white men in the media we severely narrow our perception of the world. When you easily fit into the mould of “person” that has been presented to you since you started watching television, you’re not encouraged to look outside your own experience because yours is quite clearly the only one of importance. You are the protagonist; the super hero; the centre of the universe. Everyone else is either a love interest or a sidekick. Additionally, when boys are not encouraged to read, it severs their empathy muscle.

Clementine Ford also beautifully put the struggle into words –

“One of the greatest failings of men as a whole is their inability to more deeply probe the lives of the women around them. We are either written off as obscure and yet vaguely hysterical enigmas who are not worth bothering to understand, or we are derided as liars and fantasists – women colluding to destroy the lives and reputations of good men who either did or did not do the things we accuse them of, but either way don’t deserve to be punished for them.”

Men, it’s time to rise in solidarity. Notice that there is no such thing as a cookie cutter human. There is a plethora of experience out in the world and the women you love and respect are getting the shit end of the stick.

 

Featured image: by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

 

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