Few men seem interested in feminism. Lizzie Garcha asks how we can encourage more of them to realise that feminism benefits everyone
There can be no doubt that feminism has made many advances over its time. However, all too often it seems as though achievements made are only through the concessions of men. If this is the case, then how are we to ensure that the next generation of men have a full knowledge of feminism, and that they want to work towards its aims for full equality?
At the moment, it seems as though feminism has only been seriously thought about by far too few men. Too often it is stereotyped as a group or complaining women, seen as unnecessary, as women are thought to have gained equality, and to the members of the UK men’s movement, it appears as though they feel that women are now the ones with the power in the world. This is a dangerous view to take, as clearly, women still do not have equality. The majority of those in power are still men, and women are still subject to the ‘glass ceiling’ at work.
For feminism to carry on successfully, I feel that there needs to be a far great inclusion of men. Women need to help change the way many men think, particularly those in power in order that women can gain equality with men the world over. But how is a task as great as this to be accomplished? Many of those in power will have been indoctrinated with the views they hold for many years, their opinions will be among the most difficult to change. However, the next generation of men who do not have a full knowledge, or any kind of support of the movement as yet are the ones who need to have feminism’s focus.
As a young person, I see far too many men with little or no respect for women, with attitudes that can be of no benefit to women. These are the attitudes that I feel need to change, these are the next generation of men who are going to take over the controls, and despite females becoming more involved, the world is still very much in the hands on men.
So, what can feminist women actually do to work towards change? I feel that the most important change that there needs to be is more action, more public action. It is impressive that there seem to be many feminist websites, and women can discuss what needs to happen, but we still need action. There needs to be far more information about the inequalities that exist today, and they need to be shown up to the world.
The white ribbon campaign was a good example of this, however, it seemed to be publicised so little, and the ribbons were available in so few places that it did not have the impact that it could have done. Likewise, the Guerrilla Girls movement in the US shows directly the inequalities that exist, but there seems to be no similar movement, at least not one so popularly known as that to get the same message across in other parts of the world. However, Guerrilla Girls have most of their focus in the art world, there are few groups who seem to be willing to be as public with their message. All too often events like International Women’s Day pass us by far too quietly. Women should be making the most of these events to explain what feminism really is to men, many of whom have a total misconception of what feminism really is, those men who feel that women have come far enough and who should stop now.
The attitudes of many men also need to change towards male feminists, all too often there are men who feel that male feminists are ‘betraying’ men as a gender, not being true to who they really are. With this view from many men towards male feminists, and without feminism making a more dedicated effort to include men, it is clear why there is a lack of male feminists, especially among young men who retain the ‘macho’ attitude.
Even men who do agree with a lot of feminist ideologies find that they do not regard themselves as feminists, because they are not fully involved with the movement, and I feel that that is partially because there seem to be very few places publicised where men can get involved. There is an apathy surrounding feminism. Too many people feel as though it has accomplished enough, that one person will not make the difference, but with a movement such as this, every contributor counts.
Our society in general seems to have a very limited view of what feminism is, there is a great ignorance. The level of knowledge desperately needs to grow. To do that, I feel that feminism has to become more prominent in society. However, I don’t think that directly promoting feminist views is going to be useful, as they can often be manipulated.
More important is the need for more comprehensive sex education, and more education for young people about the extent of violence against women. Young people need more information about gender inequality, and what they can do about it, because while half of society is being limited in what they can do, then society as a whole is limited in what it can do. These issues need to be shown to affect all people, not just women.
Schools have to involve classes such as citizenship, which would be the perfect time for school students to learn more about the state of society, and what they can do. By starting this kind of education at a young age, we should be able to show the future generations the problems that they can help to solve.
As for those men at the moment, who have past the stage where they can be called young, the need for them to be more informed is just as great. However, there can be no lessons on a regular basis telling them about violence towards women. Instead, there needs to be more open and frank discussion of such issues, their eyes often need to be opened to the situation that surrounds them.
So everyone who reads this, I urge you to go and talk to at least one person who you know doesn’t have a full knowledge of why feminism is still necessary, and the problems still facing women, and discuss it with them. By spreading an informed view of feminism outwards, maybe we can help improve the situation for women worldwide, and gain some increased respect for the importance of the feminist movement in the 21st century.