Thursday, May 29, 2014

#YesAllWomen (Warning: Graphic Language Content)

Good day my friends from around the world. I hope that today has found you with the same optimistic passion for life that it has found me with. I am feeling particularly joyful today and though today's blog entry doesn't necessarily align with my particular emotional state, it is a subject that has rightfully found a place of conversation in the public eye. Unfortunately the conversation isn't nearly loud enough and nor are there enough people, especially men, talking about it. I highly suggest watching the video linked below for one of the best explanations for what inspired the #YesAllWomen campaign and for insights/explanations into what misogyny and sexism are. Just a fantastic explanatory video.

Warning: Graphic Content
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I am no woman. I don't presume to understand or know what it is that they endure at the hands of misogyny within a patriarchal society. I cannot begin to place myself in the of shoes the women who live with a constant nagging feeling of fear and paranoia wherever they go just because they are around men. I'm not going to try and pretend that I know what it's like; I don't. Because I don't, I'm not going to try and discuss the subject of sexism from the point of view of a woman; that would be both presumptuous and insulting.

What I am going to talk about is how men, no not all men but for the remainder of this blog entry I won't be making any effort to correct myself here because until you have demonstrated that you are "not all men" then you are "all men" (myself included), use misogyny to subjugate women but also use misogyny and sexism to subjugate men as well. I'm not bringing up this topic in any way to remove from the real crime here, the one against women, but so that men can see how their behavior towards men also promotes sexism towards women, misogyny, patriarchy and in some cases, homophobia. Let's explore.

For those of you who don't know, I'm a pretty small guy. Weighing in at about 125lbs at 5'9", I'm not exactly what one might call intimidating. Throw in some glasses and a love for math and science and you have the perfect storm to create a nerd or geek. That's me. And I'm proud of my Geek/Nerd-dom; but it wasn't always that way. No, for a long time, and even occasionally now, I was at the mercy of alpha males and bullies; heck, in some cases it was the beta's! So I'm going to try and make this relevant now before someone accuses me of co-opting a feminist movement; I'm just trying to demonstrate how the effective and successful effort to destroy misogyny and create a gender equal/equitable world will first and foremost help women but also men.

When I was growing up I was subjected to a number of different forms of bullying, not excluding violence. I can empathize with the feelings of despair, of powerlessness, of fear and of vulnerability. Most often I was abused verbally with name calling and accusations and this is where I know that some of you have shared experiences in this regard and also where the #YesAllWomen comes into play. You see, the "bad" things I was called weren't actually bad but they were vocalized with negative intent which is very relevant to the issue.

"Stop being such a girl."
"Don't be a pussy."
"Fag."
"You're such a little bitch."
"Don't be a girl."
"You're such a girlie-boy."
"You're such a girl."
"A girl could beat you up."
"Faggot."
"Mama's boy."
"Scared little girl."

I think you get the gist of it by now. Needless to say that this form of mental abuse was very detrimental to my self esteem and personal development; and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I too lived in fear and paranoia of men. I didn't know when I might become the subject of their attacks or hatred and how they might make me suffer for that. My parents, most likely my mother, will be reading this and she doesn't need to know any more than this. I've grown. I've learned. I've forgiven. I let this end result of years of mental, verbal and psychological abuse allow me to make "justified" poor decisions but I have long since moved on from there. Back to the topic at hand.

It's extremely self-evident the point I was trying to make here and if it's not, then I will type it out plainly for you here men: It is misogyny and sexism when you use women (or gay men) as a way to insult another man, make him feel inferior and make him feel emasculated. Do you understand what's wrong here? Women are not inferior to men; gay men are not inferior to straight men. When you use "insults" like that, you are promoting sexism, misogyny, homophobia and hate. There is no other way around it. It isn't "boys will be boys"; it isn't "that's just kids being kids"; it isn't "that's just the way it's always been"; it is nothing short of abuse.

Because I am a man I am told not to feel and when I do I am told to stop being such a "girl". I have a news flash for you men. Maybe if you took the time to recognize that as a man, that you DO have feelings (incidentally the very SAME feelings that women and ALL humans feel) and that if you acknowledged them and processed them rather than not, that maybe some of this violent abuse would able to be properly addressed; some of it may even stop. And it needs to do that. Stop.

I don't, in any way, intend to take away from the struggles that women face from their male counterparts on a daily basis all across the globe but rather demonstrate that the struggle they face transcends beyond the feminism and into the masculine. Because of this, you men should be way more compassionate, understanding and willing to listen and change; you are doing serious, irreparable damage. This is a serious problem. It is predominantly and primarily a women's issue because they are the victims and the victim has the most insight into the problem; it is secondarily and directly a men's issue because they are the primary causes of the behavior; but because it is an issue for both, it is a societal issue, a human issue because no matter what "side" you're on, it negatively affects us all. And we are all, each one of us, regardless of gender, Human.

I want to thank you all for bearing with me while I tried to share this point of view in regards to this unjust way in which we systematically abuse women. I have been personally been moved, changed, inspired and grown as a direct result of feminism teaching me the ways in which I myself have propogated this very same problem. I am thankful for each feminist, female and male alike, who have taken the time to help educate me and provide me with wisdom in a constructive way so that I too can help in my own little way to fight back against this affront against women. As always:

Smile.
Love Yourself.
Love Each Other.
Today and EVERY Day, Respect Women.

UPDATED
An example, I suppose, of what I was trying to convey. Today I didn't bring a sweater to work and it is cold in here so I borrowed a flat yellow sweater from one of the women at work to keep warm. So far I've received the following "compliments":

"You look very girlie today John."
"You kind of look like a cute lesbian from the back."
"Nice women's sweater."

I do understand, as most of you will probably, that there was no negative intention in the comments. They were meant to be light, offhand jokes; sarcastic responses to something outside of their norm and I am not offended but that doesn't mean the comments aren't inappropriate. While they seem innocent enough, comments like this (especially coming from women and men alike) continue to promote sexism. Just some thoughts as I was proof reading.