It feels good to be in a group where everyone more or less agrees with you. It’s strange how one different idea can be shot down with, “It’s not all about you, you know? Consider the rest of us.” I surely am not asking to be pampered, but, when the topic is sexism suddenly I have a wretched case of “feminism agenda” that can’t be cured.
Feminism, or the belief all people benefit in society when women are treated equally, is not a man-hating belief system. Feminism does not ask for nor demand that women receive special treatment or unearned respect. If you have ever once in your life complained you have been mistreated simply for the body you happen to inhabit, then you have been the target of discrimination.
Everyone can relate to being teased, bullied, disparaged, harassed or mocked to some degree. When the problem is females being attacked or criticized simply for being female, then as a society we all have to ask ourselves why this happens and how does it negatively affect all of us- male and female or otherwise identified.
Parental Leave is Lopsided
Widely held notions and traditionally held beliefs are often the guilty parties in cultural sexism, which affects individuals holding sexist beliefs as well as institutions. A great example of how sexism affects men is the lack of paternity leave in America. The average length for maternity leave is 10.3 weeks in the USA; The FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) is the only legislation guaranteeing new parents up to 12 weeks unpaid time-off to take care of their baby. The newborn benefits from paternity leave because fathers tend to be more hands-on as parents throughout their child’s lifetime. Fathers also benefit health-wise with less heart problems and living longer lives in general.
Many in the US simply can’t afford to take a long parental leave even if the option is available. Compare this to the fact that 70 European countries have paid leave for fathers either in the form of paternity leave of splitting time with the mother’s leave. Sweden began offering paid paternity leave in 1974, where parents are allotted 480 days of paid parental leave (60 days reserved specifically for Dad). In America, parental leave is lopsided with mothers home with the newborn almost exclusively, and not her partner or father.
Why am I talking about fathers and men instead of focusing on mothers and women? Because, if as a society we devalue the worth of a mother in a newborn’s most precious first year of life, we also devalue the worth of a father. Every parent is equally important.
Men with addiction to alcohol and drugs are encouraged by the #1 non-profit abstinence-only fellowship, Alcoholics Anonymous, to put meetings above family. Today, AA members still read in the chapter titled “The Family Afterward,” on page 129 of the Big Book (published in 1939 and the main text of the program: Even if he displays a certain amount of neglect and irresponsibility toward the family, it is well to let him go as far as he likes in helping other alcoholics. The mindset of parenting being more traditionally a woman’s role. The result being men’s treatment centers typically do not offer, as many women’s treatment centers do, the right to have their infant or young child stay with them during treatment. Daycare is a special feature in many women’s residential rehabs, but childcare is not a special consideration for men.
Every Experience is Valid
Too many are rejecting feminism because “not everyone” is catcalled, or “not everyone” makes less than a man because she’s a woman, or “not everyone” has the same beliefs on birth control. No one has to agree on one shared experience, as we all have individual experiences. Beliefs are shaped by our experiences. But when someone speaks out about being catcalled and gets the response: “I’ve never been catcalled,” then one true experience is being compared to another true experience. We participate in social injustice when we act as bystanders, also. We can greatly reduce the number of reports of sexual harassment if all of us focus more on who’s doing the harassment versus who’s reporting the act.
Speaking for All of Us
Women are underrepresented in the government, today only 19% of the US Congress is made up of women. Therefore, the other 81% of Congress needs to be cognizant of the fact they represent women as well as men. This is not pampering women’s special interests, rather, it’s realizing women’s interests are also human interests. There will be some male experiences females cannot relate to and vice versa. However, we all deserve the same rights and liberties.
Sexism is hearing women want more maternity leave and thinking that isn’t fair because men don’t get paternity leave. As mentioned above, that isn’t true, it isn’t fact, and it’s proven men are making more of these unfair laws than women are. Therefore, men need feminism as much as women do. All it takes is learning the truth about legal and social injustices and changing how we speak about the matters. Beliefs can be changed. Laws can be changed.
This post was inspired by The Daily Post: Pamper
I agree, feminism needs to be about equality for both men and women. I think any actual or perceived lopsidedness to feminism shuts people off far too easily from the its inherent possibilities. In fact revolution, the birth of equality, seems to require feminism exist. Look at Rosa Parks “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.” Some things only a women, or only a man, can do well. As well as the generalized strong points of the sexes. It all seems so simple, “both sexes need each other.” It’s required for many things from childbirth to revolution. And that is exactly why it has become such a divisive issue. Tyranny requires a divide and conquer strategy to maintain the facade of it’s power. When the people unite on common grounds, oppression doesn’t stand a chance.
Thanks Jason, nice to see one of my first readers on this blog chime in. I absolutely agree everyone has strengths and weaknesses, not all women are the same as all women; not all men are the same as all men. You’re right about all of that and I think if you read one of my other more recent posts (You’re not insane the world is…) it’s time to really get united. Easy enough to point out obvious differences. Definitely need common ground.
I agree with Jason that people shut off, “far to easily”. I have seen that happen with Civil Rights issues as well as with Female issues. The Cleveland Police department was once giving bonus points to women and minorities to help them pass the Civil Service Exam. Many white men were feeling like the bonus points were not creating a level playing field. Some white males thought that if they even repeated this around a woman or minority that they would come off like they would be taken by women and minorities as if they were suggesting that only white males could pass the test without them because they were somehow smarter.
I think some feminists do not realize how men are going to perceive certain approachs to public policy, and the work force nor do they care. If in fact men are threatend why would anyone want to approach a set of policy’s with out really including men. I know men who have tried to open a door for a woman, or just be kind only to be met with hostility and a bunch of political phrased sentences directed at them. I know a couple of men who are walked on by their spouse. Where the wife is always saying, “typical man”, and I never let a man have that much control in my house to touch the remote. This type of thinking is similar to a Christian recently tell me that my dad died from Cancer because he lacked faith in Jesus despite reading the Bible ever day, going to Churc all the time Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It is a zealouslythat pushes people away. I tried to eat a plant based diet to have someone flip on me for eating Peanut Butter because it has molds in it.
I’m going to have to look up about the Cleveland civil service exam information, because that’s information I’d like to read more about before I can make a thorough response.
I don’t doubt that (possibly in order to raise quotas of minorities) standards were dropped to have more women and other minorities in. (I personally cringe having to lump women with minorities, I mean… “minorities” would have to be both women & men who aren’t white and then all white women, too… Which therein lies the basis of what *was* the initial problem: Laws and places of employment at one time were nearly exclusive to white men. These laws at a point in time prevented women & minorities from getting jobs (or even going to some colleges). It goes back to what is the problem with current hiring practices today, why were those policies developed, who were those policies developed to help the most?
I think feminists do care, and it’s wrong to say “typical male” or “typical man,” I agree. I think it’s born of generations of house moms were unhappy, think of the 60s and so on, who felt their only power was making snide comments about their husbands. It’s not cool to do that anymore— I totally agree. But I think we all tend to think what happened in the past does not matter today. I also think some men are looking for “old fashioned” women or they meet a woman and think once they are married she will appreciate being dependent on him. I suppose that’s one way a wife can step all over her husband, or perhaps to him it just “feels” that way. Of course that comment about your dad was rude, doesn’t matter if a “Christian” or anyone else had said it. And too many plant-based diets contain living things like yeast or mold or whatever. Heck, I thought mold was vegetarian.
Very true. The Civil Service bonus point situation was posted on an Lorain County Community College cork board some time in late 1999-2003. In General I think people take a point of view in society and run with it, and tend to alienate others. We all just gotta take a breath.
Rodney King said it best:
People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids? … It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ll, we’ll get our justice … Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to work it out.