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Why Feminism Benefits Everyone

Why Feminism Benefits Everyone

As a woman in the 21st century, I owe a lot to feminism. Thousands of women before me fought for the right to vote, to be economically independent, and to have bodily autonomy. (OK, we’re still fighting that last one.) The situation isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s hard to deny that women have many more options than they did several decades ago.

Men, however, don’t seem to be making the same advances.

Usually when someone tries to steer a conversation about feminism away from women and toward men, it’s just a diversion. It’s an attempt to draw attention away from very real injustices women still face all over the world. However, that doesn’t mean that men have nothing to gain from feminism.

Because of the name, you might be forgiven for thinking that feminism is all about women. It really isn’t, though. While no one can lay claim to the title Arbiter of Feminism, the movement has matured and evolved over the decades to become more intersectional, now integrating race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, and so on into feminist analysis. (Although the continued existence of TERFs and the recent Ani DiFranco controversy indicate that we have a long way to go.) It’s really about more than tearing down the arbitrary gender walls that keep women from realizing their full potential. It’s about smashing those wall for everybody.

I remember growing up, the last thing I wanted to be called was girly. I didn’t want to wear dresses or wear makeup or do my hair. I wasn’t a tomboy, really, but I also wasn’t especially feminine. And I certainly didn’t want to be like those other girly-girls. Pink was nowhere to be found.

It’s not as easy for boys to eschew gender roles. Despite progress in making traditionally masculine activities and characteristics available to girls, activities and characteristics seen as feminine are still considered a step down. There are still very few men in traditionally feminine jobs:

While women have broken into fields once dominated by men, such as business, medicine and law, men have been slower to pursue nursing, teach preschool, or take jobs as administrative assistants. Census data and surveys show that men remain rare in stereotypically feminine positions.

When it comes to gender progress, said Ronald F. Levant, editor of the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinity, “men are stuck.”

This could be, of course, because preschool teacher doesn’t pay the same as doctor. But what about a nurse? That’s a relatively well-paying, stable job. Why wouldn’t men want to get on that train?

It’s not surprising that men haven’t quite caught up with women in this regard considering how we still speak about women. Everyday lingo places women in a weak position. Don’t let anyone see your feelings, Steve! You don’t want to be called a [insert crude term for a woman's genitalia here]. Because Odin forbid that men and boys be allowed to get in touch with there feminine side.

Adult perceptions about the relative merits of masculine traits as compared to feminine traits matter. As reported in the LA Times, boys who seem more girlish worry the adults in their lives more than girls who seem more boyish:

Boys stick with typically masculine toys and games much more consistently than girls adhere to feminine ones, Harvard School of Public Health research associate Andrea L. Roberts found. Biologically male children who defy those norms are referred to doctors much earlier than biologically female ones who disdain “girl things,” said Johanna Olson of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Even the criteria for diagnosing gender dysphoria were historically much broader for effeminate boys than for masculine girls.

Why? “Masculinity is valued more than femininity,” University of Utah law professor Clifford Rosky said. “So there’s less worry about girls than about boys.”

None of this is to say that things aren’t changing. Pressure from consumers has had some success in de-gendering toys that have been marketed in gender-specific ways. In Europe, at least, toy stores have started to eliminate boys and girls sections and one Swedish toy store even did a little gender swapping in their catalog.

Things are changing for adults, as well. According to The Atlantic, most new fathers working at Fortune 500 companies take some paternity leave. In fact, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have guaranteed 6, 12 and 13 weeks of paid paternity leave, respectively. While this mindset isn’t that widespread yet, family leave policies are starting to be something both men and women take seriously when looking at potential employers.

Hopefully, as we start a new year there will be even more recognition that rigid gender roles don’t just hurt one gender. We’ve come a long way, but maybe the real progress is yet to come.

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Photo Credit: Jason Pratt via Flickr

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6:27AM PDT on May 7, 2014

Thank you Rainbow....you taught me a lot..needed the experience and it paid off...

6:12PM PST on Feb 3, 2014

“as I mentioned it was a very impressive display.”
These are common political tactics. Also, there is nothing in these articles that mention “about the manner in which the Chinese Navy behaved as opposed to the others…”

6:12PM PST on Feb 3, 2014

“and yes you would of had him charged as well, he was charged - just didn't make it to court...”
Which you didn’t mention until I told you how implausible your story was.

“were those soldiers charged and sued..”
Those were the National Guard [and police]. They were brought out when protesters came in droves. No they were not to my knowledge. But you must understand, back then you had to fork over huge amounts to retain a lawyer, no you may not. Also sometimes the protestors are not peaceful. My aunt was in a few back then and it was about 50/50. If violence broke out sometimes it was the cops/NG, sometimes one of the protestors lost their cool and popped a cop. But in a court you must always be able to PROVE who did what. Now we have cell phones everywhere and it’s less of a problem. Back then it could be the cop’s word against the hippies. Now they bust them. But it can go the other way, and cops can sue.
[http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/ucd/pike-uc-reach-38059-workers-comp-agreement/]”The former campus cop seen in a viral video pepper-spraying student protesters will receive workers’ compensation totaling $38,056…In January, UCD agreed to pay $1 million to settle a federal suit. Twenty-one plaintiffs who were sprayed or arrested were to receive $30,000 each. Another 15 who also had claims approved were to be paid $6,666 apiece.”

“as I mentioned it was a very impressive display.”
These are

11:05PM PST on Jan 31, 2014

There is a lot of muscle flexing happening here in Australia re our relationships with both China (our largest trading partner) and the US (our Ally)...it was a news item..not print much harder to find the footage..of the actual story..will keep looking..but this is the result of that visit...as I mentioned it was a very impressive display.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/01/15/china-australia-strike-agreement-defence-action-plan

6:48PM PST on Jan 31, 2014

Yes, that was a bit of a cheap shot Rainbow..you do speak out against the actions of the Military...and yes you would of had him charged as well, he was charged - just didn't make it to court...

"My: things have moved on in the Military since the 1970's they can be sued now for misbehaviour...oh the good old days...when you could punch up civilians and not get charge.."

It was very rare here in Australia around the 1970's for the Defence Forces to get sued by civilians or their personnel unlike today.. You mentioned earlier about the Nam Vets home coming in the US and how the "hippies" were putting flowers in the rifles and some got their teeth knocked out...were those soldiers charged and sued..

As for that mishap on the Great Barrier reef..I did actually read the circumstances and I for one was not angry at the US pilot, it was our Government that approved the area....and believe me "it was a drop in the ocean" compared to what our own Government has in store for it.

4:24PM PST on Jan 31, 2014

That's not all I would have done; it would be reported and he could face military charges.

Furthermore if I condoned it, why am speaking openly about military misbehavior?

"Anyway at this stage of the conversation you will add..."
If you know it why do you do it? This reminds me of a dog [who knows better] crapping on someone's lawn and sneakily trying to disown it.

4:23PM PST on Jan 31, 2014

More distracting from the questions. First we were picking apart an episode of Ros the Pregnant Avenger, now were on about the US and Chinese Navies habits and Tort law.

"Tort" Law..a Duty of Care..very familiar with it:"
If you were you wouldn't make comments like "My: things have moved on in the Military since the 1970's they can be sued now for misbehaviour".

"it's that word "accidentally" again"
Interesting that you focus on that word. That was accidental in one way or another. Maybe the pilot was jack-assing around with his cell phone but trust me if it had been 'intentional' yall's tourist attraction would be long gone.

"Well that's good to know a Chinese Warship hasn't docked in Sydney (2013) along with other Naval Vessels including the US"
There's that sentence warping. I never said ships don't frequent Sydney, it's a common POC. I questioned your allegation as to the behavior of the US Navy. That's when you provide proof, so far none.

"You've said that several times..what you haven't said is "if you condemn or condone it"
There's that passive aggression. It's very plain for anyone to see that I don't condone this behavior. [Interesting that you want people to spell it out for you while you refuse to answer very specific questions.] Why would I point out the FTCA and a link to a lawsuit if I condoned it? Why would I say that I would have bawled any of my men out if they had punched a pregnant woman? That's not all I would have done; it would be repo

4:56AM PST on Jan 31, 2014

I will be celebrating my 60th birthday tomorrow (OZ time)...it's a pity (a shame)..that we will still be poles apart..but that doesn't mean that I will be ashamed of being born a human..there are still many good humans out there..........and for that I am truly grateful...they really do shine the light..

"After years of being called everything in the book personal insults only amuse me."
Likewise for me but I'm not amused that easily..maybe we aren't so different after all..now that really is confronting.

4:27AM PST on Jan 31, 2014

"You are trying to find a soft spot". Rainbow, I'm sure you have one but not for me..and it is not to my advantage anyway.

"Tort" Law..a Duty of Care..very familiar with it: only recently finished (2012) a six year investigation and Court Case based on it and no I wasn't the Defendant.

"I know the Navy accidently dropped some unarmed bombs in the Barrier Reef and pissed people off." Yes, well that only upset a few environmentalist...but that number will increase in time, I'm sure..maybe Tort Law could apply in this case..that won't happen either..it's that word "accidentally" again

Perhaps just another event you imaged. You're good at that". Well that's good to know a Chinese Warship hasn't docked in Sydney (2013) along with other Naval Vessels including the US, so those claims are unfounded...about the manner in which the Chinese Navy behaved as opposed to the others...but then there is that statement "Yes things do happen but the real bad stuff happens out of eyeshot and they try to hush it up". You've said that several times..what you haven't said is "if you condemn or condone it" Anyway at this stage of the conversation you will add "Still not answering the questions and diverting. Only individuals who have no argument attack with no reasoning".

6:01PM PST on Jan 30, 2014

Yes things do happen but the real bad stuff happens out of eyeshot and they try to hush it up. [http://www.navytimes.com/article/20130826/NEWS06/308260029/Mother-sues-Army-child-sex-abuse-case]

"bad press with the US Navy's R&R"
I'm not aware of this particular event. I know the Navy accidently dropped some unarmed bombs in the Barrier Reef and pissed people off. Perhaps just another event you imaged. You're good at that.

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