My Attempt at Understanding and Supporting #YesAllWomen

(Note: I am not a professional writer. I do not represent any group or have a hidden agenda. I’m just a simple blogger, with an honest streak, who talks about what’s on his mind. I may have messed up the idea of the whole feminism movement and if I did, I am sorry. Please leave a comment and tell me what you really think.)

I am passionate about very few things.

It’s a sad statement, but a true one. The sorry fact is I have been beaten and bruised by mental illness for so much of my life that very few things get through my filters and make me care.

I can say I am passionate about my family. I love all of them very much, from my wife to my second cousin once-removed.

I am passionate about mental health issues and the stigma that surround a person when they have a mental illness.

I am passionate about…well, I can’t think of anything else right now.

Well, that last statement is not true at all anymore.

I have come to care very much in the past few weeks for something that many men should follow: the plight of women everywhere.

I have been given an education since the Elliot Rodger shooting by the women on Twitter and the #YesAllWomen trending topic.

But why just the past few weeks have I started caring about this issue? This is an issue that has been around forever, and this is not the first time I have come in contact with it. Feminism is not a new subject, and I am sure I have an opinion of it.

No, it never got through my filters.

But then, I started reading the stories of women raped, beaten and objectified and got upset. At first I got upset because I had the reaction that I think 99% of most men had when they started reading the Tweets in the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

“Hey, you women are making it sound like all men are bad and rape women. I am not like that. I have never beaten or raped a woman. I am a male, and I was raped as a child too. Not all men are like that!”

I think I even sent a Tweet to address that very subject.

It took me a couple of days and more research on the subject to see that all these women expressing their anger and pain about the plight of the female gender in the world are not saying that all men are bad eggs. What they are saying is “All men may not be bad, but all women have been affected negatively by a man at one point in their lives, be it misogyny, sexism, objectification or outright sexual violence”.

When I read that “a woman’s chance of being raped in the United States is 1 in 5”, I was horrified. Closer to home, “7049 rape cases were reported in the Philippines in 2013.” This is coming from a country where, as stated in this article:

“The hard fact is that this is not yet the true representation of the problem. Due to cultural and social stigmatization associated with rape, many women victims prefer to maintain their silence and not report their ordeal to the authorities.”

The Philippines is not the only country with a culture that stigmatizes sexual assault. Many cultures, even so-called “progressive” cultures like the United States and the United Kingdom demonize rape victims and force many who have suffered this injustice to just stay quiet and not report incidents of sexual violence.

(We could go on all day quoting statistics, but I won’t do that because I am no expert and if you want to research further, just click the links I provided.)

What I am trying to say is that, after a time, I stopped getting mad at comments made by women and started to really absorb the stories and observations I saw being fed to me.

What I realized was I had erred in the worst way; by ignoring the problem. I lived in a black box my whole life, never really acknowledging that there was a problem. My eyes began to open to the possibility that most women I would meet in any given day would have a story to tell. I even talked to my wife about it, and realized that even my sweet, lovable soul-mate had been affected negatively by men and the problem was not just isolated incidents endured by jaded women on social media.

Of course, I was also affected by the comments of angry men and so-called Men’s Rights Activists, who are quick to react by commenting negatively and joking about the problem. I was told that I should stand up for my gender, not tweet that ”I never realized that there was such a hostile culture towards women” in this world. After all, men are more likely to be murdered in the United States than women, right?

Of course, I agree that that both genders have their own set of problems, but you must acknowledge that women live an existence of fear every day of their lives, and this fear is caused by men. Men created this “Rape Culture” we live in. Men engage in sexism and objectification every day.

I had to ask myself, “Have I ever engaged in behaviors that would be considered sexism? Have I ever objectified a woman? Have I added to this world’s culture of rape by joking about the problem?

I had to honestly answer “Yes”.

Like I said, I have never engaged in violence towards a woman or raped anyone. But, as a man, I have benefited personally by sexism both in my personal life and my career. Many times in my life I have treated women like objects instead of thinking, caring individuals.

The thing that bothers me the most is how I have treated women in the past, and it’s an attitude that many, if not most, men have. I have looked at women as my own personal sexual objects. Sure, with age I have learned to respect women as people. But, the sad fact is, I lived most of my life sexualizing women and now I know that it is just wrong.

What has changed? Why don’t I treat women the same way as I always have?

Now, I am in a happy, healthy relationship (sure with its own problems) and I truly respect my wife. I have a young daughter that I don’t want to see ruined towards men by a man without good intentions. More recently, I have seen the effect that men’s behaviors have on women, and how they are treated wrongly in many situations.

I know I am taking a stand here that won’t be very popular. I have already received many negative comments about the Tweets I have made supporting the #YesAllWomen topic. But, I am at a point in my life where I do not give a shit what a few angry trolls think of me.

The important thing here is to get the message out there and open a few more eyes like mine. Those of us who care, but maybe haven’t really understood what women go through on a daily basis, need to know what is happening, and do something to change it. I am not asking all men to go out there and become a feminist and march on Washington, but there are a few things a man can do that will help change our fellow males mind about how we treat women. I found this great article called “A gentleman’s guide to rape culture” that outlines some things we can do to help this cause. It’s a tough article to read, but try to peruse it with an open mind. The more men we have standing up for women, the better.

If you want to become a feminist, more power to you. You are in great company. Mick Foley (AKA Mankind) the wrestler considers himself a feminist, and I don’t think I would tell him to his face that it’s wrong.

So, what about me? What do I do to help support the cause?

Right now, I don’t think I qualify to be a feminist. I think deeds, not words make you who you are, and I just haven’t had the time to make that much of an impact. I am going to continue to follow #YesAllWomen and tweet where I think it’s appropriate. I don’t like to intrude too much and comment too frequently because I think #YesAllWomen is about just that, women. They are telling their stories, sharing their opinions and connecting with one another.  I don’t want to share my humble, yet somewhat ignorant opinion too much and ruin what these women are trying to accomplish.

I am also going to hold my fellow man accountable where I see ignorance. I think men need to speak up to other men more often because we need to destroy this rape culture that is so prevalent. Men need to call out other men who are participating in actions that are damaging and hurtful to women, and do something about it.

It may not seem I am doing much, but it’s a start. Who knows? One day you may turn on your television and see me marching on Washington, holding a sign and defending a woman’s right to feel safe walking down the street.

Weirder things have happened.

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2 thoughts on “My Attempt at Understanding and Supporting #YesAllWomen

  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. I’m sorry some people have given you a hard time about supporting this campaign. In feminism we have a saying “patriarchy hurts men too”. Men are expected to always be stoic,squelch their emotions, and sometimes treating women as objects can be seen as a way of “proving” your manhood. (Like you said, people telling you to stick up for your own gender) And like you pointed out, men and boys can be victims of sexual violence too.But that’s the thing—when I talk frankly about being a survivor of rape, I’m not saying all men did it, or denying that it happens to men as well. I am speaking my truth about my particular experience. I think this “battle of the sexes” much of society has created ultimately isn’t good for anyone, even with the material perks it allows men, and we should all work together to elevate things for all humanity.

    • Thank you for your great comments.

      I wasn’t sure I got my point across, and it took me a long time to be able to publish this post. I was doubting myself, as usual. I wish I could just confidently express my opinion without my inner critic stepping in and ruining the whole thing.

      I agree we should all work together. It’s the only way things will get better.

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