The past few years have seen a surge in the advocacy of women's rights - not only in the United States but in countries like Saudi Arabia, India, and many others.
In several of these movements and protests, it is not surprising to find a significant number of men who march along with other women supporting the same cause - equality for ALL genders. Some men do not understand the need to support this cause and at the same time, there are several women who claim that men should not get involved in this movement. Men need to understand that feminism isn't about women being better than men. It simply means that men and women must be treated equally and with respect. And why not? Why should we live in a society where men and women are treated with inequality? It is time for a change.
We must change.
In today's society, being male is a privilege. It's a fact.
I know I can move in and out of campus without the constant fear of being sexually assaulted. (Note: This doesn't mean that men do not get sexually assaulted, but the incident rate of women being sexually assaulted is exceedingly higher than men.) In several parts of the world, men have a much higher pay grade than women. These are some of the several privileges we have. The presence of these privileges often portrays the image that men aren't interested in supporting equality. But by isolating men who want to try and eliminate this social inequality, we are not progressing as a society. If anything, this leads to its regression. Men will remain uneducated and unaware of these social issues, thus sourcing even more toxic ideas. We need to check our privileges so that we can use these privileges to reduce gender inequality and gender violence. If you see instances that display sexism, say something about it - confront the one who is being biased. If you remain silent, it means that you are siding with the oppressor.
The Gillette ad controversy is an example of how isolating men from the feminist movement can be harmful.
The Gillette short film, "We Believe: The Best Men Can Be", was released with an intention of telling men to be kind and considerate towards each other. It is as simple as that. Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette's North America brand director said that this ad is about taking responsibility to set the best example for the next generation. The Gillette advertisement received heavy backlash from several male customers because they believe that it was a target towards all men. Many claimed that they will boycott the brand and never use Gillette again. The reason as to why this backlash erupted is because of ignorance. The fact that some men flipped their shit while looking at this short film whose primary motive was to inform everyone that they should be nice to each other in real life, proves that ignoring men from the feminist movement will simply lead to more toxic and misconstrued messages.
Another way we can help is by calling out sexist behavior.
Women go through this struggle every single day. In workplaces, they get paid lesser than men even if they are just as qualified. At the same time, they have to deal with sexual harassment at workplaces. When a woman tries to call out sexism, in some or most cases, she would not be taken seriously. But if a male challenges another male, he is more likely to be heard and understood the reason as to why one should not be sexist. This is a sad situation, where the speech of a man is given more importance than that of a woman.
"I'm not here to tell guys that it's their responsibility to come to a woman's rescue. Women are more than capable of handling themselves and have been doing so wonderfully for years. What I am saying is, as one man to another man, examine your own mindset. Examine what makes you tick. Because if you feel that you are more valuable than your wife and kids, that's a problem." - Terry Crews.
One of the reasons I can see why male feminists often get a bad reputation is because we do not know what it is like to experience that struggle on a daily basis. Looking at different scenarios from a different sociological perspective can help fix stereotypes and assumptions. Feminism is not a fight against men; it is a fight for equality, a fight for respect.
We can try.
We can try and make amends.
We can support and treat everyone as human beings.
We can be better men.