Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Male Feminist

"Empathy is not particularly elusive. It only requires an earnest quest to understand and act on that understanding. The problems women face in this world require the engagement of all the world’s people.“It’s very important for everyone to be a feminist.” "
I really appreciate the simplicity of this call to arms. In this moment in time, violence against women is on the minds of most Americans. For some of us, it has been on our minds for years, or longer. There is a certain amount of truth to be said of the soundbite above, and it is enticing to those who don't know how to move forward in chaos of the national media circus. But in reality, this is not much different from saying that the only thing needed to counteract privilege is to become aware of it, and while that is definitely the first step along the way, it is easy to overlook the depth and seriousness of the issue when everybody is telling you there is an easy solution. It is easy to say that you're not of those kinds of people, but really changing who you are comes as a result of dedication and discipline. 

There is no /easy/ solution to the misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic society in which we live. One big reason for this, is the consistent advantage given to white straight cis males with 'good' education within the realm of business. No wonder! They have been at the top of the food chain for, a long long time. Too long. Long enough for any threat to activate the elaborate justifications for beliefs that serve their purposes. This is where education really comes into play. In our post-modern world, meaning is relative and the ability to justify defines our intellectual caste. 

In most schools, especially in middle and high schools, essays are not written to express some legitimate thought or feeling, but learn to compose the most valid argument for any point. We learn to write to defend our beliefs, but our beliefs about literature or history or whatever are usually made up on the spot, or chosen from a list of beliefs that are harder to defend, and not worth the effort. Much of the time, an hour on spark-notes, and a few hours on the essay is all the effort given.
So when somebody has the ability to craft elaborate justification for any belief, or is bombarded by these justifications throughout their development, it is no wonder their reaction is not to question them, but defend them. For most, they are taken in as the legacy of the adults, the traditional path to walk. This path is one of relative ease and comfort, if the emptiness and homogeneity can be dealt with. 
"Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, There's still time to change the road you're on.
The sad and hard reality is that it will take years and years and years for the top tier of our society to unpack their privilege and understand the extent of the corruption of their own moral compasses. In the long run, we can move towards a better tradition of thought and we can move towards awareness and action. For these two things are necessary for straight-cis-white-males to realize the harm being done at their feet, but it is not an easy path. It is not anything simple. It requires a complete re-evaluation of every memory, of every moment, of every interaction, of every grade, of every job interview, of every aspect of what makes a person a person. There will be pain. There will be grief, and regret, and embarrassment, and anger, and relief, and hope, and help. But there is nothing simple about being a male feminist, about being a Caucasian civil rights supporter, about being an LGBQT ally. It takes miles being walked in the shoes of another. It requires years of talking with and reading work from a community that you will never truly be a part of. It takes perseverance. It takes strong motivations. And most of all, it requires that we prepare those starting down this path for the journey ahead, not that we smooth over the troubles to make it easier for a group of people who have made every aspect of modern life as easy as possible for themselves already.

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