Updated: Feb 27, 2021
Recently I saw a headline that said Male student given in-school suspension for wearing nail polish to Texas high school. The headline vexed me - I was appalled at the school for suspending someone who was only trying to express himself in the way that he knows. The more I thought about this, the more I saw it occur around me. It occurs when guys make fun of someone else for not liking sports or when they tell someone to “man up” because “manly men” don’t cry or show emotions. My displeasure with this idea only increased after I learned about people putting down Harry Styles for wearing a dress on the cover of a magazine. They complained that it wasn’t “manly” enough and yet when women go out wearing clothes that people consider to be traditionally “manly” they are encouraged for breaking the status quo.
Why can’t we treat men breaking the status quo similarly? Is it really that bad that a guy chose to wear a dress? Or if a student chooses to wear nail polish to express himself? We are so quick to put others down if their way isn’t our way. If their beliefs don’t align with our beliefs. Why is that? Are we truly so against change that we attempt to suppress it at any chance we get?
The more I learned about the situation surrounding men and what they had to deal with I felt compelled to better understand the societal pressures that men uniquely face. It was around this time that I began to look into the Men’s Rights Movement.
To be honest, my initial search wasn’t the most uplifting. Many people use the movement in an effort to disguise their own prejudices and as a result, paint the rest of the men in a poor light. These men used the movement as a way to bring other women down for standing up for their own rights and to inaccurately portray feminists as women who hate men. As I read this, even I began to wonder if all men are the same: do they even want equality, or do they just want to know they’re better? However, my own judgment had blinded me. The true Men’s Rights Movement at its core isn’t about bringing women down, but simply making sure that while we are advocating for a women’s right, we are also advocating for the right of men: the right to be vulnerable, to express emotion, to wear clothes that aren’t traditionally “manly”.
Feminism isn’t about raising some genders up at the expense of bringing some other genders down. Feminism is about advocating for gender equality and making sure that all genders have the opportunity to be themselves without fear of prejudice. In an effort to strive towards this common goal, people of all gender identities should be there for each other instead of disregarding the opinions of the opposite side. By being allies for each other, we are also helping ourselves.
My original idea for this piece was a hard-hitting exposé on how the Men’s Rights Movement was created for the sole purpose of hurting women. The more I looked into the issue, the more I realized that I was the one who was painting them in a bad light. Instead of letting my prejudices guide me, I should’ve been able to see it from their perspective. I’m not saying women don’t have it hard, we do and we struggle with issues daily, however, men face their own issues that shouldn’t be belittled because we all have our own thresholds.
To all the men who hate on feminism: I understand why you might feel attacked, and I can surely do better at calling you in instead of calling you out. Perhaps we can each learn a thing or two about being better allies. Just know that in this fight for equality, I’ll stand up for you, too. Because feminism isn’t a movement for just a few of us. It’s a movement for us all.