A gentleman by the name of Chad R. Herman wrote the following piece. The article was featured in NCADV’s

The Voice: The Journal of the Battered Women’s Movement
Featuring 37 articles by leading advocates and authors in the battered women’s movement.
If you’d like to order The Voice: The journal of the Battered Women’s Movement please got to http://shop.ncadv.org/inc/sdetail/116/11519 to order.

Men: Now is the time!

by Chad R. Herman

 

I sat eating lunch leaning on a big oak tree next to a gorgeous lake. A woman came out of a nearby office building obviously upset and made a b-line to the oak tree. When she saw me already there, she asked in a very agitated tone: “Why can’t men be…” She paused for a moment, seeming to catch herself and took a deep breath. She looked at me, a male gendered person, up and down, shook her head, and continued; “Why can’t you men treat people better? Why can’t you men be thoughtful of other people’s feelings?  Why can’t you men, just be nice?”

An interesting group of questions from a woman obviously exasperated by the male species. These are questions we as men need to answer for ourselves as well as for the society we live in. These questions speak to a view that men in our society have had for centuries. When did we as a male collective decide that women were 2nd class citizens or below us?

Many men say this is just not the case. They cite the fact that they themselves do not feel this way. They point out all of the rights women have. They cite the inaccuracies of statistics, and the fact that they don’t do things to harm or hurt women. However, we as men also do not do anything to help further women’s equality either.  The equality that women have gained in the 20th century alone: right to work, right to vote, right to hold high ranking positions, right to leave the house, right to not get abused, right to decide to have children or not, the right to get paid what they’re worth, the right to not be pressured for sex in the business place, have not been done with the help of men, but instead through women clawing their way through every piece of red tape and smashing every glass ceiling. Even though this is the reality of the women’s movement, there are men that will take credit for “allowing” the women to achieve these rights.  But the question remains, where would a man be without his mother? Nonexistent.

So what can men do to help women’s equality and stop the violence, abuse, and general debasement of the feminine collective?

First they must educate themselves and understand the true depth that this inequality has taken. Men must understand that when a female candidate for public office steps to the podium, she will be judged by our societal standards first and foremost, and her stand on the issues of government as an afterthought. We saw this time and time again in the 2008 election and this was echoed in a myriad of elections throughout the country.  When Senator Clinton spoke and debated, 80% of the media spoke about her fashion sense, her choice of clothing, and the amount of cleavage she was showing, but only a side comment on her political commentary.  Men must understand that when a woman arrives at any function, be it a back yard barbecue or a high class social function, her body will be examined, scrutinized, and leered at before anyone ever looks at her face, her intelligence, or even her past accolades. In our society, women are seen as body parts first, dressing habits second, and intelligence last. Men must understand that this is the reality of the society they live in and that they are part of this debasement.

In a society where the differences in the genders are pointed out and presented as reasons to continue the inequality, it obviously sets up an imbalance of power.  This imbalance is then taught in every household no matter how subtle and displayed in every piece of media in existence to such a an extent that women themselves began to believe and buy into their lower status, and men believe it is their right. This imbalance of power is then fortified in sexist jokes, misogynistic comments, and the male dominated decision makers in the government and through the leaders of most businesses.  This power that we as men are given has become our birthright and accepted as normal. Yet, the irony of the entire situation is that we received this power through a woman giving us breath, a heart  beat,  brain power, and life itself.

The most important thing a man can do to stop this violence and degradation of women and fully eliminate this horrible epidemic that kills and injures so many in our world is simple: Hold other men accountable.  Hold other men to the same moral standards that we, the well meaning men, hold ourselves to. Stop your boys from making sexist jokes. When a friend or a colleague identifies a woman because of her body parts and fails to see her as a person, point it out. We as men are examples to other men as to how to be men. When a man becomes part of a group of men, he takes his cues from the other men of the group. When a boy watches men interact, their actions are imprinted on his brain. We are the role models, the examples, and the people who are teaching other men how to act. If we do not stop the misogynistic sexist actions and viewpoints that are propagated by the so called normal ways of men, we are solidifying the view of women as 2nd class citizen and there by strengthening the imbalance of power and control.

I put my lunch down and smiled at the young woman who was so agitated toward men.  What could I say  to her to help ease the pain?  Because that’s exactly what we must do, stop the pain men are inflicting not only towards women but also towards other men.  I smiled and told her that I don’t know why men are the way they are. But I do know that now is time for men to stand up and change how women are seen and treated in the world today. It is time for men to do more than walk in parades or say they are for women’s rights. It is time for men to change the policies and views of domestic violence in their work place and their community. It is time for men to step up and change the corporate and government policies in every aspect of our society. It is time for men to speak out against the sexualization and objectification of women in media and every day conversations. We can no longer say we are “good men” and do nothing about the rights of our mothers, grandmothers, sister, daughter, granddaughters – the people who make up the majority of our community and population.

She smiled and with a “Thank You” that seemed to encompass any man who took up this challenge, walked quietly away.

 

Advertisements