Equal Means Equal

Recently, I came across the image below on Facebook, shared by a friend of mine.
Seem Reasonable?
The two of us have discussed women’s rights in the past, and almost unilaterally agree. As many of you know by now, I consider myself a male feminist. That doesn’t mean I don’t think there are certain injustices toward men deal with that women don’t receive. I want equal rights for both genders. As far as I’m concerned, if both are going to have equal rights, then there should be the maximum amount of rights possible. The sort of with us or against us mentality that seems to dictate neo-feminism is something that should not be allowed to continue.
Gender differences in society are not like race differences in society. In America, seemingly every statistic is in favor of the white majority. Speaking as someone in almost every majority, I am not worried about police brutality because of my race, I don’t lose sleep worrying how my community will react to my faith. However, I do worry about what would happen if I ever had to fight for my child in court. Gender is a different story from race.
Let me clarify something. In my humble opinion, there does need to be more progress for women’s rights. The point of everything I’m saying within this is that both men and women need progress for their rights. Though there are more difficulties facing women, but that does not mean that men should be ignored.
Let me examine a bit of precedent behind that statement. Specifically I want to look at Karen DeCrow, who passed away last year. At one point DeCrow was the President of the National Organization for Women. As an attorney, she was able to win many court cases in favor of feminism, and was considered a major leader of the feminist cause in the 1970s and 1980s. That wasn’t all she did, though. Not seeing feminism and masculanism as mutually exclusive, DeCrow actually argued some major cases in favor of men’s rights. For instance, she argued that if a woman has the right to opt out of parenthood through an abortion, then a man should have the right to opt out as well, and leave the process. This incited a large amount of backlash from feminists claiming she was supporting the stereotype of the cruel seductress using her feminine whiles to trick a man into becoming her husband. In reality, DeCrow simply believed that men are no given advantages in every aspect of society. I agree with her. It’s not that there aren’t gender differences that negatively affect women, it’s that there are things that negatively affect men and women.
Marriage is something that is cited as putting women at a disadvantage; however, marriage is a broad thing that has effects on many parts of life. The idea often goes that after being married more work is expected of married women than men, so despite the fact that women and men both have jobs, women do more work on the whole. That is not true. On average men in 2011 spent an average of 47 hours between work and household duties while women spent 39. While it is true that women are far more likely to be stay at home mom’s, I have one myself, that is largely because there is a societal perception that men can’t or shouldn’t be stay at home fathers. When a family starts, many fathers want to stay at home and help the mother of their child raise their child. Unfortunately, the University of Oregon found that only 10-15% of men have that option. Is this a worse harm to men, than the glass ceiling is to women? No. No it is not. That doesn’t mean this should be changed for men.
Let’s look beyond successful relationships though. Crumbling marriages are surprisingly harmful to men. First, let’s look back to the children. Child custody battles do not go well for men. The Census Bureau stated in 2011 that less than 20% of custodial parents are fathers. Anecdotally, when a relative of mine entered a custody battle, one of the first things his attorney told him was that he was unlikely to win because few judges will grant custody to men. There’s no reason to assume that mothers are better than fathers. In fact, Texas A&M found that father’s are very important to childhood development. While a child being able to have both parents is obviously preferable, there is no reason to grant women preference. It is a horrible to think that there are good men who can’t get custody of their children because of gender.

Men can also be called on to do further service to their country than women. It took a ridiculously long time for women to be able to serve in combat areas in the US military. It is insulting to assert that women aren’t capable of things that men are. In all seriousness, I truly believe most women are more suited than me to serve in combat scenarios. So, why don’t they sign up for selective service? While women can opt in to the selective service, it should be mandatory. Men and women ought to have unilaterally equal rights. Rights come with responsibilities. The draft is a necessary evil and if men have the responsibility of defending their country, then so do women.
Something I hate is the portrayal of women in many forms of media. People have learned that sex sells, and so female characters are often portrayed as being there just for visual appeal, or else as only a love interest. That’s not only sexist, but also poor writing. Want to know what else I hate? The portrayal of men in media. Starting at the beginning let’s think of children’s television. There’s a family with three children, two of whom are boys. One is smart and unpopular, the other cuts class to hang out with his numerous friends. Sound familiar? How many shows can you think of where the coolest person/protagonist on the show is a dumb boy? While this problem can certainly extend to women, I can think of very few male characters who are portrayed as intelligent as well as broadly liked, and that is a problem I still have. Just look at the 90’s TV hit Friends. You have three main guys. Two are intelligent. Ross is portrayed as socially challenged because he’s intelligent. The second half of that set is Chandler. Chandler doesn’t win many points socially so he has to resort to humor to get support. Finally, there is Joey. Joey is not smart, but he fares all the better for it usually. He is better looking, gets more girls with less effort, and is generally liked. Regardless of age, we all have an innate desire for acceptance, and we will follow the models set forth to get it. That can translate to problems down the road.
Education is more important for success than ever before. Since 1994, both men and women of all races have become more likely to attend college, a great thing for the progress of our country; however, Pew Research found disparity of gender enrollments has grown. In 1994 women led men in enrollment by a whopping 2%. Small enough that I would call it negligible. That number is up to 13%. College is not for everybody, man or woman. But presuming men and women will want similar jobs at similar rates, there should not be nearly so large a gap. I’m not saying that media portrayal is the only cause of this disparity. Other potential sources cited by Pew include disciplinary disparity towards boys and girls in schools, as well as barrier of entry to the work force, but if every character a boy or man can identify with is unmotivated toward success, what more can you really expect?
Finally, let me address one of the most hot button issues I can. Sexual and relationship violence are monstrosities. The idea of having humanity stripped on such a basic level is horrifying to me. In my mind, rapists are some of the lowliest human beings on the planet because of the way they treat another human being, and I don’t feel sorry for saying that. Anyone harmed in such a way deserves every support they can get. So, why don’t men? If you are reading this and thinking that I’m going off on a tangent about something that isn’t a real problem, then you’re part of the problem. Sorry, now let me explain.
Men get raped. Shocking? Men can be raped by both other men as well as women. In fact, the National Crime Victimization Survey found that roughly 38% of rapes take place against men, which was confirmed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. That’s no paltry amount of victims. So, why is the perception that only women get raped? It’s because men are less likely to report being raped. The idea is that men always want to get laid, so why would they ever say no? Many men won’t even realize they have been raped, thinking they somehow gave consent without realizing it. According to Brown University, men are unlikely to report being raped because there is the societal perception that men need to be able to protect themselves at all times from anything.

It is not a man’s fault that he is raped anymore than it is a woman’s fault. Victim blaming has no productivity. That’s not the way the problem is handled, unfortunately. As highlighted by House of Cards, rape is a major problem in the military. In fact, military statistics show that over half of the victims are male, and 38 men are raped daily in the military. In interviews with GQ some men opened up about their experiences. I admire their courage for speaking out. A man formerly in the Navy named Steve Stovey was bound, blindfolded, and sodomized by three men the day before his father would come to ride on the ship with Stovey. He didn’t say anything for fear of shaming his father. Had Stovey reported the incident, the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy of the time would not only have had his attackers kicked out of the military, but also Stovey himself. Trent Smith allowed was scared to fight back because his assailant was a ranking officer, and he feared reprimand. And those who report are, like civilian men, met with skepticism. A man going by the name Neal reported being raped to his doctor. The doctor responded “Son, men don’t get raped.” For more accounts, follow the link to the GQ article. This perception is wrong.

LeBeouf wore a paper bag for the project.

Want a high profile example? Look at Shia LeBeouf. If you didn’t hear, Shia LeBeouf was raped during a performance art project called “#IAMSORRY.” Viewers got to see LeBeouf in a room in private with Shia. LeBeouf has opened up about the experience with the magazine Dazed. LeBeouf stated that a woman came in and whipped him for ten minutes, and then proceeded to rape him. The most insulting part? People are questioning whether he was raped at all. Evidence shows that what he says is true, but that doesn’t stop people from saying that he couldn’t be raped. In fact, CNN newscaster Piers Morgan wrote a series of Tweets victim-shaming tweets toward LeBeouf. Morgan said “Shia LeBeouf’s claim to have been raped is truly pathetic & demeans real rape victims. Grow up, you silly little man.” If being whipped, stripped, and forced to have sex isn’t a real rape, then what is? If a woman had this happen to her, it wouldn’t be a question if she had been raped. I know the threat of sexual assault is greater for women. I’m not challenging that. What I’m saying is that the fact that this is even a question is an insult.
The societal perception of masculinity needs to change. Men can be raped. Men are not always strong. Men don’t are just as important can be smart and likable. Fathers are just as important as mothers.
As I said at the beginning of this, I truly believe that women have more social rights issues than men. I think to say that men are dealt the worse hand would be ridiculous. My problem is the asssertation that men do not face any damages to our rights. My problem is the idea that if you support the rights of men, then you must be a misogynist. I’m not. I just support human rights. If we are to support equal rights, then we need to remember that equal means equal, and the rights of one should not be prioritized over the rights of another. If you are bothered by the societal harms to men, and thus are a feminist, I encourage you to also be a masculinist.

For more information on anything I talked about, follow the links scattered throughout. If you have any thoughts, leave a comment below.

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