There is a line, a subtle line, but a line nonetheless. It’s crossed daily by men who are oblivious to the fact that they traverse through these boundaries; boundaries that should otherwise be left undisturbed. I’m talking about the line between a friendly gesture, or compliment, and sexual harassment. I had to learn this lesson the hard way, fairly recently. I have been known amongst my friends to be bold and outspoken; but when does a compliment go too far? I was completely ignorant to the fact that—while a few of my ‘compliments’ received smiles, laughter, and the occasional roll of the eyes—there were a few occasions where I took it too far. This particular occasion my “compliment,” which was directed towards a mentor, that I hold in the highest regard, was seen as a sign of disrespect. I would go into specifics about what was said, or the stern reality check which I received, but what I said is not as important as the fact that I said it with complete disregard for how she would feel. I just opened my mouth and let my thoughts flow through with absolutely no filter.
You Should “Gaf”:
The “idgaf” attitude that our generation flaunts with pride is dangerous. Sure, not allowing boundaries set by others hold you back from your happiness can be great, as long as it doesn’t harm others. You see stories and videos of women being undermined, constantly, and some are straight out publicly humiliated or attacked, all in the name of fulfilling our selfish desires. The desire for laughs or release is greater than our desire to protect or respect the individual. Tupac said it best, “I think it’s time we kill for our women. Time to heal our women, be real to our women.” Some may see the word kill and be a bit skeptical. Bear with me; use the word “kill” as a term for change. Killing our misogynistic, chauvinistic, contemptuous personalities and replacing them with a personality which show respect towards all women, as we would show to our own mothers. Maybe you didn’t grow up with a mom, I get that. I didn’t either, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t have motherly figures in my life. I’d be willing to bet you had someone step in, from time to time. If I acted to my step-mother the way I did towards my mentor… let’s just say I wouldn’t have gotten dessert after dinner for a long time, and I really love ice cream.
How To Save A Life:
That is the issue that I am trying to get across. Even if you’re not out there cat calling, dropping roofies in drinks, or raping women, does not mean that you aren’t causing harm. There are plenty of men out there that are against the discrimination of women, yet their mannerisms still come off as offensive. So, here I am, with an open apology towards all women. This is from the men that are for gender equality, but haven’t quite figured it out yet. Until we are set on a proper path, we will continue blissfully ignorant of our actions. In my case, it took a bold woman to pull the wool from my eyes. My initial confusion was replaced with understanding and feelings of guilt for all of those that I may have offended. I cannot change the past, but I can help pave the future for respectable men. With the passing of our beliefs to future generations, women will no longer have to fear walking to their cars at night. They won’t have to fear picking up their drink that was left alone, for just a moment, and they won’t have to fear earning less than their male colleagues. Men, analyze yourself and truly think about your actions towards women. Many of us have characteristics that need some tweaking. If we learned to love and respect all woman more than we love to look at and objectify them, then progress can truly be made. Lead by example, you never know, you may be saving a life.
The love of my life, Emma Watson, is a major driving force behind the HeForShe campaign. If you haven’t heard about it, I highly recommend checking out their website, HeForShe.org. The idea behind this movement is that gender equality can’t be achieved without men acting as a part of the solution. We are the ones who can influence our groups and cliques at school, work, or wherever you may find an increase in testosterone. I remember when I started hanging out with jocks during high school. It wasn’t uncommon for them to refer to girls as “bitches” and to see them as mere numbers, or objects. I was uncomfortable with it, at first. Sadly, it became tolerable, and, ultimately, using the same words became second nature. I’m sure I used words I would never think of using today, such as “slut” or “whore,” more than I said my own name. Those words would be used to describe my own friends. I think the only thing worse was that those friends became used to it. It was expected to be belittled by labels such as those, and if you weren’t then it was only a matter of time. As I grew older and I shied away from sports, I started feeling like something was wrong. So the vocab changed, but the goal didn’t. Women were still seen as either sex objects or baby making machines. I taught my group to increase the charm, decrease the initial disrespect, only so we could achieve the same outcome, quicker. We are humans and sex isn’t the only reason we were put on this earth. Sure, biologically we want to jump each other’s bones every few hours; but, aren’t we past giving into animalistic urges? Some aren’t, and don’t show signs of stopping.
Feminism has gained a negative connotation and women who try to spread its message are seen as men-hating individuals. That couldn’t be further from the truth; they don’t hate men, they just aren’t fond of the advantages we get for having a penis. So, there’s a war brewing. I know, a bit dramatic, but there’s no other way to put it; however, feminists are not at war with men, but instead male privilege. It’s about time we all take-up arms against every form of inequality, whether it’s gender, race or religion. Whatever our color or creed, we’ve all seen the damage inequality produces. Being a feminist isn’t limited to women, because of campaigns such as HeForShe, men are proudly raising the feminist banner. I’m a feminist, and I implore all of the male readers to join the cause. To do so, our old selves must die and be replaced with gentlemen who see women as people, not objects. It’s a simple question: Which side of history do you want to be on?
Photo Source: Freemayhem.com