I recently had a guy friend tell me, "Life would be easier if I was a woman."
Wow. Let's all take a moment and reread that.
"Life would be easier if I was a woman."
Sure, I've heard plenty of women say that life is easier for men. But did you ever think you would hear of a man (a straight man, mind you) saying something like this?
It's because he believes, if he was a woman, it would be easier to find support for his depression.
With feminism, women are striving to have the same rights as men do. And while we still have a long way to go, my friend taught me that there are many benefits to being female that men don't have either.
I think that's why feminism gets a bad rap sometimes. Because, many times, feminists want to gain all the benefits of being a man, while being unwilling to share the benefits of being a woman with them. To me, that's not true feminism. Feminism means EQUALITY.
For instance, feminism, to me, also means that I don't expect a man to pay for me on a date. It means, if I see a man I think is attractive at the end of the bar, I'll buy him a drink instead of just expecting him to approach me. It means if a single father is the better parent, that courts should recognize this. It means not judging a man for making less money than me. It means letting little boys play with dolls, paint their nails or join ballet class, if they choose, just like little girls aren't judged for choosing a toy truck over Barbies.
And, most importantly, I feel, feminism means fostering previously deemed feminine qualities in boys. It means encouraging them to talk about their feelings, seek help when they need it, and never, ever telling them to "man up" or calling them a "pussy."
For me, I have a close knit group of female friends who I can talk to about my problems, who will help me feel better and who will let me cry on their shoulders without judging me. If I need any emotional help, I have no problem asking for it. And I think this has saved my life on many occasions.
While some men have this kind of support, others, like my friend, don't.
Could this be one of the reasons suicide by men is more than three times more prevalent than by women in the United States? According to an article in BC Medical Journal, "Men’s lack of social support, relative to that available to women, has been implicated as a risk factor in male suicide. ... Few preventive efforts or policies specifically targeting male suicide have been developed or evaluated, which further contributes to its lack of visibility as a major public health problem."
For me, being a feminist doesn't mean only fighting for women's rights. It also means raising awareness of the things that aren't fair for men. It means talking about this "silent epidemic" and working to increase resources and social support for men, just like women have.
Yes, feminism means equal pay for equal work. It means more women being promoted to leadership positions in the workplace. It means not viewing women as sex objects. It means that women are strong and independent and don't need a man to survive. But, when men and women truly are equal, which I hope happens sooner than later, it won't just benefit women. It will benefit everyone.
I recently had a guy friend tell me, "Life would be easier if I was a woman." Wow. Let's all take a moment and reread tha...