Friday, January 28, 2011

Ok, Guys, Here's The Deal

Men are pretty good at having uninformed, uneducated, nonsensical positions on things, based solely on their "experience" and "knowledge." They are more than willing to tell others what to do, especially where the repercussions of their "advice" do not fall on their heads. So here's the deal, my brethren:

  • You get to tell a woman what to do with her body, when she gets to tell you what to do with yours.
  • You get to complain about pregnancy, when you get pregnant
  • You get to form an opinion about rape when someone drugs you and you find yourself waking up naked in a hotel room, being violated
  • You get to talk about abortion after you get pregnant because your partner didn't use protection, or forced themselves on you, or you get raped, and are faced with the choice of raising a child you did not want or expect
I know what you're thinking: how is that fair? I have a brain, I can think about these things, they seem to be pretty obvious to me.

That's male privilege talking.

Men have been treating women like property since times long distant. Despite thousands of years of growth, enlightenment, advancement, and reason, even now, men feel that they have an inherent right to tell women what they can and cannot do, what they can and cannot say, how they can and cannot think. Even the women's liberation movement of the 60's, as important as it was, and as freeing as it was for women, did not instantly change the dynamic between men and women. Men are still in most positions of power, and treat women and women's issues with such short shrift, it is as if the days of women's suffrage had not taken place.

Perhaps we men still feel that we are entitled. Perhaps we still feel it is our duty to protect and defend women against the big, bad world. Perhaps we still think we know what's best. Maybe we do, maybe we don't -- but it is arrogant presumption to automatically assume we are supposed to be in control of the world.

But ask many women, and you will get a different answer; they feel empowered, they feel self-assured and confident, they are educated, and while they may enjoy the attentions of a man, that attention is not a requirement for them to make it through their lives. They want to live life on their terms, for a change, and are fully capable of doing so.

Except where men get in the way.

Yes, we men are still setting up roadblocks, treating women less as partners and more as second-class citizens. We minimize their accomplishments, overplay their "deficiencies," and act as if their merely being women is enough to disqualify them from doing certain things, holding certain jobs, or having a say in some situations. It is far easier for a black man to become President of the Untied States, that it is for a woman -- just ask Hillary Clinton.

The point is this: men find it easy to proclaim that things involving women will be "just so," and expect women to simply agree and go along with it. Workplace environment, sexual harassment, abortion, equal pay, birth control, child care, the glass ceiling... these are not issues that men have to confront, on the whole, on a regular basis. Women are more intimately involved in these issues, know what they mean to their gender, and feel they need to be addressed in a comprehensive and, above-all, reasonable way.

It is easy to stand on the sidelines and try to call the plays, but the players on the field have to make the plays work; on their effort all things rest. The same is true for male-female relations: men can continue to go about trying to regulate women's lives exclusive of listening to their concerns, but it is women, who make up a large part of the world, who will have to suffer for them. Men have to take a closer look at what they are asking of women, because in many cases, the male point of view is unrealistic.

Does every woman feel this way? Certainly not. But every woman does not need to feel this way. Every woman, every person, should have the same intrinsic rights, and it seems pointless to say that one group can and another can't, especially based on attributes they frankly cannot change in many cases. There is no reason men should fear sharing power and control with women; our movement from the savannas to the cities was built on a partnership between men and women, through the division of labor. Now, in this technological and information-based age, we need everyone to work together and we need to put the right people with the right capabilities in place to solve our mutual problems. It is no longer possible for us to continue to work in a medieval fashion on our way to the future; we will only get there together, as one. So, the next time you think that the questions posed by a women's issue are easily solved, think again.

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