I AM A FEMINIST
I am also a mature, white heterosexual male. So why am I making this declaration? Because women are equal partners with men and should be treated as such. There is no male person alive that didn’t start life in his mother’s womb. For me, it feels good and right to be a feminist. Being a male feminist means that you embrace the best for women as being normal and basic as well as right. You want women to be treated equally with men. You support equal pay for equal work. You support equal access to opportunity. You believe that healthcare and reproductive choice are rights that all women (and men) should have. You believe girls have a right to an education just as boys do. You believe violence, intimidation, indeed any kind of gender based bias, has no place in human society. Shouldn’t everybody be for those things?
I’m not suggesting there are no differences between men and women. The socio-biological research conducted by E.O. Wilson and others suggests that the gender based behavioral patterns seen in other mammal species apply to humans as well. Human males can be territorial, and aggressive. Females are more often nurturing. Broad generalizations for sure, but when we look at the historical record, isn’t that pretty much what we see?
Author Riane Eisler, in her books, The Chalice and the Blade being one example, reveals clear gender patterns in the evolution of the human species. Long ago, when humans were nomadic, hunter-gathers, the anthropological record indicates that men and women lived more or less as equals in small clans. Their lifestyles revolved around the seasons and rhythms of nature. Women’s fertility was celebrated as a part of the sacred mystery of life.
Things changed when the age of agriculture arrived 10,000-12,000 years ago. Humans domesticated plants and animals, and began to grow their food and live in permanent settlements. This was the beginning of societies ruled by dominant males. Women were subjugated, with their roles narrowly defined around the act of child-bearing and nurturing.
Male dominance brought us the hierarchical church. It brought us tyrant emperors, kings and warrior elites bent on bloody conquest, and an industrial age defined by a rapacious, male dominant economic system in which the few were hugely rewarded at the expense of the masses. To a large degree, it’s still that way.
To be sure, early in the 21st century, in the developed nations at least, women have overcome many obstacles on the road to equality. In the United States, many women now hold political office. More and more job descriptions are free of gender bias. Still, the issue of equal pay for equal work remains unresolved, and reproductive rights are under heavy assault from conservatives. In many developing nations, the situation remains far worse. In too many places, women are still treated as chattel, subject to violence, denied access to education, denied reproductive choice.
Despite the often destructive nature of the male dominant paradigm, humanity has made progress since the age of cave-dwellers. But there are now seven billion plus humans on planet Earth. We are pushing the planet’s resources to the brink. We are relentlessly exploiting our water, forests, soils, and other critical resources. We have polluted our oceans. Our dependence on fossil fuels like coal and oil have caused unprecedented climate change. We are approaching a point of no-return with the damage we have done to the biosphere each of us depends on. The way we live must change. That’s true in the U.S., in the developed nations, and in all of those places yet to achieve the dignity to which every human being has a right.
As a male of the species, it troubles me that I have to admit that it has been my own gender that has gotten us into this mess. I’m not saying every male is a rapacious sociopath, but that is an apt description for too many of those who end up with power and influence. Bottom line: Men alone are not going to get us out of the trouble we’re in.
I am a feminist because championing equal rights and treatment for women is absolutely the right thing to do. The full participation of women is absolutely indispensable to any kind of sustainable future.
We must have a political system that is open and accountable to all citizens, not just the privileged one percent. Corporations must be reigned in and made subject to appropriate controls. Banks must be tightly regulated, putting the public interest first. I see no possibility of this kind of human evolution until women are included at the table as equal partners to men.
I’m with you, ladies. I am a feminist.
I am making this declaration, with one caveat. I am a heterosexual male. As such. I have the same sexual cravings as other hetero males. I have no shame about that. I mention this because there is one brand of feminism that is quick to label expressions of female sexuality as objectifying and offensive to women. I’m sorry. Heterosexual males are hardwired to have a sexual interest in women. I’m not saying women don’t get objectified. It happens all the time. It’s men being men. The problem lies with men who are only able to see women as sexual objects. A lot of men are like that. Probably 30% are like that. These same guys are also, very often, stridently opposed to all forms of sexual expression and reproductive freedom. The way forward is to leave them behind. Marginalize them. Ignore them. Vote them out of power. In the U.S. at least, these Neanderthals are mostly older white males. They are already on their way out.
My guess is that 40% of American adult males are already sensitized. They may not describe themselves as feminists but they support reproductive freedom, equality in the workplace, etc. If 40% of males are already with you, and another 30% will never be with you, that leaves 30% that are open to persuasion.
My point is this; let’s not stigmatize all men because 30% of the male population are incorrigible misogynists. The way forward is to nurture the 70% of adult males who are already feminists or who can become that way with some thoughtful encouragement.
The world is not going to fully embrace a sustainable pathway until women have an equal voice with men. There are many civilization scale challenges that demand our attention. All of them can be more effectively addressed with women fully empowered as participants in shaping the future.
I am a feminist…
Originally published August 11, 2013 www.earthmanpdx.blogspot.com