Yup. I love men. I'm a militant feminist, I'm a lesbian, I'm a woman in a male-dominated industry, but I love men.
Yes, I've dealt with some misogynistic asshats.
Yes, I've been sexually assaulted.
Yes, I've been paid less than my male peers doing the same job.
Yes, I still fucking tremble when a man raises his voice; I fear for my safety.
Yes, I play the guitar like a fucking well-oiled machine but have still heard, too many times, "WOW! For a girl......"
And Yes, men still call me "a girl" even though I'm a fucking woman.
But I love men.
Most of them can't fathom what it's like to be a woman in this sexist world. How could they? I read and listen to the experience of racial and/or ethnic minorities and while I am sympathetic and want to be part of the solution, I can't truly wrap my brain around that sort of discrimination.
We all have our own life experiences and those contribute to the forming of us. Some of us are made of clay: we are solid, but we are willing to bend and twist and see the world from a different perspective. Some of us are even more solid: we're made of rock and if anything is going to change us, it's going to take thousands of years, happen so slowly that no one will even see the day to day difference.
And then, there's a lot of in between.
Most of my best friends are men. I'm not going to lie; a number of them have made it clear that they are sexually attracted to me. I never really know how to respond to that. It's flattering on the one hand, but creepy on the other. Ninety-nine percent of the time I take it as a compliment because that's what it is. I don't call men my friends if they're only interested in me as a sexual object. It's a weird tightrope I walk: take the compliment that I'm attractive and don't read too much into it.
But I hate that I have to walk that tightrope.
Most men can't understand this feeling of vulnerability - although I MUST point out that many can. Whenever I go to visit one of my male friends I have to have the thought in the back of my mind: what if they snap? What if they aren't what they seem? What if I only think that I know them?
Sometimes I have this thought in the back of my mind with my own family members. It makes me feel like shit for even having the thought, but I'd be an idiot not to.
I still love men, though. I suppose I'm fortunate to have inside knowledge about both sexes. My good male friends talk to me openly. We share a lot of details with each other.
What I've learned is that men are just as hard on other men as women are on other women. My good friends, male or female, have no problem telling me anything and everything. (It's weird: I'm a lesbian so I exist in a sort of in-between world with both sexes. I don't know why that is. Or, I guess I do but that's another diary altogether.)
Other women judge me more than men do. Men don't see me as less-than-a-woman, but a lot of my female friends do. Women don't see me as a sexual object, but men do.
So I come to feminism with an odd perspective:
I believe that misogyny harms men as much as it harms women.
A few years ago I was visiting my aunt and uncle and the topic of a female president came up. My aunt and uncle are typically forward thinking progressive Democrats, but my aunt stated that as much as she wanted to see a female president, the rest of the world would laugh at us for having a "weak" leader.
I calmly stated that that was bullshit, then noted that men are just as soft as women are, they just aren't allowed to show it. How sad is that, I asked, that men aren't allowed to freely show their love and compassion lest they be called weak? Isn't the bravest thing in this life declaring oneself vulnerable?
My uncle nodded, and said, "You know, that's a really great point. When you got here today I got a bit choked up seeing you and wanted to give you a huge hug, and it's especially hard when I see [your brothers and nephews] and I have to be a man and give them a handshake." He chuckled a bit then added, "I"m not a pussy just because I love my family."
(Please don't get off-topic about the P word - that's verbatim and germane to the topic.)
My uncle is a built, tall, good old boy from Idaho. Worked hard his whole life and still does into his fifties. And the only thing he's scared of is showing too much love.
That's not fair to my uncle, and it's not fair to all the other men that I know and love.
And it's not fair to women, because we consider these to be female traits and female traits are OBVIOUSLY stupid.
So I'm watching this meta war about women's rights and I feel left out in the cold. How do we revolutionize our culture so that women don't have to be afraid or feel vulnerable when they're alone with a man? How do we revolutionize our culture so that men can show their vulnerabilities and love and compassion without calling them weak?
The thing is, when we devalue women we are devaluing men just as equally - we just don't acknowledge that.
I say it's not an issue of women's rights when we talk about feeling secure in our own bodies. It's an issue of human rights.
And I, for one, think men are awesome and deserve the freedom to be emotional and loving without being labeled as a weakling by other men, just as women deserve the right to be logical and strong without being labeled as a ball-butcher.
I think we all need to take a deep breath and acknowledge that no matter what popular culture tells us, we really aren't all that different.
We just tell each other that we are.