I want to use this to express feelings, thoughts and interactions I have experienced in a very important area of advocacy that I serve in. The following are various posts along these lines…
Here is an expression of my heart in observing the landscape of exploitation:
“I have increasingly recognized the unfairness of our societies where women have to be extra cautious about so many things. Many can’t even express friendliness or kindness without it being taken and ran with by some stupid guy at some point, they may often feel hindered from the full freedom of being in public without wondering what guy will make a comment or pass at them in some way. Then there’s the whole safety thing. It’s almost like public life is a glass bubble or prison. There are simply stupid men out there messing this up for women. Despite these guys being the minority, their actions and words are so irritating to horrible that it feels like a vast majority. And the whole media and advertising sexualization just multiplies all that.
“After meeting and dialoguing with feminists about this (granted, some didn’t really want to talk to me but I butted in anyway), I found there are many circles of women advocating and trying to do something about this. Some very angry, some counterproductive in their mannerism and approach, but trying. Many have been objects and victims of these things. My question is, where are the men? At least the Christian men? It is because I am a follower of Christ that I even began to care and notice these things…because this is HIS standard! So, similar to anti-trafficking and anti-exploitation efforts, good men are severely lacking. I pray God awaken men to step out of their comfort zones and allow the brokenness of God’s heart to touch their own enough to make a difference. Women can’t do this on their own—and they weren’t meant to. Where are we, guys?”
In a polylogue (more than two people dialoguing) about a man making a lazy excuse for his unfaithfulness by saying all men are because it’s in our DNA, I replied:
“I would say many men aren’t unfaithful. I’ve never been and never will be, and I’ve been in fellowship with multitudes of men over my life that aren’t like that. I would agree with him in that we all have this bent towards sin/unfaithfulness to do right embedded in our DNA, as none of us are perfect, even those who are really good people. But to make a lazy excuse for his unfaithfulness by saying most all men do it and we can’t help it? Plain stupid.
“That said, I also agree men have an endemic of horribility (word mine) in the area of relationships, be it unfaithfulness, abuse or control on any level, laziness, inequality, etc. It takes a lot of initiative for us to do things the right way. And although society fosters this, I’m putting the responsibility on me, not blame shifting. Because I can walk it out the right way despite all around me. And by God’s grace, I do so. Imperfectly of course, but it is my heart and passion to be a servant, not dictator.
“I’m a male feminist, because it’s right and God gave women equal dignity. If the roles were reversed, I’d be a masculinist (word mine). I perceive this is more where Andrew is coming from, that it’s about the principle and not the gender/sex. Yet in another sense it is a gender/sex issue because of the inequalities of our society. Yes, I’ve known many women likewise who have been the unfaithful type flaunting their promiscuity. But I personally believe that it’s not as prominent as with men. That’s just my opinion and observation.
“I’ve been in several feminist conversations where I felt left out by female feminists because of the way it felt like they were just huddling together with other women only in anger against all men and lashing out, to where I was trying to join in their passion at the injustice, but couldn’t. There are a few wonderful colleagues that have never made me feel like that though. I feel my passion for women and girls equality and anti-exploitation is appreciated and my help is accepted. (Thank you all so kindly for that.)”
Here is me thinking out loud:
“I am personally not all that fond of the term feminism because it has variations to it that, depending on the person or group, I don’t always like. It is not always clear. As someone pointed out, it focuses on one side of the equation rather than the whole of the solution: equality. ‘Equal rights’ have been accomplished, but ‘equality’ has not. The issue of equality (in this case, gender equality) goes way beyond political or social movements. It is the result of a spiritual deficit, namely sin, since the beginning.
“I see feminism, even the term, turning some off and away that would otherwise come alongside women and stand with them. I agree and feel the focus needs to be equality, not any one component thereof. Just like MLK wasn’t about black power, and did not dub the movement African-American rights, but rather civil rights, wherein his dream was equality and unity with the very ones who were fighting this.
“Feminists say in response to accusations that they are not man-haters, and I believe most of them are not. But they get called that is because of the vibes they let off in their communications. There are some who make it a point to be male inclusive, and some (not all the male inclusive ones) make it a point to approach and say things in a true spirit of seeking healing and oneness with all, as MLK did, and not just speak angrily or lash out at the world unproductively, so to speak. I get that many have faced rebuttal from chauvinistic men, which has thickened their skin. But my plea is they give pause to those of us who are genuine and welcome dialogue and fellowship…equally.
“He understood they were fighting him, but he was not fighting them. The battle was spiritual.”
In a dialogue with a fellow feminist advocate, whom I consider a wonderful colleague and respect very much, I shared with her some of my frustrations as a man seeking justice in the area of gender equality. She was very kind to field my tactful venting, and came back with poignant perspective:
“To tell you the truth even as a feminist, I get shut out by other feminists as well. I am not very radical really, however, I may come off as radical to those who have not indulged in feminism. There are feminists who do hate men, and want to neglect any man who tries to think they are for equality. But hang in there, you will soon find out that it isn’t about trying to get other feminists to ‘like’ you, and it is more about yourself and internal thoughts. Hardly I see men who admit they are feminists or agree with a feminist agenda. So I am glad to know that you are very much involved with trying to make a difference.”
I could not be more thankful for the grounding that provided. And to come from a female feminist, that was very impacting. (Thank you again for that, wherever you are out there.) I received it with a spirit of grace, not shifting from one end of the spectrum (seeking to people-please too much) to the other (being cold, isolated, bitter at fellow feminists), but settling in a mid-road balance wherein I can walk with humble confidence, with arms open to all while not fretting those who do not reciprocate.