Except, of course, for when they’re not.
I know this won’t be a popular thing for me to say. It will likely get me (re)branded as a man-hater. Because we all know that feminists hate men, right? But it needs to be said.
So, okay, yes, of the allies we have, men are the greatest of those allies, because who else would it be?
Who else on this planet would be the greatest allies of women in working towards
equality but men? We all know cats are only in it for themselves, and I’m sure dogs would oppress us if they could, so it’s men. Men are our greatest allies.
Except for when they’re not.
Which is most of the time.
The violence that women and girls endure is inflicted by men the great majority of the time. The violence that men and boys endure is inflicted by men the great majority of the time.
Who’s catcalling us in the streets when we’re just 11 years old?
Who’s still catcalling us in the streets when we’re in our 40s and with our children?
Who’s assaulting and raping us, even when we know and have come to trust them?
Who’s not taking us seriously when we accuse someone of sexually assaulting or raping us?
Who’s beating and killing us in our houses?
Who’s telling us to stop pursuing education or career goals, because ambitious, educated, women are intimidating?
Who’s telling us not to pursue combat sports or other sports because athletic women are aggressive?
Who’s threatening us on-line when we voice an opinion?
Who’s upset that women are entering non-traditional jobs in greater numbers?
Who’s blaming and abusing women in leadership roles (politics or business) for the decisions they make (good, bad, popular, or not)?
Who’s throwing around the term ‘feminazi’ like fighting for equality is the same as genocide?
Who’s keeping us out of management positions because we’re of child-bearing age or have young children?
Who’s doing far more talking in meetings than we are?
Who’s taking credit for our ideas and work?
Who’s getting upset when we’re finally represented in the media in good, strong, independent roles?
Who’s derailing conversations about women’s experiences with #notallmen?
Who’s doing all of these things and so much more to undermine us and keep us in our proverbial place?
Men. Men do all of these things to women.
Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you.
It’s not pie.
I’m not saying there aren’t women who do these things. I’m not saying there aren’t women who don’t work to advance the goals of feminism. There are. And it’s frustrating. Particularly when you list all the ways in which they reap the rewards of what feminism has accomplished so far and they still write it off as unnecessary.
It is men, though, who are our greatest obstacle in achieving equality with them.
So, yes, as far as allies go, it is men who are our greatest allies, but only because who else would it be?
The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of men are not our allies at all and, going further than that, they work against our efforts.
All this to say I’m not super sympathetic to the ‘plight’ of men when people say we shouldn’t be excluding them from discussions or meetings or events that are very much about issues that directly impact the lives of women. Sometimes, it’s perfectly fine to do that. Sometimes, it’s entirely necessary to do that.
We need to work harder to educate and gain male allies, but before men can truly considered to be our greatest allies – and not just because they’re the only ones who can be our allies – they need to put in the work to actually become our allies. Help us break down all of those barriers and stop the demeaning and violent behaviour toward us.
Then, men will be our greatest allies.