Good versus Evil. Haha, no. I facetiously portray feminism as good and masculism as bad (or even the reverse, in some opinions) in order to bring to light right from the get-go both the accepted popular attitudes toward each and the complete misapprehension in these attitudes. As I understand them, feminism and masculism are quite equal and opposite, each being concerned with their respective gender but applying equally to the whole of society. Considering the fluid nature of gender and the transcendent aspect of the human experience, masculinity and femininity are truthfully rather artificial, which is why the borders of feminism and masculism are so questionable. Just to expel any idiocy from the beginning, neither feminism nor masculism are good or bad, nor do they oppose each other in any way. What is good for one is good for the other.
There is one difference, however, that makes them unequal in current times. There is undoubtedly greater need for feminism right now in the world than there is for masculism: even so far as by a ratio of 10 to 1 (to choose an arbitrary number) which is to say that both always have a need, but the needs of feminism are far more dire. This explains the disparity in popularity, but I think that to understand one it helps to understand both. In this post I will focus on feminism, but keep in mind that everything I say about feminism is to be accordingly applied to masculism, as they are like symmetrical mirror images—different, yet balanced. Again, the only real difference is the sexist state of society.
Feminism can be compared to medicine. After all, just as medicine endeavors to heal the ailments of the medically ill, so too do feminism and masculism seek by their very purpose to cure the ills of the genders. Medicine is a very broad field; it is concerned with understanding every aspect of the human body and its functioning; it is concerned with pathogens and negative influences on the body and mind; it is concerned with healthy living, diet, fulfillment and satisfaction; it is concerned with the individual organ as well as the whole person, and the individual person as well as the whole population. It has many facets. Similarly, feminism is wide and far reaching, and has many uses and functions that occur on an individual level as well as a societal level. I am not going to attempt to give any presentation or account of the vast components of feminism, at least not in this post. But I do want to settle the issue of the place of males in feminism. While feminism concerns only women, it is still very much relevant to men too—in the same way that ophthalmology concerns only the eye, but because it concerns such an integral anatomical structure, it is very relevant to the whole human being.
In some ways, feminism is a space just for women: a needed world all of their own for laughs, tears, and sharing of the female experience. It can even be just as strong on an individual level; feminism is love and celebration of what is feminine in a human. It is acceptance, acknowledgement, and support of being a woman. But, as I said, feminism is expansive, and so in some ways feminism is also coeducational, requiring the involvement of men just as much as women, and in no less or greater of a role either; practical feminism is not a place to be condescending toward men, though it is a place where men had best be very humble and unassuming.
Continuing with the medical analogy, medicine applies equally to both the sick and the well. First of all, if wellness is desired, then it is the responsibility of the sick to seek medical treatment, and it is the responsibility of society to provide medical treatment. It is not acceptable or feasible that only the sick should be concerned with administering and receiving medical treatment; that’s obvious nonsense. Secondly, anyone can become sick at any time, so the method of treatment that worked for a former patient can be reapplied to a new patient. Human beings are all basically the same, so what is good for some people is likely to be good for others as well. For this self-serving reason alone, everyone should take an interest in supporting the field of medicine—it can only benefit society, the parts and the whole. Thirdly, people who are perfectly physically healthy can still suffer reduced quality of life because of the emotional, economic, and pragmatic hardship of dealing with a loved one (or any human relation) that is sick. Many would say that the people who suffer most due to cancer are the family members rather than the patients themselves. For all of these reasons, medicine is inarguably a pan-human concern.
I argue that the same is true of feminism and masculism; both are equally important and equally applicable to all people. Feminism is not a joint human effort in kind of the same way that medicine is; feminism is a joint human effort in EXACTLY the same way that medicine is. All three reasons that I listed for medicine hold soundly true for feminism as well.
Firstly, women are responsible for improving their lot, but men too are responsible for helping them. What could women do without the help of men? What could laborers do without the help of farmers? No one could do what they do or be where they are without the help of others; it’s the human condition. Realistically, in order for oppression to cease, both on the macroscopic (society) and microscopic (family) scales, the oppressed need to step up and the oppressors need to step down; and the oppressed need to help the oppressors step down, and the oppressors need to help the oppressed step up. Everyone needs to do their part and help others do their part as well. Obviously, not that this is even remotely possible, but if women were to “overthrow” the patriarchy with violent force and subjugate men militarily to establish sort of a fascist matriarchy, then society would be no closer to equality and ultimately women would be no better off for it. You cannot force peace; you cannot muscle harmony. Only through unanimous cooperation can utopian ideals be achieved.
Secondly, women are humans (last time I checked) so any issues or problems that they have are entirely libel to apply to men as well. Maybe not so much at this present moment for a particular concern, but at another moment in time that concern might become very applicable to some men—who knows what changes the great unfolding drama of life can bring? And let’s not forget about transgendered people, nor anyone who doesn’t fit the artificial cookie-cutter mold we make for sex and gender; outliers on the bell curve may be infrequent but are no less important. I have heard concerns and grievances from unexpected places: for example, one person was upset because a certain feminist blogger stated that menstruation only concerns women, when in fact many transmen (female to male transgendered individuals) also menstruate. Yes, that’s a “man” who undergoes the processes of a “woman’s” body; I use quotes because it makes you reconsider just what it means to be a “man” or a “woman.”
Again, you really should believe me when I tell you that feminine concerns should not be thought of as exclusively female, but rather human concerns that can involve in some way men too. It could do you a service to let go of your mother’s discretion or your father’s pride (or vice versa) and put your issues onto the table for men and women alike to consider and discuss. Do not perpetuate the “us versus them” mentality.
Thirdly, you may find this incredible, but men also suffer as a result of women’s plight. Good men, bad men, whatever foolish categorization you may want to give them, all types of men suffer. The loving but old-fashioned (AKA, sexist) husband does not derive pleasure of out his wife’s pain, even if in his ignorance he aggravates it. The puritan type father (the oppressive “daddy’s-little-girl” type) is saddened by his daughter’s dispiritedness or frustrations, even though he unwittingly contributed to it. Even in the case of bitter, psychotic misogynists, their actions and attitudes come from a place of pain—pain that was caused by troubles they had with women and that is agitated by a perversion of their sense of injustices; it’s all related to out-of-balance gender relations. I might be a little too optimistic for some, but I believe that even the most spiteful and psychopathic people fundamentally want the happiness of everyone and are hurting inside because of the suffering they cause but don’t know how to stop causing—the insane relationship people have with pain is worth several posts all on its own, but that’s too far off tangent. Suffice to say, woman-loving and woman-hating men all would be happier if women were happier.
And I can go on. Fourthly, the biggest culprit by far of gender inequity is not misogyny—it is ignorance. If more men (and more people in general) become involved in feminism, that ignorance will dispel like clouds after a storm. Most men simply have no idea how serious women’s issues are or that they themselves are part of the problem. (Go read up on 12th century hygiene versus modern hygiene and you’ll see just how much of a difference a little bit of education can make.) Moreover, women could use the support. Getting an outside perspective on the problem can be helpful, if one has humility, and there are some things women just may not realize, about themselves or their relationships, than men could help illuminate. Of course, both genders will have to be sensitive and make sure that oppression is not allowed creep into feminism—this is largely why so many women have been hesitant to let men into feminist discussion, and it’s a legitimate concern.
There are so many reasons why feminism should be shared by women and men, and I can only give a few. Let it be understood that feminism is simultaneously a ladies-only venue and an all-inclusive struggle, depending on what the situation calls for. Feminism is like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; it is precisely what women need it to be and what is best for women.
In conclusion, I’d like to leave you with some visual representations of feminism and masculism.
Below is a chart of the inherent value of feminism versus the inherent value of masculism:
Here is a scale of the relevancy/importance of feminism versus masculism in our modern times (no pacman references intended):
Lastly, here is a graph of gender as pertaining to the human condition: