Back in 2013, I apparently ticked off a number of women who support feminism.
It was odd. I served as vice president of a digital marketing agency and wrote a blog post that stemmed from the fact I was the only man in the company. Titled Gender Roles: Is it really a man’s world, it created a good conversation in the comments section, but it also generated some real vitriol on Twitter.
When writing a blog post for Spin Sucks, your post would receive a lot of shares, and so I was not surprised when my post was getting shared around Twitter. However, when I looked at the shares I was shocked. It was being shared by Twitter accounts that supported feminism and in the sharing, they were calling me a masochist, sexist, and other similar names.
When I asked the account holder of the largest one what I’d written that was so offensive, she shared my direct message and said this was proof of my masochism.
Was it a joke I cracked? Was it the video link (Monty Python’s “penis song” from The Meaning of Life)?
My confused view of feminism
I grew up in a two-parent home and my mother was a stay-at-home. That alone drives some folks insane, but it was a decision my parents made and it made a huge difference in my upbringing.
My mother was and is a strong woman. I was raised to respect women. They are equals, work hard, are smart, and if you don’t respect them someone will knock your face in.
You also protect women and lead your family. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how many men behave that way.
I’m a father of three daughters. And when I look at them, I view feminism in a certain way. Equal rights. Ensuring equal pay for equal work. The opportunity to achieve anything you wish and are willing to work hard to achieve. No means no. Their gender should not be reflected in their attempts to accomplish great things and follow their dreams.
I was a guy who was offended by the fact that Target did not have a girls’ superhero costumer but they had Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Iron Man, and Hulk.
And here I was being attacked in front of tens of thousands of people, being called a masochist and sexist with no explanation.
We live in a society where masculinity has become distorted and feminism and masculinity are set up as opposites.
The key here is that as men we have real problems. Absent fathers are a real issue. Fewer men are graduating from college. We constantly hear about rapes and sexual assault on our campuses and in our workplaces. Our schools (and by default children) are under attack. We’re just kind of slipping into the background instead of taking a central role in leading the fight against these and other problems.
Not to go too religious, but 1 Corinthians 16:13 instructs men to, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
It is not an invitation to be harsh or hurtful. Nor is it an invitation to be abusive or oppressive. And it certainly isn’t an invitation to oppose many of the things the women’s rights movement has worked hard to accomplish and still needs to accomplish.
And gender roles, masculinity and feminism
One day I mentioned that by day I’m a school teacher. The person I was talking to kind of tilted his head and said, “I wouldn’t have taken you for women’s work.”
When I questioned him on whether teaching was a gender role, he used the historical data (teaching has largely been a job performed by women) and the fact that as of 2017, 77 percent of all teachers are women.
But we’re not really talking about gender roles, are we? So I teach. I can sew reasonably well. But I can repair an appliance, fix a toilet, and replace a garbage disposal. When I was married, I had no issue cleaning or cooking. Heck, now that I’m single, I have to do both.
What do gender roles matter?
While they may help define who some people are, they don’t really matter. When I was married, my then wife did the finances because she was better at it than I was. I cut the grass and took care of the yard because I enjoyed it more, not because I have a penis.
We’re not talking gender roles.
When I awoke and saw I was being attacked, I made several attempts to find out what I’d done that was egregious. If you don’t tell someone what they did wrong, you can’t help them learn from their mistake, right?
Did I do something wrong? I honestly don’t think so, but in the end it didn’t matter. I asked what was offensive and was attached even more for doing so. I concluded there was no point in continuing the conversation and blocked them all. I could’ve argued. I could’ve tried to fight back. One colleague – a guy who worked for another company – tried to defend me and he came under their barrage. The women I worked with told me they didn’t “get” the attack, but not one made an effort to defend me.
Any effort to fight would have been a waste of energy because those coming after me had no interest in a dialogue. They wanted to hurt me. So I did what is sometimes the manly thing, and ignored them.