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Gender equality knows no boundaries

Men should be encouraged to take part in women’s rights movement

My gender never has, and never will, interfere with my resolution to stand up against everyday inequality toward women.

Being a feminist and a man never seemed like a horrible thing — my parents raised me that way. Not once as a kid did I ever hear it was acceptable to treat someone unfairly, regardless of their gender. But when I got into middle school, I saw more tension between genders each day.

It seemed as I grew older, my status as a feminist became more of a flaw in other’s eyes than something I could freely talk about, especially around other men. Friends I knew for years suddenly became people I hardly wanted to associate with because of the things they said about women.

There are no excuses for using the term “getting raped” to explain a local sports team’s loss. Watching a sixth grader, who was a close friend at the time, use “playing like a girl” to describe someone’s lack of athletic ability displays deeply rooted sexism. Insults like these are perfect examples of why, from a young age, many men are turned away from the thought of being a feminist.

I knew feminism was for me when I first heard “she should’ve been wearing more” when discussing rape with friends I never expected to say such things. Hearing someone say that not only angered me, but inspired me to do more than claim I’m “for equality.” I began to research, so when confronted with a situation like that in the future, I’d be ready to speak up.

Soon, I realized the stigma around being a male feminist makes no sense. In 2009, CBS found that 24 percent of men in the United States claimed the term “feminist” was an insult, while four in five refused to identify as one. Pieces from major publications written by men which question a male’s role in feminism often pop up on my Facebook or Twitter feed. Articles like these easily push men away from feminism, as other men almost seem to be shaming or condescending with the tone they use to write.

Although I understand I’ll never fully know the struggles women face each day, I still choose to stand with them. Any man who wants true equality shouldn’t be afraid to call himself a feminist; he should be proud. Feminism is a universal movement, one all men should consider joining.

Gender doesn’t inhibit the ability to help an admirable cause. The 2009 CBS study found that when the definition of feminism is given rather than the term, only two in five men refuse to identify as feminists. This shows the critical need for men to learn about feminism, as many will stand with the cause when they do some basic research.

Male feminists don’t need to look far to find reliable information on feminism, they just need to know where to find it. It’s easy to start learning about true feminism — just read the work of Gloria Steinem or Michael Kimmel.

Male celebrities and politicians often fail to capture the true meaning of feminism. Dancing around the issue or incorrectly addressing it furthers the idea that some men don’t fully understand the movement.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump often misses the point when speaking about feminism.

Trump “compliments” women in his books, although they’re actually simple covers for his objectification of women. Trump claims he views women as the stronger gender, but continues to write “I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.” Claiming a woman needs her body to succeed doesn’t represent the views of a feminist.

Men and women need to stand together in the fight for gender equality. Accomplishments are easier when a larger number of people involve themselves in the movement. Whether standing up for a cause means researching more or speaking out against injustice, do what you can to make a difference.

Many men attach a negative connotation to the term “feminist,” something it shouldn’t hold.  Being a feminist doesn’t mean being weak; it doesn’t destroy masculinity — it simply means believing women deserve the same rights men so often take for granted. Men can, and should, be feminists, and they should be proud.

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