Feminism: Lipstick For Men – #litup

In #litup, Features, HOME, LITERATURE by Sonia Muhwezi

#litup is a feature in which someone chooses a piece of online literature – a tweet, a Facebook status, a Tumblr post, a blog post – and discusses why it’s important. The idea being to shine a light on the great works which exist beyond our computer screens and to explore their relevance outside of the cybersphere.

‘You’re a straight dude and you’re a feminist? Don’t you get sick of being told how terrible and awful straight guys are?’Anonymous

I rolled my eyes when  this ‘ask’ popped up on my dashboard. How the hell had a meninist post – (I shudder to even use the word. Yes, autocorrect, flash your squiggly red line; for the day ‘meninist’ is an accepted term is the day I officially quit the world) – found its way onto my Tumblr timeline? I have blacklist tags to avoid exactly this kind of inanity. I almost didn’t read any further, but boy am I glad I did.

Matt ‘MyAnnoyances’ Diaz’ response pretty much made my…decade.

xYes. A thousand times, yes. I am really, really sorry that Chad Michael Murray’s anguished face might have given you the wrong impression, but it’s time for a wake-up call cis het guys: you have it so much easier than rest of us. If your response to #YesAllWomen can’t go out after dark without fearing rape is to say that it’s a shame because it makes it hard for you to score a one-night-stand, then you are truly, utterly and completely scraping ‘the bottom of the barrel’ (for problems, and for basic empathy).

‘You can’t be racist or sexist to the people who are in power, because it’s an institutionalised thing’. I’d lost almost all hope that anyone could understand this very simple fact. Many a day has been wasted fighting it out on the YouTube battleground with those who just fail to understand this. The fact that men can get offended by being called ‘awful’ is, perhaps, the most glaring evidence of male privilege.

Just take a look at the rules and regulations regarding clothing in the western world. As women, we’re told to change our clothes because our hems are considered a little too high or our boobs are too prominent – at school, in the workplace, in public. As for our male counterparts, they have the freedom to walk around half-naked. Is it any wonder that us women are voicing our opinions on this and embracing the fact that we can’t – and shouldn’t – let the little things go?

Men have to worry about being deemed ‘terrible’ whilst women have to worry about men telling us what to wear, because it doesn’t even hold a candle to them telling us what to do with our bodies.

Screen-Shot-2015-02-25-at-20.48.34.pngI am really glad another man can say this, because I’m sure I’d be accused of misandry (sceptical of this term, too, but that’s another story) if I said it without any backup: sorry, but cis het men are really sort of – for the most part – the worst. Whether this is just a side effect of being the most privileged beings to have ever walked the planet or something inherently in cis het nature is not something I care to examine.

Matt says it above: women are truly surprised and grateful when men are civil. Not nice, not courteous; borderline civility is such a rarity these days, it literally makes the news (or the social media equivalent – measured out in retweets, reblogs and likes). Like this post which was so unexpectedly not horribly offensive that people are ringing wedding bells and building shrines to ‘Caleb’.

Isn’t it time we truly looked at some of the terms which are common place in our society and saw them for all their offensive and demeaning implications: ‘friendzone’ for example. A notion that suggests being a woman’s friend is being screwed over? That you’ve lost out if she doesn’t want to sleep with you? That the endgame with any woman is that you get in her pants, right? That the only thing that motivates you towards empathy is the hope that she’ll one day reward you for being a nice guy?

Screen-Shot-2015-02-25-at-20.48.56.pngAnd here we get to it. The thing about Feminism that so confounds and upsets so may men is that: it’s not about you. Thank you meninists, for so clearly identifying yourself as the most self-involved, selfish, embodiment of everything-wrong-with-the-world so that we don’t have to waste our time weeding you out. Of course you made feminism about you, because when the status quo means your shit don’t stink, why would you call a plumber? And since it’s all about you, Matt’s put it in words you can understand: anything, anything terrible that’s happening to you? Other men are doing it.

From a young age we teach girls and boys that femininity is synonymous with weakness, that it’s bad to ‘throw like a girl’ and that ‘boys don’t cry’. We teach girls to fear men instead of teaching boys to respect women. We teach children to treat people differently based on their respective genders. Boys and girls have already assimilated sexism before they’ve stopped giggling over their first syllables.

And yes – bad things happen to men and they need to be stopped. Period. Did you see that? Did you see how I didn’t say ‘bad things happen to men and they need to be stopped, too‘? Because as soon as you add that last word, it’s not about the fact that men get raped, or that men suffer domestic abuse: it’s about using those experiences to diminish the fact that it happens to women, to ‘take attention away from the vastly higher number of women who are raped and make it about you’. And that is despicable.

Screen-Shot-2015-02-25-at-20.49.10.pngAnd you know what? I really like that he says ‘that is why women need feminism’. Because, love her to death and I’m certainly not someone to argue about how we get equality as long as we get it, but Emma Watson’s HeForShe speech had a lot to do with convincing men that feminism was for them, too.

It’s true, of course – equality should be for everyone – but it saddens and infuriates me that the only way to interest many cis het men in feminism, is to show them that there’s something in it for them. That fact alone shows why women need feminism. Because it’s one-in-a-million that a man would support something they don’t have a personal stake in, that doesn’t somehow directly benefit them. Say it with me: it is not. about. you. But it should concern you. Personal interest shouldn’t be needed to keep you invested.

It’s sad that I feel so grateful to someone who’s merely treating me as a human being, who’s simply aware that we live in a flawed society that has clear winners and obvious losers. Who is seeing things the way they should always be seen. But the truth of the matter is, so many people don’t. They really don’t see the problem with saying #NotAllMen, or #AllLivesMatter. They don’t understand what Common means when he raps in ‘Glory’: ‘Justice for all just ain’t specific enough’.

So yes, this definitely brightened up my day, it fired me up, but more than that, I hope it shed some light for the ignorant anon who posed the question. They needed it more than I did: because if there is just one less person out there equating men’s collective sufferings with women’s, then this post may just be the best piece of literature I’ve read this year.

Sonia Muhwezi

Sonia is the Editor of LITERATURE at PTL. She is currently undertaking an MA in Publishing at Kingston University, having graduated from Brighton University with a degree in English Lit & Lang. Education is cool. In other Sonia related info, she can turn any conversation into a game of Six Degrees to Harry Potter and is also a Beyoncé stan. Bow down bitches.

Thanks to Matt Diaz for permission to share his post – and for writing it in the first place: myannoyances.

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