If you haven’t noticed by now, I have a tendency to speak out about hot button issues that affect us as a species and as a society. Issues that treat others unfairly or unjustly. The latest of which in the pop-culture mainstream is the leaking of hacked nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, and multiple other female celebrities.
Inevitably, I notice a specific backlash in the comments both on this blog, and on Facebook. Typically, it comes from men. Rarely do I ever face resistance from women when speaking about equality and human rights. Why is this? Perhaps it is because women have lacking these basic rights for centuries and they still feel the sting, no matter how big or small, here in 2014.
Could it be fear? Fear that someone else being equal to you somehow puts you on a lesser level than you would be if they stayed subordinate? What kind of deep-rooted insecurities must one have to be overcome by this idea?
What is often perpetuated is the idea of men having a “right” to women. A right to her body because he was polite to her. A right to see her photos because they are out there anyway. A right to objectify her because that’s what she should expect with the career she chose. When will we, as men stand up and say NO – you have a right to nobody. They owe you nothing.
Within society men take on a position of self-professed masculinity. A position of trying to be “one of the guys.” A position of being a man’s man and their vision of what macho means. This is not about Jennifer Lawrence. It’s not about naked photos. It’s not even necessarily about women. It’s about being human, and respecting each other as such.
It’s about understanding what it means to really be a man. To be a member of the human race, and to treat others with the respect that you expect from them in return. It’s about recognizing people as people and not as objects. Not as possessions. And certainly not as proverbial trading cards to be passed around because, well, you haven’t seen that one yet.
Where there is objectification, there is one who is doing the objectifying. While we see plenty of male underwear models showing us what perfection looks like, eating disorders, and body shaming put on men as well too, it is admittedly a higher profile topic for women. Perhaps this is because men are too ashamed to speak about it. One man who I commend for speaking out is my friend Brian Cuban, who suffered with eating disorders, depression, and drug addictions for decades. I highly recommend checking out his book or listening to his story.
But I digress. I submit to you – this does not make it a “women’s issue.” It does it make it two other things though: A men’s issue, and a human issue. Anyone who is perpetuating the objectification of another becomes at fault. They will also continue until someone stands up and says “This is wrong.”
But it is taboo to realize this. It is taboo to point this out, and that is why it doesn’t get spoken about. Because if you are sitting around with your friends playing Call Of Duty or watching a football game chugging your beers (I’m obviously being overly stereotypical) and someone makes a joke about how they wish a woman was there to go make them a sandwich, are you going to laugh?
You could always say “Not cool, man.” But, will you?
Someone has to. Someone should. And the person who does will inevitably become less popular immediately. They’ll be the downer, or the one who switched sides. Or the one who killed the joke. Because it was just a joke anyway, man. I mean, wasn’t it?
I have admittedly been that guy on multiple occasions. I am being that guy by writing this. By writing this blog and speaking about the issues I do, I am subjecting myself to the criticism of millions in the hopes that a second person will stand up, and then a third, and then a fourth. And then, we’re making a difference. But it has to start somewhere, and the place that it starts is with the realization that defending women does not make you less of a man.
I ask, if you were to hold on to the current view of masculinity, what action fits better: To sit by and observe the perpetuation of things you know and feel is wrong, or to stand up and defend those being disrespected?
The image of masculinity is changing. It is no longer knocking a woman over the head with a club and dragging her to your cave. We have learned. We have developed. We have evolved.
And it’s time we started acting like it.
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