White, Male Advocates in the Fight for Equality
I like to think that I am a fairly open minded, progressive person. I've been accused of being "way left of liberal." I am certainly a loud feminist. Especially as an incredibly independent, highly educated, (multiple) business-owning, world-changing woman. But I definitely don't fall into the "man hating" stereotype. In fact, a lot of the people I admire the most happen to be men. Now, hold that thought for a hot second.
On Monday morning, I was sitting in front of my favourite breakfast joint in Mystic, with one of my all-time favourite people, Charlotte. She's a fellow woman in STEM, liberal, feminist, and generally brilliant and beautiful person. We were discussing the new Wonder Woman movie, and the importance of the feminist movement. We ranted about the injustices towards women on a day-to-day basis, biases, and the general lack of feeling of safeness in offices filled with old, white, republican men. About how women's brain function and chemistry, medical testing, and reproductive anatomy are JUST NOW beginning to be studied the same way as men's. About these beautiful women we know who are stuck in marriages that they aren't happy in because it's "a woman's job" to get married, have babies, and stay married until they die. About the shaming of women for choosing to have careers instead of procreating. About the fact that women are often targets of violence, abuse, and terrorism.
I shared with her that I had a very interesting realization recently, that had begun uprooting some surprising, (apparently) deeply hidden misogyny within myself. There's a person that I admire very greatly. He's brilliant, kind, eloquent, and humble. We seem to share a lot of common beliefs and opinions, and he always goes out of his way to speak out against inequality and injustice. Seriously, my favourite human. Anyhow, one of these recent times he took to the internet to call out evil was after the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert. He digitally spoke very bold and directly, rebuking the intentional and violent mistreatment of women.
Every time posts like this pop up in my feed, I of course "like" them (because I do actually like them very much). But on occasion, I feel the urge to comment, thanking the author for continuing to advocate for the fair treatment of all, for using his notoriety to affect change, and for giving a shit about us lady-folk (as well as many other minorities). I got half way through actually writing a comment (for the first time ever), and stopped. What the hell? While I am so thankful that someone I admire so much does, in fact, speak out against injustice, why do I feel like I need to thank him for publically acknowledging that ABUSING A GROUP OF PEOPLE IS WRONG? Why do I, a strong woman, feel the need to praise a white man for speaking up for us? What the fuck? Why is that a big deal? Why is it such a rare and beautiful accomplishment that a man stands up and says "actually, fuck this noise." But even more concerning, why does such an amazing, beautiful, diverse, and powerful group of people as women feel like we need men to legitimize the fact that we are, in fact, people who deserve equal opportunities, equal safety, and equal treatment? Who deserve to, oh, you know, not be killed. Or raped. Or stalked. Or harassed. Or threated.
As Charlotte insightfully pointed out, this is a chronic, systemic problem. But it goes past men needing be validated for supporting the fair treatment of women. It's white people feeling like they deserve some sort of acknowledgement from minority communities for standing up for minority rights, for speaking out against police violence, for voicing their support for taking in refugees. It's straight people feeling like they're doing something really exceptional when they publically support LBGT rights. It's when healthy folks need some sort of pat on the back for advocating for people with disabilities. When you boil it all down, who you are doesn't actually matter. Gender, race, sexual identity, religion, disability... it is everyone's equal responsibility to speak out for those who are being mistreated. And while that is a good thing to do, and I thank you for doing so, I shouldn't have to. Each of us should forever advocate because we all deserve a world where we are all safe and cared for.
It is very important to me to make a note here real quick - I am still extraordinarily grateful for this individual speaking out against injustice. I'm grateful for every single person who take a stand against maltreatment! I am so blessed to be surrounded by amazing men who continue to be an important piece of the equality puzzle. I strongly encourage - implore! - the continuation of this behavior. But it doesn't make anyone a hero simply because they look at transgression and say "oh hey, that's not okay." That makes them a not-shitty person. It is literally just being a good human. So, thank you. Thank you for being a good person! Thank you for caring about the mistreatment of those around you. Thank you for loving others. It's so important. It is the heart of humanity.