I’ve been mulling over this for a while…
As a working parent who is passionate about equal rights, my social media streams are filled with articles about the latest terrible injustices against women and the angry responses to them.
Women are furious, and we have been for a while now. And there are a lot of things to be angry about. On average, the sickening fact is that one woman, per week, is murdered by her partner in Australia. According to anti-violence organisation White Ribbon Australia, eighty-five per cent of women say they have been sexually harassed. Then there’s the whole issue of equal pay and the unfair household and parenting loads which many women carry.
We’re so friggin’ pissed off. We’re spreading hashtags, we’re creating memes and we’re producing an endless avalanche of content. We’re painting placards and taking to the streets.
Guys are starting to get it: we’re angry. Here it comes; the war against men. Women are going to try to take over the world.
But wars are endless. And the outcome is bloodshed.
Yes, women are outraged and in my opinion we have every right to be. Yet often when I raise the subject amongst male friends, the response is denial and aggression. #notallmen and all that. The topic causes arguments and bickering.
This is what I find really interesting. One of the key issues we’re facing as a society is that men are that taught anger is the only feeling they’re allowed to express. This negative emotion has often devastating consequences.
Now, women are angry back. But the average male isn’t going to take our rage lying down. They’re pretty much programmed not to.
Any relationship counsellor will tell you that the easiest form of defence is attack, especially if being raised in a culture of toxic masculinity means you don’t have a huge awareness of how to express any other emotion.
So, are we doing feminism wrong? After the tirade, is it time we focused on the dialogue?
Here’s the other thing. I love men. I joke that my true goal in life is to be surrounded by beautiful men. I purposely join a lively conversation with a group of guys so I can pick up on their energy and wit. The dudes I know are hilarious and smart. They really give a shit about a lot of things which matter.
I also know that many of the guys around me are depressed and struggling to find their place in the world. To add to this, the message from women all over the world is being incorrectly interpreted as: “We don’t like you anymore”.
The biggest misunderstanding about feminism is that it is about women taking over.
It’s about everybody loving everybody. About every person having the right to feel safe, cherished and worthy. It’s about ALL OF US living free from the stereotypical boxes society tries to put us in.
Sometimes I wonder if our angry feminist messages are doing a lot to generate a counter-attack but preventing the real message from getting through.
And this is where careful, thoughtful dialogue comes in. It needs to start at an early age and it needs to keep going. These conversations need to explain that we can ALL have what we want. We just need to stop, listen to each other and reach a point where we’re willing to learn and grow together.
Because, as any counsellor (or peace negotiator) will also tell you, shouting matches don’t lead to resolution. It’s the accepting and open talks which happen afterwards that give relationships on any scale the power to last.
I wrote this article because I listened to Glen Glengerryn speak at Business Blueprint yesterday. He talked about ‘impossible goals’ and how you would change the world if you could. My ‘impossible goal’ sees a world where the fight for equality is over.
The issue of feminism and equal rights mean a lot to me as a woman, but also as a mother of boys. I want them to know that the struggle for equality isn’t a takeover, it’s an invitation to create a better world for everyone.
Clea Sherman is a freelance writer and constant ruminator. As a Libran, she just wants everybody to get along.
Read more: My tale of woe (and why it could be worse)