To men, from a Feminist

“Men and women have equal rights and opportunities in the world today.”  Fourty-four percent of males and 19 percent of females agreed with this statement.  As with all methods of statistical analysis, specifically surveys, there is certainly room for error and bias; for example, people may have either misunderstood the question or intentionally skewed the results. Additionally, the entire student body is not entirely represented, as only 286 students provided responses, and thus the opinions of those not participating in the survey are not accounted for. Nevertheless, the fact that significant portions of high school students, whom I assume are intelligent and culturally aware, deny the blatant inequalities of men and women in our world is outrageous. I sincerely do not intend to belittle these people; rather I aim to express my shock and urge them to examine their surroundings more thoughtfully.

Female fetuses are aborted at considerably higher rates in countries such as India and China because parents place a higher cultural value on male children. Young girls in Islamic countries are denied elementary education and basic opportunities such as driving and voting.  Around 140 million females worldwide are subject to genital mutilation. The Catholic Church and other religious institutions prohibit women from serving in esteemed authoritative positions which men enjoy.  Women in the United States and similar countries face much more pressure than men to fulfill domestic roles while also advancing their educations and careers. Personally, as a woman soon to leave home, I fear the repulsive culture of sexual assault and predation upon women plaguing college campuses.  Some Americans claim women running for public office are unable to fulfill their roles based on the female gender’s disposition towards irrational emotions. People have told me that I am too “bossy” and “assertive” for a girl, yet men who act in a similar manner are applauded. High school boys and girls who act in identical manners regarding relationships and sexual activity are labeled and perceived in such different ways.

How have women been able to attain the equivalent freedoms and choices as their male counterparts? Most of you probably are aware of such inequalities and may still insist that women and men live among equal standards and opportunities. Some argue that these injustices do not occur on the basis of gender.  If you look back at the systematic and obvious repression of females throughout time, there is undoubtedly a correlation to the status of women today.

To the males who believe this statement is true: realize that as a male you simply cannot fully comprehend how a woman’s gender affects her.  This barrier does not mean you are inept or oblivious.  In the same way, I cannot holistically understand the male experience no more than I can completely grasp what it means to be a mother, a teacher, or a Muslim. That is okay. If being a female is not part of your identity, you can still engage in difficult dialogue and observation of the female experience. Perhaps you have never individually and purposefully acted in a way to perpetrate gender inequality; nonetheless you are still responsible for the treatment and freedoms of all humans.  Forget everything you have ever believed about gender for a second and ask a woman if her gender has ever affected her life.  Ask questions, accept confusion, and dedicate time to think over these issues. Respectfully talk to people with vastly different opinions than you instead of shying away from these important questions. I am not blaming you for being a boy or for the continuous oppression of women.  Rather I am pleading you to recognize that all of humanity still has work to achieve justice and equality and encouraging you to fully expose yourself in these conversations. Understand that no one is personally resentful towards you.  Try to remove anger from your advancement in comprehension, focus on respect and love.

To all of us, whether you are a female, male, or identify yourself in another way: men still possess privileges and different expectations than women. I have encountered and participated in moments of pure equality and absolute freedom with men and women. It is possible. Do not be afraid of the judgment and skepticism of others.  Seek to learn more about gender and the inequalities females face.  I hope you will come away with new appreciations and curiosities.