Dear Jessica Valenti,
I empathise with the necessity of your argument, and whilst it’s fair to implore men to support women in this fight for equality; do recognise that most, if not all, can’t relate to the issues presented.
If “expecting women to explain” is too much work, how do you hope to penetrate the minds of people who do not recognise there is a problem to begin with.
People need examples to shake them out of apathy, to drive change.
Would I, as a man, have any idea what pain feels like to a woman’s body; when I’ve never been one. It’s as though I could understand everything there is to sexual assault survivors because I read a pamphlet on rape allegations.
If you wish for men to work alongside, recognise that men too are discriminated. Rather than urging, enforcing a cause — examples are crucial for change.
The most resounding examples throughout history have shown, it was the courage of people to pursue on their own rather than enforced help that brought about change.
It wasn’t the majority marching for the “Civil Rights Movement”, it started with a group of minorities that were too oppressed and fatigued by the pain they endured that brought about change and awareness.
We need reminders, because without them we forget the past; look to Germany today and how there are signs still — to remind people, to never forget the atrocity that was inflicted upon an entire race in the name of “war”.
To remind us that we can be better, through education and awareness.
The movements have done a wonderful job of bringing awareness, yet there is still work to be done — and frankly, we do need women to explain to us what to do.
In an atmosphere which feels more divided than inclusive, wouldn’t it be rather encouraging to argue that “we hope you understand”?
How can we solve a problem when the argument you made for feminism needs men ends with a sense of dismissiveness by writing “Men, if you hear all this and still require convincing that the issues we face are real, and important, and painful, then we may not want you on our side after all.”
How about we listened, for once — without argument. To one another, in finding resolution.
I doubt we’ll ever achieve that by dismissing people who do not agree, change can only come about from leadership by example.
I’ll admit some of us are lost and fail to comprehend issues of the opposing gender, and I’m sure it’s tedious to constantly have to explain.
Yet, when we do ask how we can help; we’re told we’re not needed.
How do we march alongside, when the movement dismisses the counter-argument entirely rather than establishing formal ground?
Whilst people around me wrote about sexual assault, I found a way to volunteer my skills at a legal clinic to help sexual assault survivors; then the narrative changed and we were told men weren’t that great at dealing with the issue.
Without reason or explanation, without education on these matters, how can we help?
Because I want to, and continue to do so.
Always have and always will.
Yet I hope you do realise, the dismissive culture that has taken a life of its own as a byproduct which we should hope to eliminate; cultivate assimilation.