Feminism is not only a women’s issue, it’s a people’s issue. Feminism is too often perceived as a problem only relevant to women, which men ignore because of a misunderstanding of what feminism is or what it seeks to accomplish.
I do not believe I am a particularly relevant voice for feminism. Based on the latest Student Headcount and Demographics for the 2014–15 year there are 9,762 University of Saskatchewan female undergraduates who may be able speak to the issue. However, I am qualified to speak on why male students should care about feminism.
By definition, feminism advocates for equality of the sexes socially, politically and economically. People should not be held back by structural inequalities based on their sex that prevents things such as pursuing a career or running for office.
Equality is not a controversial issue. Even those most adamantly opposed to feminism, Men’s Rights Activists, argue that feminism creates inequalities towards men. Equality is clearly the accepted ideal; the misdirected conflict is largely based upon a misunderstanding of what feminism actually is and would be dulled by defining the word properly.
Perhaps these MRA’s are missing the F section of their dictionaries; online men’s rights forums are disturbingly populated. Shockingly frustrated with what the world has given them, men adamantly rant on these forums that others in society — namely, women — somehow owe them something.
Equality of the sexes goes two directions — men often gain from changes advocated by feminism.
Paternal leave is a good example. Allowing either the mother or father to take a leave from employment to raise children benefits both men and women. How can anyone tell young parents which of them is to work and which of them is to care for a child?
American comedian and actor Louis C.K. makes a poignant joke about how insane it is for women to continue to date men at all, yet the species’ continuation depends on it. He claims the number one threat to women is men, so logically women should avoid dating men altogether. He speaks to an unfortunate truth. Men have a role to play in reducing assaults against women aside promoting safety and general welfare. While not all men are criminals, acknowledging men’s role in reducing violence is a vital part of addressing the issue.
The most important reason men should care about feminism is that it seeks to address an unfairness in society. People care for people, and believe it or not, women and men are both people. Once you subtract the confusing noise around the definition of feminism, it is clearly an issue only seeking equality and to stop inequality. No one argues inequality is the ideal.
Universities are crucibles of social change. If there’s anywhere men should care about feminism, it is on the campuses that lead society towards shifts that halt inequality. The U of S is no different. Young people, the leaders and bread winners of tomorrow, should work to ensure that the campus culture is conscious of feminism and what it stands for. If we cannot even clearly understand the problems society faces, how are we to solve them?
Ideally, fewer obstacles will stand in the way the U of S’ 9,762 female undergrads in the future. But structural problems continue to exist. These issues are not issues only for women to address, but for men too. We need to properly address these problems as they affect all students, both now and in the future.
So yes, I care — I’m a feminist.
A previous version of this article read: “While all men are criminals, acknowledging men’s role in reducing violence is a vital part of addressing the issue.” Updated on March 12 at 3:45pm