**THIS IS NOT A SAFE SPACE PIECE**
Been a minute since I’ve written, really sorry, blah blah blah. I’m not sorry, life has been hard for the last few months.
Anyway, I was talking to a co-worker not too long ago, and she said something that piqued my attention. She stated that if a man came to the door of the organization that I currently work for, they would be treated as an abuser until they were proven to be otherwise. This confused me, because organizations throughout my state state that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience domestic violence. Yet, hearing this opinion from someone who is in upper management of this organization really floored me. So, from there I really started listening to what my co-workers thought/would do if men came to the door of our shelter. A good majority of these self-proclaimed feminists stated that men are always the abuser, they shouldn’t be allowed in the shelter, etc.
Now, I get it. Last year, only two men sought shelter from this organization. 2. That’s it. Even though 25% of the men in my state will experience domestic violence. So it’s easy to see how my co-workers could form such a myopic view. We only ever help women. Men are a statistical anomaly for domestic violence shelters. It’s also easy to paint men as the enemy because of how marginalized women are in the US. I get that. I don’t want to diminish the fact that women are crapped on a lot more than Americans care to admit. And that is wrong. However, one cannot claim to be a feminist if their views on equality stop at what sort of wedding tackle you have.
I know this is probably going to whip up a lot of anger, if anyone reads this, but seriously. Slow your roll and think about this. Do you think that a man who has been whooped up on by a partner should have equal access to the same resources? Do you think that a man who has been emotionally abused by an intimate partner should be allowed into a shelter where there are female survivors?
Did you pause before you said, “well, I guess…”? Let’s drop some truth in here. Feminism, according to Merriam-Webster is:
1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests
OK, so let me reiterate this again, women are a marginalized group in the US. They have been shit on for the last three millenniums, and feminism is needed to level the playing field. Got it? Good. However, let’s look at definition 1. “The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”.
Equality of the sexes. Novel concept, right? So that means that if a woman wants to work as a welder at a trailer manufacturing plant, that means she should be able to, right? Abso-fucking-lutely. If she meets all of the requirements, she should absolutely get that job if she’s the best candidate for the position. Should women be able to count on men to not beat them or rape them? Absolutely. Should women be able to wear whatever the hell they want in public? Without a doubt. I don’t deny that women get the short end of the stick a lot.
But, you can’t mount a one-sided fight and expect to eradicate inequality. Inequality must be fought wherever it appears and in whatever form it takes. I don’t want you, my dear reader, to immediately label this as a “Men’s Rights” piece or anything that… stupid. However, I have been somewhat dishonest in my writing. The reason why my co-worker’s comment really resonated with me is that I know or have known gay men who have been abused by their intimate partner. They haven’t been able to seek help. Why haven’t they? Because only women can be the victims of domestic violence, men can’t be abused, insert stupid comment here. According to a study done by the Williams Institute, UCLA, 33.3% of gay men have experienced intimate partner violence, while 16.4% had experience severe intimate partner violence in their lifetimes. Further, five additional studies found that between 13.9% to 44% of gay men have experienced intimate partner violence in the last year.
Granted, this study by the Williams Institute was a study of a lot of different studies, the fact remains that 21% of LGBT+ individuals who applied for shelter were denied, either because of their sexual orientation (seriously? Shelters turned people away because of that?) or because of their gender.
So, what’s the point of all of this? The point is, if you believe in feminism, then this study should concern you greatly. You don’t get to arbitrarily say that equality between the sexes stops when you have a twig and berries. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again, women have gotten the short end of the stick, and I’m grateful to see it turning around. But you don’t get to claim to be a feminist if you hesitate at the thought of a man being admitted to a domestic violence shelter. So read this next part carefully.
Survivors of domestic violence deserve a safe place where they can escape their abuser. End of Story. It shouldn’t matter if they have the “wrong” genitalia to be abused. Which brings me to the next important point. Men are people too. Men have feelings. Men cry. Men like to watch sappy romance films, and doing ANY of these things does not diminish their masculinity. If a man wants to buy a camo baby carrier, it’s not “fragile masculinity”, it’s the man buying something he likes. If a man would prefer to go get mani pedis, it does not make him less of a man. Living genuinely as a man is insanely difficult in the US. If you want to, OMG, get a froyo this Friday and watch Love Actually, knock yourself out dude. It is the expectation, particularly in America, that men be tough. That we shouldn’t cry. That having a “man cave” (perish the thought) is the penultimate accomplishment of a man’s adult life, the first being progenating his DNA.
I didn’t cry for seven years. I didn’t shed a tear at my Grandma’s funeral, I didn’t shed a tear when the family dog died (I regret that. A good dog is always worth crying over). I wasn’t taught by anyone to do it. I learned from watching my Dad, brother, men in my life, TV, video games, etc. Men who cried were weak and womanly. But you know what? Men who cry are bad ass. It takes a lot more courage for a man, in American society, to say, “you know what? I am struggling.” Because we expect men not to struggle. We expect men to just take it. We have broad shoulders, right?
So think about that. How you treat your boys, brothers, sons, uncles, grandpas, dads. What would you say if your brother told you that his wife had wanged him over the head? Think on that. Then think about what feminism is supposed to accomplish. Then ask yourself, am I really a feminist? I’ve got to jet. Stay humble, don’t stumble, and I’ll see you again soon.