Feminism | Posted by Amber Q on 01/14/2010

What My Father Taught Me About Feminism

Men weren’t really the enemy – they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill.Betty Friedan, the Feminine Mystique

It wasn’t until very recently that I realized how blind I was to gender stereotyping — on the masculine side of things. We hear so much about feminism and women’s liberation… but what about out fellow sufferers?

My father was really the one that opened my eyes. He’s been out of work for the larger part of the recession, and thus home a lot more with Mom and I. Most of the time he seems to pace around like a caged animal, as if he doesn’t know what to do with himself. It drives mom and I crazy. He hovers and mopes about, as if he has no real purpose at home. Recently he told me that once he gets back to work, he hopes to forget all about this part of his life. He’s learned his place, and that place is in work. And that’s just the way it is.

The comment sort of flew by me at the time, but hold up, now… What? Are you serious?

And yet, I’m afraid this kind of thinking is just as common as anti-feminist thinking. It goes hand in hand – men bring home the bacon so women can fry it up. We get so angry about the second part of that – the idea of a subservient position. But what about men? I can only think it would be terrifying to think you have no choice but to take the lead and ‘be a man’.

Feminism, to me, is all about the idea of being equals. But have you ever stopped to think…men need this, just as much as we do? Just food for thought.

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  • Becca @ at 12:00 pm, January 14th, 2010

    I think this is a really important point. Often, as feminists we get so focused on our outrage over the status of women that we completely overlook how sexism affects men as well.

    If you aren’t already, I would definitely recommend that you try watching the TV show Mad Men sometime. It takes place during the early 1960s, and does a very good job showing how damaging sexist stereotypes can be for both genders.

  • Amy CT @ at 2:31 pm, January 14th, 2010

    I was having this discussion with a friend earlier today (well, sort of this disussion).

    She asked me what feminism was, and I said that it was women fighting for equality… but a politics student friend of mine thinks it’s women fighting for superiority…

    Which is a little hypocritical, if you ask me…

  • mvibes @ at 6:15 pm, January 14th, 2010

    @ Amy CT: Alot of people seem to think feminism is women fighting to be superior. I thinks thats why alot of people are so anti-feminist. Because they are ignorant about what feminism really is.

    But Amber is right…So often I forget that men are also effected(affected?) by sexism…I get upset over sexist statments if they are sexist about women…but more then once have I let a sexist comment about a man go. *ashamed*

  • Steph @ at 6:18 pm, January 14th, 2010

    Yes, for sure. Feminism isn’t just for women – that’s why there are male feminists out there. And gender stereotypes don’t really help anyone.

  • Superfart « SAMMY LIF @ at 1:44 am, January 15th, 2010

    [...] mean, it only caught my eye because I just read these posts about how men are affected by gender norms, and it’s worth noting how men are always morons [...]

  • Nicolas @ at 2:24 am, January 15th, 2010

    Frankly, this is why i think the term “Feminist” is so wrong to use for the promoting of an equal standard. It gives off this idea to less-knowledgeable men and women that it’s about “the woman getting power” when really, it’s all about getting woman to a better place, and man there too.
    The thing is, sadly, in today’s children’s media, you can see things that promote “haha, boys are stupid” because they are considered an acceptable target. look at any cartoon parents, without fail, the mom is going to be FAR more intelligent than the dad. The “Nerd” main character will, without a doubt, be upstaged by a girl. This is bad imagery for two reasons. On the surface it’s simply saying “women don’t need men” which isn’t true. Men and women NEED each other, or else the world ends with this generation. On the flipside, these scenarios are played for comedy. Comedy from absurdity. Having Jimmy Neutron upstaged by Cindy(Cathy?) contantly, just because it’s so “ridiculous” gives an awful message. “Look! not only is he being humbled, but it’s at the hands of a GIRL! hahaha! Even a GIRL is better than him!” Articles like this one are why I consider myself a feminist while still regarding the “women are absolutely better than men” crowd as absolute kooks. :) Great read,Amber Q.
    P.S. StumbleUpon is amazing.

  • Linkit Friday « Alex, the girl one. @ at 6:39 am, January 15th, 2010

    [...] What my Father Taught me about Feminism A short, but wonderful, article over on fbomb [...]

  • Becca @ at 6:00 pm, January 15th, 2010

    @Nicholas: What you are describing is a misinterpretation of feminism, and it sounds like you yourself are still somewhat confused about the definition of the word. Feminism is, by definition, a movement focusing on equality for women, not superiority. It doesn’t make sense to change the name to something else because some people misunderstand what the word means.

  • body loving blogosphere 01.17.10 @ at 4:37 pm, January 17th, 2010

    [...] and on the topic of feminism, fbomb had a great post up this week (with an ADORABLE PICTURE), “What My Father Taught Me About Feminism.“ [...]

  • -Z- @ at 8:40 pm, January 18th, 2010

    I’m always interested in individual definitions of “feminism”. For me, the feminist movement transcends creating equality for women. I think that feminism is a lens through women’s lives that attacks the patriarchal social structures and ideologies. These patriarchal systems negatively effect women in all their diversity, women of color, sexuality, identity, age, abilities, socio-economic status, etc. etc. What I think this post is getting at, is that men are also negatively effected by patriarchal systems, though they may benefit from it in certain inconsequential ways (ie. access to jobs, wealth, dominance, etc.). Feminism seeks to use a gendered historical lens to help achieve peace for everyone, and equality for people.

    Also, as a great P.S….my brother and father both identify proudly as feminists.

    How great is that?

  • sammylif» Blog Archive » Superfart @ at 2:28 pm, January 19th, 2010

    [...] mean, it only caught my eye because I just read these posts about how men are affected by gender norms, and it’s worth noting how men are always morons [...]

  • roro @ at 7:51 am, January 22nd, 2010

    good article. this is the first time i have ever seen a feminist article actually consider the male viewpoint, and actually consider us as people. that is the biggest problem for me, feminism is usually so exclusive, so anti-male. how do you expect us to join with you in your fight when you either ignore or vilify us.

  • TerminalHope @ at 6:23 pm, February 2nd, 2010

    roro, if this is the case, you haven’t read much feminist literature. Feminists with a bone to pick with men are incredibly rare, and shouldn’t be a reason to discount the entire premise that people make it.

  • Emma @ at 2:04 pm, February 15th, 2010

    Can’t deny that some men suffer because of stereotypes for masculinity. I know a lot of guys who do.

    But many, if not most, benefit far more than they suffer.

    Men don’t suffer nearly as much as women do due to patriarchy, and I feel it’s just plain silly to go on and on about “oh no, poor men!”

    You’d see many more male feminists if gender equality didn’t mean taking away male privilege.

  • bugged @ at 8:35 pm, February 15th, 2010

    @ Terminal Hope

    Feminists with a bone to pick with men are not extremely rare and there is a point to be made that any “equality” based movement that tends not to focus on one genders needs is not equality based. We don’t have to think that feminists want women to be superior to think that they don’t really care about the needs of men.

    Sadly patronizing articles like this (mainly the comments) are often as close as we get to actually discussing a male perspective on equality. This basically says – “aw, poor men” without talking about it at all.

    You think it is sad that many men think they have no role, then tell us what roles you think they have. You have discussed nothing here about military conscription, mens sexual rights etc etc.

    I am not aginst what has been said in this article but as food for thought goes sadly this is just another nibble.

  • Randall @ at 8:16 pm, February 16th, 2010

    I’m a man, and a feminist. Period. I am not ashamed of it, and I understand what it means, but many women don’t, and far more men really haven’t a shred of a clue of its real motives and goals.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people also aren’t aware that men are also victims of the sexism. I think we all really participate in it, and women even encourage a lot of the sexual stereotypes that we see today–as well as men. It’s pretty obvious if you open any magazine. These women are being paid to mutilate their bodies, and are encouraged to do so regularly to create surreal ideals that no one can touch without a scalpel and a mint, or fantastic genetics. Objectification isn’t even adequate to describe how demoralizing it really is.

    We are all responsible for what happens to men, and women. When we can face that, we’ll maybe work toward a common understanding with each other. Humanism is also a better term for feminism–the connotation of the f word is pretty bad nowadays, and I wonder if the public imagination can recover from the onslaught of name-calling that has been done to bastardize the term into a woman who hates men.

  • Helen Gallagher @ at 8:19 am, February 19th, 2010

    Randall: do you not think that *any* word that denoting a fight towards equality for women would end up bastardized?

    The problem is not the word, but other people. There is no point trying to ‘rehabilitate’ feminism and make it more ‘palatable’ because people havent changed yet.

  • Tisi @ at 1:29 am, February 23rd, 2010

    Agreed. I was also raised by a good man who was a victim of gender stereotyping his entire life. He has fought it my entire life, and I’m a better person because he wanted both of us to both just be human beings. This article really made me think. Thanks.

  • Adrienne @ at 11:36 pm, May 7th, 2010

    Well, I wrote a huge, long, rambling post in response to this, but I can just make it so much easier.
    Thank you for writing this. I noticed my dad’s struggle with gender stereotyping a couple of years ago, and that cemented my belief in feminism. Plus, he was the one that taught me that no, you do not have to do this or act like that just because you’re a girl. Now, here’s some shorts, and a hammer, wanna help me build the fence?

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