I read a lot of articles about sexism, objectification and our pornified culture. Some I share through Twitter, some I discuss with friends, many I simply read in stunned silence. They paint a deeply disturbing picture of the way women are viewed and treated in our society.
Once you’ve read enough of them, you start to wonder if perhaps the horse hasn’t already bolted. If perhaps there is so little you can do that there is no point even doing that.
And this whole anti-sexualisation thing you’ve got going on; why can’t you just lighten up? Why is a man so interested in this stuff? Who are you trying to impress?
The voices, internal and external, begin to grow. They become louder and louder until you think: ‘You know what, this is a hopeless case. We have gone too far and there is nothing left to be done. The media is too big, the pornographers too rich, the advertisers still too strong.’
Then, from some deep, insightful, rarely-used recess of your brain comes the phrase: ‘Snap out of it, man!’ Step down from your position of privilege and take a look around. Nobody is harassing you on the street. Nobody is trying to feel you up on the train. Nobody just called you ‘sugar’ on the other end of a business call.
But you know what, rarely-used insightful brain part continues, there’s a whole other gender out there experiencing this kind of sexism and harassment every, single day. There’s a whole other gender out there being presented with myriad images, day after day, of the way they should look, should act, should submit.
You’re not living that, because you’re a man. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be, or shouldn’t be, part of the solution. You respect women, right? Yeah, of course you do. So start living that as more than just a nice thought. Start living that in the fight for a better way.
So when I hear those voices telling me that the objectification is just too widespread; when I’m tempted to think that the sexism is so ingrained we could never make a difference; and when I start to believe that the feminists really are overreacting, that’s when I need to man up.
Not because women need men to fight their battles, but because I want to stand alongside them, and other men, in the fight to create a better culture for us all.