By Kait Bedel | Contributor
In light of the recent women's marches, I've heard a lot of talk about the equality between men and women. I'm constantly told that this country treats women so poorly. But honestly, I feel many feminist activists today take for granted the work of the first women's rights workers. This is insulting. When people complain about how badly women today are treated, they forget the women who fought so we can now vote, work, be heard and live as independent people. Because of those women, I can pursue whatever path I want. I desperately want to thank them, and I won't ignore their work by pretending women have it just as bad now as previously.
In many instances, I've found myself highly outnumbered by men, but they didn't look down on me for having my own voice and opinions. In fact, those men showed me nothing but respect in those situations. No one has ever tried to berate me or deter my efforts because of my gender-but I see men's rights being stripped away from them. As a woman, society hears and respects my voice while slowly silencing the voices of men.
Now, I am fully aware that my experience is only one out of billions of women in the world. I also am aware that many women have legitimately been treated in sexist and demeaning ways. Many gender equality issues still need to be resolved. Those battles must be fought because feminism is about the equality of the sexes. But here's the thing: it goes both ways. I am not concerned for my rights as a woman because the minute someone threatens my freedom, an army of protesters will be ready for battle. However, I am truly concerned for the future rights of my brothers. More and more, men are dismissed from conversations about equality. If a man holds any opinion that even slightly resembles mine, his views are immediately disregarded, and he loses his place in the "discussion."
Our culture is pushing men into a ditch, and no one seems to care to help them out. They have to fight constant double standards and gender-based assumptions. Society speaks at them rather than with them. Every day, men are treated in ways that are blatantly disrespectful simply because of their gender. Yet if one were to treat a woman in the same manner, it would be completely unacceptable.
Gender-based assumptions and disrespect are inappropriate regardless of the gender they are forced upon. But our society seems to think it is all right to attack men in an effort to raise women up. This is what I want to know: why can't we simply strive to understand and respect each other instead?
Women haven't had the rights we have now for very long, so naturally men are still going to have a dominating presence in some areas, especially the workforce. However, that doesn't necessarily indicate misogyny. It could simply mean that it is hard to catch up to centuries of privilege within such a short time. Women's rights workers have already accomplished so much, and we should be grateful, not hateful. We must remember that gratitude isn't a form of surrender.
Please continue to fight for equality. Use the rights that the first feminists fought for with their blood, sweat and tears. Fight against unequal pay, sexist school policies and rape culture-end those disgraces. But don't forget to fight for your brother; fight for his rights and his voice. Don't forget to fight against a culture that continually sets up double standards against him and treats him as a being of lesser value. I'm not going to lose my rights, but I see men losing theirs every day, and that is equally unacceptable. We need to stand for each other. Men need to stand for their sisters and women need to stand for their brothers. Until we take care of each other, true equality will never happen.