Who says guys can't be feminists?

Male high school students aren’t the typical attendees of Feminism 101.  Yet at the Elizabeth Irwin High School (LREI) in the U.S. some of the guys got a message about what it feels like to be a girl and ended up being okay with calling themselves feminists. Take a look at this video from Upworthy.

These students from the 2012/13 school year at the LREI High School in New York were taught about gender, race and class and how they intersect and contribute to oppression, for both men and women, and the fact that women have to sometimes grapple with all three.

The young men shown in the video, talk about the fact that they got a different perspective on just what feminism is and how it affects both genders.

Which got me thinking, what messages are we passing down to our children, especially sons, around the treatment of women today? The fact remains that women are still paid less for equal work, are often expected to do the majority of housework and childrearing while holding down a job, and still experience domestic and sexual violence at alarming rates.

Going forward, men need to be part of the solution. And although there’s often a backlash when women are vocal about their experiences around these issues, many men do get it, as this article from AlterNet documents.

Research shows that society benefits when there is collaboration as opposed to competition and submission. Cooperation leads to better productivity and higher accuracy in accomplishing tasks, higher self-esteem, and less stress. Win-wins for everyone.

Difficulties arise when one group has more privilege than another and is less than enthused about giving up some of their power (even though all stand to gain more in the end.)

But some men are up to the challenge of working alongside and for women’s safety, equality and rights without feeling threatened that women are against men.

Mother Theresa famously replied to the question of why she didn’t march in anti-war demonstrations: “I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

For those of us who are mothers, it’s time to clearly let our sons know that it’s okay to be pro-feminism and that that doesn’t equate with being anti-men.

Rena Galanis

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