Try to find a group of men on the forefront of women’s empowerment. The closest you’ll uncover are a few supporters of Stopping Violence Against Women.
A couple years ago I remember getting excited when I found the United Nation’s Network of Men Leaders. I thought, “Now there’s hope!” I wrote a letter about getting involved to find out where their events and rallies were. The response? Nil.
I was definitely excited about Patrick Stewart’s advocacy and his appearances on the Daily Show. My hope for a movement was temporarily renewed…until it dissipated shortly after Patrick left. Where’d he go? “Come back, Pat! Come back, men!” There are too many thoughts converging at once to justly address them in a few lines. These are three of a long list of questions I frequently ponder: What does it mean to be a man today? What is women’s empowerment? And what does a man have to do with it?
At their core, women’s empowerment and feminist movements exists to balance discrepancies of inequity.
So, we have a starting point —we all want equality. And we have an end point —equality. Now, let’s try to answer some questions.
What is women’s empowerment? Easy one: elevating the station of women towards equality. Okay, then what is equality? That is a tougher question. Let’s explore this and all its dimensions in a subsequent post.
What does it mean to be a man today? Well, what did it mean to be a man yesterday? No really, let’s think about this in a historical context. Typical answers include the protector, provider, breadwinner, etc. Look at how last names are taken on in marriage. We didn’t just decide these things out of thin air. There’s history at play here. Fine. So, we get that the role of men yesterday was defined by the role of men the day before that. Note, however, that these past roles root in inequity. Now that we’re entering a new age I would say that the role of men today is naturally a little confused. It’s not a bad thing; it’s simply a result of an unprecedented evolution in humanity’s journey! And that’s exciting! If we recognize that the men of tomorrow sit on an ideal throne of equality, then we can also recognize that the men of today have the great responsibility and opportunity to march down a path that could forever shape humankind here-forth.
What greater defining feature for men today exists other than how he chooses to advance equality? Truly, there is nothing greater for men to compete for, become radical and devote their energies and resources towards.
You see, the Stopping Violence Against Women cause is needed but it doesn’t demand enough from anyone, especially men. If we’re going to tackle the beasts piling in the way of equality, we’ll need to delve deep into the seas of human identity, concepts of power, and societal structures. But the point to take home for now is that equality is a human issue. Therefore, the empowerment of women is a human issue. The men of tomorrow not only understand this, they’re tireless at preserving its security. And their only regret is not beginning yesterday.