Last month Gloria Steinem addressed UT Dallas as part of their gender studies lecture series. One of the most interesting things she discussed was how much men have to gain from feminism. She actually made a top ten list a la David Letterman –
Top 10 Ways that Men Benefit from Feminism
10. Through feminism, men are liberated from stereotypes, too.
9. Women’s skills are required to raise children. But, men have them too.
8. Men have been shortchanged by being told to marry someone who can cook rather than someone who can be a companion. “I’m sure that men who have been trained essentially to marry their housekeepers were lonely,” Steinem said.
7. The women’s movement can increase a man’s life by an average of four years. Steinem said that if men were to eliminate causes of death typically attributed to masculine roles, including deaths from violence, speeding and tension-related disease, their life expectancy would almost equal women’s.
6. Boys can remain close to their mothers.
5. If men aren’t hooked on dominance and hierarchy with other men, they are saved from the self-loathing that comes from the need for control.
4. Laughter can once again become commonplace, even in serious rituals. “In ancient cultures like Wilma’s, seriousness and laughter are not separate,” said Steinem.
3. Men can continue discovering talents, without being divorced from them.
2. Sex and race are intertwined. You can’t uproot one without the other. “There’s really no such thing as being a feminist without being an anti‑racist,” she said.
1. Eliminating the sexual caste system – the cult of femininity and masculinity – eliminates the root cause of almost all violence.
I think the natural reaction for men is to go the defensive when they hear the term ‘feminist’. They may feel like the discussion of feminism inherently places blame on men in general – but obviously that is not true. If we were placing blame, women can be just as anti-feminist as some men. In reality, feminism often recognizes the parental rights of men and how beneficial their voices can be in our movement. Gloria’s strategy of appealing to men directly reduces any defensive reactions and promotes feminism as essential for everyone. This is definitely a list to pass on.