I believe that there is a stigma attached to men advocating for women’s rights, at least on Harvard’s campus, and this needs to change. I have heard many people assume that a guy is gay because he is attending an event on women’s empowerment or encouraging people to attend Take Back the Night events. I have been reprimanded, in a friendly way, by guy friends for being obsessed with “women’s issues.” We need to change this strange conception of masculinity. Just because a man supports and speaks out for women’s rights does not mean he’s “feminine” (god forbid!). This misconception impedes progress. I cannot help but call to mind a scene from Tom Wolfe’s “I Am Charlotte Simmons” in which a hypocritical character fears attending a gay rights rally because he is terrified that girls will assume he’s not straight.
If more men include themselves in this discussion, it will start to seem less “cool” to be anti-woman. So much of the time, peer pressure and fear of undesired interpretations prohibit the issuance of vocal support. If fighting for women can become accepted among men, the power will increase. So to the guys reading this, in the next few weeks, I encourage you to join some “lean in” circles, attend some Take Back the Night events, and join in actively in dining hall discussions—maybe even begin them. I’m not asking you to immediately start storming the Yard with “Hillary 2016” posters. I am asking you to take a first step.
You don’t have to be a woman to stand up for women’s rights. You don’t have to be black to stand up for equal rights for African-Americans or gay to be repelled by homophobia. You don’t have to be a tree to be an advocate for a greener environment. You just have to be a civilized human being. I implore my fellow beings to exert more action, first from on campus and then into the world.
Read the full article on The Harvard Crimson
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