It is my belief that we include our support of men and boys, in our effort to improve women's rights.
Often, men and boys have a better opportunity to be educated or find employment. Often, the people who exploit other human beings are men. However, this is not always true. Women are not the only human beings capable of sincerely caring about others, and human rights. Often, those whose rights have been abused have difficulty trusting people who remind them of being victimized. However, although many women and girls have an unfairly difficult challenge in finding security and a voice that is heard, so do many boys and men, as well as the eldery.
What more can we say about boys and men, as a population that affects human rights, other than grouping them as abusers? Not only do basic rights matter to them as well, but education matters for them, too. Afterall, education is what changes hearts and minds.
It doesn't matter where you live, in the world. Ignorance is everywhere.
Yesterday, I saw a truck drive by, (here, where I live, in Michigan) with a sign on it that said, "If I wanted a bitch, I would have gotten a dog". As I looked to see the face of the man inside the truck, I saw that he was wearing the uniform of a police officer. I was apalled. The nerve, he had, to display his misogynistic beliefs so flagrantly. He should be ashamed, but sadly, he is not. It is an embarassment to the democracy I live in, that a person in authority, such as a police officer, would lack the decency of having the least bit of sensitivity to women's issues.
I wondered, is he so stupid, that he does not realize how offensive that is, or does he just not care? I think; he is both... stupid and careless.
Yet, not only 'stupid'... More specifically, he is IGNORANT, and because he is ignorant, he is careless. He has the arrogance of an uneducated fool, and that kind of arrogance is the product of a hardened heart and fundamental insecurity. He is angry about something, I think, and he must blame a woman. Maybe a woman let him down. Maybe it is easier for him to take his anger out at a woman, because he thinks women are weak. Maybe both.
Then, I thought - does he have a mother? a daughter? When he was a little boy, did he have a sister or friend that showed him kindness and empathy?
What could have happened, in his life, to change the way he turned out, to be?
Has he ever met a truly brave woman? Has he ever met a woman who challenged him, and did not give up? Has anyone ever held him accountable for his obviously unethical viewpoint, on women?
...Because, to me, his little sign was clearly offensive and not funny, at all.
The fact that this is acceptible or funny 'enough' to some people, that he does not feel ashamed or concerned about promoting this attitude is both alarming to me, and makes me angry.
One could surmise that any woman who disagrees with him or questions his point of view might be described, by him, as a 'bitch', a dog, less than equal, less than human. Ironically, a dog can be trained. A woman who speaks her mind, even if she has been 'trained' to be silent, is often called a 'bitch' by a certain kind of man who finds her threatening. I think a woman like that is brave. I am a woman like that, and so I took great offense at this man's statement.
I am well aware that this kind of act is far from the worst kind of crime that a man can commit, against a woman. I know that personally... However, it is that kind of attitude that keeps opportunities of equality and fairness from reaching women and girls.
What can we do to change this kind of misogynistic attitude?
Attitudes about social politics, as well as any subject, are shaped by education, as well as experience.
I want a fair and equal education provided to all people, including men and boys, and I want all voices to be heard. How often, I wondered, watching that truck drive away, how often has anyone challenged that man's point of view? Would I have the nerve to? Even if I saw him standing before me, in his uniform? Yes, but I would not confront him, directly. I would go to his superior. If that did not work, I would go to the superior of that superior. I would call a news reporter.... 'Oh no' I thought. The truck has gotten away, without me doing anything. I could have gotten the license plate. I didn't think of it, soon enough. If I did, and complained, would the police department take me seriously? They should!
My point is, we are all teaching each other, all of the time. Those who know better, those who are wiser, whether by a formal education, or the right 'teachers' in the 'school of life', those of us who have some important ideas to share... we NEED to have the courage to speak our minds and inspire and re-shape the broken, un-empathetic, selfish attitudes that keep one person or one group opressing another.
In this way, the attitudes of many males who discriminate against females may be evolved and enlightened.
However, I also want to say that it is not the natural state of males to be born into this world with such hateful and abusive hearts. That is a learned condition.
Just like all people, baby boys are born into this world needing love. All babies are born expecting that. They cry for it, because they depend on it. When we don't love our children, not only do we let them down, but we let the whole world down. We let humanity down, when we deny the children love. Isn't it a wonderful thing, and not a problem, that children come into this world expecting love? Doesn't that show us, as human beings, that whatever spiritual belief or religion you come from, that we all come from a place of LOVE?
We need to love our boys and men, the same as we love our girls, women, the elderly, and all people who are treated unfairly and discriminated against.
Caring about all people, even those who are part of the problem, is the only way to change the world. We need to think about how we are going to raise men who are responsible and kind. We need to visualize a future that is not based on little changes, according to the way things have always been, but how they might be.
Even the language we use, must change. All the unfair biases need to be wiped out.
All the hateful and prejudiced name calling has to be wiped out.
Why are there still so many derrogatory words to describe women, where the similar name, for a man, is not negative, at all? How do we continue to have so many double standards? How is it, that so many women are complicit, in this?
It is because many women don't even understand their own worth!
It is because so many women are not educated; they are not inspired; they don't have faith. They have not heard the voices of other women, among them, who would be leaders, if they only had the courage! The outspoken leaders, among them, have yet to find their boldness.
I encourage any person reading this, to have more courage to speak out, about your beliefs on equality and empathy, for our fellow human beings.
Mothers, talk to your sons, as well as your daughters. Parents, speak to your children! Ask them questions; ask them why they believe what they do? Is it because they are just going in-line with the way it has 'always been', or are they questioning things, for themselves... Do they think their opinion matters enough, to change things?
Everything starts with the children... what we teach our boys matters! Behind every horrible man, is a mother who did not get to her son's heart, with her voice.
"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children".
...And even the most cruel and selfish man can change... The mind is powerful, but the spirit and heart is even more powerful, I think. The mind can be moved, by the heart, to change. I have faith, in that. I have seen many people change their lives, even in middle-age. There are stories throughtout history, about this. Consider the man who wrote, "Amazing Grace", John Newton. He was a slave trader who experienced a complete spiritual conversion. It took him some time, and he made mistakes along the way, but he changed his life and inspired more people than can be counted, to find hope in despair, and humilty in the grace of a greater, benevolent,spiritual source.
The future is not about who is in power, male, or female... this race, or that one. The future is about EQUALITY... and we don't need to wait for our leaders to get us to that future... We can start in our homes, with our children, and continue by taking the chance to speak out, when we see something wrong... We can start small, even the more timid among us, gaining confidence, bit by bit, until we have the courage to take to the government offices and every cultural heirarchy, promoting this ethic of equality, fairness, opportunity, and peace.
We need to lead in our homes and our communities by example, even if we get called a few bad names, in the process.
So, please don't forget that Boys and Men matter, too. What would our world be, without them? There are so many wonderful ways that we can all take part, in a better future.
Let's not make the males feel left out or dismissed. They can be pro-female, too... and afterall, the goal is not to have a world that is just pro-female. It's not about gender, race, or culture. It's about EQUALITY.
The man who has the opportunity to work, and is able to support his family, doesn't have to resort to making his young children work, instead of going to school. Both men and women need rights and opportunities. Yes, women, the world over, have further to go, in terms of fairness, ... but let's not forget that what we teach and provide, in terms of opportunity, for our boys and men... this is part of the solution, too.
My final thought is about my son. He is excited that he is alive to (hopefully) see the next president of the U.S., be a woman, for the first time, in history. He wishes he could vote, so that he could be part of making that historical moment happen, personally. Boys like him are the men of the future!
Appreciate a good-hearted little boy, teenage boy, or grown man, in your life, today. I pray you have one! They exist!
I am grateful for the ways that my husband has been my partner, and the way that my son has opened my eyes to appreciating just how wonderful a boy can be.
Do you know what they both have in common? A loving and strong woman, as a mother!