By Andrea Dovale-Puig
Being a feminist means you support the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of equality of the sexes. In other words, it signifies that you believe that men and women should be treated equally in society and have the same opportunities. This all should sound reasonable to the decent person. So then why isn’t every person you know a feminist?
Due to a recent social media uproar, I have realized how scarce feminism is among teenage boys. A statistic found by UN Women UK stating that 97% of women aged 18-24 in the United Kingdom had experienced sexual harassment came to light, and went viral on social media. Many women spoke up about their experiences, reposted infographics, as well as shared their opinions and emotions regarding the topic of sexual harassment and assault.
This sudden conversation about sexual harassment and assault caused many men to speak up on their thoughts about the topic. While the majority of teenage girls I know were reposting educational posts and showing their support, the majority of teenage boys immediate reaction was to debunk the 97% statistic or to change the conversation to sexual harassment/assault to males. These boys have never thought to bring up sexual harassment/assault towards males until it was brought up about females. These men don’t care about male issues – they just care to take away from female ones. A very small number of high school boys reposted the posts that were being spread on social media, which was startling, evident, and upsetting to many of the girls I know. It seemed like the guys we knew were embarrassed to support women, and thought of it as emasculating if they posted on their story supporting women. Many of them questioned what a post on their story would possibly do to help the situation, and that it was not worth sharing.
Another immediate reaction for many was to say “Not All Men,” to again change the topic from women’s issues, to the fact that not all men sexually harass/assault women. It is frightening and disappointing to think that when these men hear that 97% of women have been sexually harassed/assaulted, their first thought is to defend themselves and their friends, instead of being concerned about the women actually being hurt. No one said that all men harass or assault women. But, the fact is, the majority of women do get assaulted or harassed. The fact that very few boys had anything to say besides “Not All Men,” spoke volumes on their true thoughts about women.
Teenage boys, and all people for that matter, need to be further educated on feminism so that they can form better opinions and empathize further. Men need to realize that being against feminism isn’t about being against a political group – it’s about demeaning women. Feminism is a very complex subject matter, but it doesn’t have to be. Supporting women, and supporting them when they voice their experiences is key to the advancement of our society. With the complete involvement and effort of every human being, feminism can become the normality that it should already be.