As you may have noticed, March over here on OTV Magazine has been all about the empowerment of women. You might also notice that this here is a column about men and boys and issues faced by my side of the gender coin and wonder why I’m talking about the ladies today.
Answer: Save the cheerleader, save the world.
Wait, wrong quote… or is it? I mean, the malefolk do seem to be doing pretty well, what with so many proud penis owners in so many positions of power, but can we truly say that’s good for all the XYers? And what about the dudes sporting those XX chromosomes? Or the boys who like boys? Or the straight dudes who just wanna be that cheerleader? Or boys who wanna grow up to be teachers? Or single men who want to adopt all the babies without a wife to do those wifely duties? Empowerment of women also allows men to be who they’re meant to be and what they want to be. So, really, it’s a win-win sitch, baby.
Imagine a world where men and women are complete equals and are held to identical standards. See, there are societal demands made of both sexes that require certain attitudes and attributes to be displayed based on things like genitalia. Stupid, I know, but that’s the sort of malarkey that’s festered for eons. If we stop acting like women can’t do a thing because of perceived weakness or frailty, we’d probably see more girls interested in that men’s work we hear so much about. And if men aren’t the only ones society deems able to build and fix and conquer, then we’d see some of those same men teaching and decorating and raising children.
Let’s say you’ve met The One and have decided to get with the baby-making. After the fun and Olympic games and the whole should-have-learned-in-sex-ed-stuff is started, society would expect mom to stay home (if home staying is an option) after pushing the baby out. And if that’s what the two of them want, then cool beans. But what if he wants to stay at home and she wants to head back to the office? Who among us should be allowed to tell them how to raise their family? No one, in case you were actually wondering. Because their lives are not ours and their choices should be made to improve their lives and make them happy. Isn’t that what living is all about?
There are these ideas that there are things men and women do better than the opposite sex. Those ideas are limiting. If a man is better with his hands, maybe it’s because he’s been given drills and hammers and saws since early childhood when he got his first tool kit playset. If a woman is better at keeping house and child rearing, perhaps it’s because she’s been practicing with plastic stoves and baby dolls since before she could talk. These differences aren’t necessarily inborn; they’re taught by well-meaning parents who have no idea they’re molding another generation into society’s preferred roles.
And as we all know (or should know) society’s outdated gender roles don’t help anyone; they hold us all back. How can we fight this? That’s where the whole empowering women thing comes in. But how do we do that? Also super easy, as long as we’re willing to spread power around; we foster a society where women are able to make their own choices.
By cultivating a society where a woman can design her own path, we’re also showing men they can, too. Empowering women doesn’t place them above men, it guarantees equal footing; and when all things are equal, everyone wins because everyone’s options multiply and choices that were denied one are suddenly for both. Masculine and feminine ideals that pigeonholed previous generations begin to fall away, and new paths are created for those who choose to walk them.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The immortal words written on the Declaration of Independence have more meaning today than ever before. Not only are the white land-owning men guaranteed the freedoms enshrined within the United States Constitution, but all who live within its borders. But before we can claim to be a truly free and democratic land, we must extend all rights, all choices, to every citizen, be they straight or gay, man or woman, cis or trans, black or white (or any other color).
This month may be all about women’s empowerment but in doing so, we empower each and every one of us just as much. Remember that next time you hear someone scoff at #HeForShe or wonder why women march or even question why a woman doesn’t want kids. Look at the women in your life not as lesser or weaker or in need of a strong defender but as someone capable of standing beside you. She can do it. She’s always been able to, even if she herself never believed it.
Hm. So I guess the quote wasn’t quite right after all. Instead of saving the cheerleader, make sure she has the tools to save herself and watch the world be all the better for it.
I’ll see y’all again next month. If ya got a question you want me to answer it topic you’d like to see me address, hit me up. And if you’d like to write for us, check out the submission page. If you’re under twenty-five, consider submitting to OTV’s Youth Voices and give me something to edit. Gotta earn my pay, y’know?