A “Man’s” World

By Kevin Memminger, contributing writer

Photos from Harvard Gazette, Blackburn Center, and Unsplash

In the society that we live in today, there is an influx on the importance of inclusion. There are millions of people protesting social issues across the country, whether they are for them or against them. During the late 2010’s the #MeToo movement began, addressing sexual harassment, abuse, and violence that women faced with public figures, as well as average joes. #MeToo produced one of the most prominent feminist movements. The movement addressed and publicized accusations of harassment that women face every day, whether that be in their everyday lives or their professions. The #MeToo movement is faced with constant backlash, as the feminist movements continue to deal with criticism and questioning, primarily by men. In my opinion, this is one of the most detrimental perspectives from society and one that I am constantly questioning. Why is it that more men are not allies to feminists? 

Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Since before I was born, there has been a normalized attitude amongst men that it is appropriate to treat women as if they are lesser than them. The late Tupac Shakur addresses the disrespect that women face in his song ‘Keep Ya Head Up’, his lyrics stating: “I wonder why we take from our women, why we rape our women, do we hate our women?” In the United States, this has been a societal function for men that is as common as going to  a ball game. Social media depicts misogynistic views constantly, bolstering comments degrading women in every field, including athletics. Cat-calls, sexist jokes, unsolicited images, among tons of other things are ways that women are consistently harassed. According to an article provided by NPR.org, an online survey that was conducted by nonprofit Stop Street Harassment showed that 81 percent of women experienced sexual harassment. Verbal harassment was the primary form of harassment, followed by unwelcome sexual touching which is physical harassment. It is important to note that harassment does take place with men as well, but the statistics concur that it occurs to women in a vastly higher volume. 

Oftentimes men who do not say anything let harassment slide, and the term “boys will be boys” continues to stay prevalent, as advocacy further strays. “Boys will be boys” does not mean that boys–who develop into men–are exempt from the consequences of their words and their actions. This starts as early toddler ages and continues into the working world. The danger of continuing to not punish boys severely at a younger age can result in the sexual harassment and sexual crimes that we see today. Men are molded by the ideologies of toxic masculinity and strive off of things such as “locker room talk” to display their masculinity to other men. This behavior and mindset not only has the power to ruin and rampage lives but can and has resulted in death. Yes, that may sound extreme, but this is the sickening reality that women have to deal with every single day.

I am a current student-athlete on the McKendree football team. Every Monday we have a team meeting and through this COVID period each meeting has been on Zoom. Coach Babcock typically brings in a guest speaker, and he had Beth Bowers, who is the newly appointed assistant director of athletics and the department’s Senior Woman Administrator, come and speak to us. Bowers told us a riveting story that highlighted sexual violence with student-athletes and the aftermath that proceeded such events. I was completely engaged the moment she began. The story was told with extreme detail and vivid imagery. As I listened, I understood the importance that this story had to Bowers and why she decided to share it with us. I was filled with empathy and began to question my teammates who may not have understood the importance of feminism in general. 

I interviewed one of my teammates, senior defensive tackle Isaiah Ward. I chose to interview Ward for several reasons, including the fact that he is a member of the leadership committee for the football team and an advocate for women’s social justice. Ward is well-read on the topic of feminism, as he cites his discussions about feminism with Dr. Lauren Thompson and Dr. Robyn Swink, two well-renowned Professors at McKendree. Ward has a platform among the football team, as well as other male students in general. Ward was abundantly vocal in his stance on feminism. 

“I’m all for feminisim—I am a feminist myself,” Ward said. “I like to advocate for women whether it’s the occupation, the wage gap, gender studies, social and sexual orientation, how often they get slut-shamed and men don’t…”

Ward discussed the importance of men’s language in general, not only when women are around. Ward mentioned the importance of word choice, as men need to correct and understand the underlying tones with the sexist and misogynistic language that is used every day. We also discussed the importance of not belittling women, how to support their viewpoints and thoughts, and how to become a better advocate to the women on campus, and women as a whole. 

I truly believe that it is essential that men become better and more vocal advocates for the social injustices that women face. I believe that dialogues need to continue and that men must do a better job of educating themselves on these issues and addressing sexist commentary that they encounter daily. I value that listening is critical to the cause, and being empathic instead of playing the devil’s advocate. Feminism in general is a difficult topic to discuss, as there are many different facets that are involved. It holds individual definitions to different people. It is important to continue to use the platforms that are given and to learn how to empower ALL women. My hope is that men, myself included, continue the push forward as an ally for women’s social justice issues, rather than an adversary.

5 thoughts on “A “Man’s” World

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  1. Yes, yes, YES! Feminism is powerful to all people, and it’s integral to successfully changing the world for the better. Excellent piece! I hope that it encourages others to engage in the conversation so that the dialogue can foster growth and produce a better world.

  2. You’re spot on w/ your points and back them up with likeminded individuals that have knowledge in the matter. You highlighted the issues but also gave solutions to the problems. Advocates of the message will continue to grow. Great Piece!

  3. Oh boy. Hate to spank you this way but the pay gap has been disproven time and again. The 1963 Employee Protection Act guarantees equal pay for equal work. It is illegal to discriminate and pay less to someone due to their sex. I defy you to present an example of Men and Women being paid differently for the same position.
    On top of that, if Women were paid less than Men, any corporation would be crazy not to hire just Women if it would increase their bottom line. Anyone in America that would even attempt to pay someone less based on their sex would face jail time and heavy fines.
    The “pay gap” is based on real world numbers that feminists have a hard time understanding.
    If a Man gets paid $1000 per week as does his female counterpart, both he and she would gross $52,000 per year. However, if that female has a baby and takes 6 weeks of paternity, then she will make 46K. This is not due to discrimination. Women take more sick leave, more flex time, more paternity leave and time off for their families then Men do. Period. This is where the so-called deficit comes from.
    Stop pushing the lie of the “Gender gap”. It’s not working any longer.

    1. It’s people like Ray that are really part of the problem. Just like an employer can’t discriminate against people of color for a job, they can’t do it for gender, right? It’s clearly just not possible for such a thing to happen because there are laws in place, right? Employers will often use the excuse of there’s simply a “better candidate” when it comes to employment based on gender and race. Additionally, real world examples can be found left and right for gender based pay discrimination, law suits included.

      Although, based on what I’m reading, you’re probably the guy that thinks racism doesn’t exist anymore.
      You also seem to really have the idea that modern feminism is some construed form of women trying to be above men without having to lift a finger. It always has and will be about equality on all fronts. You’re ignorant and close-minded.

      Great article, keep spreading awareness!

    2. The “gender gap” refers to way more than tangible wages, Ray. Because of our ability to carry your children, we are offered significantly less opportunity in the field to advance or even get the job in the first place; and this is arguably why the gap has become stagnant in its improvements.

      Promotions are automatically out of the question if you’re planning on having kids or caring for your family (which by the way, men are required to do, too).

      Over 50% of law students are female, but less than 5% of major law firm partners are female because of this very reason.

      What men fail to see, is that women have been mistreated in the workplace since we were allowed (key word—“allowed”) to begin working—and you do NOTHING to try to help us.

      Plus, all your talk about “women leaving and taking too much sick time blah blah blah”, and “equal protection act protects against this yada yada”:but you’re mistaken because the PDA was established in 1978 to protect us from discrimination like the things you’ve just described in your ignorantly crafted response.

      If you still stand by your word, obviously then; you’re saying yourself that there IS discrimination and injustice in our system ?

      And if you’re so adamant that we shouldn’t be treated the same when we’re pregnant and deserve less money , then why are we battling for the rights to choose whether or not to continue that pregnancy ??????

      I don’t understand your argument.

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