By: CAITLIN HART
Without fail, anytime that I mention I took Women’s and Gender Studies as a course, I get the look.
The look that says, “Why did you bother taking that?” or “That’s not a real course.” And don’t forget the eye roll that goes along with it. Anytime I mention that I’m a feminist I get the typical “Ew, why?”
I will tell you why. I believe that being informed about issues such as violence against women is not only a women’s issue, but also a human issue. It is something that needs to be talked about.
What is unfortunate is that most people avoid the subject of violence against women, and when it is brought up it is not taken seriously. Take the language we use, in which ‘raped’ is thought to be an appropriate description for something being difficult. Someone can describe doing poorly on a test as being “raped’ by it, equating the experience with sexual assault. What this does is make the word rape less valuable as it is used in everyday language.
However, language is only part of the problem. The culture we live in feeds rape culture. Men are supposed to be strong, virile beings who look for and want sex all the time. This idea is not only degrading towards women, but it is degrading towards men. I should think that in modern society we should expect more from men than just wanting to rip a woman’s clothes off at a moment’s notice. What we consider to be a man needs to be challenged.
This is a complex problem that needs to start with social constructs. What is needed is for both sexes to work together. Women alone cannot solve this problem; men need to be encouraged to fight stereotypes. Essentially they need another guy to tell them, “Hey, that type of behavior is not okay”.
It is the little steps such as this that can trigger change. All it takes is one man to question this behavior and make an influence on his fellow men. I believe that in order for not only violence against women to be improved, but also other so-called feminist issues, the involvement of men is necessary, because it will make the movement more powerful. To me, this is not men interfering with the movement; it is helping to move it forward. Both sexes are meant to work together. Excluding men only creates larger divisions and more ignorance.