Hi there! I’ve been reading Scarleteen for a couple of years now and I really enjoy your perspectives, especially on gender/gender roles.
My question is this — how do you acknowledge male privilege and real problems with widespread misogyny while not falling back on stereotypes about men and women?
I’m a 23-year-old woman and I’ve noticed that sometimes there’s a lot of overlap in beliefs between my (somewhat anti feminist) parents, sexist guys I’ve known and feminist female friends.
For example, all three of these groups seem to believe it’s nearly impossible — or at least really difficult for (straight) men and women to maintain friendships and as a result they don’t have any close, emotional friendships with people of other genders, unless they’re somehow romantically, or at least sexually involved.
I agree that these friendships can be fragile — but I’ve also had a lot of close male friends, both in high school and at a somewhat conservative religious college. While sometimes one of us did develop feelings, we were able to handle it maturely for the most part and after some space, go back to being friends, if the feelings weren’t mutual. At the same time, now that I’m out of school, I’m finding it much harder to make male friends.
I’ve also heard a lot of comments about how men suck, especially when it comes to dating because they’re afraid of commitment/lack emotional maturity/only want sex. While I do know that perpetrators of sexual assault do tend to be majority male, and that many men can be sexist towards their partners, I think that some of the more mundane behaviors largely attributed to men (fear of commitment, leading someone on, not communicating) are things I’ve seen people of other genders do, too (not to mention all genders are capable of abuse and upholding gender roles). And I’ve known straight men on the receiving end of these behaviors.
Yet I sometimes feel like when I push back against the attitudes I see among family and friends that I’m saying “not all men” or acting like a pick-me.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is, how can I move toward a more healthy feminism that imagines good relationships between people of different genders and makes room for healthy masculinity? And how can I find people who share similar beliefs and values in real life?