The problem with feminism isn't with the idea itself, but everything that surrounds it. From the misunderstanding of what the term actually means, to the idea that it is only for women. In fact, feminism is a threat to the way things have been for centuries, one which affects the demographic I belong to particularly: the white, straight, middle-class male.
Feminism seeks to upset the status-quo that has become ingrained in the lives of so many and to address the benefits it gives us males. The idea of equality for all seems to scare so many men as if it is some form of communist uprising. In the same way some people try to hold on to the benefits capitalism, it would seem advantageous to me and others that those things remain as they are. As the source of the benefits we enjoy, the status quo is attractive; but the effects and result of patriarchy that still exists in society creates many problems for women, many of which we men don't even realise exist. To us it seems fine and from our bubble looking out into the world, everything looks grand. Change things? No chance!
As opinion so invariably lacks facts to back it up, it is unbeknown to many men that if gender equality were to occur, it would benefit us all. It's not doom and gloom; we are starting to notice that those female-beings with smaller brains can actually do the same things and be just as intelligent, since size doesn't matter for some things (a relief too). The irony of straight men saying they want the best for their wife/partner/girl friend, and that they know what's best, is really a pathetic attitude that needs to be culled. Why are we so scared for others to have the same benefits? Maybe it is out of fear that many men can't face the idea of what is true, that we adore women and are already in awe of them.
It's embarrassing to be even associated with these kinds of people. Maybe you are not aware of the sexist, misogynistic behaviour, street harassment and sexual assault that affects many women, but that doesn't mean it doesn't occur. Most men are decent people and the idea of these things happening every day, everywhere, hasn't even crossed their mind, but this is even more of a reason to support women in fighting it. This support should be a given, but instead is appallingly a genuine fight to be had. In finding out more about these issues, it may make you aware that you have crossed the line in the past, but trying to change how we behave in the future is a big step forwards. No-one is perfect, and being born into this culture in society does not exempt you from blame as some sort of product of the system. Man is an intelligent animal that has the power to change our thoughts and actions: ask Darwin! You may also get hassle from women at one time or another but this is also inexcusable and doesn't change the fact that women have it worse. In the fight for equality, exceptions shouldn't be made and this behaviour should be addressed in an appropriate way too.
Change does take time. Change also takes effort. Be that guy to realise and accept that you can do more for women and give them the respect they deserve. Call out other for men not acting as they should in the same way racist acts are (or at least should) be challenged. Patronising or not, this is a message far too many need to hear. We laugh at some of the older generation holding on to past cultural ideals; it would be hypocritical to not learn that we can start a better world now.
Some ideas to do/practise:
1. Don't shout abuse at women in the street. She doesn't deserve it, it isn't funny and is cowardly.
2. Don't touch a woman who has not consented to it willingly. Anything non-consensual is sexual assault, even if in a social setting such as a club.
3. Your thoughts of a woman's appearance are your own, but that doesn't oblige you to share them with her or someone else - something many of us need to stop doing. It is a habit that suggests we are entitled to comment. If it were the other way around we might enjoy the 'compliment' but most women don't see it this way.
4. Women like sex too - that doesn't mean they are sluts. Be glad they like sex rather than shame it.
5. Being naked in public is a sexual offence, so don't flash them.
6. Try not to use words like 'bitch', 'whore' and 'slag' to describe women. It is disrespectful and relates to their sexual activity and that's none of your business. Also, see point 4.
7. If you see something sexist or misogynist, intervene and point it out if you feel able to. Not always an easy one, so be careful.
8. Share pictures and information on social media promoting equality. Educating others to the true realities is really important and even if it's not your day job. Just the occasional post can make a difference to another man's perception or empower a woman.
9. Consider making reparations for any past mistakes.
10. Ask a woman what she has been through in sexual harassment - the stories are shocking.