I have been intrigued for a long time by a saying that goes, “When men own the equality of women there will be no need for them to struggle for their rights!”1
At first I had no idea what this meant or why the writer would make such an assertion. First, because I could not imagine any scenario when it would not be necessary for women to fight for their rights, there are still so many frontiers to conquer: the right to vote (women in Saudi Arabia just got it this year), the right to education (under the Taliban, girls were arbitrarily denied this right when they had had it for generations before), the right to freedom of movement (women cannot go out on the streets without a male relative in some places and can be punished for driving a car in others), the right to freedom of dress (which some women have taken to the extreme [see the Slutwalk controversy in Vancouver], but which is very serious as you can get whipped for showing a bare arm in Saudi Arabia or fined for wearing a veil in France), the right to own property, the right to work, the right to choose your husband, the right to stay home with your baby, the right to get paid fairly for your work, the right to have the father of your children contribute to their upkeep, the right to say “no”, the right to not get beaten by your partner, the right to be considered a human being and not an object… The list goes on and on, there is still a lot to do.
Another reason I couldn’t understand this saying was that it sounded like if men “owned” the equality of women, then women would be dependent on men to give it to them and I’m sure as hell not going to wait around for anyone to give me my equality, I’m going to take it, earn it, steal it, whatever.
But the more I meditate, the more I know the writer was right. When men begin to “take ownership” of the principle of equality is when women will no longer have to struggle so much to obtain their rights. Of course, when men add their voices, and more importantly their actions, to the feminist cause (which I define as the struggle for equal rights and opportunities for women), then it will decrease the need for them to struggle for it. So, all the guys who worry so much about the discomfort that feminism is causing to the established order would do well to just join the march and carry the banner, so society could finally right itself and all of its people find rest.
It is in this context that I want to commend some new developments which I hope are soon to become an overwhelming trend, obtain popularity and become a wave that might sweep the face of the earth. It comes out of some very sad subjects but it’s really bringing light to our sore-tried nation. The first, is the soundbite of Ashton Kutcher almost breaking down in tears when addressing an audience about child sexual slavery and sexual predators. He said something like, “It makes me sick to know that there are little girls out there and little boys who will be preyed upon by grown men.” And then he choked up. In front of the cameras. In front of the world.
Ick. Grown men crying. That makes us squirm. That makes adolescent boys scoff, and mixed audiences cough.
More power to you Ashton! You go boy. You talk about that icky stuff until we all squirm and our consciousness is raised, and the twisted ways we think about sex with virgins, sexual tourism, pimping children, child pornography, are wiped clean out of society, and there is nowhere for the sickness to hide. In that regard I also have to commend Anderson Cooper, who on the sad subject of the Penn State sexual predator scandal has been asking all the right questions, interviewing lots of experts, and not shying away from such uncomfortable language as “rape in the shower”, “sodomizing of young boys” and even though apologizing for the graphic description of the acts, saying we have to face this, and know what we are talking about.
Now, the reader might ask himself what does this have to do with equality of rights for women. Well, I have to confess, I wonder if the world would be this outraged if the victims were little girls. We expect little girls to be victims (and lots of them are, in their own homes) and so maybe we are more shocked and outraged when this happens to little boys. But, putting that cynical possibility aside, it is a healthy trend when prominent men such as Ashton and Anderson (who showed the clip of Ashton on CNN) start to form a brotherhood of men who expose, educate, and actively pursue a change in the mentality of a morally bankrupt generation. In a world that is overly sexualized, depraved, taking “sexual freedom” to abhorrent extremes that defy the imagination, those two guys stand out as among the truly sexy (i.e. cool and righteous). Yeah, they have “taken ownership” of the principle of equality (which I define as freedom from injustice and oppression), and if more men start talking, it may just change the world for all of us.
1 (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 163)