One saying I frequently use is “Men are from Mars, Women and from Venus, and I am from Neptune.”
I often feel that I came from another planet than most of my earthling brothers and sisters. I see things differently from the norm.
One thing that I see differently from many men is that women all across Planet Earth are being mistreated. Men are frequently to blame for this. I am a firm believer in the idea that if men treated women better, life would be better for men, too.
A CALL TO ACTION
Former United States President Jimmy Carter wrote a book (A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power) and has been speaking out about injustices against women at the global (not just the US) level.
In a TED talk, Carter enumerated a few abuses against women:
Scriptures from many holy texts are interpreted by men to justify placing women in inferior and often dependent positions to men.
An increasingly violent culture combined with America’s overzealous imprisonment of especially minorities has created more abuse for women, especially minority women.
Genital mutilation in many countries (not the US) is performed to conform to religious, cultural, and sexist reasons decided upon by men. Mutilations happen usually by male “cutters” during childhood.
Executions of girls/women is performed by family members in certain countries for bringing “disgrace” upon that family’s “honor.” A victim of rape is sometimes executed as punishment for bringing shame to the family. Some have been executed for marrying someone the father did not approve of or even for wearing “inappropriate” clothing.
More than 30 million people globally live in slavery, 80% of whom are women. In the US, 60,000 people are victims of human trafficking.
In the United States, illegal human trafficking is often done tor prostitution. For every one man arrested for prostitution (including pimping and trafficking), 25 women are prosecuted for being a prostitute, even when it was against their will in the first place.
Sexual assaults in the military and in university campuses often stack the deck against women victims when it comes to prosecuting rape and harassment cases. The institutions do not want to bring bad publicity to themselves, so when they can, they do not prosecute rapists.
For the last 15 years, little progress has been made in equal pay for equal work. Statistically, a woman still earns 23% less than a man would earn for performing the same work.
According to Carter, America is the most warlike nation on Earth. We have been at war with 25 countries since World War II.
Carter concludes by saying that the average man does not give a damn. He suggests that men quietly accept their privileged position by not rocking the boat for equality or actively defending women’s rights. He says that this is especially true for men in power who are in positions where they could do something about it. such as male leaders in the military, the universities, religion, and so on. .
Carter’s speech was a sweeping overview of abuses against women and girls on the whole planet. As a former president, he has the unique opportunity to see the world with the kind of access to people and places most of us only dream about. If you haven’t seen his Ted Talk, it’s worth watching.
I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, a place where women’s issues were more front and center stage than in a lot of places. Through friendships with women, I have been exposed to the abuses against women in the more quiet, insidious ways that don’t necessarily grab headlines.
I gravitate toward people who feel as if they were born on a different planet. I feel for people who have been marginalized by those in power positions. Whether it is sexual discrimination, racial discrimination, religious discrimination, lifestyle discrimination, or some other, I root for people who are unfairly mistreated for being different.
As I white male, I was born into privilege, at least its middle-class version. Yet as a sensitive person with artistic and spiritual leanings, I often found myself taking minority positions. I could appreciate and empathize with people struggling against the swift, mainstream currents, such as hating war when mainstream patriots called for war, not wanting to glorify materialism, and yes, supporting liberty and justice for all.
One of the best ways to come to understand women’s issues is to listen. Just shut up and listen. Observe. Watch what the world is like for females. Resist engaging in defensive thinking or debating, and just pay attention.
As a man, I may have worried about being robbed, but I never worried about being raped. As a man, I never worried that I would be denied a job, a promotion, a loan, or future success because of my gender. As a man, I never worried about being taken seriously because I was the wrong gender. As a man, I was never pestered, stared at, worshiped or scored by strangers for my sexual potential. By the same token, I have not suffered nearly the same level of anxiety over my appearance as women are socially driven to feel.
By no means is this an exhaustive list of what confronts women in so many places.
CLOSER TO HOME
Over the years, many of my women friends disclosed to me that they were victims of child abuse, sex abuse, or spousal abuse. Because I have had far more women friends than men friends, I have heard many stories about the struggles even the average woman goes through living in a patriarchal society that does a poor job protecting the rights of women.
It puts me in an unusual place. It breaks my heart—as well as disgusts and angers me—to hear litanies of how females are treated as second class citizens. My righteous indignation is constantly being aroused. At the same time, when a woman talks to me, often with great emotion, about how bad women have it compared to men, I often feel as if I am being attacked because of my biology.
They usually don’t say it this bluntly, but the message I often get is, “You are a man. You cannot possibly understand what it is like to be a woman. You are excluded from the club.”
Sometimes it seems as if my biology is being used against me as retribution for a woman’s biology having been used against her. I can’t say as if I blame them for their hostility against men, but it is also out of control from the viewpoint of fixing it.
As with so many other forms of injustice, the problem is that after so much harm has been done, after so many lives have been damaged if not ruined, how do we get beyond the rage to affect positive change? With so many women so pissed off at men that they have no trust left to offer, how can men who support women’s rights feel embraced for that support?
“Men are dicks, and in case you need clarification, that is not a good thing.”
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
In our media culture where most of us go to find out what’s going on—I gave away my TV but I still watch Netflix, visit Facebook, and Google for the News—we are so often taught to follow an us vs. them mentality. One group gangs up on another. We are encouraged to keep this mentality alive.
Seldom do I see much call for cooperation and harmonizing. The battle seems to be much juicier, especially when an issue is being played out in the media. Every day the media eggs the fighting on by words and pictures of any form of violence imaginable from name-calling to missile launching and mass murder. With this bombardment of violence, perhaps it is little wonder that most of us do not feel that we are all in this together.
Women matter. The faster that men realize it and support women’s rights, the more we might feel that we are all in this together. Feeling united is one of the best ways to start solving other problems that torment humanity.
A house divided against itself cannot stand.