Dear Man Who Cries "I Don't Need Feminism:"

You're right. You don't need to recognize the voices of the disenfranchised in order to get ahead in life. You don't need feminism to make moneyto have casual sex without being shamed, or to get a job promotion. You don't need feminism to gain more power or more privilege

You remain at the top of the social hierarchy — and will never know how it feels to truly be on the bottom.

You sit on a throne of privilege, even though it may make you angry to hear this. Having privilege is not a character judgment — it's the institutional power given to you based on the sex assigned to you at birth. Unfortunately, we women are not so lucky.

A photo of meninist shirts

Idiotic meninist shirts

photo: Twitter/RMBowker

Dear men who say they don't need feminism: Feminism is about equity. We are all equal as human beings, but we are not seen equally by society.

Can you imagine being a woman with a disability, a queer woman, a woman of color, or even a woman who identifies as all of the above? Do you know what you might have to fight against or endure emotionally, mentally, and physically? 

That's why many women are feminists. Feminists strive to undo gender roles, close the wage gap, provide resources for women of color, people who are LGBTQ, and survivors of abuse and sexual assault

Dear men who say they don't need feminism: Our culture needs feminism because it not only helps women and marginalized communities, but it also helps men.

Embracing feminism can help us all let go for restrictive gender norms, which damage both men and women. Gender roles have been shown to physically and psychologically damage both boys and girls. The constant pressure to maintain either a "masculine" and "feminine" persona can induce serious anxiety, stress, insecurity, and low self-esteem in children of all ages. 

Feminist ideals can help men express their emotions, even when it doesn't fit into society's prescriptive container of "masculinity." 

Sociologist Dr. Maria do Mar Pereira found that gender norms "make boys feel constantly anxious and under pressure to prove their power — namely by fighting, drinking, sexually harassing, refusing to ask for help, and repressing their emotions."

When boys are conditioned to perform as "ultra-masculine," they are more likely to express themselves through physical, sexual, and psychological violence. 

Tragically, men who are pressured to act "ultra-masculine" are less likely to seek mental health support; the overwhelming majority of suicide victims are men, due in part to a lack of public awareness, and a culture that reinforces male toughness. 

What would a world be like in which boys did not feel the need to fit into a gendered box? 

Feminism promotes such a world, where all people can feel safe to be themselves without the risk of harassment or discrimination.

Dear men who say they don't need feminism: The wage gap is real. A recent American Association for University Women (AAUW) report found that white women working full-time earn about 78% of a white man's salary. 

The numbers are much more dire for women of color. African-American women earn 64%, American Indian or Alaska Native women earn 59%, and Hispanic or Latina women earn a mere 54% of white men's full-time earnings.

And that's a massive problem, especially since women of color — especially Latina and Asian women — make up quite a large percentage of the labor force.

The wage gap hurts men too. Our marketplace automatically favors candidates who will work for less pay. While this may give some privileged men an edge, it also puts a number of men, including men of color, at a serious disadvantage. 

Additionally, higher paychecks for women means higher overall paychecks for entire families. Young men and boys who grow up in underpaid, impoverished communities are more likely to continue the cycle of poverty, as studies have found that the greatest indication of a child's future earnings are the current earnings of their parents.

Dear men who say they don't need feminism: The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that one out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 

Perhaps the most chilling of RAINN’s findings is that out of 1,000 rapes, it is estimated that a whopping 994 perpetrators will walk free. Only about 344 out of 1,000 incidents are even reported to the police, meaning that about two out of every three rapes will go unreported.

We live in a culture of silence and shame around rape, so speaking up can have dire consequences for women and men. Take Emma Sulkowicz aka "Mattress Girl" for instance. Columbia University pardoned Sulkowicz's alleged rapist Paul Nungesser, who she said slapped, choked, and anally-raped her in her dorm room, so she decided to take a stand. 

Sulkowicz carried a 50-pound dorm mattress around campus in hopes the school would expel him. The school never did take action against Paul, while some frequently accused her of being a "liar" and an "attention whore."

Dear men who say they don't need feminism: Rape culture is not just a danger to women.

When we excuse rape or sexual harassment as something that "men just do," we severely limit our expectations for men and boys. We also contribute to a false narrative of all men as sexual predators and deviants. 

Men who are seen as "aggressive," "players," or "alpha males", for example, are more likely to be respected than men who show little interest in sex or are not active sexual pursuers. Thus, men run the risk of being considered "weak" or "emasculated" if they don't act in a way that is considered gender-appropriate.

There's also an unfortunate flip side to this.

When Shia LeBeouf spoke up about being raped, Piers Morgan accused him of "[demeaning] real rape victims" for "cheap PR." And when Chris Brown revealed that he had "lost his virginity" at age 8 to a teenage girl, many were shocked that he did not consider himself a victim of rape and child abuse. 

This sends a clear message: Boys are expected to automatically enjoy and constantly desire sex, even when it is not consensual.

Their consent may not even be considered important. In rape culture, men as well as women are frequently disregarded and dismissed, their trauma minimized as an attempt to silence them.

 All of this is part of an intricate web in which privilege and power give you all of the institutional precedence.

For now, you wield great power. Whether or not you realize it, by saying, "I don't need feminism" or even, "You women don't need feminism," you look down upon me, upon women of color, upon queer women, upon transgender women, upon women with disabilities, upon little girls, upon elderly women, women of all faiths and backgrounds, and dismiss us all with a simple wave of the hand.

Dear men who say they don't need feminism: You dismiss our pain. You dismiss our experiences and our stories. You buffer, side-step, derail, and try everything to deny your privilege, even at the expense of invalidating.

No matter what we say or do, you will still remain content in your seat of privilege.

So with or without you, we will overturn the patriarchal institution you choose not to see, bit by bit, day by day. We will continue to fight, to be heard, to work against the institution of the patriarchy, whether or not you believe it exists.

It’s just such a shame you can't be a part of it.

P.S. Enjoy your throne while it lasts.