The Guardian today published a lovely article written by Australian comedian Ben Pobjie addressed to Australian men about the embarrassing sexist attitudes reaching international media attention, particularly as it is directed at Australia’s female prime minister. I was only just gearing up to write about the disgusting menu presented at an Australian fund raiser for their opposition party where the Australian PM’s body parts were described when today another news story broke. This time the Australian PM was asked whether her hair stylist husband was gay.
Whilst the article makes for an interesting read and I’m glad to see Australian men upset at the behaviour of other Australian men, the most interesting part of the article for me was a tiny paragraph in the middle of the article:
But I understand the urge to deny that sexism is happening, because I’m a man and I hate talking about sexism: it makes me feel guilty and self-conscious. It is, frankly, awkward.
So now I turn my post away from Australian men to men in general. Why does sexism make you feel guilty and awkward? When women stand up to sexism we are labelled frigid, not fun and uncool and men don’t generally stand up to protest against sexist behaviour so are we simply to let it be?
I think more men need to stand up to be counted as feminists but they don’t know what it means and how to do it.
I recently asked my younger (late 20s, early 30s) male cousins if they were feminists. I initially received a blank silence followed by a question – what does that mean? I explained it doesn’t mean that they are feminine but it means that they think women should be treated equal to men, should get paid the same for doing the same job etc not that women are better than men. What followed was a resounding YES from them. I also engaged in a similar discussion on the Huffington Post website where a man said he though he was a feminist but he didn’t know what it meant. After a simple explanation he too understood and was more positive about his feelings.
This is what a male feminist looks like. Gone too soon, Kurt Cobain was famously and vocally a feminist. Who can men look to in order to feel secure about standing up to sexist misogyny? Won’t the wonderful men in our lives stand up to be counted to drown out sexist voices of their peers?