An Open Letter about Feminism to My Brothers

Dear Brother,

My Dad encouraged me to speak out.  He was a feminist!

My Dad encouraged me to speak out. He was a feminist!

I write to you today because I realize how uncomfortable you have been of lately. The Third Wave of Feminism (as it is being dubbed) is blooming (and praise be for it), and you are hearing women speak out about rape cultures, feminism, wage inequality, and the fact that the glass ceiling has not, no matter what PR spinners wish to say, broken. And because of social media, this third wave of feminism is loud, louder then even the first or second wave of feminism.  Women have a large medium to play with and they are using it.  But,  I see your discomfort on Facebook, on Twitter, and other social media outlets.  Many of you are feeling attacked and I am deeply sorry for this.

Please do not feel we are attacking you! We are NOT! We are attacking a system.  Many of our brothers stand with us and also reject a system that objectifies women, promoting the idea of the female as a means to an end. Many of our brothers object to a rape culture.  But what we have to say may make you uncomfortable.  When I talk about my rape, I am NOT blaming you, unless you were the one who did it and trust me, I would not be FB friends with you if that was the case!

Rather, it is important to understand something my dear brother: for decades we were asked to be silent about sexual abuse, assault and gender inequality.  And if we weren’t silent, we were threatened or attacked. Every woman in my immediate family, and yes we have all been sexually assaulted and raped, were threatened for speaking out one way or another: threatened by our attacker and by society at large. You see, this is something you don’t talk about in good company.

Nicolas Mollet, Rape, Events.

It’s like politics or religion, keep your mouth shut. That was the standard. If you did speak out, even your family could punish you for your transgression. Police force, school officials, and other authorities in our culture told us to be quiet.  And if we weren’t quiet we were more often than not, blamed for our attacks. Just like we are often blamed for encouraging an environment in which cat calls are generated: “you asked for it because you dressed like a slut.”

1920s competition

But the idea of dressing like a slut has been so subjective throughout time, and yet it still haunts us women: we exposed our ankles, we were sluts. We exposed a bit of shoulder, we were sluts. We allowed our breasts to be held up in a bra, we were sluts. We took our bra off, we were sluts. We exposed our legs in hot weather, we were sluts. We wear yoga pants, covering our bare legs, we are sluts. You see, this attitude, over time, has bubbled in the cauldron.  And the Cauldron is about ready to explode.

But should you feel threatened by this? No, my dear brother. Not unless you are contributing to the culture, you should not feel threatened by it.  But sadly many of you do. I know because I’ve had conversations with you over Facebook, on twitter, and face-to-face. I have been told that we need to get rid of the word “feminism” because it means that we hate men and are actively into male bashing. What we hate, dear brother, is a disgusting cultural norm that must be revised, but we don’t hate you. Why should we hate our counterpart?

Mabel Capper and Suffragettes with Petition

Feminism was never defined by feminists as male bashing; a matter of fact, feminism defined as a way for women to bash her fellow male counterpart was created by people, men and women alike, who wanted the status quo of gender relationships to be maintained. Why?  One reason was economics.  Consider the recession of the 1970s, and the fact that women coming into the employment market threatened men who were losing their jobs. You see, not unlike today, a corporation could hire part-time female workers for a lot less money than they were charging their male counterparts. Hell, they could hire a woman full time and still pay her less for doing the exact same job as her male counterpart. As men were laid-off from their jobs, a new market niche open, one for women, and many families were desperate for those women to go in and take those part-time jobs. But this should not be understood as male bashing feminism. It was survival.

I don’t want to give you a history lesson, but I do want to encourage you to go out and get a history lesson about feminism, my dear brother. The thing is this, people were feeling threatened, and a PR campaign was created in proclaimed that only lesbians, and male haters, were said to be feminist. The good woman, rejected feminism. This is the same bullshit that we are seeing today with the #IDon’tNeedFeminism and #WomenAgainstFeminism movement that is occurring in reaction to the third wave of feminism. Yes, history is repeating itself. And the sad thing is, most of these men and women who are part of this movement, don’t understand what feminism is. They also don’t understand that they are acting against their own self interest by rejecting feminism.

Gender Equality

So what does feminism mean? It means simply this: that men and women enjoy equal rights. These equal rights are to be understood as being enjoyed in the political realm, the economic round, the social realm, in short – in life. Equality. We ask for no more. We don’t want to rise above man, we don’t want to smash man, we don’t want to be better than men. We want equality and we want justice. Equality does not exist between the sexes presently, and it cannot exist if we continue to encourage and and nurture a culture norm that sees women as objects. That’s the truth.

My dear brothers, please do not feel threatened by the stories that you are hearing women share about their rapes and sexual assaults, about the economic inequality that they are suffering, or the fact that they feel ignored in this world. They are not blaming “you;” that is, unless you have done something to be blamed for. Rather, they are blaming a cultural norm that has gone wrong, and they are asking you, dear brother, to stand with them. I am asking you to stand with me!  I need you!  I need your voice and your conviction.  I need you to be willing to question your assumptions about gender relationships. I need you to speak out when you have been treated badly as well. But above all, I need you to stand with me. I am not asking you to sit in the sidelines. Fight with us and help us make a better world.

Mahalo,
R

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Can we stop de-humanizing each other?

The following post is from a dear friend and fellow actor: Dustin Moore.  I met Dustin on the Internet, Twitter actually, and I’m delighted to say that we’ve been friends for several years now. He wrote this wonderful journal entry as a plea to all of us, stop dehumanizing each other. It’s a touching post, but it’s also a very important post. I hope you enjoy!

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Dear Journal,

Can we stop de-humanizing each other?

Like many people in this country, I have found myself caught in the crossfire of a gun debate within my family. It is the kind of thing that can suck you in if you aren’t careful. Like abortion or other hot-button issues, everyone has a strong opinion and strong feelings about guns.

Thankfully, I am not going to enter the debate with this entry. I mainly wanted to ask the question: “Can we stop de-humanizing each other?” 

This debate, like many recently in our country has brought to my attention how quickly all large arguments degrade into name-calling and demonization. Ads about how dangerous and evil the opponent to my position is or how hypocritical they are and on and on.

Can we please stop?

Are we really so desperate to defend our ideas, wants, positions and ideologies that we are willing to strip away our opponents humanity?

Strip apart his dignity, self respect and motives until he can be nothing but our worst enemy. That his mere existence threatens your well being and safety. And that you must act. Act to stop your enemy.

Every conflict on this earth; every time a hand is raised against another human on this planet begins with this process of dehumanization.

My dehumanization of you begins when I write a story in my head. In that story I dress you in the clothes of a monster. A monster that is after me and my children. A monster that is wicked and devious and would like nothing than to hurt my family, my well-being or my way of life.

Maybe I don’t have to give you monster clothes, because you are already different from me in some visible way; the color of your skin for instance. Every little difference that makes you special becomes another reason why you are such a monster. Because anything that that isn’t “Me” is wrong.

This enemy I have created, is worth nothing other than destruction. And since I am threatened, I will not hesitate to destroy you to protect myself. Clearly, given the chance you will destroy me first.

This is a story. You are not destroying me. You are not hurting me. If you were actually physically doing those things, I wouldn’t be worried about your ideas, I would be fighting for my life.

We accept these stories as reality. We respond to our fellow man as if they were actually that monster. Not the man or woman that looked on their newborn infant with love and hope. Someone who worried about how they were going to feed their family or make sure their children had a chance to laugh sometimes and feel safe.

The irony of it all is that in creating the story “Monster” in my head and assigning you to that role, I become your monster.

Since you are my enemy, I will stop you.
I will hurt you.
I will kill you because you are my monster, and now I am yours.

Stop.

Can we please stop?

You have a story. But it is so much more dynamic and beautiful than the one I create for you. It is unique in the universe.

When will we start treating or fellow man with basic dignity and respect and love? It is not love to demonize, name call, minimize, and dehumanize. 

Love.

There is risk in loving our fellow man. Because in our humanity we do hurt each other. And to love is to put the well being of others above our fear of being hurt.

I hope that there are people out there that want this too journal. I hope that I am not the only one who wants to talk to the person I disagree with and find the ways that we are the same, not different.

Who knows journal?

I guess I need to overcome my own fears and start looking for those people.

TL;DR: I am tired of all the name calling and dehumanization we do to those who disagree with us or have something we want. 

By Dustin Moore