Feminist Call to Action 5: Engage with Men

August 27th, 2019

As we all know too well, the film industry is primarily run by and targeted at males. Consequently, there’s long been a dearth of FEMINIST-FRIENDLY FILMS. We can attribute much of this plight to the misguided notion that while a woman can relate to a male-driven film, a man cannot relate to a female-driven one — hooey!

It’s time men branch out, broaden their horizons and look beyond the tip of their own, er uh, noses—and we should help them. True, it’s not a woman’s duty to make men more woke, but it’s in everybody’s best interest to stop pretending we’re from Mars and Venus, come back down to earth and communicate. Otherwise, misinformation will continue to drive wedges between us, and worse—as demonstrated in the following anecdote—

In an interview in the back of her powerful YA novel, SPEAK, author LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON says she was surprised so many of her male readers asked why Melinda, the protagonist, was “so upset about being raped.” Whoa. Clearly, we have a failure to communicate. Asked why she thought they didn’t understand, Halse replied as follows—

“The first dozen times I heard this, I was horrified. But I heard it over and over again. I realized that many young men are not being taught the impact that sexual assault has on a woman. They are inundated by sexual imagery in the media, and often come to the (incorrect) conclusion that having sex is not a big deal. This, no doubt, is why the number of sexual assaults is so high.”

She makes a valid point. In a society where men are taught not to speak openly, much less demonstrate ignorance or vulnerability, too many get their information from all the wrong places. JESSICA VALENTI brings home this point most eloquently in her New York Times Op-ed HERE:

Valenti’s plea to welcome young males into the feminist fold is essential to a better future for us all. But let’s also engage with the grown men in our lives, demand open discourse and create a safe place for them to ask questions and listen to our answers. It’s a myth one cannot not teach an old dog new tricks, and while I don’t harbor the same faith in willfully ignorant misogynists, any reasonable man who is confused by gender relations and women’s rights should be encouraged to learn how he, too, can grow and benefit through positive change via education and feminism.

Taking it back to films, one way we can cultivate better gender relations is to watch feminist-friendly films, and even non-feminist films, with our male friends and family members, discussing thereafter how they make us feel, how (and why) they represent gender, and what’s encouraging and/or problematic about these representations. Talking about fictional characters and circumstances can be a neutral, less confrontational way to discuss issues that touch our own lives. We’ve learned a lot of bad habits from film and television over the decades. Let’s reverse that trend and use the media for good.




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