Opinion piece: Memoirs Of A Male Feminist

Christopher James-Justice Siders, staff reporter. csiders@csumb.edu

Headline: Memoirs Of A Male Feminist

Sub: Does Religious backgrounds affect your feminist views?

Former international student from Maynooth University, Jonah Worcester, has attended California State University, Monterey Bay during the 2014-2015 academic year. Worcester says that he “always identified with the concept of equality for all,” however he did not fully understand what feminism up until two years ago. He always thought men were not allowed to be part of feminism. That “feminism was a place where men aren’t welcome,” Worcester said.

 

Worcester stated that he experienced violence in mental ways. For example, he has always had an appreciation and admiration for femininity, due to gender violence he feels restricted to where he does not feel comfortable to explore his own gender identity freely. “It has also affected my life with witnessing women being mistreated throughout my life, whether it be a sexist comments or a guy coming on to a girl at a party,” Worcester expressed.

 

Last year Worcester further developed his understanding of feminism by participating in the MENding Monologues production as a cast member. Part taking in other events such as Slut Walk, 1 Billion Rising and watching Vagina Monologues as well has contributed to his knowledge and understanding.

 

“I learned what feminism was after years of fearing it,” Worcester says.

 

Worcester stated religious Catholic and Hira Krisna backgrounds taught him the basic ideas of equality. “I was raised to be a gentlemen. To treat women right and simply the golden rule, treat others as you wish to be treated,” Worcester said.

 

I thought this was interesting. For the past 6 months Janice Bonello and myself has been teaching at Soledad Correctional Faculty. Our classes consists of bringing awareness to the social construct of patriarchy and having our students discover the intersectionality between hyper masculinity and domestic violence.

 

During a class recently we did the “four corners” activity. A game where you have to go to a certain corner if you “strongly disagree”, “disagree”, “agree”, and “strongly agree” with a statement the game’s facilitator presents. The statements me and Janice created were made for our students to critically think about the negative social norm. One of our statements was , “My wife should do everything I say,” a huge portion of the class was in the “strongly disagree” and “disagree” corners stating that in a relationship partners must learn from each other, be independent and at the same time respect each other’s decisions. The other portion of the class that was in the “agree” and “strongly agree” corner stated that they agree with the statement due to biblical reasons of identifying with the Christian faith. Expressing that as men and protectors of the household they have the final word. Our students also expressed that with this power, one should not abuse nor degrade their partner. In other words, believing that they should conform to gender roles.

 

By conforming to these different ideas of gender roles, sexual assault survivors will most likely not be able to get the justice they deserve. For example, in 2011, Toronto, Canada a woman was reporting her rapist to the police. The police officer said, “If you didn’t dress as a slut, then maybe you wouldn’t have gotten raped.” This comment sparked an international movement where women fight against societal norms where they are being criminalized based upon what they choose to wear. CSUMB has participated in this international movement for the past four years since 2012.

 

A way to destroying patriarchal system in worcester’s opinion is to be vocal about gender inequality in the world, with what we see in media, pop culture and our daily lives. “Oppose gender norms that are imposed by patriarchal systems. For example with how we dress and express ourselves,” Worcester says.

 

In addition to that, Worcester also suggests that men can help by first researching what feminism is and knowing that we have place in it. “Research alone can help men become better allies to women. Men can also be brave and stand up when they see women being treated wrongly.”

 

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