“Time is UP!” – And the whole stadium roared at Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech at the 75th Golden Globes Award for her Cecil B DeMille lifetime achievement award, where she refuted racism, injustice, inequality, harassment and advocated women empowerment.
Winfrey was empowering when she said that the time of abusive men has run out and that the women who were tormented should speak up. But the questions is this: what if we are inadvertently propagating bias against men through women empowerment campaigns?
Our society is patriarchal. Our literature and history will account great males but only a few strong women. Accounts on feminism will tell us that women have exclusive biological experiences so men believe that if women express themselves, they would only refer to this femininity. Hence, nobody would understand. But what led to the deemed gender inequality is far more diverse than just the unfair representation of women in politics, academics, and the workplace. But that has changed now. Women started to play equal roles in society next to men. Still, we cannot claim that we are already a society with 100% confidence on what both genders can do, but what we see is that we keep magnifying the alleged inequality. Though we have our own biases, that doesn’t mean we need to weigh one down so we can leverage the other one.
Last year, we saw the Weinstein Effect when a number of women started accusing one man of assault after a victim surfaced. This led to the #MeToo campaign that encouraged other harassment victims to share their stories online. Though this campaign aimed to give a voice to the victims, it met controversy when the men accused of harassment filed lawsuits against their accusers.
But it did not stop there. These further led to the initiative #TimesUp that aims to end the alleged women workplace injustice. But we need to understand that injustice exists in many forms anywhere. Moreover, it is a threat to both genders and it is not equivalent to men being abusers and women being victims, which appears to be the ideology these campaigns seem to promote.
Here’s the Rub
Though these campaigns are noble and only wish to empower women, maybe we can also consider and ask this question: what if we are unintentionally creating a conspiracy against the ideology of the male through these campaigns?
We know that today, women are already celebrated. They have societal roles and privileges which means that the patriarchal society already welcomed the idea of the female.
Nevertheless, if we look at the materials that support women empowerment campaigns, we would see unexplained statistics and conditioning that men are dominant and aggressive and the women are oppressed. Presenting incomplete facts in a way that benefits a certain purpose may construe their meaning and insinuate incorrect interpretations. These statistics show the number of non-reporting harassed females without disclosing why. As such, people think they fear their abusers but we cannot tell that. Here is a possibility: a few factors weigh in before a person recognizes abuse. What if these women never felt harassed but due to exposure to certain ideas, they were eventually led to believe otherwise?
Another example, during the Golden Globes Best Director announcement, the presenter allegedly went off script and commented that all the nominees were male. Some might imply a gender bias; however, we could say that the side comment was irrelevant. The nominees were chosen based on criteria and not on gender. it may as well only be incidental that all that passed the criteria were materials made by males.
Gender Equality: It’s not Black and White
What we are trying to say here, is that we cannot hand privilege just because we think we should. Also, we cannot always expect a fair representation of genders in all situations. We should all stand against crimes in all its forms, but that doesn’t mean denying what is due to whoever it is supposed to be given to, just because of gender issues. That is not equality and empowerment, that is entitlement – which we should all aim never to propagate. You see, there is a difference between being actually abused by just thinking you are.
With this, are women really still oppressed, or did we find a comfort zone in thinking that we are? Think about it.
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