F.U.S.E.: Feminists United for Sexual Equality. Even the name deters women from joining because of pre-conceived notions of what feminists are. Sadly, this applies doubly to men. This disturbing trend of lack of male involvement in the feminist movement not only potentially hinders the movement, but it also feeds into the stereotypes of feminists as man-hating, bra-burning, butch women. Although there is nothing wrong with bra burning or being “butch,” this stereotype obviously does not apply to all feminists. The discrimination that women face, which can manifest in the workplace and social constrictions, is one of the most important civil rights issues that we face today and roughly half of the population is not involved.
The question of why cis-gendered (biological) men are not involved with groups such as F.U.S.E. or similar organizations usually stems from various reasons. The attitudes that are currently present towards the feminist movement are incredibly negative due to assumptions about feminists and in-set cultural attitudes which bias feelings on feminists and feminism. I am sure that most of us would agree that we are in favor of equal rights and equal pay for all sexes and genders. I am sure that most of us would agree that it is wrong for women to be passed up for jobs just because they are women. Then why is it that this advocacy falls by the wayside when an actual opportunity for men to join with women to fight for these issues arises?
It seems that many men do not want to join the movement because of how men perceive the more radical and vocal feminists. Many see these feminists online or in person to be angry, cranky, lacking in humor, and generally spiteful. If we judged every group by their most radical members (for example, the Westboro Baptist Church is not a valid representation of all Christians), I don’t think we would find much good in any group, but we do. And this does not mean that feminists do not have a right to be angry about multitudes of issues.
When a woman has multiple partners, society makes her feel less of herself for enjoying her sexuality and participating in something that she should be able to do. Why is it that society feels the need to slut-shame women when we believe that everyone has the freedom to do what they please? When women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar, according to a 2011 report by the Institute For Women’s Policy Research, feminists take issue with that and rightfully so. When there are only 12 current female heads of state worldwide and when only 22 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are female, it is easy to see that there is a glass ceiling for women in the workplace that makes it incredibly difficult to break through and rise the ranks of their given profession. When a woman’s right to choose and her agency over her own body in the United States is constantly and currently under attack in state legislatures and courtrooms, there is clearly mass discontent with women’s rights in America.
These are just some of the issues with which men need to get involved. Men need to stand with women, for women, so that together we can solve the problems that affect roughly half of the population of our country and our world. This is not just a civil rights or even a reproductive rights issue: this is a human rights issue which needs to be taken on by both men and women.
So let’s go back to F.U.S.E. Why is there little to no male presence in F.U.S.E.? Is it seen as un-masculine? Is it that many cis-gendered men would feel uncomfortable having to face the constant discrimination women face? Whatever the reason is, there is a distinct need for male involvement in the feminist movement (even though women are perfectly willing and capable of fighting their own battles) because the male population can make positive contributions to the movement as a whole.
While there are many assumptions as to what a feminist group entails, a majority of the population has a lot to learn about what feminism actually is. Going to meetings of groups like F.U.S.E. would give many men a perspective of what feminists do and what they find to be important issues that affect them. Because, guys, there is nothing more manly than fighting for equal rights. So, guys, give F.U.S.E. a try. Meetings are on Mondays at 9 p.m. in the Queen Anne Common Room. Bring your friends and an open mind!