The backlash angle on this was predictable but disappointing, so I refuse to link to any of it. Instead, I’ll clear out my folder of bookmarks about how feminism (aka that pesky movement that aims for gender equality) relates to men.
There’s the whole business about opening doors, for example. (Spoiler alert: I open a lot of doors. I assume that this happens because I have a habit of walking a touch quicker than is apparently normal.) The only time I as a human being mind when someone opens a door for me is when I have cause to believe that I wouldn’t be allowed to return the courtesy at some later date. Illogical as it seems, I have apparently threatened the masculinity of my walking companions by expecting door-opening to be a reciprocal business. One person’s strength or courtesy does not make the other weak or discourteous! Now, the article I linked at the beginning of this paragraph had what I choose to consider a tongue-in-cheek title, but it is true that as a society we make it very difficult for men to accept the sort of gallantry we expect them to provide. Chivalry done right is a lovely concept, and I too want to open doors and walk on the side closest to the street.
(I have a funny story about the latter, and will declaim it if asked. I don’t quite understand the whole bit about opening car doors for people, but maybe someone can explain the logic to me. It seems cute but inefficient.)
Here’s a list of twenty-three ways feminism has helped men.
If you prefer spoken word poetry, here’s one about the order to “man up.”
As a human who can be a little reserved about physical contact, I sympathize with how society places even more hangups on men on this subject (aka “the man box”). I expect all of us have experienced that tension between wanting to interact, fearing that it is unwelcome, and having that strain prevent us from feeling that all is well between us and those we care about. Our society places very little baggage on women platonically touching one another, so I was rarely publicly rebuked for hugging friends. Even those few times hurt, however, and I wish photos like these from the Victorian era were more normal today.
Self-awareness and courtesy are important, but I have little patience for those who interpret advocates of Title IX as advocates of forcing men to greater degrees of touch isolation. Active consent is important, and being able to discuss personal limits and preferences is a big deal for more than avoiding being charged with rape.
Finally, please find a half hour for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech “We should all be feminists.”