Men don't deserve praise for being decent humansBy Marissa Cornelius | 04/03/2017 12:28am
CW / Kylie Cowden
While this female panelist definitely meant well, these types of comments that congratulate men for being advocates against sexual assault are ultimately harmful. In our current culture, it makes sense why she would want to recognize them for this attitude – too many men seem to be complacent when it comes to sexual violence. This is not to say that they are OK with rape; the majority of men are fundamentally decent humans who understand that sexual assault is a very bad thing. They are complacent in the sense that it’s not an issue that they feel compelled to speak up about and take action against. Though sexual assault can happen to any person of any gender, the majority of victims are women, so it’s an issue that many men will simply never have to deal with. Therefore, they keep quiet. They know rape is wrong and won’t commit it themselves, but they’ll probably still laugh and not say anything when a friend makes a comment about how they were raped by a test, or how slutty some girl is or any other equally tasteless rape joke.
When we congratulate men for being advocates against sexual assault, we make this complacency the norm. We shouldn’t put them on a pedestal for caring about violence against women – if they are good people, they will care about violence against women. At a larger scale, we need to stop applauding men for being feminists; again, morally decent people will believe that women are equals and should be treated as such. What should be the norm is disapproval of anyone who displays the aforementioned complacency. Though it may sound harsh, social pressure is incredibly important in affecting social norms. When we as a society expect all men to be feminists, this is what will become the case.
We need to hold men to a higher standard because they are capable of acting at one. Advocating for women needs to be expected and not applauded. This does not mean that this ally-ship will go unnoticed – I am appreciative of anyone, regardless of gender, who takes up the mantle for women’s rights. But there is a difference between advocacy being appreciated and advocacy being publicly commended. There are so many women who fight every day against sexual assault and other feminist issues, and they are rarely lauded for their activism.
Thank you to all the women and men who fight to end sexual assault and all other forms of oppression. Your efforts are so important in ensuring that the arc of history does bends toward justice. But men, do not expect to be lauded for fighting against sexual assault and labeling yourself a feminist. I refuse to congratulate you for granting me the respect that I inherently deserve.
Marissa Cornelius is a junior majoring in secondary education. Her column runs biweekly.