Most men I knew took the narrow view of feminism. We held a simplified version of what we thought feminism was based on what we were told by those with whom we had an intimate relationship. Few men that I knew took the time to carefully explore feminism and consider its ideas and concepts. I certainly did not.
Therefore, feminism was important to us, but only in the context of our current relationship. Our understanding was, at best, superficial.
One evening, someone whom I cared a great deal about was discussing how she felt fearful when she walked home at night. That was a novel concept for me. Of course, there had been times that I was somewhat cautious when walking in a sketchy area of town. But I was rarely gripped with fear. My nervousness was based on circumstances and always transitory. For my friend, however, her fear was always present: something she had most of her teenage and adult years. She knew that, at any time, someone could assault her, and she would be powerless, and there would be no rescue.
For me, that is when my understanding changed. Feminism, at its heart, was not just about speaking out about oppression or seeking equality with men.
It was about fear.
- End Violence Against Women and Girls: Government of Canada
- Violence Against Women: World Health Organization