I talk about gender a lot. And feminism a lot. But usually, I’m talking about these issues with girls. And not that all girls have the same opinions about these issues, but a lot of the times the people I talk with do. Our conversations end up being an endless pile of complaints about inequality or why boys just don’t get it.  But all this complaining isn’t really getting us anywhere. It’s super important to have these discussions but if we aren’t listening to varying ideas, it just turns into an endless circle of the same thoughts.

Not to speak for the entire male population, but I feel that many times boys are ashamed or uncomfortable identifying as feminists because of the misconception that feminism is only for girls and is essentially a tribe of female dictators aiming to bring down the male population (which obviously isn’t true). Or sometimes they are shut out of gender discussions for holding different opinions than the girls they are talking to. But by not including boys in these talks we are leaving out half of the conversation: boys!

Boys are a large part of the gender inequality problem. Men have systematically oppressed females, whether intentionally or not, for centuries and continue to do so even now. But men face gender discrimination too, whether from society or girls. Boys grow up in a world that tell them they can’t like pink and need to hide their emotions in order to prove their masculinity, drawing a parallel between being a man and having a strong exterior that really shouldn’t be there. Girls tag pictures of insanely fit men or male models on Instagram and Facebook with #boyfriendgoals, placing the same unrealistic body standards on men as there are on women.

I’m not trying to say that men and women have faced equal discrimination of struggles with the limitations of gender roles, but many times the difficulties that men face go overlooked because men’s inequality isn’t really a forefront issue, especially not for many girls. And I think this is because men aren’t joining the conversation on gender equality. Since most of these discussions are centered around feminism groups, men may feel awkward or uncomfortable sharing their perspective on gender discrimination issues and some of the challenges they face in their lives in a search to be gender equal.

So tell your brothers and boyfriends, dads and uncles, guy friends and teachers to share with you their perspective and listen to yours. Talk about how annoying it is that girls have to hide their tampons or that boys can’t enjoy romantic comedies. Maybe you won’t agree. Maybe they don’t think there is gender imbalance. Or maybe they do and they just didn’t know if you wanted to hear their side of the story! Boys and men are just as much a part of the problem of gender inequality as they are a part of the solution. So boys, please come join the conversation!

~Juliana