Sometimes I wake up angry.
I wake up from a dream about my past or my thoughts start spinning in a circle filled with memories of the town I grew up in, of my dad, of the society I lived in, of the sexism I was surrounded by for 19 years until I finally moved to the UK.
It’s been two years since I started living in a more progressive and more gender-equal society. Every time I come back to the Czech Republic, which is about twice a year, I’m met with so much subtle (or not so subtle) sexism that I just want to go on a plane back. Now that I don’t live there anymore, it’s all so painfully obvious.
It’s obvious why I basically hated every cis-hetero man until I was about 17. This is when I became a feminist. Feminism played a huge part in combatting my hate towards men. Feminism taught me how to be a liberated woman and not take any bullshit from abusive men, but what’s more, it taught me why so many men are the way they are, and it showed me what attitudes and positive thoughts I need to promote with regards to men’s issues to finally have a chance at living in an equal world one day.
Because patriarchy didn’t fuck only women over. It fucked up men in its own ranks, which is the core of the problem.
Before I was a feminist
Before I learned that feminism was something much more complex than crazy women shouting with their tits out, an image promoted by all baby boomers around my teenage-self, sexism was a part of my daily life. It made me angry. A part of me always understood that there was something wrong with the way I was treated, and yet I never truly acknowledged it.
I was angry at my dad for not lifting a finger when it came to house chores and then shouting: “I’ve got two daughters at home, and yet there’s always mess!” when he was literally the one person who had the most free time out of the four of us.
I was angry at forty-year-old men who tried to flirt with me and checked me out when I was thirteen, and nobody said anything.
I was angry at all men who cheated on their wives and caused them to cry in the night, which was basically 90% of my friends’ fathers, grandfathers and uncles.
I was angry at the fact that I heard so many stories about women being beaten by their husbands, women I knew, beaten by men I knew, but all of this always happened behind closed doors and nobody ever dared to talk about it. I had to talk to men who were abusers and act as if I didn’t know because 1) that was apparently normal 2) I was thirteen 3) I was scared of them.
I was angry at adult men fat-shaming teenage girls around me, their big beer bellies out.
I was angry at boys calling me frigid when I didn’t want to make out with them.
I was angry at all women who were stupid enough to marry and stay married to abusive assholes, endure having sex with them because men were apparently beasts addicted to vaginas, make them food and iron their clothes because cooking and ironing was a women’s job, pick up their dirty socks of the floor, smell their nasty farts but never fart themselves because women poop rainbows, go to work as often as their husbands and never question the fact that they had to work, clean, cook and take care of children while their husbands came from work, opened a can of beer and watched TV, and cry when their disgusting husbands cheated.
In short, men were disgusting, thought only with their penises, and I hated them. I didn’t have any compassion for women who were married to them. My mum was very unhappy in her marriage and she told me multiple times:
“My little girl, never marry. That’s the best advice I can give you. Never marry.”
And I thought she was right. I refused to end up like the women around me. I refused to subjugate myself to a man and embody the role of a mother in the position of a wife.
“I ain’t cooking all day, I ain’t your mama, I ain’t gon’ do your laundry, I ain’t your mama, I ain’t your mama, boy, I ain’t your mama.” — Jennifer Lopez
After I became a feminist
I delved into feminism after my first serious breakup. That relationship is noteworthy here — it was the first boy in my entire life who was actually kind to me. He showed me that kind men weren’t a myth. He gave me hope that even when it didn’t work out between us, I would one day find a man who would be kind, would respect me and would never ever say that “ironing is for women.”
And I did. I do want to marry him one day. I do want to have a family with him. He’s the most feminist man I’ve ever met and everything in our relationship is equal, which only goes to show how much good impact feminism has on both women and men.
Weren’t if for feminism, I wouldn’t be willing to marry. I wouldn’t set limits and boundaries for how I’m deserved to be treated. And I wouldn’t stop hating men.
Feminist lessons about men
Before learning about this issue, I never realized how much pressure our society puts on men. This, of course, doesn’t justify abusive behavior. So many men need to change how they treat women. This, though, is connected to how they think of themselves as well.
For such a long time, men have had to carry the financial responsibility for the whole family and its stability. Men have to be strong. They can’t show weakness. They can’t cry. They can’t wear lipsticks. They can’t show their feminine side. They can’t play with dolls. They can’t dance to Hannah Montana.
All they can show is anger and condescendence.
The thing is, men have self-esteem issues as well. They want love and understanding just like women do. They want to be accepted fully, with all their strengths and weaknesses, they want to be taken care of as well as take care of others, they want someone to know their true self. They want to be held and stroked, they want to feel safe and vulnerable.
However, society often doesn’t let them be themselves. They have insecurities about their bodies, sex performance or intelligence because they ultimately just want to be good enough for someone. And we need to show men that they can be good enough, that it’s okay to show weakness, that we love them in all of their humanity. We need to encourage self-love and healthy confidence.
So many men are sexist jerks. So many men treat women horribly. Most of this kind of behavior stems from one’s own insecurities and traumas, though. I’m not saying that women are responsible for men being assholes. Because they’re not. All genders are victims of patriarchy in their own way.
I’m saying that we can all collectively work on this. We need to encourage vulnerability, kindness and gentleness in our sons, boyfriends, husbands, fathers, as well as in daughters, girlfriends, wives, mothers, friends.
Let’s all shout from the rooftops that vulnerability is strength.
“The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.” — Paolo Coelho
I don’t hate men anymore. Sexism still makes me angry. The way I was treated in the past still makes me wake up livid in the mornings sometimes. But thanks to feminism and some good, good men, I now know that there’s hope to change things.
I’m compassionate towards all women who are stuck in abusive or unhappy marriages because we all have our own journeys and we all figure things out in our own time.
Where I can, I forgive the men who have harmed me because bitterness never solves anything and because not enough kindness is what got us here in the first place.
And I always try to promote acceptance, openness and vulnerability. If we all just forgive a little more, judge a little less, and spread kindness, maybe we can eventually raise children in a society where all genders are finally equal.