Caution: Incredible, extreme blathering ahead.
After a jaunt through Youtube, viewing videos that are pro-feminist, anti-feminist, anti-reactionist, anti-misandrist (the list goes on), there is something that has begun to strike me:
Equality isn't sexy.
When feminism started up, it had a tough row to hoe in a big way. Women didn't have opportunities, they didn't have ownership. The law was against them, in word and spirit. Victories were hard-fought and celebrated greatly. The battles were easy to see, easy to fix: We want to vote, we want to own things, we want to be legally, on paper, able to have the same things. And since those days of the dark ages, we've come a long way- nobody could argue we haven't. Of course, there are still some things that continue to be out and open, easy to write down. Reproductive rights are a big one, and still stir those old feelings. But a majority of the things that are complained about in this arena are more social than legal, more subtle than check-box-able.
Sexual objectification, economic opportunity, a huge list can be made of the requests and complaints of feminism in its most modest and extreme depths. But no major ballot initiatives exist for these issues. Why? Because they're hard. The problems are clear: being objectified, statistically not having access to as much success, what have you. But the solutions are vague and fleeting, because all of these things can be perpetrated unconsciously, or even unintentionally. For the most part, gone are the issues of men standing in the way of women, for which the solution is obvious: don't stand there, there's plenty of other places to stand. But now, these easily-quantifiable things are being replaced with issues dealing directly with the interaction of the two sexes.
The fact is, gender-based difference is ingrained in our culture and our species. For millennia, we raised little girls to call for help and eventually to manipulate men with beauty and psychology, and we raised little boys to understand that they are not worth anything unless they can put women and children before themselves, and be as ruthless and economically successful as possible. As a result, women are still objectified for their bodies, and men are still objectified for their accomplishments. But you can't check a box at the ballot for this- there's nothing you can champion that will fix this problem, so as a result everyone just sits around, frustrated by it. Asking to be able to do things on your own is an easy request to fulfill; modifying the instincts and behavior of people around you is much, much harder.
It is a microcosm, for sure, but I have plenty of female friends. Whenever I'm told of 'girl problems,' I weigh in with empathy because I understand intellectually what's involved, if not personally. But there's another side to it. I also explain to these friends of mine what I refer to as 'boy problems,' having to do with the hormones, physical issues and otherwise that can plague the male experience. The reactions I've gotten have been mixed: Some meet with disgust, others with an awkward but accepting politeness, still others with fascination- indeed, explaining these things casually but clinically is a rarity.
This is a small, very tiny morsel of what I consider to be true equality: people of either sex understanding each other's situations and, thusly equipped, being able to empathize, advise, and otherwise supplement their relationships both serious and not. Understanding the reasons why someone may act a certain way is the key to getting along with them; like a best friend that knows all of your personal quirks and peeves, the sexes work best when enlightened to each other's motivations, both conscious and not.
It's almost difficult to properly describe what I'm talking about, but there is an ongoing resistance in progressive circles toward the idea that there is a 'male brain' and a 'female brain' that work as different entities. This is fallacy, unfortunately, because instinct and thought pattern are what they are due to natural selection and, ironically, until we learn to accept that and explore and understand it fully, we're doomed to constantly make these same mistakes in regard to one another.
There's this scenario in my head, of a young man and young woman, sitting on a couch together. The young man is explaining how she's overthinking a personal drama that's occurred because the man in question doesn't put any priority on the things she thinks he does. The young woman follows up with a thorough, exacting explanation of why her compatriot was in her 'friend zone' from day one. Neither one of them is discouraged or offended.
That's what equality looks like to me.