“Moreover, the bar for male allies has been set tremendously low. In contrast to the sacrifices, acts of bravery and daily fights women and LGBTQ people are expected to take on to achieve equality and justice, men are asked simply not to buy people, physically abuse people, or rape.” — Language of Dude Feminism
J.A. McCarroll’s insightful essay examines the benefits and the shortcomings of The Real Men Don’t Buy Girls campaign and the My Strength is Not for Hurting campaign, yet one aspect that deserves more attention is the value of buy-in.
Twelve years ago, domestic partnerships for same-sex couples were becoming law in progressive states as a compromise when public consensus thought same-sex marriage went too far. There were those on the left who argued that domestic partnership laws still relegated same-sex couples to second class status. In 2002, that line of reasoning was out of step with public opinion. In conversation with several gay male friends at that time, they shared the opinion that the benefit they needed most was health insurance; it was a delicate matter to get onto a partner’s plan without creating a political backlash.
Those fears about backlash were well founded.
The first legal victory for same-sex marriage in the United States was a 1993 Hawaii State Supreme Court case; but Hawaii’s legislature banned same-sex marriage the next year. Thirty-one states followed up with constitutional amendments to prohibit same-sex marriage. It was not until 2003 Massachusetts became the first state to recognize full marriage equality.
As of October, 6, 2014, same sex marriage has become legal in 30 states. Arguably, one of the reasons why the momentum has changed is because of the pragmatic approach of the LGBTQ community.
Nearly half a century of social science research supports what has become known as the foot-in-the-door technique: people are more likely to accept a large request if they had first agreed to a smaller — but similar — request. The earliest study on foot-in-the-door persuasion dates back to 1966 when research at Stanford University documented significant differences in cooperation using this technique in a survey of household soaps. Subsequent experiments found that this applies to all sorts of persuasion.
Collectively, humans are not as rational as we would like to believe ourselves to be. As Leon Festinger wrote in 1956, “A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” As Cecila Winterfox has articulated, women are not obliged to educate men on the basics of feminism–yet too many social media discussions about women’s issues get derailed on very basic levels.
Although it can be tempting to debate the sort of fellow who uses the “not all men” cliché while he is unaware of the #YesAllWomen campaign, it may be more effective to steer him to a Facebook group such as My Strength is Not for Hurting where he can begin to educate himself.
About the author: Lise Broer graduated from Columbia University and pursued an MFA at the University of Southern California. She served in the United States Navy after a relative survived 9/11 from a high floor. As a graphic artist she has contributed nearly 300 featured pictures to Wikipedia by performing high resolution restorations of historic images. She moderates a war gaming forum and she writes a blog about women in gaming at http://bweresquirrel.blogspot.com/.