You can be a feminist and a man
You can be a feminist and still not hate men, attaboy!
Little Thing of the Month: Unity
Menism may not be a word, but that is because feminism stands for all.
Feminism is no rocket science, maybe worse than that.
I asked people for the fiftieth time what feminism means to them. I am not sure if I must cry on the imprecision of the answers I heard, because the word “feminism” was always associated with “women rights”. This is exactly the dilemma in today’s scenario. It is nearly
impossible to achieve gender equality with only half its population fighting for the cause.
“Men have to be on board,” wrote Nigerian novelist, Cimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her book
“We All Should Be Feminists”. “Men need to not think of feminism as something that is attacking them. Feminism is something good for everyone, because, really, when all of us are released from gender rules, we’re all better of, right?”
Feminism is misinterpreted as a women’s movement by women, for women, in order to give women equal rights. But feminism is a movement about equality. Equality is a far reached goal because both genders must be on the receiving end. The human team is incomplete without male feminists.
According to Gloria Jean Watkins, author of the book “Feminist Theory: from margin to center ”, the aim of the movement is not to benefit solely any group of women over men. It has the power to transform in a meaningful way all our lives.
The movement unites men and women by empowering them to own their feelings without any prejudice. For many, to strive for gender equality in day-to-day life can sometimes have misconceptions. It is quite easy to confuse courteous behavior portrayed by men toward women as being opposed to feminist values.
From time to time, acts intending to show respect, cooperativeness, politeness and chivalry diverge from the direction taken by feminism. These are understood to be going against the principles of feminism.
“I have been brought up the way where I’ve been taught to offer a seat to a woman standing in a bus or metro,” said Bhavya Dutta, a Mechatronics Systems Engineering student. “This somehow inculcated in me to show respect to women, and so I believe showing courtesy to someone is just about showing respect to each other.”
Chivalry, also touted as “benevolent sexism” by some feminists, can be misconstrued when men intend to show respect and care as any person would show to someone.
“I think men should start showing care again,” said Simon Zalandauskas, an International Relations student. “Nobody has to do it in obligation, but I find it just polite, for instance, to help my female friends lift or carry luggage.”
Chivalry may not be the most liked characteristic by women supporting feminism due to deep-rooted reasons, but it can reflect on men as being disliked by feminists.
“We have to look at the root of chivalry from medieval times, and unfortunately, chivalry came up from the notion that women need to be protected by men,” said Oana Dorobantu, a female Gender & Diversity student. “There is a difference between protection and support. The first one comes from the belief that another person is incapable of protecting itself while the latter one stems from the belief that the other person is capable.”
Given the virtues of mankind’s unique person-to-person relationships, chivalry and
courteousness are vital. Responsibilities of feminism should be shared by all.
“A nice gesture is always a nice gesture,” said Sandra Vuckovic, a Bioengineering student. “I like to hold the door open for people regardless of their gender. So, it’s always nice when someone does the same for you.”
Men and women every so often succumb to obeying rules followed by their gender. While some of them recognize their personal rights, they forget to stand for each other.
When you see your male friend unable to express his feelings, talk to him. When you see your female colleague paid less than you for the same job, stand up for her. In the process, showing love and respect is not a bad idea, no matter if it is a chivalrous act by a man to a woman or a kind act by a woman to a man, HeforShe or SheforHe.
HeForShe is a gender-neutral movement encouraging all genders to act against negative stereotypes and behaviors. Such campaigns are vital in attaining the true essence of feminist goals.
Gender inequality today is being transformed by a shift from dyadic relations of mastery and subjection. For example, phrases like “walk like a girl” or “be a man,” should no longer be social standards. We should have more impersonal, structural mechanisms and fluid cultural forms according to Nancy Fraser, a feminist phenomenologist. Girls should be free to choose their career just as much as men should be free to stay at home as a husband or father for example.
For men, being a feminist does not just imply supporting or speaking for women’s rights but knowing their own rights as well. Being a guy and a feminist is quite rare and even extraordinary. Feminist men understand that gender roles can entrap men to believe they have a fixed role, such as the breadwinner of the family or the strong leader with no emotions.
There is a fine line between men supporting feminism and men actually referring to themselves as male feminists. It is a matter of stance based on personal choice. Feminist men, however, dare to acknowledge parts of themselves that are prejudiced by the society like tenderness, vulnerability and empathy.
We may be struggling with the right word to denote feminism, a movement for all genders and equality, but the good news is our values are the same. Watch this beautiful video on "What makes a true gentleman?"