The number of times I have heard these works being spoken is more scary than true-can men be feminists? Yes, my dear friends, anyone and EVERYONE can be a feminist! It is because, you see feminism is not a woman’s issue. On the contrary, it can be anyone’s issue if only you believe in equality. And that is exactly what feminism preaches-equality for all, irrespective of gender, sex or sexual preferences. And when I say equal, I mean equal access to education, healthcare, salaries, and all sorts of opportunities, based on merit and not what is in between one’s legs.
However, this conversation is around men being feminists, and believe it or not, one can be a feminist while being a man. Yes, the two CAN go hand in hand. Being a feminist involves fighting against patriarchy and that is something that affects men and women alike. So, here are some points to keep in mind if you are 1. A man (or identify as such) 2. Want to jump on the bandwagon named feminism. In other words, here is Feminism 101/An idiot’s guide to Feminism. So, just pick a title based on your audience.
- Do not start your sentences with I believe in feminism, but…
- Do not mansplain. If you do not know what that means, google it. But in short do not think you know what a woman goes through because you are not a woman, so don’t try explaining it. Believe her when she says something and do not say things like “But no one has told me this before” or “I have a sister, so I know…”. Bro, you might have a sister, but you are NOT a sister.
- Avoid doing/saying things because they are cool/woke. Try reading more about feminism for a change and try and internalize it. Ask questions if necessary, but again do not ask questions answers of which are readily available, just for the sake of asking them.
- Every time there is a conversation about violence against women (remember globally 1 in 3 girls gets abused everyday), do not reply with, “But men get abused too”. Yes, men get abused, and no one is denying that. However, the conversation we are having right now is about women, so let us discuss men, when we are discussing men. Also, remember that 99% of abusers are men (not that same as 99% of men are abusers) and 99% of survivors are women and children.
- Do not gaslight. Again, google if you do not know what it means. But basically, do not try to prove that she is too sensitive, or too angry and blame it all on her if it is your fault, and you know it.
- Do not think you should get an award every time you change your baby’s diaper or mop the floor. It is your child and hour house, so you should be contributing equally to raising it and keeping it clean!
- Do not say things like “I know you are right, but I also know what men think when you wear something like THAT”. If you do know she is not wrong, then the issue is with the men around you. So, do something about that instead of telling her what NOT to wear.
So, what DO you do to be a feminist or even a feminist ally?
Well, like I said, believe in it. Read up and practice empathizing. Secondly, be an active bystander-when you see anyone harassing/abusing a woman, do something about it. Thirdly, encourage your wife, daughter, sister to work, or whatever it is that you are stopping her from because society is the issue. Fourthly, recognize your privileges-that will take you miles in the right direction. Oh, most importantly, refrain from making feminist jokes and call one out when you hear it. Raise your children to be feminists! Be part of changing the norm and changing gender-specific roles. Remember, every little step matters and what you do or say influences those around you.
Syeda Samara Mortada is the Regional Movement Builder of SheDecides, a global movement on Sexual, Reproductive Health and Rights, and bodily autonomy. She is also the Coordinator of Bonhishikha, a voluntary organization that works on gender rights. Reach her at: email@example.com