The Google definition of Feminism is “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”
I have seen a notion among men that only a woman can be a feminist, well that’s just not right now, is it? The goal of a feminist project is to end the oppression of women and attain social equity for them. The patriarchy system has silenced, stereotyped, oppressed women for long. It might seem odd for many readers that an Indian male in his twenties, is writing something pro-feminist.
I do not know the origins of patriarchy, but what is important to comprehend is that the aim of feminism is to achieve equality and not to reverse the domination game that has been played for so long. If we want to strive for a world where equity exists I think we will have to start with gender equity; maybe then we could move on to race, religion, caste, etc.
Here’s a harsh fact that many (not all) men might have realised that women have evolved and realised their rights, but maybe we (as men) did not. That’s the first step in realising that a paradigm shift has been made, for the better and one has to acknowledge and appreciate it.
Women working in managerial positions in Factories have often heard people saying that “They don’t take orders from a woman.” Taking orders from a woman won’t take away your manhood. It will take a real “man” to accept the mess he has created and it’s high time to start cleaning it up.
But there’s a flip side as well and I am not protecting my Manhood by saying this: Men have been stereotyped too; they are also the victims here! If from childhood he is socially conditioned to man up, he’s only given toy guns and cars to play, forced into sports rather than art or music and even told “Boys/men don’t cry”
They tell him “Hey! Be a man about it!” & this man grows up suppressing what he feels under the burden of super masculinity and limits his emotional expression as a functioning human being. But yes, he enjoys the benefits of patriarchy.
It is something both the sexes been conditioned for from childhood. I would like to quote from Peter Singer’s book ‘Practical ethics’: “Whatever the origin of psychological differences between the sexes, social conditioning can emphasise or soften these differences…Where women are brought up to be independent, their visual-spatial ability is much higher than when they were kept at home and dependent on males.”
One more from the same book says”…Nor should we assume that no male can possibly possess sufficient gentleness and warmth to stay at home with their children while their mother goes out to work. We must assess people as individuals, not merely lump them into Female and male if we are to find out what they are really like; and we must keep the roles occupied by females and males flexible if people are to be able to do what they are best suited for. ” The central idea is to let an individual evolve and grow as unique as they can be without narrowing down their roles.
Here’s a message to the men (including me), respect a woman as you would for any other individual, and she’s not so different. Learn to appreciate a strong woman just as you would for a strong man and if you see an oppressed one, lift her up. It’s your duty as a compassionate individual.
Here’s a message for the women, a man isn’t the villain and the same way a woman isn’t the victim all the time. Sometimes a woman will be the one who oppresses you. Education for only women is not essential, what is essential that both are educated to live together in a beautiful partnership, lifting each other up.
So, men need to realise the social conditioning they are subjected to and break free from them. Men have a greater role in this feminist movement than they realise. The men’s movement should not be separate from the women’s movement but instead become a segment under the larger feminist movement.