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Feminism Is a Man’s Friend, not Enemy

Feminism Is a Man’s Friend, not Enemy

We often act like women wanting to dismantle the patriarchy is an attack to maleness. We even want them to bend their voices and tweak their feminism to what makes us comfortable or seemingly adjacent to soothing the male gaze. We tell them men in fact have it just as hard and we say we don’t understand why women don’t seem to understand.

Well, it’s not their duty.

Their duty, as it stands, is to fight for their survival. Which is quite unfortunate, because it’s an insult to their dignity.

Yes, even oppressed men oppress women. Black women are at the bottom of the barrel, man. Thanks to our pathetic phallocentrism.

We who only (or mostly) read male philosophers, male researchers, male scientists, male politicians, male activists, watch movies written and directed by men, etc, many times quite subconsciously, cannot expect to sieve through gender lenses to their deserved precision. We shall naturally have blind spots.

We who never worry for our bodies when we step out of our houses, who don’t wade through seas of catcalls, nor our asses touched by strangers in the streets, do not have authority to tell women how they must practice their feminism.

But here’s something else. Feminism does not exist to eradicate men. It would if it wanted, for obvious reasons. Feminism, is in fact, aside from its insistence for the achievement of women’s rights, a call for men to reject poisonous masculinity and embrace a healthy life, that would lead to just and balanced systems that enable sustainable living for all.

We seem to fear/hate “toxic feminists” than the daily stories of men causing havoc in women’s and children’s lives. Not rape, not murder, not breakage of marriage agreements, not abandonment of families and showing up 50 years later.

Here’s what dismantling the patriarchy means:

– that a woman does not have to configure her wardrobe to male comfort.

– that a woman can make decisions pertaining her own life without seeking permission from a man.

– that a woman can be paid the same amount as her male colleagues for the same work.

– that a woman’s body is not male currency for satisfaction (and mostly without consent).

– that a woman has access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (access to personal and well informed birth control, access to the highest standards of health care, access to infrastructure that eases movement to get these services, etc). It’s not like ordinary men access the same. Why? Because the richer men are plundering resources meant to make this a reality for all and they are the common enemy.

– that a girl doesn’t have to trade her body for sanitary pads.

– that a woman can vie for political office without male intimidation.

– that a woman chooses what God to worship or no god at all.

– that a woman can own land and property equitably.

– simply, that a woman controls her life.

– also, that sexual benefits are not one sided in a sexual encounter as they often are.

My mother, in her more than 30 years of marriage to my father, was pushed out of her business by his violence. No property under her name or her family’s name. Everything my dad gets he puts in his name. Many…. And I mean really many women die of poverty because their husbands want(ed) everything to themselves. They gave birth to children outside their marriages, infected their wives with killer diseases, were emotionally unavailable to their families, but still wanted to enjoy sex and the emotional labour of their so called loved ones.

If we’re truly honest about freedom, let us not only shout for it when we talk about politicians (mostly men) and how they’re robbing this country. Let us also call ourselves out, for the male structural (and sometimes biological) privilege we enjoy and the hurt we have caused the women in our lives, either by our own violence or by our silence.

Let us stop telling women how to do their feminism and simply listen to them, if we expect them to listen to us. Let us stop expecting them to be the bigger people all the time if we aren’t ready to join in the work.

We don’t need philosophers or intellectuals or activists to tell us these things. We simply need to open our eyes. And look around.

While at it, instead of waiting for women to constantly see our pain as men too, which they do and have been holding space for centuries, let us recreate the meaning of masculinity. Let us be collective cultural designers and shape healthy maleness. Which will mean confronting all those seemingly lucrative yet harmful beliefs we have been taught about money, leadership, relationships to women and to each other.

Otherwise, if we only want freedom for ourselves and not everyone, then we’re still seeking more prison. And more poison.

Onyango Otieno

Onyango Otieno is a cultural designer ardent in maximizing the power of storytelling for healing and connection. Onyango believes in the potent spirit of humanity collectively creating safe spaces for interaction, development, business and movement, for a more cohesive world.

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