Feminism sometimes suffers from misinterpretation, social trolling, and a sort of xenophobia (as if it’s a strange object) and hence its voice needs to reach the male audience, who play a significant role inside the patriarchal cage. It is nice to see that male authors are coming up with topics of men’s role in feminist movements and whether busting marketing ploys in the name of men’s rights. Motivated by this, I decided to list a few tips for the male readers, which may help them connect to feminism, in a more sorted manner.
1. Know that feminism is not restricted to women’s issues only
Though the feminist movement started with women’s rights related issues, it is no longer limited to a particular gender boundary. It includes all the issues that are affected by patriarchy. Quick crash courses can be found here and here. Note that feminism doesn’t indulge in misandry, feminazism, or a video like My Choice.
2. Sense that women’s issues are your issues too
It is humanity that leads you to look at others’ problems and help them when you can. To get a feel, start with your family: does your mother, daughter, sister, or wife face oppression or injustice? Stand up for their rights. You can begin smashing patriarchy from home and then give it a try outside as well.
3. Don’t hesitate to call yourself a feminist if you indeed support it
You shouldn’t be in a situation like the British prime minister David Cameron who talks about equal rights of men and women, but finds it difficult to wear a feminist T-shirt. Feminism doesn’t associate itself with a religious group or a political party. It’s more about the ideology than an association. There’s no membership, and you must proudly stand for it.
4. Men’s rights are already included and you don’t need an alternative
Some men complain that feminism hardly bothers about men’s rights and sometimes the media also doesn’t pay much attention to it. It’s not entirely untrue and several social experiment videos have gone viral depicting our lack of attention towards abuses against men. Lindy West on Jezeble wrote Part 4: a list of “men’s rights” issues that feminism is already working on. However, there exist issues of false charges against men by women, misuse of IPC 498A in India, lynching on suspicion, and all these need to be considered under the same umbrella, since they are all rooted in patriarchy. So better if everyone joins hands to fight against patriarchy: the common evil.
Some also object against the word feminism, since the word fem- is attached to it and hence it cannot be a man’s struggle; and they say equalism or humanism could be a better word for movements supporting gender-equality issues. Know that feminism has its own historical reason of existence and equalism doesn’t focus on an imbalance in the role of a particular gender.
5. Be curious; deny social stereotyping
Social behavior cannot be tagged by gender stereotypes. Trigger your curiosity: e.g. Why should being called girly is considered derogatory, if you walk or dress in a certain way? In fact, fight back against euphemisms like ‘like a girl‘, ‘like a boy’, or ‘like a transperson’.
6. Realize that patriarchy hurts men too
Do not be under the assumption that patriarchy only sets back women. As I just said, patriarchy assigns certain gender roles to men and women which dictate a man’s behavior as much as a woman’s. Prithvi has elaborated this issue succinctly here.
7. Understand what female objectification, misogyny and sexism is and their repercussions
When you’re talking to a male friend, take note of misogynistic (woman-hating) or sexist (undermining a particular gender) remark in his words. Also you shouldn’t tolerate remarks like all men are dogs. If you find yourself conversing with someone who is clearly biased, either protest or discontinue the conversation immediately. If it’s sexist, it cannot be a joke or vice-versa.
8. Follow other male feminists.
It isn’t a bad idea to take note of other male feminists’ views and acts. That way you won’t feel like you are alone in this. Find allies in other men. For example, I often collect masculine quotes on feminism and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is my favorite male feminist.
9. Use your social position to right wrongs
If you are in a position to influence the outcome in a certain debacle or just help out somebody in need, do so. As a man, you can set an example for other men in your circle or office. Be it a politician, a lawyer, a teacher, or a doctor, or any other person of influence; anyone can help pave a pathway for getting justice for gender equality. So if you’re a judge, don’t let a rapist get bail. Even if you’re not in a position to act, at least show your solidarity to the people who are fighting for it.
10. Express, share, converse, and learn more
It’s very important to share your thoughts and emotions. However, generalised statements like “Ladkiya aisi hi hoti hai” (Girls are always like this) do not help anyone. Accept that human beings are both bad and good, and one shouldn’t generalise based on a few personal experiences. Talk to people, share your problems and express thoughts to others without judging their gender or sexual orientation. Don’t make your gender or sexual orientation your religion. Respect the diversities in human form and keep your mind open to learn and accept more.
That’s all for now folks. Just remember, feminism is for everyone! And men, we need you.
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