Dashiki Dialogues – Male feminism a tricky thing

2011-08-19 16:18

With women’s month now in full swing – and kicking off with yet another instalment from that scribe with a taste for the misogynous – I actually have to wonder what it means to be a male feminist.

I figured it’s a question worth asking because it sure looks like Adam’s ilk will soon need a credential clearance on women-empowerment issues to enter related public discourses.

And maybe we should, given the history of efforts in the opposite direction. Consider that in literature, the old woman has been a long-standing symbol of physical and moral decay – think here of witches and other oddities.

For the younger woman, too, being “sexy” often becomes a symbol for some inner malice and her sinister powers of seduction.

On religion, others have even argued that a “father, son and Holy Ghost” trinity as opposed to “man, woman and child” is actually symptomatic of that historical dismissal of women.

As men we now find that we need to define ourselves in view of this history of misogyny. So what does it mean when a man claims feminism for himself?

Does it mean going along with everything proposed by women just for the sake of it or is it simply about passing that tray of snacks whenever your wife and “the girls” meet at your house?

Well, I know it can’t mean that men should now wear colourful shirts and publicly flaunt their new-found taste for pink drinks or white shoes.

A friend suggested that men looking to join women’s struggles should be treated the same way radical blacks view white liberals.

In other words, men are best positioned to work among other men, and not tell women about a pain they already know too well.

Because liberation can’t be given, those who want it are required to rise up and seize it for themselves. But what happens when a male feminist goes against a female who elects to further patriarchal interests?

Tricky one that.

I want to think that creating a just and gender-equitable world is to build a sustainable future for all, and that task can’t be for women only.

However, being a man who elects to hoist an anti-patriarchy flag can be a dangerous affair. It can mess with your place in the “boys’ club”.

And if you’ve joined a misogynistic, business-related boys’ club, that flag can mess with your access to money. Now that’s no laughing matter. You’ll need bravery to enter that Dashiki Dialogue.

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