“Men who want to be feminists need not be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society and make it feminist”.
For some reason, this year began with a number of my male friends accusing my writing of being “alienating” and “scary”. I was told (by a man), that I’ve got feminism all wrong, and apparently, male bashing is a hobby of mine. I found myself holding back on my immediate expletive-laced response, instead convincing them that feminism is for everyone. That I don’t hate men. That of course, not all men are misogynists.
It did get me thinking about this post. I realized that yes, my writing is confrontational. It is angry. It is hostile. I also realized that I really don’t care.
I don’t care that men feel alienated. I don’t care that they think I hate men. I don’t care that they don’t feel included. I don’t care if it was “just a joke”. I don’t care that it was “just a compliment”. And I definitely don’t care that “not all men” are “that bad”.
I was told that I need to “be nicer”-so that feminist men– men who respect women (“I would never hit a woman!”), who believe in equality, can be given a real space within feminism. Obviously, my tone needs to be more amiable, so that men can be convinced that feminism isn’t just “reverse sexism”, and can be sure that they have “nothing to be scared of” (I am seriously not making this up).
So I just want to tell the men reading this (if any), that if you find an article on the internet scary/ intimidating- you wouldn’t survive a second as a woman in India-where your mere existence puts you in a state of danger. Where someone can walk into your home and molest you. Where you take it for granted that you will be leched at, or worse, every time you step out of your house. Where you always have one hand in your pocket holding on to your pepper spray on your way home from work. Where you can get raped and murdered on the way back from a movie. Where you can be killed, just for being female, even before you are born.
Yes I am livid, because you and I inhabit two very different worlds- one where I am asked why I am “so easy” and advised to “play hard to get”, while you are slapped on the back for being such a “stud”. I live in a world where my friends come back from a walk at 7 pm, telling me how they were stopped by a policeman and asked why they were walking outside at “such an hour”. I live in a world where I am called a bitch for voicing an opinion and you are lauded for your outspokenness.
It is therefore not my job to make space for you, and it is not my job to make you feel welcome. You are not a male feminist, you are a feminist, plain and simple, and it is your job to empathise ( and never start a sentence with “not all men….”), and understand that you lead a highly privileged existence as a straight, cis gendered upper caste man-and you do play a part in the systems of oppression you are challenging. This is what feminism needs from men.
So it’s great that you are “not like other men”. It’s great that you respect women and believe in equality- but that shouldn’t be something special. It should be the norm- so no; you don’t get a cookie for being a decent human being.