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“When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” ~ Franklin Leonard
I am a feminist.
It took me a while to embrace the title because I wasn’t sure if a man could become one. But I can now declare that my conviction has nothing to do with my sexuality, religion, or gender.
It’s also not about “camping with the women” or “selling out the men.”
I am a feminist because I believe patriarchy and every other word that preaches male superiority does not belong in today’s society.
Feminism divides opinions, and new factions sprout daily. However, stripping the concept down to a single idea unleashes the essence of the global movement: equality.
The cry for equality suggests that a group of people, race or gender, have limited access to certain privileges and opportunities. As for gender inequality, men are undoubtedly the primary perpetuators and beneficiaries of this injustice.
For decades, women have yearned for recognition, highlighting their selfless contributions to society. But they’ve had their arguments watered down by the dominant males. It’s about time that all changed.
Admittedly, change feels like “oppression,” especially for those with something to lose. From a man’s perspective, embracing the call for change requires honesty, empathy, and humility. And the glue that binds them all is acceptance.
Without complete and unwavering acceptance, men will continue to live in denial regarding their socioeconomic advantages, the psychological impact of toxic masculinity, and the dominant male agenda. Men will also deflect responsibility and accountability by using the “not all men” narrative as a shield—a defense mechanism that reeks of male privilege.
This self-righteous anthem triggers and belittles the trauma and tragedy experienced by millions of women today and throughout history. And I’m not sure how it contributes positively to the ongoing conversation around gender inequality.
Saying “not all men” implies that women have psychic powers to weed the good men from the evil ones; it points to a magical camp in the Amazon inhabited by “good men,” which women have to find.
Obviously, that’s not the case. So, how can young girls identify good men from a pool of potential pedophiles? How can women decipher which men are egotistical, gaslighting dickheads and those who aren’t?
It’s a counterproductive approach that creates resistance between abusers and victims—no wonder we’ve been going in circles for ages.
Women are not safe in or outside their homes, in pants or dresses, in heels or running shoes. They live in constant fear, which perhaps underscores the need to remain guarded, both emotionally and physically. The frustration and anger are palpable and understandable because efforts to ensure their safety and eliminate systems that work against women have yielded little fruit.
To right the wrongs of society and extinguish the fear and anger burning in the hearts of women, honesty, empathy, and humility must shine through whatever we do as men.
The enlightened man can encourage and support the women in the fight for equality. But not by being defensive when they speak about their trauma, their pain, and the abuse they’ve endured at the hands of unrepentant men.
When women passionately tell their stories of endurance, sufferings, and escape through speaking or writing, it’s an opportunity for the enlightened man to think not of himself as an individual but to reflect on the big picture—because it’s not about him.
Besides, gaining insight into the sufferings of women doesn’t make any man “different” or “special.” It’s not a verification process that qualifies one as a “good man.”
I am not special because of my conviction as a feminist. The issue is about men—as a collective. Therefore, acknowledging and accepting the facts is imperative for progress.
My approach to the “not all men” and “man-bashing” subjects borders on introspection, empathy, and acceptance because I believe men are both the problem and the solution—a paradox that only aligns itself through education.
Women have been crying out for decades, screaming from the top of their lungs about being sidelined, limited, attacked, raped, abused, and murdered in cold blood. But we’ve only seen minimal changes since the 50s and prior when women like the late doctor and feminist Nawal El Saadawi began her advocacy for the liberation of women.
The men who are interested in helping women combat gender inequality need a new strategy. Unfortunately, asking women to tone down their advocacy is not the way forward.
Men can contribute by taking responsibility, being accountable, learning to accept rejections, and walking away without using force to breach boundaries. They can make more positive contributions by looking in the mirror, finding their demons, and healing from their traumas.
We won’t make progress by being defensive because it invalidates the traumatic experiences of women. It’s up to every man to react from a place of abundance when women express their frustrations because those frustrations are valid.
Only a collective mindset of acceptance will help us reach our goal: equality for all.