Today, the 8th of March is International Woman’s Day. Why then am I writing an article and not a woman, especially when 90% (something we would like to change) of English Post’s articles are written by women? I also feel I’m treading dangerous ground with numerous large and small holes into which I can stumble. I claim no particular knowledge of feminist ideologies; this is a personal look at our situation today.
The question in our title, “Can a man be a feminist”, is one I was asked when little more than a teenager. Then my answer was a definite “no”. My argument was that whilst men could sympathise with the situation women are in, they cannot intrinsically support a movement that inevitably would result in the nihilation of their own position (of power) in society. Promoting an inversion of the power structure from a position of “power” would be nonsensical, akin to cutting off the branch on which you are sitting?
Rather shocking, isn’t it? A very dialectical “men are from Mars, women from Venus” viewpoint.
Perhaps part of the problem, still today, is the definition of Feminism. Some may see it as I did then as the battle of the sexes, patriarchalism versus matriarchalism. Others take more nuanced stances. Ashley, a participant in our Facebook poll last week, commented, “Feminism is the belief that all humans are equal despite their gender, so yes, men can (and should) be feminists”. There now seem to be a myriad of positions, third-wave Feminism, post-feminist Feminism, fourth-wave Feminism. All oppose a society in which the male point of view dominates, and women are socially, politically, and economically disadvantaged by society’s structures.
But is equality achievable? Is it desirable? Women bear children; men don’t; that’s not equal. What if the “Feminist Committee for the Advancement of Women’s Rights” had male members instructing women on how to fight for their rights. It would be ironic. Perhaps, if men are to be feminists, then passive ones. Yes, by all means, equal pay, equal rights, equal chances. But is there not more that is achievable, more that is required today in our societies which have brought the world to the brink of a sixth extinction?
My point of view has changed fundamentally. I now see the advantage not just for women but also for society as a whole when women can influence its direction. In fact, it is not only women who need equality. It is a female way of seeing the world which needs equality with the phallocentric viewpoint. If this were the case, then much of the other might fall into place. If rather than trying to compete, however equally, in a male-dominated society, women exercised their unique qualities and moved within and outside its phallocentric boundaries, then their influence would have an altogether different dimension. But hey, I don’t want to say what women should or shouldn’t be doing—just some thoughts.
At the end of the day, Feminism is fundamentally confronting discrimination (against women) in society. If we are against discrimination in all its forms, then we are for Feminism.