There are many men who believe that they can not or should not be feminists. That is to say, they believe the movement to bring women’s equality in social, legal and economic forums is a concern that is the responsibility of women. Or some kinder and gentler men believe women would not like men to be mansplaining their issues. Forcing their way into a women’s only club with that self-righteous upright chin of the all knowing men.
The goals of feminism is fundamentally a problem of and for men. A society of cultural norms and mores which we as men benefit from, but rarely understand. It’s not the job of women to find our inner demons, our abuses and unkindnesses and explain and then campaign for us to change our ways. No. That wouldn’t and doesn’t work anyway.
Any group of people have their ways of doing things. Their memes, their protocols which have been passed down from father figure to son figure. This is what makes us a social group with tendencies and values which while not strictly true, are often just so. Men are a social group, often with ideas about how things ort to be.
It’s our responsibility as men to be introspective and look critically at these and how they reflect in our actions. Our ways of doing things. We need to understand that we are sometimes and often wrong. Women have told us there is a problem, that they suffer in ways that we don’t recognise. That’s really as far as they can take it. And yet, so far, we have refused to take the baton of responsibility from them and carry out a full audit of our social place and the way we act and treat the people around us.
I believe that some of these ideas that many men hold are the ideas that need to change in order for equality to spring forth. These ideas can’t be changed from the outside by women. Instead they must go through the full process of reflection, where one understands there is a problem, discovery where new ideas that challenge the old are sought and found and then a violent battle between the old and new ideas must take place where both are destroyed in a process that gives birth to new, stronger ideas which are internalised.
It’s this processing of new ideas which I can see happening. Sometimes the new ideas are forged in hatred, the wrong idea at the wrong time and result in a symptomatic backlash against the progress of equality. But while some men find hatred others will find their way to greater enlightenment winning their internal battles. It is the men who find peace and fraternity with the goals of feminism who must not let their hard won ideas rest in their heads, but speak out and actively encourage them in other men. Cheat on the test for their brothers by giving them the answers to their own internal equality exam. Not just for those men, but for women, boys and girls too. So we propagate the best of what we have worked out.
In order for this to work, we need not just women fighting for their rights, but men fighting for their own change and their own social group’s change in attitudes and common ideas. Maybe it will take generations to forget the old ways, to uproot the very deep notions and general practices which often were created back when aggressive sexism was the norm. But they must be removed because they are unjust and it is our backyards that these injustices stem.
We are Men and OUR ideas need to change. Help me challenge them.