One of the greatest powers of privilege is to be oblivious to it. And often, so does patriarchy, toxic masculinity, and sexism. It’s nobody’s fault, because that’s the only reality we all know, a bit of our own Truman Show, really. So then, who does the burden of dismantling patriarchy fall on?
Men? Women? Everyone?
While the ideal correct answer is all of the above, achieving gender equity in the real world is far more complex – on one hand, it involves empowering women to demand equal opportunities and stand up for their and other women’s rights in the world, on the other hand, we need men to be strong allies and friends.
Here’s a handy guide on feminism, for our male allies and friends, those who may be on the fence or just feeling a little lost.
Let’s start with the basics, what is feminism? Feminism is equality for everyone, all genders. It is not about more or less. It is not a fight about who’s better, And it’s definitely not about male-bashing. The feminist movement centres around giving more visibility to women’s experiences, identities, and knowledge, it empowers women to know and access their rights and levels the playing field for them to be able to have equal opportunities.
Intersectionality in Feminism
Different women may experience different kinds of oppression, in addition to the discrimination that they face on the basis of their gender. This doesn’t mean one person’s feminism is more important than another’s. It just means that when approaching the issue of women’s rights, we have to strive to take into account all women, in all their diversity.
Check your privilege
Did we say privilege has a sneaky way of showing up without us realising? Privilege is not anyone’s fault. But when it starts affecting our perspective with respect to others, especially the less privileged, our inherent biases end up blinding us to the reality. We need to constantly keep our privilege in check and also remember that it is not a personal attack to be aware of how we operate within our privilege.
The burden of procuring knowledge about something you don’t know or you are not sure of is always, solely on you. Yes, you can ask questions if you don’t understand something, but do your homework first. There are plenty of resources online and offline that can be accessed, about feminist movements, intersectionality, laws that don’t work in favour of women, equal rights, and more.
Listen to women’s stories
For years, patriarchy has subdued the voice of women across the world. As we now strive to build an equal world, it is important to listen to women’s stories, in their own voices about their oppression. It is also important to hear what women want to build a world that also celebrates the difference of thought, opinion, skills, and leadership, that women bring to world. Remember, equality cannot be equality that is been defined by men alone.
Beware of the subtle sexism!
Words have power, so pay attention to them. Think of all the subtle but micro-aggression that you see women experiencing everyday. Whether it is using words like bossy instead of assertive, blaming harassment on the choice of her clothes, body shaming her, judging her for being a working woman or for staying at home, there are numerous judgements that are passed on women for the choices they make or sometimes, forced to make. It comes from years misogynistic conditioning, that we have all grown up with. So let’s make that extra effort to check ourselves.
Practise what you preach
Get involved in feminist movements, stand up for women’s rights, show up at those marches, and sign those petitions. Remember every ally makes a difference and can ensure a more balanced, equal world in the future. And finally, don’t hesitate to take a stand against that uncle or friend who always cracks sexist jokes. You don’t have to be rude, but you don’t have to be silent either.
Feminism is for everyone
Irrespective of your gender, race, caste, sexuality, age, or ability, feminism is all-inclusive. And therefore be alright with embracing your true self. Men are often conditioned to only be and act a certain way if they want to be respected in society. These false norms of yore don’t have to be practised anymore. Toxic masculinity also takes a toll on men, and if you can recognise that, actively work to dismantle it and any stereotype that has been associated with how a man should behave.
Don’t give up
This is going to be an uphill battle, dismantling a centuries-old belief-system. There will be good days, and there will be days where there will be setbacks. But don’t give up on believing that a world without equality for everyone, remains an unjust world. So be a proud feminist and thank you in advance for standing up for equality.