RECENTLY, an article appeared in Kashmir Observer, titled, “Why Fear Feminism?” The intent of the article was clear and appreciable. I wish to take the discussion forward.
Any system that seeks to marginalise a community, group or a people has people who are facilitators or benefactors of that very system. For patriarchy, these benefactors are men. Is it then possible for a man, a benefactor, to be a feminist?
In contemporary feminist intersectional debates, it is encouraged for men to be allies rather than style themselves as feminists. This position is more convincing and ethical because men, by virtue of being benefactors of patriarchy, will always be complicit in women’s oppression in overt and covert ways. Additionally, feminist movement is not merely a concept or an idea. It is a political movement at levels of activism, policy making and change in general. This manifesto of change is central to ideologies like feminism as their primary marker is their manifesto for change. This is why the first wave of feminism was not merely an assertion of rights of women as an awareness but as a movement meant for attaining suffragette.
Even today, feminist movements focus on making changes. If men are allowed to occupy the front lines of these movements as “feminists”; their privilege is bound to get them to usurp and dilute the movement.
This is because of two reasons: men by virtue of being the benefactors of patriarchy will have no way of actually knowing the true impact of patriarchy because they are not always at the losing end of it. Their privilege can also make them the face of a feminist movement which will in turn jeopardise the enterprise of a feminist movement.
Therefore, men can be feminists but any critically aware man will only call himself an ally. In today’s world, men should and must be allies to feminists.
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