It’s fitting that I write this post today, the day millions of women around the world march for women’s rights. A protest rightly brought on by the inauguration of President Donald Trump of the United States, who has made comments and acted inappropriately towards women.
I was privileged to be part of one these Marches, at Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada and it was electrifying, over 3000 women and men joined by women activists from various organizations. Issues ranging from women trafficking to women’s health to gender inequality including basic human rights, my short list here does not do justice to the variety of concerns raised by women of different races, nationalities, sexual preferences and religions.
The highlight of that day ,for me, was to hear Elder Mae Louise Campbell speak, i have a short bio on her in the link below. Elder Mae Louise spoke about the problems of sex trafficking of young girls and women in Canada, especially among the Indigenous communities. Something she said really stayed with me, and I’m paraphrasing here, “women have been fighting for their rights and equality for decades now, so why are we still fighting in 2017. Progress has been made, as is evident by this huge gathering here today but there’s something more that can be done. We need the men to gather this way, we need men who value women and women’s rights to speak out, reach out to other men, change their ways”. To hear that was striking, mostly because of how right she was, right that men have to speak out and also right that we haven’t been speaking out enough.
So i thought it would be appropriate to talk about what feminism means to me, why i joined the march today and what I expect from myself and other men, that would forward the feminist movement.
For me feminism is simply the destruction of the male dominated society we live in and to mend the generations of injustice and exploitation administered to women. Men and women have biological differences, which creates differences in how men and women react or behave in situations which led to evolution guiding men towards being the hunter gatherers and women to being the caregivers. These differences in roles, unfortunately, gave men a physical superiority over women and well the rest is history, as we say.
There has been another tool that men, over the course of history, have used to subjugate women, apart from just a physical superiority namely religion, in it’s ancient and present form. Religion perpetuated the idea that men are superior, not just physically but mentally and spiritually, over women, which led to the numerous customs you see across the world which subdue and suppress women.
A third and final male dominance, and to me the most abusive, is the sexual exploitation that men employ to get an upper hand with women. And this, in my opinion, is so deeply embedded in our society and manifests itself in the most unnoticeable and the most violent ways that it could make or break the whole discussion about feminism. Let me try to explain. Sexual exploitation does not only imply rape, prostitution, human trafficking etc. but it is also sexual harassment in public places or at the workplace, it is expecting women to act or look a certain way or what constitutes being beautiful or sexy, it is the supposition that a wife has to be always willing to be available for her husband all the time.
So, for me personally, being part of the feminist movement is about two things:
1. Being part of a bigger change and playing a role in impacting that change. This includes fighting for gender equality (equal pay, roles in society etc.), against human trafficking and sexual abuse, against sexual harassment.
2. Resolve to make small changes in my life and be an example to other men i come in contact with. This includes treating women as equals, respecting women, staying away from and protesting or correcting any form of sexist, misogynistic rhetoric. Making myself heard through social media, one on one interactions.
I would like to end this article with why I joined the march today. I marched with the women because I believe in the feminist movement and consider that any form of gathering or protest will further this movement, if the right message is put across. I also, and more importantly, wanted to be inspired by the women that were at the march and the amazing work they do for both women and men and the determination and pride that they have in their activism.
“Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt