I took a sample of ten relatively mature educated intelligent men and asked them the same question: “Where are men in the fight for gender equality?”
The first one told me that we feminists are always trying to instigate a fight and that he wasn’t going to engage. Six of them, in different words and with different types of emotion (mostly defensiveness) ventured into complaining about the idea of gender equality and how it’s really about the 21st century woman having an unrealistic view of her God-given place in society.
They couldn’t understand why feminists are so intent on upsetting the natural order of things. Women were designed to run the household. To be a soft place to land after a man has had a long day in the field providing for, and protecting the family. Why are women competing to be in the same space, doing the same things and in addition trying to force men to do their (women’s) work?
Two of them said that they are advocates for better treatment of women but that gender equality is quite a stretch. They said that yes, women should be allowed to work. Yes, there are gender-based injustices targeting women but that gender equality was a stretch. They (men) still want a submissive wife who recognizes them as the head of the home.
But one person answered my question on condition that I listen without interjecting because he was speaking from a place of ‘love’ for gender equality. And boy am I glad that I listened because I learnt so much about the reason why the feminist movement has very few men on board.
First, there is the issue of the word being used to front the gender equality cause. Feminism. Apparently, at face value the word doesn’t so much represent gender equality as it represents the fight for matriarchy. It says women want to take over power and we know that everyone loves power. People might be willing to share it but to give it up completely? That’s an impossible ask.
Then there is the fact that the gender equality movement often demands that men see themselves as the problem. They want men to say: “Yes, we are the ones assaulting women. We are the ones who are overbearing, too aggressive, too power hungry, have fragile egos and we need to stop.” And who wants to be part of a movement which constantly demonizes their gender?
The men who join the movement are still not fully accepted into the fight. Women will be sure to remind them that they (men) don’t understand what women go through. In the end some of them fall back, exhausted.
Lastly, no one is really training men to handle the empowered woman. So those who encounter an empowered woman either try to subdue her or they run away.
So these are the spaces in which men exist when it comes to the fight for gender equality. And unless we engage them in those spaces, the fight will not achieve the desired gains.