Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Feminism--It's not Just for Women

Tomorrow is International Women's Day, so let me begin by congratulating all the women I know on this, the one day of the year when we recognize and affirm you for being who you are. Let me also apologize for our failure to recognize and affirm you as women the remainder of the year. As I wrote on this day three years ago, some men might dream of a world without women. They might see this as a virtual paradise. More accurately, I think most men dream of a world in which women exist only to serve them and satisfy their needs and otherwise remain silent and unseen. In fact, that would describe our current world all too accurately. However, I would not want to live in such a world. A world without women would be a world without so much that enriches and enlivens us as humans and as men. It would be a sad, uninteresting and, unfortunately, probably a rather violent place.

In January I acknowledged myself as a feminist or, more accurately, as an awakening feminist. In acknowledging this I felt somewhat like one who is “coming-out,” because there still exists an enormous amount of shame and teasing for men who support the equality of women. Some see feminism as a curse of modern liberalism, not recognizing the significant effect that denying full equality to half of the human race has on our society and our world. Many think that feminism is only for and about women—men have no role to play here. As I wrote in February, I recognize more and more that my first role as a male feminist is to listen and learn and then to support and encourage the voices of the women who are speaking out. But feminism is not just for women. The equality of men and women is an issue for all of us and men not only have a role in advocating the equality of women, they also stand to benefit from it. This articleby Soraya Chemaly offers a good explanation of the need for male feminists—not because women are powerless without us men, but because we men hold the positions of privilege and power and are in the position to help bring about the needed changes in our society. Feminism is not just about women. It's about all of us, because we all are created equally in the image of God and we will all benefit the more we acknowledge and affirm that in practice. 

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