Happy International Women's Day, all and sundry :) I just want to grab this moment to address a few common misconceptions about feminism that I encounter here all the time.
1. Feminism is not synonymous with affirmative action. I have to say this because whenever the f-word gets invoked, there is always someone getting mean-eyed about how either women shouldn't get what they perceive as preferential treatment in the labor market or about how men are being sidelined. Thing is, feminism is a large and complex -ism that cannot be reduced to a few practices such as affirmative action in the labor market (or political sphere for that matter). It is a public relations problem that I think our formal feminist institutions might do a better job of addressing, because it does kind of make the issue reductive.
2. Feminism is not synonymous with man-hating. That's just a holdover from the past, when more militant groups of feminists rejected the masculine and went off on that rant for a few decades. Not only is this a minority issue in the feminist movement, I think it has been incredibly damaging and obviously folks are still suffering the after effects. Perhaps more people would be comfortable calling themselves feminists if they didn't have to contend with that little problem. A propos: there is a new movement mostly in the US but also somewhat in Europe where issues of masculinity are being dissected as men negotiate a society quite different from those of the past where their roles are no longer so strongly defined or supported. Pretty interesting stuff to read especially if you are a feminist. Holler in the inbox if you want some material but it's easier to just google "Masculinism." And yes, it is different from patriarchy :)
3. Stop calling feminism "mambo ya Beijing." If I could, I would try to think up a new term for feminism in Kiswahili because Haki za Wanawake and Mfumo Dume do nothing to capture the dynamism and relevance of the -ism. Still, please, for sweet chunky monkey's sakes don't call it "Beijing."
4. Men can, and do, benefit immensely from feminist advances in societies. I know that the idea is a hard sell in this market, but believe me. A society in which women enjoy more freedoms doesn't have to look like the US, and can be quite healthy for everyone.
One thing I admit I found a bit strange was the repeat notion- can men be feminists? What do you think, and why?