I have been accused of hating men whenever I try to express the way I feel about society’s thoughts and opinions against women’s rights. As I try to raise a voice and “bold up” to ask for a little freedom, the arguments raise alongside my voice, trying to shut it down, accusing me of hating men, asking for unrealistic things, or that I’m acting like a man – an unconscious confession that men are the only ones who are allowed to raise their voices and act the way they want without being judged.
I never hated men; I never raised my voice against men as human beings, if you know what I mean. But I am against how societies classify women as second class citizens, and men as first. I am an angry, sad woman when I hear about a man killing his sister in the name of “honor”, I am an angry sad woman when I hear about a rapist or a man abusing his wife, daughter or any girl, verbally or physically. I hate (those) men.
I honestly have no idea on how it all started, whose fault it is, how men came in first throughout these centuries, despite all the stories we witness and hear about that are against women. Men using their physical strength and community power/position against us, women. But I do know men are not the only ones to blame. I know that there are men who stand up against other men, stand up against society’s sick jokes against women. I know men who stand up against rape and sexual harassment, men who raise their voice and hands to defend women, and men who raise their sons to treat women as queens. I acknowledge that. I have a great father and two loving brothers. So I know, and I love them.
But that doesn’t matter, I am still accused of hating men at times, and of trying to be one at other times. What a contradiction, don’t you think?! Have we really gotten to a point where wanting to speak up means “manning up”? Where a female raising a voice is not much of one after all?
Feminism is not a call for “upgrading” women and “downgrading” men. It is a call for equality; socially, economically, politically, and in other aspects in life. Being a male-feminist does not make you less of a man and supporting women does not make you less masculine either. In fact, it makes you a better man to know the difference between feminism and sexism. A man accusing a male-feminist of being feminine (with more girlie hormones) or an outsider to the movement clearly has no idea what feminism is all about. A man thinking that “rape” is just a new-trend term has clearly never feared rape. A man accusing feminists (women) of wanting to dominate men (male feminists) is a man who does not realize that this is not a submissive-obedient relationship call (not a reversed version of 50 Shades of Grey!).
In our lives, we have a lot of male-feminists who have influenced and touched our lives one way or another. Here I would like to take a moment to credit a male-feminist in the Arab world.
Syrian, Nizar Qabbani is one of the most admired poets in the Arab world. He wrote about love, politics, and feminism. Qabbani defended women, cherished them, praised the beauty of the female body, and sanctified women. Doing so did not make him less of a man. On the contrary it made him the perfect man for many girls and an idol for every man who wanted to sing and tell stories of love. Qabbani did not become a feminist out of nowhere. He himself had lived a personal story when he was at the age of 15. His sister, who was 25 at the time, was forced to marry a man she did not love, so she refused and committed suicide. Ever since, Qabbani decided to fight for women against social thoughts, traditions and circumstances that enchain women and cause them so much agony, “Love in the Arab world is like a prisoner, and I want to set (it) free. I want to free the Arab soul, sense and body with my poetry. The relationships between men and women in our society are not healthy.” He said this about his poems.
Being known as one of the most feminist and liberal intellectuals of his time made him a target for many criticizers who were stuck in their own closed-world. Critics accused him of being against his religion, manners, and against his people and traditions. “The call to virtue is not the message of art, but the task of religions and ethics, and I believe in the beauty of ugliness, and the thrill of the pain, and the purity of sin. They are all true things in the eyes of the artist… I want art to belong to all people like air, water, and the singing birds.” He simply defended his case. Ignoring all voices, Nizar Qabbani continued to praise women, hoping for a better and more appreciative world for us to live in.
Published in BROAD Feminist and Social Justice Magazine / Chicago – March 2013
By ABEER ALLAN