All women line up for Ivor Novello Awards for first time ever
All women line up for Ivor Novello Awards for first time ever

Do men make better feminists?
by Diane Ofili

The Louder Than War! debate : Do men make better feminists?
The Louder Than War! debate : Do men make better feminists?

Steinem. Wollstonecraft. Pankhurst. Greer. No prizes for guessing what that little list is about. I’d like to add another name to that list; Mohammad. Not one expected to appear on a list of famous feminists. That said, being slain for defending the right of girls to be educated makes for pretty good credentials on his part.
Thankfully men in Britain would not have to endure such a fate to demonstrate the same sort of principle. Yet their effort in promoting women’s rights has been cruelly and [probably deliberately] underrepresented. Why so? Any real defender of sexual equality would not only see this for the misandrist nonsense that it is but also recognise their value as an indispensable ally. Quite frankly how many women would or could have shown the colossal courage that Khan Mohammad did?

There is no obvious vested interest in men supporting feminism, as it would have no directly self-serving impact. Yet is it so naive to believe that men are capable of empathy? It was not only women who died in hunger strikes for female suffrage or wrote well-thumbed, dog-eared tomes or words on the virtues of the fairer sex. However who is more recognised for this; Simone de Beauvoir or John Stuart Mill? Even the world of music, a notorious battleground for women, was able to spawn such a man in the form of Kurt Cobain. His memorable diatribe against rapists is even more noteworthy in the wake of statistics claiming that men are less likely than women to blame a rape victim for being attacked. If anything, more scope now exists for them to be feminists. The modern society in which we now reside should make it easier to adopt norms no longer dictated along gender lines , given that newer generations of males will have witnessed and profited from the advent of ”Ëœwomen’s lib’. British families in particular have seen the palpable effect. Both sexes have gained from developments in reproductive health as well as the increased options as to rearing and providing for children. For a greater proportion of children rises in both prosperity and personal aspiration have prevailed, not least counting the better health enjoyed on broods becoming smaller.

”ËœAh, but patriarchy still exists,’ goes the battle-cry. That is true but it is precisely for this reason that men should be engaged in pro-female discourse. Women have been traditionally excluded from positions of influence and thus depended a great deal on men to accomplish social reforms on their behalf. Even so it would be disingenuous to dismiss the huge improvements they have had on women’s lives simply because someone with a penis allowed them to happen. Who would genuinely say that the Pill is pointless just because it was made legally available by Enoch Powell [yes, that Enoch Powell]? The [current] monopoly that men have in the social sphere makes ignoring their input both churlish and myopic. There are very few, if any, causes that can turn their nose up at bolstered numbers or income. Too much emphasis is placed on blindly smashing the ”Ëœglass ceiling’ and ”Ëœbringing down the Man and/or the System’. Radical idea: why not harness the potential from those within who are sympathetic or even supportive? Elizabeth Cady Stanton did so, which permitted her to hold the Seneca Falls convention, a major milestone credited to this day with galvanising women to improve their lot. Most campaigns to eradicate discrimination have relied on strategies that involved multilateral negotiation and dialogue, not least given the lack of material clout with which to impose pervasive, non-civil forms of dissent. The female of the species may be deadlier but is no exception to the rule.

Unfortunately progress is almost always slow with any social movement, especially those that aim to establish parity. Fortunately it goes without saying that we are headed there. As long as misandry is defeated with the same venom and vigour that chauvinism meets , then effective cooperation between men and women is conceivable .To quote Princess Shirley, Empress of Garbage [the male] ”Ëœsex is not the enemy’.

The quote which ends the piece is taken from ”ËœSex is not the enemy’, a single released in June 2005 by Garbage.

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  1. I think there’s been a ‘divide and rule’ thing among women for a long time, as with other oppressed groups. Sometimes we end up bashing each other instead of the system…

  2. I speak for myself not thegirlsare. I do not know about this story of Muhammad. I should have done. I do not know about all the girls and women mutilated, stoned or persecuted in some other medieval manner for the sake of religion. I should. I think the title is brilliant but misleading: I do not separate my feminist friends by gender. I’ve got better things to do; something I think is common now among feminists. “Yes, I’ll thank that guy in a minute. I’m just writing a song, producing a video, researching the crucial thing which will save lives….” Maybe bloody busy just being magnificant matriarchs, making choices which are mindful of “the cause”. However, if women do have a problem for not speaking up for each other or themselves why do we think that might be? Could it be a lack of experience, confidence, role models? Fear of appearing dominant (forthright), bossy (focused), hysterical (expressive or maybe angry). That said, I love Garbage and in I can speak for thegirlsare,in this respect.Roll on April dates, I believe?

  3. Thank you Diane. Very good debate going on in your work there. Really interesting to read. Im not sure of the statistics that more women than men blame rape victims – I’d question that – doesn’t it depend on the intelligence level of the person? Male or Female? In a nutshell, if you are thick and somewhat sociopathic, you do believe that people who are raped, mugged, murdered, beaten up etc, “asked for it,” whether you are male or female.

    The Islamic world has a reaction to females that is sometimes cruel and shocking, but its only recently that we have abandoned horrific tortures against women dressed up as “religious.” I’m reminded of Charlotte Mew’s account, “A White Night” where three English travellers, spend the night in a Spanish church and wake up to find a ceremony going on, whereby a woman charged with adultery is buried alive, surrounded by chanting priests. Date? 1911.

  4. The male sex is not the enemy, but, while women have money and property AND the desire to marry/live with a partner, and have children…. you’ve got the potential for the male to use his physical strength against the woman, and take the money and property that were hers before she met him. Its called Landgrab.
    No lawyer is going to be able to stop Landgrab.
    The reason being that a women will give the man whatever money and property that he demands in the relationship split up, in order to stop further physical pain and protect her children.
    This doesn’t mean that ALL men are the enemy. It means that the law is not aware of this problem.

    Interestingly, chatting about this with Islamic friends, this problem is recognised in Islamic law. And what a woman brings to a marriage…cannot be stolen by the man. To go back to Diane’s point, it is the other men in the community that insist that the man does NOT steal from the woman, using his physical strength to intimidate her.

  5. Patrick Stewarts article on the Guardian, alerts us to the fact that the charities who deal with Women’s Refuges are already turning away (on average) 230 women,PER DAY (along with kids, dogs and cats, grandparents) all seeking help and protection from violence and place to stay where they feel safe.

    Looks to me like that’s 230 men a day who haven’t quite got the hang of feminism…Something tells me they’re just not trying.

    Feminism is never going to change the fact that men can threaten to carry on terrorizing women,kids,dogs and then end up walking away with 50% of the cash from the sale of the house as a “reward”…due to the “no fault” divorce laws.

    Telling us the “men make better feminists” doesn’t dent the issue either way.

    The issue is that its a lottery out there. You end up with a violent man, and you’ll be in poverty,fear and pain unless you get out of that situation.

    BOTH men and women can see that this is wrong.
    Not just feminists.
    Its a human rights issue…but not one that Cherie Blair really understands…wasn’t it she who brought in “no fault” divorce?

    So to conclude, its not a case of “men are better feminsits..” Its a case of “who understands the issues?” And its a mixture of men and women out there who do get it.
    Sociopaths, of either gender, don’t.


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