Why feminism needs men and my gratitude to the male allies in my corner of the world
In this excellent piece, Lauren Rankin explains that feminism is a "movement to eradicate gendered oppression, to highlight women’s voices and experiences, and to challenge restrictive and constructed gender norms." Ending patriarchal oppression isn't just good for women--Lauren points out--it's good for men, too. This is because "patriarchy doesn’t just privilege men over women, but privileges certain kinds of men and certain kinds of masculinity."
This made me want to stand up and cheer. Feminism is good for ALL OF US.
I know the word "feminist" has been dragged through the mud (in the past, I've dragged it there, myself!). But I've made peace with the word feminist, I even dare call myself a Christian feminist now. And I'm thankful for the men who, by virtue of their support for my words and work, are unashamed to stand with women like myself as we fight for freedom for ALL OF US.
The above article got me thinking about the men in my life who have been willing to examine their own privilege and also, support me as I write about my experiences. These are men who trust me to know my own mind and let me speak for myself. As Rankin explains:
The feminist movement needs male allies, but we need male allies who listen, who trust us, who support us. We need male feminist allies who will challenge their friends and male social circles, who will defend us without sidelining us, and who will continue to call out sexism when they see it.
I spent the first 25 years of my life in a highly patriarchal system which routinely oppressed women, children and other men who did not "fit" the mold. I also internalized this system and began to believe in it. In many ways, I even perpetuated the abuse.
But I am deeply grateful for the feminists (both women and men) who helped challenge my thinking--even when it was deeply uncomfortable for me. It has been a long process of deconstruction and I still have a long way to go. But I want to pause for a moment offer a word of gratitude particularly to those men in my corner of the world who have been a feminist ally to me, personally.
These are men who may not even know how much I've appreciated their kindness, support and friendship. I probably haven't taken the time to thank them personally. These men are pastors, authors, bloggers, activists, businessmen, lawyers. In some way or another, these men have helped, encouraged or supported me.
My gratitude goes out to the following men in my corner of the world: (This list is not exhaustive so please add to it! I'm mostly just listing off the top of my head the men who have played active role here on my blog or social media--but if you're a supportive male reader who rarely comments--or you're a regular reader whose husband supports my writing or you know someone I've left off this list--be sure to add those names in the comment box!):
My husband, Matt