A patriarchal society has suppressed women’s voices and dominated political and social discourse to the benefit of men at the expense of women.
Thus for some women it is problematic that I as a male within this patriarchal society want to sign up as a member of the Democratic Alliance Women Network (DAWN).
For the past year I’ve been asking myself the question ‘should men be allowed to become members of female political organizations or could they even lead such organizations’.
Within the feminist movement there is a group who believe that men can be pro-feminism and anti-sexist but not a feminist as such. Those who deny that men can be feminist argue that men can’t exclude themselves from the patriarchal system which is based on their power and privilege in relation to women. They believe that in order to be a feminist one must be a member of the targeted group (women).
Should or could the same logic be followed that men can be pro-feminist and anti-sexist but one must be a member of the targeted group in order to become a member of DAWN or ANCWL?
Since the late 17th century, the majority of pro-feminist authors emerged from France who were men. Charles Louis de Montesquieu introduced female characters like Roxana in his work Persian Letters, and subverted patriarchal systems which represented his arguments against despotism. Men have taken part in a significant cultural and political response in the history of feminism. Parker Pillsbury and other abolitionist men held feminist views and openly identified as feminist, using their influence to promote the rights of women and slaves respectively.
It is crucial for men to be part of organizations like DAWN as well as ANCWL. I firmly believe that if feminism is to attain its goal of liberating women, men must be part of the struggle.
In “To Be a Man, or Not to be a Man — That Is the Feminist Question,” in Men Doing Feminism it is maintained that identifying as a feminist is the strongest stand men can take in the struggle against sexism and for liberation. It has been argued that men should be allowed or even encouraged to participate in the feminist rights movement.
One idea supporting men’s inclusion in women political organizations is that excluding men from the organization labels it as solely a female task, which could be argued to be sexist.
It has to be asserted that until men share equal responsibility for struggling and finding solutions to end discrimination against women, women political organizations will reflect the very sexist contradiction it wishes to eradicate. A focus on developing a bridge between women and men, it is an important revolutionary bridge, and we should all take part in building it, to support the struggle against discrimination. Contribute to the development of new techniques of decision-making to ensure equal opportunities for women. So we can encourage and support women in acquiring the skills and knowledge; necessary to enter or to progress in politics and public service.