EDITORIAL: Surprise, Boys! Feminists Don’t Owe You Anything; But You Owe Us — Big Time.

Walking around campus and not coming across a sexist individual is a challenge. Everyday, you will meet new people who claim they’re totally into rights for women — if women go out and start buying naan for themselves, of course! And changing their own flat tyres. And chopping their own wood and building their own houses and lifting their own heavy things and literally any other thing than can easily be performed by disposable labour. Because a woman’s only worthy of respect when she performs tasks traditionally associated with men, right? Right? Wrong.

This is a supreme example of patriarchy. We’ve all been conditioned in a way to attach more significance to traditionally ‘masculine’ tasks. To be treated fairly, a woman should be in complete charge of her femininity, be able to think and act ‘like a man.’

Personally, I’m tired. We all are. Imagine having to literally debate your own humanity, and then being told to ‘go buy some naan’ to be treated as a human being. Dude, I can’t go out and buy naan because men like you don’t let me leave the house. Why? Because then more men will harass me once I go out and get in line to buy your naan. But here’s the deal. I’m willing to go out everyday and do this regardless of the harassment if you promise to: a) stay home and leave under no circumstances, b) come back before sundown in case you do leave (don’t forget to cover up, though!), c) cook for everyone, d) clean, e) make sure everything looks good and everyone’s happy, f) be an unpaid therapist for your partner and, well, practically your entire family, g) not expect any appreciation or monetary compensation for it because this is what you were born for and h) go out and work a job and handle all the criticisms that come with it because your sole responsibility is the house, Ahmed!

And then imagine being told you owe your oppressors the privilege of being treated respectfully. If you talk down a man after he insults you, you’re labelled as a man-hater.

And well. Let me break it to you. We do hate men. Here’s why. I’m eighteen years old and I don’t know of even a single woman who hasn’t been sexually harassed or victimised by a man. There is not a single girl I know who has not been subjected to the systematic power a man holds. We hate men because you don’t realise the privilege you hold. You get more property, you’re more likely to be hired for a job I’m better qualified for, you’re safer when you go out, your words have more impact than mine because I’m an ‘emotional woman’. Even smaller, more harmless things like ‘female drivers are so bad, bro,’ or ‘girls are crazy’ are oppressive when they drop out of your mouth. It’s not ‘just an opinion’. It’s harmful, unproductive and unneeded. 

Feminists hate men because we’re frustrated by your blatant ignorance. You won’t do your research, won’t even bother to talk to a real woman about her experiences, but then quote random, sexist articles to say ‘women want men to pay their bills but want equal rights’ — first of all, that’s not even true. I don’t get into arguments with people, defend myself and every woman around me, call out toxic masculinity and rally for the rights of women only to use my partner for money just because he’s a man — but go off, I guess.

Look at the relationship between men and women through an oppressor-oppressed dynamic. Women, who have been victims of sexual, domestic, economic and social violence do not owe men the benefit of doubt. Analyse the trauma here. When you look like our abusers, when you talk like them and think like them and act like them, why should we trust you? Men, it is your job to extend help — without looking for reward and consolation in return. You have benefitted at our expense. And it is now time for you to set the scales right.

Here’s why you should help us: you literally did this to us. Your ‘harmless banter’ and sexist comments promote harmful notions. Remember when you shamed your ex? Joked about someone’s mother and sister? Promoted skewed, archaic notions of respectability? Proclaimed women should only ‘stay home and cook’, even if it was ‘just a joke, bro’? That’s feeding into patriarchy. Equal rights for us mean retribution from you.

And, if by any chance you’re one of the good boys or nice guys who swear they’ve never harassed a woman or said anything remotely sexist, you owe us too. Here’s why. You privilege off our disadvantage. You get more say in your living room because no one takes your sister seriously, not because you’re smarter. Your teachers like you better because they’ve already written off your female colleagues, not because you deserve more recognition. You’re given more importance because we aren’t, not because you’re better than us. And if you’re staying silent and not using your privilege to make things better for us, you’re just as bad as the rest. In fact, you’re worse.

Here’s a list of things you can do to help women and be a basic decent human being — be it around campus, at home, or online. Keep in mind this is the bare minimum. It wouldn’t hurt to do more.

  • Let women finish speaking.
    Really. It isn’t that hard. Stop assuming you’re the smartest person in the room. Stop cutting them off. If someone else cuts them off, stop them. All it takes is a little ‘She wasn’t finished.’ This is the least you could do with your influence.
  • Respect women and their choices.
    If she tells you she doesn’t want her bags carried, doesn’t feel like talking to you or isn’t interested in your romantic advances, listen to her. She is not playing hard to get. She just doesn’t want you. Next.
  • Stop your male friends from being gross.
    Dude, this is your job. It isn’t enough for you alone to be a decent human being. If your friends make harassment/ r*pe jokes, it is your responsibility to stop them. This isn’t about different senses of humour or opinions, it’s about being sensitive to people’s experiences.
  • Know that we don’t want your opinion all the time.
    For most women, feminist circles and conversations are safe spaces. The last thing we want from you is a lecture on how we should deal with our own experiences. Stop trying to take up our space. You have many other avenues to choose from, and you’ve had them in the past too. Just let women heal.
  • Support women.
    We don’t want your opinion. But you should use your influence to promote ours. Instead of writing a poorly researched rant, re-share content from feminists. Instead of taking up space, help us expand. This is the least you can do considering all the privileges you’ve accumulated at our expense.
  • Understand that this isn’t about you.
    Look Ali, I’m really sorry to break it to you, but feminism is not about how we can cater to men better. This isn’t about making you feel safe, or making you feel smarter or more productive. This isn’t about how many ‘woke points’ you can score by telling us how to lead our own movement. We shouldn’t need to incentivise you to be a decent human being. You’re not going to get a trophy or medal for this — this is your responsibility.
    This movement was not built to make you feel better about yourself. It was made to empower women — politically, socially and economically. And if you don’t want to unconditionally help us do that, we don’t need you.

    Do better.

Vaneeza Jawad
Editor in Chief
Class of 2019

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