Has feminism really helped women

Suddenly "understanding women" : Why male feminists are part of the problem

A thank you to feminism is due: from the bottom of the man's heart and on behalf of all members of the sexes, a sincere thank you for the helpful criticism and necessary reality checks over the years. We screwed up a lot, we are still doing it, but hopefully we will learn, not least thanks to feminism.

Now that old gender roles are shaking and masculinity is increasingly perceived as a toxic and atavistic concept, feminism also serves as a refuge for men who, out of shame and anger, would rather not be such - very gracious.

"Suspiciously many heroes"

No wonder that more and more men are calling themselves feminists and are at the forefront when it comes to gender equality. No question about it: feminism is good for the male world. But how does it look the other way round?

A few weeks ago, the feminist author Margarete Stokowski stated in her "Spiegel" column that there are "suspiciously many heroes" who feel called to be feminists, mostly after the birth of their own daughter. It's almost a feminist joke, writes Stokowski, and rightly asks whether these men have never spoken to or listened to a woman before.

MeToo has exposed the systematic sexual violence and discrimination against women so ruthlessly that one should believe that no personal reference is required to be shocked by this grievance.

Nothing to be questioned before it reaches your own cosmos

But again and again men cite their own daughter, partner, mother or sister as a key witness to express their disbelief and to legitimize their own feminist credo. As if sexual violence were only a problem when your own daughter is affected, as if the role of a father automatically makes you a good feminist or “understanding woman”.

Of course there are enough counterexamples, but the tendency not to question a misogynous social order until it reaches one's own cosmos in the form of a daughter or partner is indicative of a patriarchal self-image. The focus here is not on the living conditions of the female population, but on their own interpretation of them.

Defense of patriarchal dominance with macho arrogance

In addition to the overdue addressing of discrimination and violence against women, the MeToo movement is also trying to break the men's monopoly of opinion. Terms like “mansplaining” or “manterrupting” describe the male tendency to want to explain the world to women, even if they know better.

It is the defense of patriarchal dominance with macho arrogance. It devours the discursive space that women are entitled to. When self-declared feminists now announce that they can of course understand the problems women face, because after all they are father, partner, brother, son, mansplaining is not far away.

Male feminists are part of the problem

Male feminists have a hard time admitting that they are part of the problem. You can support feminist ideals and values, show solidarity with women, but how much should they get involved? How much space should they take up?

Take the abortion debate, for example, and some feminists have the motto “no uterus, no opinion” - without a uterus there is no right to express one's opinion on this issue. The attitude is in line with an identity politics that calls for solidarity with minorities in society as a whole, but grants them the authority to interpret their own living conditions. With all their overzealousness, feminists should not forget that in some cases their silence can be more helpful than any show of solidarity.

Feminism has to be more than a stage for self-expression

Feminists must not, however, pull themselves too far out of responsibility. Feminism has to be more than a platform for self-expression for one's own moral integrity. A #Equality in the Twitter bio doesn't make a progressive feminist.

The American author Jia Tolentino writes in her widely acclaimed book “Trick Mirror” how easy our digital society makes it to express oneself morally, while moral action is becoming more and more difficult. The right mindset alone seems to be enough.

It depends on how you (pre-) live feminism

But what use is a politician like the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who describes himself as a feminist with a charming self-evidentness and designs his cabinet according to gender parity, but ousted two strong women from his party because they dared to contradict him? Especially at a time when feminism is increasingly becoming a lifestyle that can also be easily marketed commercially, it depends on how you live it, not just think.

Perhaps this is easiest for feminists when they focus on what they know best: men. With a progressive male self-image, equality would be of great help. You don't even have to be a father, partner, son or brother, you just have to have your heart and mind in the right place.

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