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By Nobantu Shabangu

I was sitting outside my father’s office waiting for the meeting he was in to end, my father’s sub-ordinates were there with me talking about Malema, government and all subjects made of small talk. Our conversations were funny and entertaining.  The question of who our next president would be was raised.

“It definitely won’t be a woman” said one of my favourite father’s colleagues.

Shocked at his statement I sat up and asked him why he thought so.

“Come on how can a woman rule a country, I mean she won’t be able to rule when she menstruates, what will happen when that time of the month comes?” he asked me. “She will wake up and go into her office and rule the country” I answered shaking my head. “No it will never happen, a woman will never rule this country” he said looking at me straight in my eyes.

I saw that I had no support, there were no other women with me and I was surrounded by a stern number of Zulu men, and I sunk back into my seat infuriated.

Men fear feminists…no, they fear any woman who may seem to encroach on their so-called territory of driving trucks, owning businesses, owning sexuality and (heaven help us) wanting to become president. I am baffled that some men see any confident and independent woman as a threat. What is it that they scared of?

Feminists are not out to castrate men.  Instead we want what is ours: equality. We have learnt that there is no such thing as a woman’s work or a man’s work, feminists understand this well, why is that men can’t understand that notion? Is it maybe because they feel emasculated by the sudden surge of independent thinking women?  Is it because they feel there is a war of sexes looming where eventually the feminists will win or is it simply because they are products of patriarchy and male chauvinism?

In the case of the men I was with, I think it was a number of factors that cause the feminist to be feared.

  1. They were men in a mainly male-dominated industry (taxi industry);
  2. They were Zulu. Zulus are notorious for being sexists (I’m Zulu and don’t like to adhere to this stereotype but it seems it was proven to me on that day);
  3. They were old men, all of them over the age thirty five. Persons born in the late eighties and early 1990s may understand feminism because they’re educated about it in their multi-racial schools but these men were definitely not, as most of them come from and were educated in rural areas;
  4. They subscribed to a culture that perpetuates patriarchy and male chauvinism hence the idea that a woman is weak when she menstruates and cannot do any work during those days of the month;
  5. They possessed a fear of being emasculated. For a long time the image of a man has been that of a strong, brave provider but now that image has changed and now includes the woman, and this unsettles the old traditional men; and
  6. There is a misconception of what the feminist ideal is.  Most men are poorly educated on what the feminist concept is and misunderstand it.

The fear of anything is caused by misunderstanding (e.g. homophobia, xenophobia and now feminists-phobia) and the only way to end this fear and cultivate understanding is through education. That being said we must teach our male counterparts how to use their common sense.  Women don’t complain when men choose to be cooks, or dressmakers or gardeners.  We invite this fluidity in so-called ‘gender roles’.

Feminism must become a practice seen in reality and not read about only in books.  For example, I was at a friend’s party when I overheard one of the girls tell the other girl to ‘man up’.  I immediately stopped dancing and told her “no you must woman up”. They both looked at me confused. “I’m a feminist” I told them. “Oh” they replied and we went back to our joyous dancing. You see it takes little things like speaking up in the midst of a noisy party to express your own views on feminism. If you speak up you might teach someone something new.

I wish I could have spoken up to those men who are poorly educated about women’s biology and the correlation to her intelligence and ability to work, but I couldn’t.  The circumstances wouldn’t allow me to.  My culture, which perpetuates patriarchy, forced me to shut up and respect the views of those old men.  Slowly I will teach them (in a safe atmosphere) that women are strong besides bleeding every single month and that the blood does not block their ability to work or think clearly.

The fear of the feminist must be eradicated and a culture of understanding cultivated.  This does not mean that we stop being firm about our ideals, but as feminists we must build gates inviting in people into our culture not walls blocking them off and slowly we will build a world of gender neutral tones.

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6 thoughts on “Why do some men fear Feminists?

  1. This is not the first time I have encountered this statement, a lot of men and women believe it to be true. This is truly disheartening and much work is needed to change minds and perceptions.

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  2. For centuries now, men have enjoyed being right at the top of the ladder, so anything or anyone who threatens that position of superiority is an enemy!

    We must just press on in our fight against patriarchy, its the root of the illusion of male supremacy.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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  3. “Instead we want what is ours: equality” – This really doesn’t help your appeal.. It simply shows how stupid your course is. Equality is not for women, it’s not for any group of people.. No particular group of people can claim equality. Equality instead is for the sake of Humanity. Humanity is Man, Humanity is Woman, Humanity is Children, Humanity is Black, Humanity is White, Humanity is Asian, Humanity is the Aboriginals.. Equality is all about levelling the playing field so that whoever works hard, succeeds and whoever waits for hand-out get’s eliminated out of the humanity domain – Simple Natural Selection understanding. In South Africa, women are claiming EQUALITY, I’m my country women are claiming AFFIRMATIVE ACTION…. They say affirmative action is a woman’s right. I have no problem with that if such a claim makes them work hard, but I have a problem if someone has to be discriminated in favour of another person on the basis of having a penis. No, nobody chose to be born a man and in this era of feminism. No I will never accept that. We all go to school Men and Women and that is the beginning of levelling the playing field. If you get out of the school system with a pass, go out there compete with your fellow graduates whether in Business or Employment. If you get discriminated upon on the basis of you being a woman, you have every right to seek redress for such primitive actions but if your goal is to see the next man lose to pave way for you simply because you are woman and men have being supreme, that is very lame. Feminists talk of patriarchy like it’s a package that serves all Men. No, Men too have been victims of patriarchal systems of power.. But then again, you are a feminist, I’m not sure you can understand how some men have been oppressed.
    All in all, not space for cookies, Let’s get out there work and sweat, the global economy makes having a population of house-wives too costly hence we all gotta work and support each other. Nobody fears feminists, I mean why would I fear someone who is not creating anything? I see them all day long mostly just yelling on press-conferences.. I wonder when they actually create something that can sustain humanity. So no, your assertion of some men fearing feminists is shallow and egocentric. But I’ll let you know what men fear… disenfranchisement of little boys.. That is our only fear, young boys are being messed up with misandric based school system. Where kids are being designed to be effeminate as that is the holy path to living respecting their female counterparts, that you have to be like them to respect them. If you ask me, that is my biggest fear, the fear that tomorrow my son will pop up at the door wearing female leggings and applying lipsticks and all that kind of bullshit. The fear that if my son acts manly in terms of his expressions, then he hates women and he’ll be ridiculed or bullied at school by his peers (You can find statistics on the web). That is my fear and unless feminists are trying to tell me what their motives are besides demonizing masculinity, then I have all the reasons to dismiss feminism as a lost cause. Feminism is very inaccessible to women that needs empowerment and very accessible to women who really don’t need any form of empowerment hence the perversion of feminism ..
    I’ll tell you how feminism has failed. See in my country women were never allowed to own land before, guess who fought for women to own land? Not women legislators and not feminists, it was a group of progressive male legislators who went to school and believe in the principles of equality and guess what? now it’s in the constitution. Tell me again why I’m suppose to take these yelling women seriously? I can list so many failures of feminism and why it’s an ideology geared towards benefiting only elite women but that’s a discussion for another day. If it’s competition, I have no problem with that, bring it on, man or woman, black or white or Asian. My boss is a woman and I don’t see anything strange with that, I handle my responsibilities like I’m expected to and I hope my female colleagues are doing the same too.

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    • a reply to Exibit A

      You are very much correct when you say that patriarchy has hurt men too, as a feminist i strongly believe that. My brothers are running around trying to be “men”, societies’ crazy notions of men, they cant even be themselves. It breaks my heart to know that the world will never know who they are truly!! The world is too busy constructing notions of who should they be.

      “Nobody fears feminists, I mean why would I fear someone who is not creating anything? I see them all day long mostly just yelling on press-conferences..” this statement of yours is just downright disrespectful!! My mom is a single parent of 3. She is a doctor in the Limpopo province, in the mornings she works in the clinics & at about 11am she goes to her practice (which since of recent has the only renal care unit in Venda). She did her M.Med last year. She also teaches 6th year medical students and she is one hell of a feminist!! For you to say she “is not creating anything” is appalling. My dad on the other hand, doesn’t stay with us or even take care of us. But still he is still a GP working at a Venda hospital. Feminist are working hard, we do not despise hard work (we actually attracted to it) but we despise being oppressed on the basis of having our vaginas. And we are hated, for the mere fact that we want society to be better.

      It saddens me that you do not fear what this world could do to your daughter. How it seeks to crush her spirit and make her feel that it would have been better if she weren’t born. How you disregard YOUR mother’s struggle. Sit down and talk to her, hear her story and hopefully may God open your eyes.

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  4. dont say again and again that you all are feminist cause it annoys me soo much. it makes us look like you all are from different planet.. equality is a good word then feminist.. feminist seems like its empowering women over men or feminizing the world and wanted men to convice that they are false and girls are true in every way

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  5. Hi there, I came across this site because a friend of mine posted an article on her wall and I decided to take a read. If I could give my 2 cents, and I’d like to say I’m not anti-feminism at all, but I do get why some guys might be, and I’ll admit to being wary being around hardcore feminists. The reason is, and this is the same problem I see with racism in this country, is that the people willing to listen and engage on either topic, and therefore take abuse for it… are actually the non-racists and the guys who are not against feminism. If I truly didn’t respect your cause, I’d brush it off and not bother with any argument you put forward. But because I (and 95% of men (or whites, or blacks in the case of racism, but I’ll leave the racism argument going forward but you can apply it)) are not that way inclined, they will engage and sadly, will be labelled as anti-feminist for seemingly be attacking your stance or defending their kind. If you say something bad about guys and I defend them, all of a sudden I’m the bad guy, which is why I’d rather leave it and yes, perhaps seem to be ‘afraid of feminists’. I think the reason is that feminism, by its very nature, is a confrontational mindset (look at the way you butted in to those girls conversation on the dance floor… you think that is your right to do so, whilst simultaneously denying their right to freedom of speech), and I believe that is a common thread with a lot of confrontations that happen.

    In other words, 100% of what I say is not meant to be offensive, but I suppose I might mention phrases like ‘stop being a little girl about it’ (would ‘stop being a baby’ be less offensive?), ‘man up’, ‘loosen your g-string’ etc but to me and my mates (girls included) there is no malevolence in their delivery… but to a nearby feminist there might be offense taken, and because I don’t want to be attacked for something I do innocently, I’d rather avoid confrontation about it. I’ll stand by you and any female (or male) on any issue I truly in my heart believe to be wrong, but unfortunately most of my dealings with feminists are on these minor issues which I feel derogates from the cause. I’d submit that most men feel this way and perhaps that’s why we appear to ‘fear feminists’.

    Now haha, please don’t attack me on my comment here. I mean no offense. I’m merely trying to offer a genuinely well-meaning and objective guy’s opinion on the matter.

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