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I’ve made acquaintance with a number of men who consider themselves gender activists but would never be caught dead saying so in front of a group of people.

For some men fighting against the oppression of women seems to be embarrassing; to them it seems like they would be betraying other men. Most people do not think that men can be feminists yet there are men out there who not only respect women enough to not treat them with cruelty, but also speak up against patriarchy. There are men who treat women as their equals and never consider them inferior.

I always refrain from blackmailing men with the ‘if you have a sister, mother or wife, then you have to protect them from violence by fighting for women’s rights’ because I have always believed that you don’t have to be related to anyone who could be a victim of violence in order for you to be involved in the struggle against gender based violence.

Society would flourish for the better if men and women were truly equal. Nobody would undermine the other; the creation of a sober and productive society would create an environment where our children would understand that both boys and girls have an equal role and opportunity to put their leadership qualities for building productive societies.

There have always been men who agreed on the importance of women’s issues, and we need such men.
Need I point out the fact that feminist men make better partners - they respect their partner as an equal, they’d never lay a hand on her because they know it is wrong and oppressive, they avoid the parts of culture and religion that reinforce patriarchy and inequality, they do not live on myths that regard women as weak and incapable, they consult and protect their partners from the ills of society.

And instead of confining their partner to a sub-human being who should always be below a man, they help elevate her by encouraging her to strive to be a better person by defying odds and breaking the barriers that society is ever so keen to put up for women.

Nokuthula Dlamini

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