Liberation awaits men who dare to stimulate debate about the male condition, and enables them to embrace the feminist call for systemic change
Twenty years ago, my partner – at the time avidly absorbing the complete œuvre of Simone de Beauvoir – introduced me to feminism. It was a revelation: I realised that people are not born as women or as men, but it is society that shapes and projects gendered roles, behaviours and expectations. ‘Traditional masculinity is just as crippling a venture as the summons of femininity,’ says Virginie Despentes in King Kong Theorie.
What a liberation! As a heterosexual young man, I didn’t have to be fond of football, I could hang out with gay friends, and enjoy the exploration of what is female and gay, straight and queer in myself. It was the realisation that essentialist projections don’t do justice to the multitude of individual identities and experiences. And that binary thinking – man/woman, good/bad, black/white, yin/yang, nature/culture, body/soul, right/wrong – is at the source of much suffering. Binaries stabilise hierarchies and power relations; they kill the nuance, the complexity and the inter-connectedness of life.
Men should dare to stimulate debates about the male condition, about the parts of their masculinity that have been harmed, morphed and damaged because of patriarchy.