19-year-old Ouma is brutally raped by police officers who are charged with the task of serving and protecting Kenyans. Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero slaps Women Representative Rachael Shebesh to the glee of quite a number of Kenyans. As at 6 years ago, 16% of women in Kenya still lacked basic literacy skills compared to 9% of men. 95% (1,370 of 1,450) of ward members of county assemblies in Kenya are men. Honorable Malulu Injendi on 21st April 2016 said that the fact that Honorable Janet Nangabo’s (Trans Nzoia MP) hair may have cost KES 10,000 to do means that the women have money as a reason to reject changes to the law setting up a special fund to give all women candidates in the country campaign money in the next election. Women in Kenya are constantly being harassed, discriminated against, disempowered and whenever some of them do get to a point where they are at a position of power, we, the men, refer to them as entitled bitches. I realize that these may seem like incredibly generalized statements, but if we actually took some time to analyse the status quo, we will realize that said statements are actually true.
I therefore write this from a position most men do not want to admit. That of privilege. A privilege stemming from the fact that I was born with a penis and not a vagina. A privilege that affords me opportunities that our womenfolk are not afforded as evidenced from some of the statistics herein. A privilege that assumes that I am the stronger sex. I write this knowing that my masculinity and the society’s perception of it has been used to perpetuate some of the most heinous crimes towards women. The violence and abuse, the lack of equality in pay, the expectation of sexual favors in exchange for promotions at work among other things.
I am a feminist. My particular brand of feminism is one that envisions equality for all women tempered with respect for them. It envisions a world in which our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunties are not viewed as weak. A world in which they will not be denied the opportunities we men have just because they are women. A world in which class is shattered and the voice of the mama mboga in Dandora is heard in the same space as that of the business executive in Lavington. Where we all experience life, not from positions of power but from an understanding that we are all human beings. Where personal moral convictions will not let a woman belittle the struggles of another just because they are queer. Where women are allowed autonomy over their bodies without having the predominantly male controlled state and religion tell them what to do.
Most people say that feminists are anti-men. I say, as a male feminist, I don’t hate men. I love them. As a queer male, I love them even more. I don’t believe that women don’t need men to survive in this society. I believe that as human beings, we need each other. I don’t believe that every man, by virtue of being just that, is an oppressor. I believe that some men have oppressed women. I don’t believe that every woman by virtue of being just that is a victim. I believe that there are some female victims of oppression and I believe that feminism should give these people a voice.
I have said this before and I will say it again. I want to live in a world where no one is treated differently because of something they have no control over. Being born with a vagina or a penis, how one expresses themselves in dress, being of a different sexual orientation or gender identity or belonging to a different social class. A world where we consider the differences in others as something to be celebrated and admired and not vilified and condemned. Where our sisters, mothers, cousins, grandmothers, neighbors and friends can feel safe in the knowledge that the men around them care about their well-being. I am a feminist. No, I do not have a vagina. I will however continue calling out the sexism in our society. I will continue trying all I can to make this world a better place for the women in my life and I will strive to ensure that someday, true equality prevails.