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how to be a woke feminist man of gen-z

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READERS DISCLAIMER
This is entirely one person’s opinion which is subjective. Not trying to reduce every female or male into the same category. But then again in all honesty, stereotypes exist for a reason.

For the past several years, the media has been obsessed with millennials, the most studied group ever. But it’s about time we talk about the Homeland Generation or Generation Z as we commonly know them. The generation ready to enter the workforce as the co-workers of millennials. They are predicted to be more cautious, more conservative and connected than ever with everyone around the globe. Despite the trend of them conforming to the Postmodernism counterculture or “spoiled culture”. Generation Z’s awareness will certainly derive them from the former generation mindset. They will help shape the fragile 21st century (Though not pioneer like Gen Y) into a new understanding and approach of the global society.
Despite the above facts being true, why does being a woman in this world still require tremendous emotional labor that goes unseen and unappreciated? Some feminist men, those who are anti-rape and believe in reproductive rights, still behave in ways that are deeply patriarchal and subtly misogynistic. It’s another soft stab into the heart of anyone who fights for the notion that women are people. Not objects. Not a function of men. Not an appendage to validate someone else.

So I thought I’d put together a handy guide of things you should know as a woke male of Gen-Z. And then try to live by it.

MY BODY ISN’T PERFECT, BUT IT’S MINE.
As a female who belongs to the same generation, ladies will agree that we’re exhausted of the comments passed on by our male friends or colleagues or even our own family members and sometimes just a random passerby on our body hair, weight, features and so on. Don’t I have the autonomy on my own body and how I want to present myself? There’s no way to put this mildly, but dudes out there got to stop giving their opinion on somebody else’s body unless the other has asked for it. To quote famous actor/ comedian Aziz Ansari’s book ‘Modern Romance’, “Unless a woman has placed a tarantula or a spider on your shoulders, there’s no reason for you to yell ‘TAKE IT OFF’.” A simple tip for the dudes, follow the ‘5 second rule’. If it is not something that can be fixed within that span, simply refrain from giving any sort of remark. For example, do I have a mark on my face that needs to be brought to my attention? Go ahead and point it out. But, if you think I have a sharp nose or am skinny or fat, it’s not okay to call me a ‘skinny bitch’ or a ‘fat slob’. We teach children that it’s not okay for strangers to touch their bodies or cross boundaries, but what about when it comes to commenting on other people’s bodies?

RAPE JOKES WERE NEVER FUNNY AND NEVER WILL BE.
“Something horrible happened to you, hahhahha! I’m going to violate and degrade a woman and deny her humanity hohohoho!” Rape is terrible. If the only way the horrific nature of rape and gender-based violence lands with you is when someone says “it could have been your mother/sister/wife/ aunt” then you’re not seeing women as fully-realized independent people. You don’t need to imagine the horror of it happening to someone “yours” if you understand women are, well, people. Don’t appropriate rape culture.

IF MY POLITICS IS “BAD” THEN FAIR GAME?
If my politics doesn’t align with your leftist “progressive” views then critique me, but don’t go after my looks, attractiveness or character. A while back famous Indian designer, Mr. Sabyasachi said that Indian women who don’t know how to wear a saree should be ashamed of themselves. We don’t have to go very far for another example of men with deeply ingrained misogynistic attitudes. A certain self-proclaimed Nepali ‘journalist’, infamous for asking irrelevant questions and slut-shaming celebrity guests (especially women public figures of Nepal) on live TV in the name of journalism, is by far among the most hated public figure in Nepal and for all the right reasons. When another beauty queen turned TV host/social activist invited the same journalist on her show, shots were fired. We women have the strongest bullshit filter because we’ve grown up in an era where information was available at all times and we don’t hold back when somebody targets a fellow sister.
Mr. Sabyasachi, we like our bridal wear non-judgmental, thanks. To our favorite journalist, please leave the chauvinist attitude behind. And to the dudes out there, watch but don’t learn from these men.

EXPLAIN WITHOUT MANSPLAINING
Talking over and explaining things women know. Women encounter these “mansplanations” every day, and, though they may not seem like a big deal in the moment, they have a real effect on how women move and operate in the world. Men can absolutely, without offense, explain things to women and to other men but when men interrupt or presume to correct a woman who is speaking of her own experience or expertise, they are implying that she is ignorant, that she is incapable of having authoritative knowledge. They are saying, essentially, “Shh. I know best.”

IN AZIZ ANSARI’S
BOOK, ‘MODERN
ROMANCE’, HE
SAYS, “UNLESS
A WOMAN
HAS PLACED A
TARANTULA OR A
SPIDER ON YOUR
SHOULDERS,
THERE’S NO
REASON FOR YOU
TO YELL ‘TAKE IT
OFF.”

DON’T GASLIGHT

When a woman confronts your sexist behaviour, refrain from asking her if she’s on her period or saying “don’t be so sensitive, I’m not sexist!?” Blood gushing from her vagina does not make her crazy. Your comments do, however, make her less tolerant of your micro aggressions. Gaslighting is emotionally abusive. Listen. Introspect. Do better. Remember the term, and avoid it.

I’M NOT A BORE, YOU ARE.
Don’t expect your partner/friend to mould themselves into your ideal, for them not to have problems with some of your behaviours and how it messes with their boundaries. You’re asking her or him to be the Cool Girl. Don’t do that. This applies to anti-feminist women too. Expecting your friend/partner to not “bore” you with talk of equality is demanding they be Cool Girls.

TOXIC MASCULINITY? UNSUBSCRIBE.
Toxic masculine traits are characteristic of the unspoken code of behavior among men. It encourages boys and men to be stoic pillars of strength, permitted to unleash only one emotion: anger. As women, we are the most vulnerable and most of us are its recipients. We don’t expect you to cry your every breath but don’t refer to an effeminate man as a ‘pussy’. Being gay shouldn’t be used as a slur or insult.
While Nepal may be way ahead of all other south Asian countries in LGBTQ rights, we still lag behind in terms of implementation. Homophobic and transphobic language has got to go. We merely demand you unlearn harmful ideas and notions of what it means to be a “real man”.

THE LIST CAN GO ON FOREVER, BUT THAT’S ALL FOR NOW.
In the examples I’ve talked about here, and many more, misogyny and aggression against women, LGBTQ persons and others are the pillars holding the patriarchal harm against women. All of us, women and men, can do more to break down those structures toward real gender equality. Especially if you consider yourself a woke feminist man of Gen-Z.

 

Words: Kusum Kalikote

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