Nejoud Al-Yagout From an ex-MP stating that feminists should be sent to rehabilitation centers to a current MP expressing his discontent regarding the enlistment of women in the military to a local man who claimed that women shelters will dissolve the family unit, it is hard to miss the fact that the patriarchy is feeling threatened by women’s prominence in all aspects of society.
The ladies of Abolish 153, Lan Asket, and Soroptomist Kuwait, all notable and laudable local feminist movements, are each using their platforms to dissolve the patriarchy, to change mindsets, and to rid our society of male domination, spousal and financial abuse, domestic violence, honor killings, rape and harassment, voicelessness and intimidation. These movements not only provide women with security and opportunities but give women a platform to express themselves safely and freely. Each of these movements are not only up against a legal system-masked behind layers of red tape and fortresses of bureaucracy-which favors the straight, domineering male, but they also face an uphill climb trying to transform a male-dominated narrative which subjugates women into a gender-equal society.
And that is what feminism is about. Plain and simple. Feminism is a reaction to millennia of oppression. Because whenever anything on our planet tips the scales too far in terms of power, there will be a reaction, a much-needed reaction, which recalibrates and restores equilibrium. Without such a reaction, violence and oppression will continue to plague us. There’s nothing “toxic” about removing toxicity. What is toxic is that a woman cannot give citizenship to her children if her husband is non-Kuwaiti. What is toxic is men telling women what to wear, whether they can go out or work, who they can see, who they can marry. What is toxic is following women home at night or sexually harassing them. What is toxic is raping a woman. What is toxic is beating up a woman, pushing her down the stairs, killing her in the name of honor.
For the ego-based patriarchy, the solution to “dealing” with women who speak up is: “Lock ‘em up” or “Put them away.” To a man of the patriarchy, a feminist is a threat because she reminds him that he can no longer get away with what he has gotten away with for eons. The dominant male ego is frightful when it is about to dissolve. It will do everything to stay in power, even if it means uttering discriminatory statements or attempting to pass legislation bordering on the ridiculous. Power, after all, is a drug. And, like any addictive substance, when the power-drug leaves the system, it can produce overwhelming withdrawal symptoms. Members of the patriarchy are hooked on their power, their control over women, their self-appointed place as regulators. And instead of assuming responsibility for their addiction and how it poisons not only themselves but society, they gaslight women. “Send them to rehab! They are sick, not us!”
What is most threatening to such men is that more and more men in our society are speaking out against the subjugation of women. While women (and the men who support them) fight for inclusive rights, patriarchal men fight to keep their rights exclusive. Women want their rightful place in all arenas of society. And if they want to join the army, it is not for a man to decide. As for women shelters, as Warsan Shire puts it: “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” And though Shire was referring to refugees, the quote is as applicable as ever here. Women shelters do not dissolve families. Rape does. Domestic and financial abuse does. Intimidation does. Fear does. And, oh, denial does.
And, finally, if feminism entails protecting women from rape, violence, male aggression, intimidation, fear, harassment, abuse (be it spousal, domestic, financial), then sign us up, women and men. What are we (Ku)-waiting for?