During the debate about Feminism organized by Unikum on the 7th of March this year, it was interesting to notice how the subject of Patriarchy developed, and it became clear that this topic, just like Feminism, is a fracturing one. The event had the name “Feminism, do we still need it in 2023?”, which to me sounds ironic since Feminism is a young movement that has barely taken off in most countries around the world. One could say that Feminism has some traction in the Western world, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the globe. I suggest another topic for a debate with a similar name: “Christianity, do we still need it in 2023?”, after all, it has been around for over 2000 years and I dare to say that a lot more people have died and suffered because of it, but that is just a guess, of course

Awareness, reflexion, repenting and forgiveness. Aren’t these words venerated by Christians? To sin and to repent for a sin, isn’t that a normal procedure taught to “us” by Jesus? Then, when confronted with injustice, inequality, and violence towards women and racialized minorities, why can’t people reflect on its causes and repent? Why is it that suddenly we forget “our” Christian values and do not allow ourselves to see the face of the devil? Why is it that we can’t ask God for justice for those that are oppressed? In Israel, at the time of Jesus, the Jews were oppressed by the Romans, and so were the Christians thereafter. No believer can deny that. So, why do we deny that women are oppressed? Why do we deny that racialized people are oppressed? Because we are the Romans of our time, and we dictate who is to be crucified next. 

Feminism is to me – and yes, it is important to define what Feminism is, in order to understand what we are talking about (in response to what one of the panel members said about not wanting to define Feminism, as if we could argue about something without exactly knowing what) – the understanding of the intersectionality of specific struggles and forms of oppression from which women have suffered throughout history and consequently the empowerment of women for more gender equity, solidarity, and freedom, which allows for societies to grow and develop in a fairer world, by taking down toxic preconceived ideas and values that do not only harm women, but also harm men. Feminism is a state of mind, a realization – some sort of “the holy spirit’s breath of air” – that allows one to understand the injustice and unfairness that women must face just because of their genitalia. But it is not just women that suffer, also men do. Yes, men also suffer! That is right! You did read it correctly! But suffer from what, you may ask? From the Patriarchy! And all the expectations that men must carry, because of the retrograde ideas and values that are imposed upon us, and the shame that it brings when we are not capable of fulfilling such expectations. 

For those who never heard about the Patriarchy, I would better define it as the sets of values and ideas that most societies all around the world have, which secure the greater benefit for males, and that dictate gender roles in society by excluding females from positions of power and of higher importance. Now, the Patriarchy is not a conscious plot done by a group of men sitting in chairs with evil smiles on their faces trying to find out what horrible thing they should do next, although that is probably not far from the truth. Instead, the Patriarchy is represented by the things in life that one does not even think about, because that is just the way things are. Why is it that men in the year 2021 in Norway got an average gross income of 651.400 NOK per year, and women only got 440.400 NOK, even though the share of women with higher education was 40.6 % and men was only 31.1 %? And why is it that the share of women as leaders in the year 2021 in Norway was only 37.6 % and the men’s share was 62.4%? (Statistisk Sentralbyrå, 2022). During the debate, I recall some men in the panel and the audience saying that men prefer objects and women prefer people as if to explain why men and women choose different professions and trying to excuse the pay gap in society, but isn’t ruling people a thing for people and not things? Why aren’t more women in ruling positions if women like to deal with people and men prefer to deal with things? I guess, we will never know. Wait! It is because of the Patriarchy! And probably because generalizing things like that does not really say much about why men are in positions of power and women are not… 

Isn’t it weird that all royal sovereigns in Norway, and most in the rest of the world throughout history, have been men? And why is it that Norway is designated as the Kingdom of Norway and not the Queendom of Norway? Also, why is it that, for a long time, women in most countries could not vote while men already could? and why is it that, still today, women have fewer rights than men in many countries all over the world? Doesn’t the far-right use that argument against immigrant Muslims when they want to explain why we are different from them and why we should not receive Muslim immigrants and refugees? Isn’t it weird that most prime ministers in Norway have been men? And why are most leaders in the world still men? And what about women in science, are women so dumb and stupid that they just never liked science, or is it because they did not have the same opportunities and were blocked by men, institutions, and their own families from getting into it? Why are families traditionally ruled by men? And what gender has continuously been ruling most institutions and companies in the world? And even more intriguing, why is it that only men have ever been prophets? Are women so dispossessed of faith that they were never visited by God and made to spread His holy word? and isn’t it interesting that in Christianity, the only time that a woman was important was to get pregnant by God with His son? Why is that? That’s right, it is because of the Patriarchy, of course… 

I am a man; I identify as one and I like to be a man, but being a man does not mean that I cannot understand the struggle of women. I remember how hard it was for my mother to take care of three kids without my father’s help who left her, and most importantly left his family and only paid a food-pension because a judicial court forced him to do so. Like him, many others have done the same. And how many women still suffer from domestic violence? And how many of those die at the hands of their partners? To me, by understanding the struggles that women face I know I can make a difference and fight for those differences to vanish from our society. And no, being an egalitarian is not enough, simply because Feminism allows one to understand that the issues regarding women, and equity in society, need to be addressed specifically without trying to hide it under false pretences. But even if one assumes oneself as an egalitarian, why is it so hard to assume oneself as a Feminist? In my opinion, that is because those that deny Feminism see it as a woke plot from the left that is endangering men as if men were ever in danger, and as if we never had the upper hand on absolutely everything. I dare to say more, I believe that some men are afraid. Afraid because they feel threatened by the upcoming women that are now able to show their true power and ingenious, and who represent the “weaker sex” that once was ruled by us, men. I must also mention those women that because of their own lives and histories have succumbed to the Patriarchy and are themselves proponents of it. But not everything is bad. I see great progress and I genuinely believe that there are so many men and so many women that every day, by the awareness and the empathy of looking at the suffering and the struggles of their fellow friends, family and communities, fight and try to make this world a better place. The word “empathy” is key! For that is the same word that Jesus, and many other wise men (of course), taught us. To love thy neighbour and enemy. To forgive. To give to those in need what we can, without asking for something in return. I believe that Jesus would have been a Feminist, for even he helped, loved, and forgave a prostitute, something that most of us, and especially the religious moralists of today, would probably never do. 

I wish for my girlfriend, and chissà one day my daughters, to have the same opportunities that I do as a man. I wish for a safe and fair world where they will never have to explain why they are wearing what they want to wear. A world where no girl will have to stay at home taking care of the house, while their brothers go to school and get an education. A world where women and men get paid the same for the same job and a world where more and more women can be prime ministers, presidents and mayors in any country, city, or town. And honestly, if you do not see the injustices and forms of oppression, and if you cannot understand and empathize with those that suffer, you are then part of the problem yourself. 


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