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Me, profeminist ??

Absolutely no, I'm no profeminist, men's activist or masculist or whatever those misogynists or unlaid bachelors or fags prefer to call themselves. But I think men should be treated equally when divorcing and I think the sentence should not depend on the perpetrator's sex. Maybe this is the way we as men should start discussions on gender and equality in the future - analogously to how most women assure they are certainly not feminists but then start to argument for a more or less feminist agenda.

Just in time to coincide with the preparations for this year's White Ribbon Campaign, our local (well, Finnish) antifeminists and misogynists have started a campaign to show how violent women actually are - collecting headlines like "Woman kills her children", "Teenage girl stabs her father", "Fiancee stabs her fiance", "Woman drowns her children", "Woman burns her children", "Drunk woman kills exhusband", "Female nurse poisons mentally handicapped patients", "Woman kills male neighbour". Etc etc.

This 'equality campaign' had been conducted in the Finnish evening press. One of the most recent cases is an ethnically Chinese woman, married to a Finnish man with whom she has three children, the older twins being given to the exhusband's custody and the youngest child so far to her, who despairing when fearing to lose them all, kills them when they are with her in Espoo. Tragic yes. And sick. But no less sick - or at least very unequal - is the way the press puts her on the front page while all the men who daily (well - once a week) kill their girlfriends, wives, exwives, children or all of them are barely noticed under small headlines. The news threshold is high for violent men but seems to be nonexistent for women.

The whole concept of masculinity (like femininity) is, as we all know, a social / mental construct, a contract between the individual man and his society with its culture, values and conventions. Often the contract is hidden or subconscious or concealed behind camouflage smoke like in John Wayne’s ”a man's got to do what a man's got to do”. A considerable part of the traditional masculinity contract is to learn how to handle and use power, control and violence, on an individual level as well as a structural. Gender research exposes, analyzes, questions and deconstructs these gender contracts. The profeminist men's movement asks the individual man if he really was involved in drafting his contract and whether he has signed it himself.

The thousand dollar question in gender equality is this: How to get men to understand that they can profit from gender equality. Manifests and declarations may be contraproductive. At a birthday party recently a profeminist friend recounted how he had got a young man to reflect on his masculinity. He had been sitting with his beer in a pub when these three young lads asked if they could sit at his table. He accepted and they briefly presented themselves by name and shook hands when sitting down. One of them remarked that my friend's handshake wasn't very manly. He asked the lad to demonstrate then how a man should shake hands and when the lad then demonstrated it, asked why this handshake was so masculine. The lad who apparently hadn't much reflected on his masculinity, but was mentally open, became very interested and when his buddies where about to leave after a few beers, stayed to continue the discussion. A seed had been planted ?

[This essay will be published in the next issue of Ny Tid - in Swedish. The translation is my own]