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FeMENists

by Rayla Santos
zgecan Aslan was a 20-year-old psychology student with dreams, fears and aspirations who
was tortured and murdered by a man. She could have become just another statistic in a global
pandemic of male violence against women, but in Turkey and neighbouring Azerbaijan she has
become an icon.
Across Twitter, Turkish women have responded by sharing their experiences of harassment,
objectification and abuse. But something else happened: men took to the streets wearing
miniskirts, protesting at male violence against women and at those who excuse it or play it
down.
So what is the role of men in all this? The liberation of women is down to women, after all, and
the great advances that have so far been made are down to the struggle and sacrifice of
women: some known, some airbrushed from the history books. The womens movement has
changed men for the better: they are more likely to have female and gay friends than they once
did, to talk about their feelings (though not enough), to have a greater role in raising children,
and so on. Men are so accustomed to various privileges such as automatically being taken
more seriously that they are not even aware they exist. Thats why it is so crucial that men
listen to women and their experiences, and learn.
Yet men will only stop killing, raping, injuring and oppressing women if they change. That
means tackling attitudes within their ranks that make possible the objectification of women, for
instance, or which normalise violence against women. The White Ribbon Campaign is one
example, attempting to transform mens attitudes towards such violence. Unless men speak
out, such attitudes will persist and the terror against women will continue.
And while men are not oppressed by mens oppression of women, some are certainly damaged
by it. Gay men are a striking example: we are deemed to be too much like women. But some
straight men suffer because of an aggressive form of masculinity too. The boundaries of how a
man is supposed to behave are aggressively policed by both sexism and its cousin, homophobia.
Men who do not conform to this stereotype by talking about their feelings, failing to objectify
women, not punching other men enough risk being abused as unmanly. Stop being such a
woman, or Stop being such a poof. Not only does that leave many men struggling with

mental distress, unable to talk about their feelings; it also is one major reason that suicide is the
biggest killer of men under 50. This is one of the key arguments made by the HeForShe
campaign championed by Emma Watson, which attempts to encourage men to support
women.
So, yes: this column is problematic. Im yet another of the men who dominate the opinion
pages of newspapers. Womens voices are not heard enough. And when they are heard, they
are taken less seriously than men.
We have to be humble: to listen and to learn. But unless men speak out, the pandemic of
violence against women will continue.
(http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/24/men-women-masculinityfeminism)
It is great news to find that men themselves have taken a stand on male violence against
women. Rayla Santos highlights this news because it is one of the bigger actions that man has
taken to remind women of their worth. This act wasnt just for the violent but for those that
water it down and excuse it.
The womens movement has changed men for the better: they are more likely to have female
and gay friends than they once did, to talk about their feelings (though not enough), to have a
greater role in raising children, and so on. Men are so accustomed to various privileges such
as automatically being taken more seriously that they are not even aware they exist. Thats
why it is so crucial that men listen to women and their experiences, and learn.
Rayla Santos responds to this as I AM SAM co-founder and practitioner and reminds men that
listening to women will not only help the relationship but will be helpful for the man himself.
Truly there are a lot of privileges that men experience that they dont even know are being
withheld from women and awareness of this will help men be more grateful but more
importantly, play an active role in extending the same privileges to women.
Rayla Santos calls out to all the real men, and challenges them to speak out and be a part of the
protection of women all over the world- protection from terrorism and abuse. Rayla Santos
reminds men that these women could be their mothers, sisters, wives, or daughters. Rayla
Santos takes this opportunity to remind the men of their worth and that their role is to protect

and not abuse, to think about the next generation and to use their power and authority to
respect others and remind them of their dignity and rights.
Womens voices are not heard enough. And when they are heard, they are taken less seriously
than men.
We have to be humble: to listen and to learn. But unless men speak out, the pandemic of
violence against women will continue.

Rayla Santos (Rayla Melchor Santos) of I am SAM Foundation