Ayaan Hirsi Ali

It’s time for feminists to say #MenToo

The great emancipation of women has brought the great emasculation of our brothers

(Photo: Getty)

Let me be clear: I am a committed feminist and a passionate supporter of the Enlightenment and its ideals. Indeed, I have been the beneficiary of those ideals in ways unimaginable to most people in the western world. I travelled from a genuinely patriarchal society poisoned by Islamism to a free, secular society where women, whatever issues we might still have, were equal to men under the law and able to pursue opportunities I could scarcely have dreamed of growing up.

As I have written before, however imperfect western civilisation might be, we haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else in human history. The progress we have made is dizzying. One of western civilisation’s greatest achievements is the emancipation of women. For most of human history, and still across large swaths of the world, women have been, at best, second-class citizens and, at worst, chattel. In the West today, women are freer than they ever have been. Why would a woman want to be born anywhere other than in the modern West?

But however grateful I am, I cannot pretend that the legacies of feminism and the Enlightenment are perfect. Like many women born into societies that oppressed them, I fully embraced western feminism, warts and all. But these days I am beginning to really see the warts.

Much of modern feminism seems to be more interested in vengeance than fairness

When I first read Christina Hoff Sommers’s 2000 book The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, I admit that I was puzzled. Now I realise that Sommers was on to something. I paid too little attention to her argument that boys were being left behind by badly thought-out policies which penalised them as being privileged and as barriers to the equality of girls. I am grateful to Sommers and other writers who have offered enlightening critiques of modern feminism and the sexual revolution, among them Mary Eberstadt, Louise Perry, Caitlin Flanagan and Heather MacDonald.

Much of modern feminism – and I want to emphasise that I in no way mean to denigrate all modern feminists – seems to be more interested in vengeance than fairness.

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