Men-only ‘crusades’ and conferences are affairs coming from a dark and hateful place in the human hearts.

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Why I reject men-only crusades

I don’t know why some Christians still use the word “crusade” to describe their proselytism. The word has a terrible and bloody history.

It’s associated with the worst historical pogroms, including forcible conversions, wanton conquests, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in the name of the cross and the Bible. It’s the equivalent of jihad in Islam.

That’s why it baffles my noggin when wild-eyed evangelists organise men-only meetings and shindigs and term them “crusades.” I couldn’t think of a more toxic cultural-religious affair. That’s not the only reason I argue here that we must reject in toto men-only “crusades” and conferences. Such affairs come from a dark and hateful place in the human heart. I’ll peel your eyes.

Of late, some men in Kenya have made it a fad to organise men’s crusades around the so-called International Men’s Day, itself a very dubious event. The IMD was started in 1992 by some obscure Missouri professor in the US to supposedly focus on the wellness and positive values for men and boys. It was clearly an attempt to ape and mimic International Women’s Day.

The UN rightly recognises International Women’s Day but not the ill-conceived IMD. Don’t get me wrong. I think men and boys have issues – usually of control and the abuse of power. They suffer oppression but not as men or boys per se. Men and boys rarely suffer because of their gender.

It’s important to make clear distinctions among gender-focused movements, and why they manifest themselves. It’s beyond intellectual and practical contest why in any society in any country in the world women and girls need – require – protection and nurturing over men and boys. Let me give you some sobering facts and stats.

First, women make up over two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population. You read that right. Second, over 60 percent of all chronically hungry people in the world are women and girls. Third, less than 20 per cent of all landowners in the world are women.

Fourth, women and girls work more hours than men, usually on farms and at home. Fifth, women are woefully underrepresented in all public and government sectors of employment and decision-making.

What’s more, gender-based violence is the lot of the vast majority of women. This includes rapes and other sexual violence resulting in trauma, STDs, and often death. During conflict, as we have seen in Gaza and Darfur, women and girls are killed at vastly higher rates than boys and men.

In conflict, women and girls are often enslaved sexually. As we know, girls and women are murdered in large numbers. Even when women are educated, they often don’t get the same opportunities in the public and corporate sectors as men.

As the climate has become more severe, women and girls have borne the brunt of climate change. In short, it’s simply dangerous to be a girl or woman on Earth.

Although women are the majority population, they are generally powerless. More disturbing, women and their issues tend to be institutionally invisible whether in the development of drugs, new treatments, or even in the legal systems of most countries. That’s why it’s more than necessary to promote and protect the rights of girls and women in all sectors of society.

Importantly, we need to teach all of our children – girls and boys – about non-discrimination and equal protection not just in law but in substance starting at home and in our schools. We must end the practice and backward tradition of segregating social and public roles by gender. We must teach boys to cook and clean the home.

Recently on IMD, I saw a bunch of men displaying braggadocio and testosterone in a men’s crusade in Kenya. Many of those men were people of means and a number have been very senior apparatchiks in the state. I can bet that many of them have contributed immensely to the impoverishment of our country.

If blame were to be apportioned for corruption, abuse of power, and the sorry state of our country’s affairs, many of them would be in jail. Yet these men are the “grand wizards” of the men-only crusades. To them I say, the norms and structures of patriarchy and misogyny don’t deserve more oxygen. That world, in which women and girls are subhuman, needs to be choked to death.

Men, not women, rule the world – and do so with a cruelty that shocks the conscience. We need to defang and reprogram them into better humans. Men-only crusades are akin to organisations to defend White people.

They only exist as backlash against the advances that Black and Brown people have made in the world. They are steeped in the ideologies that gave rise to Donald Trump after Barack Obama.

It is true that boys and even men can be vulnerable. But it’s not because of their gender. It’s because of forces located in the market and the vagaries of existence, and not their biological anatomy.

- Makau Mutua is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Margaret W. Wong Professor at Buffalo Law School, The State University of New York. @makaumutua.