When I was younger, us girl cousins were briefly sent to dars sessions. A dars is basically a sermon, delivered by a lady who is supposed to Know What She Is Talking About. We went because we were obedient and curious, and once we went wearing dupattas over our jeans (we were twelve) and the dars included a nice little segue about how women wearing men’s clothes were harbingers of the Last Day. Needless to say our dars experience was promptly cut short by the combination of our mothers’ dismay and our indignation. It was the early nineties, so you can well imagine our high-waisted Wranglers paired with baggy t-shirts down to our knees probably weren’t inciting anybody to sound the Trumpet of Doom. We were sent to subsequent wiser, much nicer ladies who explained what Surah Nisa has to say about marriage, or what the wife-beating actually means and how women can testify just the same as men in all matters except financial ones. The women I learned from were well-informed, rational and open to discussion, but it was always women teaching other women. What bothered me—and still does—is why the boys were never sent. I know there are now dars equivalents for boys and men, but those are still few and far between. What is the point of me knowing my rights as a married woman if my father, brother and husband think it is all right to cross out my right to khula? If they won’t speak up when the men negotiate my haq mehr? If, as happened to Farzana Parveen last week, they think it’s better for me to be dead than to be disobedient?

In my exploration of a personal feminist identity I have often met interesting, committed women, young and old, who are well-read, intelligent and articulate about their stance as feminists. There are many, many women out there who strongly believe in equal opportunities and choice, not just for women but for men too (as feminism is, to the surprise of many, wont to suggest). But what needs to be highlighted is how incredibly difficult it is to campaign for one’s rights when the people that comprise the patriarchy are ignorant of what’s being said. Men need to know more, and they have a right to be included in the conversation. Misogyny literally means a hatred of women, but a hatred of women hurts men too. They hurt the sons left behind when mothers are beaten to death, who in turn become husbands who think beating is the norm. They hurt the widowers of women who are victims of acid attacks. They hurt the fathers of girls who are raped and murdered. The violence of men towards women is increasing worldwide, and we need to marshal all our resources to help fight back—and that means men have to get with the program.

In response to online campaigns like Everyday Sexism or #yesallwomen is #notallmen, these are largely viewed with derision; the hashtag implies that not all men are bad. Not all men are rapists, for example. It is, admittedly, simplistic and nullifying—it basically kills the argument at the source. If one wishes to open dialogue about global rape culture, saying ‘not all men are like that’ stunts the conversation before it even begins. Of course all men are not like that, but a worrying number of them are becoming like that, and in order to understand why, women and men have to be part of the solution together.

It’s time for men to step up and acknowledge that there is a serious problem with the attitude we have towards the violence women experience every day. Instead of telling men not to rape, we put hijabs on little girls. Instead of cracking down on domestic abuse, we tell wives not to provoke their husbands. Instead of giving an eve teaser a black eye we tell our women to stay home. We keep indirectly encouraging violence by never directly punishing the perpetrator. Instead, the victim gets the double sentence: not only are they being harassed, groped or subjected to filthy invective, they are told it’s their fault too. The Blank Noise Project, based in Bangalore, has a wonderful exhibit called “I Never Ask For It.” It comprises of clothing sent in by women and men—outfits they were wearing when they were harassed in public. The clothes range from tank tops to shalwar kameezes, from school uniforms and saris to jeans and burqas. The premise is simple, the evidence self-explanatory: nobody ever wants to be harassed. You can wear anything at all and still be the target of lewd and offensive behaviour. You could be on a bus with a friend, as was the 23 year old girl who was assaulted in Delhi in 2012 and later died of her horrific injuries. At the time of the writing of this column, the raped bodies of a 14 and 16 year old girl were hanging from a tree in a village in UP. The villagers wouldn’t let the police take the corpses down until arrests were made. Farzana Parveen and countless others like her are in early graves. Why? Because there are men in the world who view women as sub-human. Who believe they have as much a right to life as a dog does. That they, as in the case of Elliot Rodger, believe that women owe them whatever they demand, and refusal is fatal. Farzana’s father helped to kill her; her husband murdered his first wife and conveniently attributed it to his love for her. So now not only is Farzana the victim, but the cause of all the men’s troubles. If it weren’t for her, her father, brother and widower wouldn’t be murderers. If it weren’t for them, she would be alive.

We work hard to change the world for our children. We want them to be safe, for our cities to be places we can grow up in and prosper. Not all men are evil, so why won’t they help us trying to stop the ones that are? Women chipping away at the patriarchy is something that will, thank God, always be happening—the minority trying to get through to the majority. But I look forward to the day the majority looks inside itself and realizes that things need to change, when we begin to teach our sons that their masculinity is not based on the oppression of the feminine, that ‘being a man’ means more than a swagger and thinking the world owes you something just because you’re male. The hashtag that really brings me hope? #allmencan. Because as we say here, you can’t clap unless you have two hands.

The writer is a feminist based in Lahore.

Email:m.malikhussain@gmail.com