While feminist issues focus on women and how they are oppressed, feminism is about the equality of genders. Men are not oppressed by their gender the same way women are. They don’t have to put up with catcalling, unwanted touching, slut shaming or a loss of autonomy over their own body because of their gender. I’m not saying they can’t or don’t experience these things but they won’t experience them because they are men.
What is the Patriarchy
There are certain expectations of women within the patriarchy that makes them vulnerable to harassment, sexual violence and facing disadvantages in life. Men don’t have to deal with these issues because of their gender. In fact, they can benefit from women’s oppression.
The Damage the Patriarchy Does to Men
However, the patriarchy doesn’t leave men scot-free. Men have expectations to uphold. The patriarchy expects men to be the bread-winners, strong, hyper-masculine, never cry and completely independent. Just as strict gender roles is suffocating for women, it is for men.
What about if a man wants to be a stay-at-home dad while his female partner works?
What if a man is shorter than his girlfriend?
What if a man shows feminine traits?
What if a man shows his emotions instead of bottling them up?
What if a man needs help and cannot survive alone?
What if a man needs help getting out of an abusive relationship or dealing with trauma?
Less Masculine Men are Still Worthy
None of these things makes a man less valued or worthy. The patriarchal society we live in tries to make us think men like this are lesser, but why should it? Women are not completely innocent of imposing masculine traits and patriarchal expectations of men. It is something we need to consider. The stakes may not be as high as letting women live in a society where rape is normalised, but that does not make it okay.
No One Should Die Because of the Patriarchy
The suppression of emotions leads to suicide. This sounds dramatic but it is true. 75% of suicides are male. I wrote an article about my own experience of suicidal thoughts. It is a really difficult thing to deal with. Despite the aggression it is very easy to feel towards men as a whole because of how so many of them treat women, we cannot disregard male lives as female lives are disregarded. As feminists, we call for gendered restrictions to be dismantled for female lives and the lives of men.
The patriarchy doesn’t work for anybody – women, men or non-binary. Men may seem at an advantage but all you have to do is think about the 84 men who take their own life every week in the UK. Feminism is all about creating a better and more equal world.
Men should be feminist for women as well as themselves.
For information and support on male suicide, check out CALM.