I get why people don’t like the word “feminism.” Half of the word implies it’s for females only, and in reality, feminism at it’s core is about gender equality. So I hate to break it to you, meninists, but guys need feminism too – and not just as allies to women fighting for equality. The meninist movement could actually be considered valid
and not just empty and vapid if instead of isolating their valid points about the rights of men as a separate cause, they acknowledged that we are all fighting the same fight.
Living in a patriarchal society hurts men, too. While the media is busy painting women in a less than favorable light, they’re also portraying guys with equally harmful stereotypes (example: most marriages on TV or in movies portray married dudes as the dumb and clueless husband). It goes both ways!
Not to be confused with misandry, which is the hatred of men, feminism is the belief that women should have equal political, social, and economic rights as men. Not better, not special treatment, the same. If men are tired of being painted as the bad guy when it comes to fighting for equality, the first step is accepting that sexism hurts them too.
This is not to diminish the very real ways in which women are disadvantaged in life due to systemic prejudices. We have our own unique struggles that definitely need attention, but it’s important to know that feminism also benefits men. No pressure for anyone to start self-identifying as a feminist if they were not already, but please consider not dragging feminism through the mud under the false pretense that it’s only aim is to benefit women. Sexism hurts everyone and I think we can all agree that we could do with less stereotypes in life and more treating people equally.
Here are 10 ways you may not have realized that guys need feminism, too.
1) Victim blaming, a feminist issue, also implies that men are innately violent.
By casting the responsibility for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse or other undue violence on the victim instead of the perpetrator, it implies that the victim provoked a “beast within” a man that is always present and can come out giving the right stimuli. I’m not kidding. There’s hardly a publicized rape case without some sort of backlash stating that “boys will be boys.” Are you kidding me? That’s like saying all men are biologically incapable of telling right from wrong and controlling themselves against committing acts of violence. No amount of testosterone is powerful enough to make anyone hulk out that much and to be honest, men deserve better than that.
2) Men are also raised in a narrow gender-specific box.
While women are taught to be dainty and polite caregivers, men are told almost from toddlerhood to “man up,” and “grow a pair,” and are constantly reminded that “boys don’t cry.” Do you know how harmful that is? Do you know how ridiculous it is to prevent a child from having a natural emotional reaction in the name of preserving their masculinity? That’s absurd. Growing up girl means that we are forced to adhere to certain societal pressures, but don’t forget for a second that guys are going through a similar experience that is equally damaging and nurtures a different kind of inequality.
3) Violence against men often goes unreported.
There’s a false idea that men can’t get raped. Yes, #MasculinitySoFragile is so real that even when they’re the victim of a crime, men are pressured to protect their integrity rather than seek help or become a statistic. Republican presidential candidates are even saying that being raped in prison “turns men gay.” Just watch this video of a social experiment where woman beats up a man in public. People are laughing! Male victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence are frequently not taken seriously because “men can’t get raped” because “boys don’t do that to other boys.” These prejudices prevent a whole half of our population from getting necessary care, legal help, and basic empathy and that’s just plain wrong.
4) Men aren’t thought of as nurturers.
In custody battles, the children will more frequently be granted to the woman instead of the man regardless of history or personal relationship with the children just because women are seen as the default caregiver citing “best interests for the child.” Plenty of men are the primary nurturer of their family, but unfortunately, it’s a lot harder for men to gain custody of their children when legal battles get nasty. Men are perfectly capable of being awesome parents, but they are rarely seen that way just because they are dads not moms. Nasty stereotypes strike again!
5) Men should be able to talk to women without fear on both ends.
Catcalling sucks. M’ladies are real and they suck. Dudes who act entitled to female attention, sex, and praise are the actual worst and they are full on ruining it for everyone else. The notion that men are natural predators demonizes male sexuality, and while women should always be safe when out in public, I think we can all agree that not all male sexuality advances are bad. The unreal ideal that men are predators and women are prey makes dating and relationships very difficult. They exist in a narrow box shaped by a gender specific stereotype that is not real and frankly, promotes violence. Women should not have to be defensive and fear for their lives when approached by a stranger and men should be able to pick women up in a not creepy way and we should all be able to be happy together. Sounds simple enough, right?
6) Chivalry is hard to come by because it’s hard to do it right.
Opening the door for women is always appreciated. However, we are attuned to when the action is coming from a place of enforcing the submission of women and when it is coming from a place of politeness and respect. If men are the inherent dominant gender of all humans, it must be protected and enforced by making sure that women feel submissive and in need of their dominance. By all means, keep being nice to women! Politeness is never a bad thing! Respect is different than coddling and treating women like children who need guidance.
7) Men are pandered to in advertising.
All in favor for men in commercials who don’t mess up the house cleaning, do more than watch football, and are generally shown as smart, capable humans, say “hell yeah!” Most advertising is targeted toward women with the falsely humorous slant of “your significant other is so dumb, right ladies?” Male centric commercials are mostly about objectifying women and enjoying sports. How wrong is that? Men are the butt of these stereotypical jokes. Women know how bad that feels and feminism acknowledges this – we want you to be represented in a better light, too.
8) Men are held to unrealistic expectations about their body too.
Women are supposed to have big breasts, slim hips, a small waist, and a Kardashian booty. Who has that? Nearly no one. Men are also expected to be strong, lean, tall, and conventionally handsome. So, men complaining about short guys never getting a chance on Tinder? I hear you! That sucks! For however harmful the pressure to have a perfect body is for women, it’s equally harmful for men and all of it is phrased as, “look this way or no one will love you.” How false and ridiculous is that? No bueno. Not okay.
9) Because sexism hurts gay men, specifically.
If being a woman is bad and being anything outside of a macho, heterosexual, conventionally attractive cis-man is wrong, anything that pairs with those things is wrong and worthy of violence. Society emasculates gay men based on their sexuality alone, so when a gay man acts in a feminine way, the prejudice against them is justified because they are “like women” even if that’s a totally false belief about homosexuality. Gay men feel the pressure to be body-perfect tenfold. Did you know that gay men are more likely to have an eating disorder than straight women? Unfortunate, but true, y’all.
10) Because you can see inequality for what it is and you’re not a jerk.
Even if there wasn’t direct benefits for men to be had, knowing that women are treated unfairly across the board should be enough for you stand up and be an ally against the system that enforces this. Even if you don’t have a mom, friend, sister, girlfriend, woman in your life who’s awesome you can put in these situations and give you a reason to empathize with the cause: sexism is wrong. Inequality is wrong and you are capable of using your male privilege to be a good ally.
Do you agree with these points? Why do you think men need feminism? Tell us in the comments.
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.