For starters – because I know someone is going to call me out – you technically can’t be sexist towards guys. Sexism is a reflection of societal beliefs that protect and value men above women, and that’s before we factor in race, class, age, and relative disability. You can, however, act sexist towards them by being unfairly biased and prejudiced based on their gender alone. If male tears about how they’re the ~true~ victims of sexism and oppression make your eyes roll so far back in your head you can see your brain, I’m totally with you. Maybe you don’t want to hear that you might be acting unfairly towards men – but you should listen anyway.
Feminism is for everybody, including men. The patriarchy can affect men in a harmful systemic way known as toxic masculinity. The societal pressure we feel about what being the Right Kind of Woman means, men also feel about being a Real Man – whatever that means. It usually means some hyper masculinized version of who they truly are. Toxic masculinity does not allow men to be vulnerable, kind, sensitive, or anything that may be deemed too feminine of a trait. It’s a pervasive problem men face and is a reflection of how being too “feminine” is seen as a bad thing. When guys are constantly shoving away emotions and fearing shame and ridicule for being anything less than a Real Man, it results in a build up of depression and anger. Not to mention that asking for help dealing with this is also deemed un-masculine (and therefore wrong), so accepting toxic masculinity is also seen as the norm… and that’s not okay.
We help enforce toxic masculinity by believing these gender biases and reinforcing them daily without even realizing it. The patriarchy universally sucks, and while we’re busy trying to deal with it on our own turf, we forget that guys are dealing with their own version of sexism… mostly because acknowledging that feminism for everybody is a feminine or pussy-like thing to do, which is a direct result of toxic masculinity. See how the cycle repeats itself as a self-fulfilling prophecy? Ugh. We can help by curbing our sexist behaviors that enforce toxic masculinity. Here are 13 ways you’re sexist against guys without realizing it:
1) Expecting them to pick up the check 100 percent of the time.
Although this is starting to change a little, it’s still pretty universally known that guys are expected to pay for dates when they’re taking out a girl they aren’t in a relationship with (for some very traditional people, even dates with girls they’ve been dating for a long time). I still hear girls gasp in outrage when they hear that a dude asked his date to split the bill. Feeling the pervasive need to provide for the women in their life holds up the belief that men should be able to be the sole providers of their families. It contributes to the feeling that women need men, and that men have to hold up that end of the deal.
2) Having shallow af deal breakers.
If a guy casually said something like, “You’re a really great girl, but your boobs are too small for me,” you’d flip out. And rightfully so! Being physically strong and tall are idealized traits for men that are directly related to toxic masculinity. You would feel justified in being offended if someone had a shallow deal breaker that prevented you from finding love and a real human connection, so why is it okay when you have these deal breakers against men? I hear too many women say things like, “I would never date a short guy.” There are even tons of memes out there about how short guys are lame. If the roles were reversed, that would be a huge issue, so I don’t understand why this is still socially acceptable.
3) Saying things like “Man up.”
Same thing goes for “Boys don’t cry,” and “Stop being such a pussy.” Boys do cry and using the word “pussy” as an insult hurts women too. Think about what you truly intend to say, then rephrase it by saying something like, “Get your shit together.” Idealizing hyper masculinity starts with casually enforcing this box that men are supposed to live in or else they aren’t Real Men.
4) Not believing male victims of abuse.
Men can’t be raped, right, because they always want it? They also can’t be victims of domestic violence because that means they let themselves get hit by a girl, right? Oh, and if it’s two gay men, why isn’t he able to defend himself? Men can be abused and making excuses for why their stories should be invalidated or made less than does not give them room to cope or a space to be heard.
5) Believing that men can’t like anything deemed “feminine.”
Which, to be honest, is sexism against women, but in this case all parties are affected. Men can’t cry, like makeup, enjoy musical theatre, dancing, shop, care about their appearance, or be afraid of anything. Feminine is bad because women are bad, and the opposite of “woman” is “man,” and being a man is the best, right? That’s how logic works? Smh.
6) Saying all men are the same.
Dude, no. They’re a diverse group of humans with varied interests and core beliefs. Don’t generalize people based on gender, that sucks.
7) Saying boys are dumb.
I get it. Dating is frustrating. However, assuming guys can’t be intuitive or sensitive towards your needs and that all f-ck ups and miscommunications are their fault is not okay. Yes, sometimes a guy you’re interested in will do or say something dumb, but that’s not everybody. And isn’t the main goal to find someone who isn’t like that, or do you want to wind up with someone you think is dumb? Would you want to be with someone who thought you were dumb?
8) Assuming that men want to have sex all of the time.
Men can have lower sex drives. Some men can be asexual! However, this belief is at its worst when we think men want sex all the time, which does not help male victims of sexual violence. Saying that a high school student got lucky because he got it in with his hot teacher is a really weird way to describe a child being raped by an adult, and it’s not at all funny.
9) Assuming that men are programmed to cheat.
It dehumanizes men and holds them less accountable for rape and infidelity. After all, it’s just that pesky testosterone that’s overriding their brain and turning them into a Hulk with an uncontrollable urge to put their penis in things. There’s no male-brain cheat code that they have that women magically don’t.
10) Expecting unconditional strength.
This is mostly physical strength, but it can also include not allowing guys to show sadness, fear, or be emotionally open at all. This strength is to never waver or else they aren’t Real Men after all. Not to mention, plenty of women are emotionally and physically strong without needing to outsource their strength to the men in their lives. Women can be really okay with killing bugs and men are allowed to be afraid of spiders. It’s no big deal.
11) Getting weirded out when men show vulnerability.
It’s probably really hard to open up to someone when you’re being judged really hard whenever you do. Everyone has seen their moms cry, but I’m sure we all have that one story about that time we saw our dads cry and none of us acted in a normal way when it happened. It sticks out because it’s so rare and your dad probably hasn’t cried since because he saw that it scared you. Making jokes or staring isn’t a helpful way to behave when someone shows you their vulnerability.
12) Judging guys for asking for help.
Being a human is hard and we all need help. Why do we assume guys are magically built with all the answers pre-programmed in their brains? Everybody needs help sometimes.
13) Shaming guys for being sensitive.
Name calling when guys deviate from the masculine norm is really not helpful at all and only reinforces the limiting box that toxic masculinity lets them live in.
Do you disagree with any of these? What did we forget to include? Let me know in the comments.