Why men need feminism

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Males need feminism, too. Gender equality is multifaceted. Just like females, males have to battle ridiculous, arbitrary societal standards within their lifetime. This fact doesn&rsquo;t take away from the struggles and obstacles thrown at females. The two problems coexist and feminism aims to acknowledge both sides of the coin.</p>

I’d like to think this goes without saying, but the patriarchy has done serious long-lasting damage to our world. People love to talk about what this means for women and for gender minorities, but what often goes unnoticed is that men also experience the consequences of patriarchal foundations. Society holds the belief that masculinity is fragile. I want to tell you that it isn’t inherently that way. Rather, our society has created a rigid stereotype of masculinity that is oppressive and damaging. 

I’m certain that there are many negative implications of masculine stereotypes, but I can only speak to a couple that I have observed firsthand. To me, it is blatantly obvious that male gender roles limit the freedom that males have to express their individuality. They are discouraged from showing their emotions, exploring their sexuality, and pursuing creative interests. Instead, males are told they must be emotionally unavailable, aggressive, strong, and analytical.

Males are socialized to believe that if they express their emotions, it is a sign of weakness. Sadly, if they don’t have the capacity to suppress their emotions, they are criticized and bullied. It is abnormal to see a man cry these days because they have so much practice at stifling their tears. Crying can be great for a person’s psychological well-being, whereas suppressing your emotions can lead to a plethora of long-term issues. Sadness isn’t allowed for masculinity, but apparently anger is not only accepted, it is encouraged. Males are expected to be hostile and aggressive in order to display dominance. Aggression is atypical in many people, and it is disturbing that our society pressures males to put themselves into potentially dangerous, violent situations so that they can protect their masculinity.

Yes, it is horrible that females are told that they need to be sexually inhibited otherwise they will lose their value. But the flipside is just as horrible. Males are told they need to be sexually active to prove their value. This gender stereotype forces many males into initiating sex before they’re ready. Further, young males who are unable to find a partner feel ashamed, which is absolutely unfair.

Sexual exploration restrictions also demand males to inhibit their same-sex sexuality impulses. Statistically, there are fewer males than females who identify as bisexual or pansexual, probably because males feel pressured to polarize their sexual identity. Females have a lot more freedom when it comes to identity exploration — not to mention a much more elaborate range of clothing options.

The last thing that I have noticed is that males are socialized to pursue STEM courses. The double standard is that females feel unwelcome in the hard sciences, while males feel like they are unable to pursue more creative, soft science options. I’m not saying this is true for everyone, but I have talked to many men in engineering, math, and computer science that tell me that their true passions are art or psychology, but they felt pressured to go into STEM instead.

Unrealistic gender roles have negative consequences for everyone. The title “feminist” seemingly implies that you seek equal rights for women, but that is far from complete. Feminism supports all genders, not just females. Feminism also demands more than just equality; feminism demands that societies value all humans as more than their gender. Males who are feminists are not just allies. Males who are feminists are helping other men just as much as they are helping females and gender-identity minorities.

Masculinity isn’t fragile. Masculinity should be flexible and fluid. With the exception of personally deciding to reject the identity, nothing in the world can diminish your identity as a male. 

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