Written by Andrew Wilson
Feminism – “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” A movement, so often misunderstood and misinterpreted by men, is growing in prevalence. Your daughter, wife or maybe even your son will identify as a feminist. However, as feminism steams onwards, an increasing number of men take issue with the movement. To oppose the equality of woman is unimaginable for most and in my opinion is just as offensive and harmful as suggesting that one should not receive the same rights as the general populace to due to race, or sexual orientation. Nevertheless, we have all met men who may support gay marriage and oppose racism strongly, but actively oppose sexism. Many oppose due to a belief that woman want superior rights to men, something that contradicts the very definition of feminism. But what of the men that are completely apathetic towards the fight for woman’s rights? The “it doesn’t affect so why should I care?” attitude is a recurring theme amongst men. But guess what guys, feminism affects me and you positively. And one day, it may save your son’s life.
All patriarchal societies, like ours, breed and actively promote masculinity, which in turn perpetuates the patriarchal society. You are taught it in schools, you are force fed it by the media – it is everywhere. And it is toxic. When I say you’re taught it in schools, that isn’t for dramatic effect. You really are. I was taught that men and woman were distinct in numerous aspects, rather than just differing on a biological level; that women are fragile creatures that were better suited for cooking, cleaning and looking pretty; that woman are men’s subordinates, not equals. I was taught aggression, dominance and strength. Many men will still see these as desirable characteristics, however these manifest into many of the foulest aspects of a patriarchal society. Throughout childhood I, and ultimately many other boys, were singled out for not fitting into masculine ideals. I was smaller, skinnier and probably more effeminate than my school friends and this was seen as something negative, the common word to describe someone like me was ‘gay’. My schoolmates weren’t calling me gay because they thought I was homosexual – I doubt many of us were too concerned with sexuality at the time. Gay was the term used to describe anything un-masculine with a penis. Who can blame my schoolmates though? I can’t. They were never given an option to not believe this idea of masculinity, it’s ingrained from the earliest possible, from gender based toys, to ‘male’ and ‘female’ storybooks.
Although, I did experience levels of bullying, the harm that it caused was little compared to most. Fortunately for me as I progressed into adolescence I received little abuse. The reason for this, and this never fails to make me laugh, is because I played football. Yes, really. A hierarchy exists between social groups of men this age. The sporty boys are placed atop of the hierarchy and these boys decide what’s acceptable behaviour and what isn’t – in most cases, what is masculine and what is not. The higher the boys athletic ability, the higher his place in the hierarchy, seriously. Due to my footballing abilities, quick wit and dashing looks – sarcasm, hint, hint – I escaped the effects of bullying and avoided social alienation, but some were not so lucky and live with the damaging effects to this day.
As we moved further into adolescence, the rotting effects of masculinity fully corrupted the minds of most and a social order is formed. The most masculine boys sit atop of the more feminine boys and below these feminine boys are where the girls are positioned. One could argue this order doesn’t change much as adults. However, as time progresses and we are swallowed into the shitty world that is adulthood, masculine men will develop a variety of problems.
Male suicide rates in the UK are three and a half times higher than woman’s suicide rates. That’s a lot of suicide. This has been attribute to numerous factors, but the effects of masculinity are often overlooked. Masculine men have been brought up believing that feelings are, well, simply not masculine. They are the things of woman and gays – being gay, or female is seen as a negative of course; just imagine how much they hate lesbians, even if they do love lesbian porn. These masculine men, they will not talk about their feelings. They struggle to understand them and as a result, their relationships with friends and partners are far more likely to fail. A lonely man who believes feelings are inherently bad and is unable to expresses pain as a result, surely you can see link between masculinity and male suicide rates? Come on, it’s there.
Society is changing and it’s changing for the better. Woman are no longer restricted to a life serving man. However, growing up, many men were taught that by the time they were middle aged, they’d have a place in a male dominated industry, with a wife who will cook, clean and fuck on command. Thankfully, in many instances, this is no longer the case, but this causes a problem for masculine males. Life hasn’t turned out the way they were informed it would. Men thus, unable to express these feelings, turn towards suicide. A recurring theme.
There is a whole host of issues that masculinity breeds that I haven’t touched on. It causes alcohol abuse, violence directed at other men, domestic violence, rape, and homophobia. I could continue, I really could. The list is endless. Masculinity is a cancer. It is a blight on the face of man and the only way it can be eradicated is through feminism. So my fellow men, as I address you, I implore you to take up the feminist cause. Feminism does affect you and I and it can only effect you and me positively. Without feminism, we will continue to condition innocent young boys into violent, supressed, angry, hateful, suicidal men. With this in mind, the next time you find yourself asking why you should care about feminism, remember that in 2012 4590 men die as a consequence of suicide. Me and you can stop this, as feminists, together.