I haven’t talked about feminism in quite a while now, for various reasons, but I feel like it’s about time to change that, or at least for today. See… while there’s a lot of focus on female empowerment within feminism, even today little attention is given to the issues of masculinity. While still not truly emancipated, women are being told over and over again about how they can define their own lives, independent of their gender roles. Sure, that doesn’t mean that every woman realises this already or that the problem is gone, but… who is saying this to men? How many men actually believe that they don’t have to be “masculine”?
Masculinity is everywhere. It’s not hard to find examples of that. I see it at my football club, where my teammates seem to think that the only way to keep their dignity is to talk about boobs and sex, and about how much of both of those things they’ve seen or had in their lifetime. I see it on television, where men are glorified in films full of war and violence, suggesting not just that the woman they get at the end is their prize, but even more so that men gain their reputation through violence, that being masculine is rooted in violence and strength and that it is something to strive for. I also see it in my everyday life, boyfriends paying for the expenses of their girlfriends, chivalry being a one-way street and men always taking on the role of the unemotional protector. I even see it in my family, where my brother and my father feel the need to protect whatever “masculinity” they’ve got left by demanding meat for every meal, because “real men eat meat.” ‘
All of these things, every single one of them, are not only ridiculous, but also extremely damaging to both the men affected by it directly, and the people in their surroundings who might suffer the consequences. Things like these are the reason why rape is still excused by some men, why violence is still so common and why men are so often led by pride and ignorance. They are told that that is their role, and while the woman’s role has been gaining liberty, the man’s role, in all its privilege, is being ignored, which goes at the cost of both men and women: men because they feel forced to act “masculine”, and women because this need for masculinity makes it a whole lot harder to get men to accept them as equals.
These are things we have to talk about more, things we have to discuss and think about. I am lucky enough to have ended up in an environment in which I have been taught that it is okay to be “feminine”, that it is okay to cry at sad movies or to talk about emotions. When I’m watching a film with my girlfriend and I’m the one crying, I don’t feel like my masculinity is seeping away with those tears, and I don’t feel like I am any less of “a man” just because I never get angry or because I hate violence. But not everyone is that lucky. In fact, most men aren’t.
Most men spend their time in environments in which such things as crying, an aversion for violence or even deep philosophical thought are seen as bad. They live their lives being taught that sex is the ultimate goal, that emotion is for women and that they should just keep watching the sports channel while their wife or girlfriend yammers on about feelings. And that’s terrible, that is something we have to change, yet so little attention is given to it except to blame the men themselves. We focus only on female empowerment, which, as important as it is, cannot get rid of gender roles all on its own. Privilege or no privilege, men too suffer from gender roles, and that is something that has to be changed. We need to fight gender roles from all perspectives, from all sides, because only then can we achieve a situation in which anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality, can do as they want to do.
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