Hello dear reader(s)!
“Man up!” “You hit like a girl!” “Don’t be a little bitch!” “You’re a pussy!”
Put 3 year old kids in a room together. Chances are there will be a lot of crying, a lot of laughing, a lot of playing, a lot of running, a lot of fighting, a lot of hugging. Take away the gender specific outfits and haircuts and try to tell the difference between the boys and the girls. I bet you can’t.
Women aren’t the only ones hurt by the devaluation of traits incorrectly labeled and deemed “feminine”. The refusal for people of a certain gender as sharing some of these human traits strips men of their humanity.
Men, when was the first time you were told that crying was a sign of weakness? When was the first time someone told you to “man up?”
Beyond what this says to women, that being strong is a male characteristic only, and is somehow superior to those qualities that are viewed as femine, think of the outright lie that it is a male characteristic at all.
In that moment, when maybe your father, maybe your sports coach, maybe your “friend” told you to man up, did you stop feeling like you wanted to cry? No, you felt like you couldn’t or else your very identity as a man would be called into question. And so you learned to suppress that. You learned to bottle up those emotions. That was equated with strength. And even though you may not have made the connection consciously, that meant that showing emotions was a negative trait. It was weak. And since girls are permitted to be emotional, that must mean (whether you consciously say it or not), that girls are weak.
But boys get emotional. It happens, and if you look back, even if you are the most hyper-masculine person on the face of the Earth, you wanted to cry before it was pushed out of you. This false labeling of traits as gender specific is just fallacy. 90% of the behavioral curves of men and women overlap. Why do the outlying 10% define us?
The suicide rate in the US for males is 3 times what it is for females.
Yet females supposedly have higher instances of depression. Females supposedly attempt suicide more often but use less lethal methods. There are two conclusions that can be drawn from this. 1. Males are not able to open up about their feelings, or their depressive symptoms are not recognized correctly. 2. Women feel more comfortable reaching out for help, even when using extreme methods like attempting a suicide unlikely to succeed where as by the time men pull the trigger (pun intended), they are not crying for help. This is because from the time a boy is little, he is taught talking about his pain is girly, and therefore bad. But the statistics show that both sexes feel the pain, one just gets the chance to express it.
90.5% of homicides committed in the US are committed by men.
This isn’t excusable by testosterone. Men are taught early on that violence solves problems. Talking it out is simply not acceptable. Men constantly have to prove how manly they are. Manly in this case is aggressive, dominant, and deadly. They are all traits that exist to different degrees in both sexes, and they have their uses in some extreme situations. But they certainly are not the favorable way to resolve conflict. How many times have you been told to fight back and stand up for yourself when bullied? To not snitch? To be the best?
“You going to hit that?”
You may or may not be attracted to the woman you are spending time with. Immediately, your friends imply that it is only acceptable to have female friends if you want to have sex with them. Additionally, look at the words. Hit. (Violence.) That. (Object.) Their only purpose in those words are for you. You may think, it is just words. But in your formative years, when those words are the most common, they can have an effect.
And then there is the media.
Look at most action heroes. Hyper-masculine males that show little emotion and solve their problems with violence. Look at the violent video games. Look at the music that glorifies violence and being tough. All of this has a cumulative effect. One song is not going to make someone think it is acceptable, but it is the entire culture. Men=power, strength, aggressive, strong, powerful, successful, providers, good. Women=emotional, weak, objects, bad.
As women rightly complain about the problems with a system known as the patriarchy, where anything seen as feminine is devalued, my fellow men should realize that all of the ‘privilege” that system offers us in terms of political power, higher pay for equal work, control over our own bodies and reproductive rights, and just being seen as superior…it all comes at a very high cost. It is dehumanizing. It prevents of from being ourselves. It prevents us from being able to choose among the many, many types of human traits that would be the most right for every given situation. And as men continue to defend their privilege against attacks on the system that grants us those privileges we must ask ourselves…
If this privilege prevents us from feeling like we can be ourselves, if it causes us to end up in prison, if it causes us to commit suicide, if it increases pressure on us to succeed financially and be used as providers, if it takes away our choices of how to handle things, if it causes us to look down upon the women in our lives, if it makes us throw away our empathetic nature, if it causes us to try and dominate every one we meet, if it keeps us from developing real emotional connections for friends that exist on the surface…
Why do we call it privilege, and why are we fighting to uphold it?