I recently watched ‘The Mask You Live In’, which is a documentary on male struggle in the United States. I highly encourage you to watch it – it’s good brain food and it is available on Netflix.
After last week’s post about emancipation, today I’m going to address the opposite topic. Well not opposite necessarily. Let me explain. I wouldn’t label myself an extreme feminist – of course I’m all for emancipation as you know, but I don’t identify with the term. Especially because of today’s topic.
To clarify some terms, sex is biological differences in males and females, and gender is the social construct around the sexes. Different ‘extremes’ of feminism either wants to get rid of these constructs and live in a gender neutral society or fight for equality for the sexes. Either way, I feel like this is discussed in today’s society and worked upon, so I don’t want to focus on this topic – at least not today. Today is about what it means to be a man.
Don’t cry, man up, don’t be a sissy… the list goes on and on. These phrases are only the tip of the iceberg of what it contributes to be a man in (american) society. Why do we treat the sexes so differently? Why are men the strong gender, why are they not meant to cry and why are they allowed to see women as a sexual object? The answer is in the way they are raised and taught by society.
The stereotypes and phrases the society poses on men, which are practiced in families, harm boys and men in many ways. Expressing emotions and speaking about intimate issues is difficult or nearly impossible the way men are brought up today, and unless there is a discussion about this topic, hardly anything is going to change. This girl-boy thought process is limiting and harmful – I know this is what feminism is fighting but maybe the problem I have with feminism is with the word itself. Fighting for equality is the essential aspect – whether that includes increasing the numbers of women in leading positions or changing the way men are brought up.
Being a man shouldn’t be a performance – neither should being female. I don’t know why the sexes are being treated differently, it is deeply rooted in history – but now should be a time to change that.