Do men face similar struggles that women face? Despite popular feminist belief, the answer is yes! Men face unrealistic standards from the media, men face pressure at home and the workplace, men can have troubles being masculine! And these men need feminism, because the problem here is still the patriarchy.
One of the things that men suffer from is a constant pressure to be “manly.” According to the editors of askmen.com, “strength, reliability and action are all still core parts of what makes a man’s man” (AskMen). Even though all of these can be said to be admirable traits, you don’t have to meet all of these requirements to be accepted by society. Boys can cry, boys can break down, boys can have a hard time being manly. But why is it acceptable for girls to openly cry and show emotion, but not boys? Because society perceives these feminine traits, and as Jessica Valenti says in her novel He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, “it’s demeaning to be female, and boys learn that from an early age” (Valenti). Society needs to learn that showing emotion for something, caring about something, is not something to be ashamed of. Everybody has cracks in their walls, even men, and they need to know that it is alright to let others see that, instead of trying to cover it up for the sake of “being a man.”
As children, when they walk in to any store, there is the boy side and the girl side. On Toys “R” Us website, these are some of the toys categorized for boys: a Minecarft Foam Diamond Sword, a green quad ride-on, and a variety of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures. For girls, there was a pink and purple Dora ATV, an Elsa doll, but not single play sword, or any other type of weapon. (paragraph continues under photos)
Let’s look at the difference between the boy and girls ATVs. Literally the only difference is in the color of the vehicle. But why are two of basically the same product put in different categories on the site? Is masculinity really so fragile that it feels threatened by a color? Also, when it comes to activities, boys are also very limited. Whereas girls are not harassed for being a part of the basketball, soccer, or lacrosse team, if a boy so much as dares to pick up the pom-poms or put on leotard, he is in for a rough time. But sometimes the taunts go too further. At Folsom Middle School, a twelve year old boy committed suicide. He was endlessly bullied by his classmates, which was the cause of why he took his life. Why? Because he was a cheerleader. All because he chose to not take up football or wrestling, he is no longer with us. According to his parents, Ronin was a child “not afraid to follow his heart, and we did everything in our power to allow him to pursue his passions while protecting him from the minority that could not understand the specialness he possessed” (Kalb). All because of the close-mindedness of others, and their rejection of a male cheerleader, a mere seventh-grader found it necessary to take his life.
A rising concern in the feminist community is the growing popularity in “meninsim,” a men’s right activist group. From what I can gather, these men are trying to rally against some of the double standards that do not work in their favor. Upon typing “meninist” into a Google image search, here are some of the posts I found:
Some of these claims are rightly made. Men shouldn’t have to feel obligated to do things for women, just because they are men. And there is definitely a double standard on men’s preferences in women and women’s preference in men. Women shouldn’t have the ability to discriminate against men who don’t suit their personal, while men are ridiculed when they even make the slightest negative comment on a woman’s appearance. But the third photo here is what is wrong with meninsm. Meninists are actively advocating for their own rights, but are ignoring women’s desperate needs. And what most of these guys don’t realize is that feminism actually advocates for men’s rights, too (Wow, what a concept!). The common misconception of feminism is that it does not fight for gender equality, but for the superiority of men. They may feel threatened because more powerful women are coming into the world, and realizing that they have purpose, too. The rise of women does not mean the downfall of men (Hart).
Feminism is the promotion of gender equality, which includes men. If you see a women who claims to be a feminist, but is really just hating on men all the time, call her out on it. People don’t seem to realize that feminism also deals with the destructive way that society has been telling boys to “man up.” It’s feminism that says that men deserve to be heard, too. It’s feminism that says that a man’s emotions are valid, and that their problems are just as legitimate as female ones. It’s feminism that says that “meninism is not a thing, because as I said before, the problem is still the patriarchy. As Emma Watson said in her UN Women Speech, “It is time that we all perceive gender (equality) on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals” (Watson). It’s time for men and women to join together, and create a world where everyone is seen as equal, regardless of their gender.
Hart, Lee Anne. “Meninism On the Rise.” NightVale. Welcome to Night Vale, 13 February 2015. Web. 28 February 2015.
Kalb, Loretta. “Ronin Shimizu, Folsom Seventh-grader who committed Suicide.” Sacbee.com. Sacramento Bee, 8 Dec. 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.
“Traits of a Real Man.” AskMen. Ask Men, 26 February 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.
Valenti, Jessica. He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut, and 49 OTher Double Standards Every Women Should Know. Berkeley: Candlewick, 2008. Print.
Watosn, Emma. “He for She.” Youtube. Youtube, 21 Sept. 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.