DontMancriminate; how not to start conversations about Mens issues

So a post appeared on my Facebook wall recently, shared by a number of people, under the hashtag #DontMancriminate. It was a series of pictures depicting men being gagged with a little slogan and statements supporting the slogan and were doing the rounds on social media last year. I think I’m going to file it under “perfect example of missing the point” or possibly “how to completely trivialise real issues faced by men and women”. The fact they’ve made a re-appearance suggests that people think they have a point so here’s my take on them.

FB_IMG_1460969683385

Men can (and indeed do) wear heels or even large heeled shoes and wear makeup. Problem is doing so usually results in bullying from other men!!!! Companies usually make products to fulfil demand so perhaps the reason these products don’t exist is because men don’t feel comfortable wearing them due to social pressures? The same social pressures that make women feel forced to conform to strict beauty standards, which is why they wear make-up to avoid being branded ugly? As for stupid men being blonde, I know many blonde men who fit the stereotype and if men want “dumb men” jokes to be equal I’m sure there’s a comedian out there happy to oblige. But why would you want jokes made matching your hair colour to your I.Q?

FB_IMG_1460969665652

FB_IMG_1460969670647

Here’s the thing with these 2; holding a door for someone, carrying their bags or giving up your seat is called courtesy; doesn’t matter if they’re a woman, elderly or disabled; but what have these got to do with this “It’s a man’s world”? Men haven’t had to fight very hard for rights , more often than not men are in power, men get portrayed as powerful in movies/books, men don’t get regarded as inferior purely because of their gender. Here’s the funny thing about these though. Women get free drinks because men buy them for them!! Women are completely able to buy their own drinks or buy them for men. Women get free entry because men let them in for free!! Women are able to pay for themselves or pay for men to get in for free. No one is forcing men to do this though and perhaps we should be asking why men feel compelled to act in this way toward women. Is there a sense of entitlement that some men feel, that when they buy a woman a drink they expect sex in return? Do men like to feel impressive and in control so they buy the woman a drink? How many woman actually enjoy the unwanted attention and are perfectly happy being left alone?

The last statement has the same root cause as the others above. Men don’t get sympathy because men have made it shameful to be weak!! As with wearing heels, men get bullied by other men for expressing emotions like fear, sadness etc. We’re told that men have to be strong and be the provider which is why they buy women drinks, let them in for free, give up their seats etc. Women accept these because they’re told they’re weaker than men and standing up to men often results in fairly dire consequences. If men are unhappy with women getting these things, then breaking the lies is the first step.

FB_IMG_1460969675121

Let’s get this bit out of the way. Yes, men are judged based on the size of their penis. Women judge them, but usually it’s other men judge them because the size of your penis defines you as a man according to society. For every article penned by a woman saying “size does matter” there are an equal amount saying it doesn’t. Also this picture is just flat out lying because men do discriminate against a “pussy” and we probably have pornography to thank for both problems. Rates of vaginal plastic surgery are huge and growing, far outweighing any equivalent seen in men. Much of this is brought on by porn and men claiming that vaginas need to look a certain way to be “clean”. They do nothing but reduce the value of a person to the size and appearance of their genitalia. This is an issue that does affect men but pitching it against women, especially lying in the process, is just not going to help anyone. We need to get away from us vs them and start having the conversation about body shaming and how it affects people.

FB_IMG_1460969689090

This is an awkward one because I actually agree with this one, but it also seems to trivialize the very real issue of domestic violence. Men suffer abuse at the hands of their partners, but don’t report it for the reasons I’ve said earlier: it’s too shameful and tied to a toxic masculinity. This is why it’s woefully under reported and men don’t get the support they need. When a woman attacks her partner and vice versa, it needs to be classified as domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is about power and control, far more than it is about rage and anger issues and women initiating violence towards men (statistically far less prevalent than the other way round) is usually also to do with control and domination. In which case, the phrase “I was wrong” is correct but is also equally correct for the male if he is the perpetrator. Instead the man simply repeats the all too common trope of “you made me hit you, look what you made me do, if only you had listened to me” etc. etc”. These can be used both ways but due to the ongoing stereotype of the man being the dominant partner in a relationship, are more common in men.

Now some will cite self-defence as a reason, I don’t have too many issues with this but possibly linked to the picture is this; what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear a story of a woman slapping a man? Now what about a man slapping a woman? Was it “self-defence” in the first instance and “assault” for the second? Domestic violence is a massive issue for all genders and pitching the 2 genders against each other in this way again blocks the very necessary discussion of how to tackle this problem. Why do people feel it’s OK to hit their partners? Many men have “anger issues” because anger is the only emotion that other men deem to be acceptable to express. Women can be abusers, let me be clear on that, and yes there is a disparity in how abuse is seen depending on who the abuser is, but instead of pitching this a gender equality issue, lets tackle the actual problem of abuse.

FB_IMG_1460969693350

As face value this one seems absolutely spot on. It seems very much the case that women get half the men’s savings in most divorce cases regardless of the reasons for divorce. However, a quick investigation (google search) into this showed that the situation is infinitely more complex. It seems studies have shown that women are usually much worse off after divorce and there are other factors in how the monies are split .

There’s also custody battles that come with this and statistics show that in the vast majority of cases women win custody of the children but again, this seems to be more complex than face value. This seems to be largely down to traditional gender roles which encourage us to see women as the automatic carers over men. This obviously needs to be challenged but when custody is court-ordered, Men Rights Activists etc. often blame this on feminism. Our court system is anything but feminist, never over the past few hundred years has it ever been feminist. The judiciary is arguably the most patriarchal of all our current institutions with a huge amount of judges being not only male, but also white and privately educated. I think the whole issue of divorce and custody are aspects that needs to be looked at but I guess my message on this one is things are not as simple as this makes out.

That last sentence, “things are not as simple as this makes out” could have been applied to all these pictures really. They oversimplify complex issues by ignoring root causes and instead of helping their cause of highlighting areas that men are impacted to help solve them (assuming that is their aim), actually damage it. All too often these discussions get dragged into “our issue is worse than yours” and these pictures just fuel the persecuted mentality some have developed. Men suffer many issues in this world and these need to be addressed, but pitching this against women’s issues or suggesting it’s women’s fault is just throwing up smokescreens. Until we acknowledge that whatever the root cause, it’s affecting everyone, we go nowhere.

 

Advertisements

International Mens Day is not just a men only cause

So yesterday was International Mens Day though you can be forgiven for not knowing that. For International Womens Day, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were awash with articles about women from history who have been forgotten, statistics on domestic abuse and why the patriarchy system is killing women. Women and men were both posting about it, standing side by side for this day.

So when it came to International Mens Day, I was wary about what some Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s) would post but it got off to a good start as many men were posting about mens health issues; in particular the astronomically high suicide rates among young men (it’s the most common cause of death for men under 45). Then Rebecca Collins from The Great Initiative wrote in her blog

So, happy International Men’s Day everyone. Go and tell a man you love that he is valued, that his feelings matter, that he doesn’t have to live with fear of being himself. It could very well save a life.

It was pleasing to read a woman endorse International Mens Day and see the issues that men face; issues that are caused by the same patriarchy system that kill women, which teach men that expressing feelings is a sign of weakness and weakness is bad. We’re fighting the same enemy. If I was hoping for more of the same though, it became obvious as the day went on that it wasn’t going to come. Indeed, many statements by feminists were along the lines of:

  • Why do we need an International Mens Day? Isn’t every day that?
  • It’s nothing more than a celebration of patriarchy
  • Just another example of patriarchy

I kind of get it. Patriarchy is killing women and men are the weapons and a day dedicated to men can be seen as celebrating that. But this was a chance for men who are fighting patriarchy and encouraging men to change to be recognized, and for the damage patriarchy is doing to men to be recognized and to let men know that they’re not alone and there is another way. But the comments and general silence of many feminists sent out some very powerful messages;

  • Men are nothing more than the patriarchy system
  • There are no men worthy of celebrating
  • There is nothing about being a man that’s good
  • Mens health issues don’t concern them
  • Men dying at the hands of patriarchy does not concern them

These are incredibly damaging, both in the way it demeans men and in the way it seems some feminists are spreading the very messages they’re seeking to change. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about how feminists are silent when it comes to mens issues so it’s really hard not to be cynical right now. I still maintain the belief that the only way to defeat patriarchy and make the world better for all is for men and women to be working together, but events such as yesterday just reinforce that there are those on both sides who don’t want to work together and I’m tempted to just wash my hands of it all and go “fine, have it your way”. I have had to remind myself why I got involved in fighting this in the first place.

It should be pointed out though that not every feminist was silent. As well as Rebecca Collins, this tweet popped up

It’s sad that it needed to be pointed out that men are actual and real, not a system because isn’t this what many feminists accuse men of doing to women?  The lack of interest in International Mens Day from many shows precisely why it’s needed along with International Womens Day. This isn’t an either/or situation. It’s possible to be committed to defeating patriarchy and see the effects it has on both men and women, to raise awareness of both and celebrate both. After all, isn’t this supposed to be the aim of feminism in defeating patriarchy?

A Rant on Feminism – and why we need it

A fantastic post on the problems women face in todays world, and why men need to be paying attention to them.

Sarcastica

The comments toward women in the comment sections on Facebook of that catcall video and the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi really make me feel sick to my stomach. They are mostly by men, and almost all of them are insulting the women and threatening them while trying to deny that we have a problem with how women are treated in today’s society.

Don’t believe me? Spend 10 minutes reading the comment section and ask yourself….is there really not a problem with violence towards women?

This is why we STILL NEED feminism. And feminism is not the problem. The problem is how defensive and aggressive men get when women speak up. Again, open your eyes and look around.

Let me ask you…is it okay for 3 men to follow me around a bar, ignore me when I blantantly say that I am uninterested? Is it okay for them to follow me…

View original post 433 more words