Yesterday was International Women’s Day and as important as it is to celebrate women, there is a problematic aspect within its representation of the fight against gender inequality. The statistics are clear on the unbalanced parity between men and women and misogynist attitudes and treatment in the workplace and general society. Not for one moment should we dismiss this data or view it as overhyped, but there is something beyond the statistics that I have watched which we need to address. The movement for gender equality is gradually provoking demeaning and mocking sexism… towards men.
So quick has the social trend become to advance women in the name of equality, that we administer the opposite treatment to men. Men have been turned into the scapegoat, the evil perpetrator of all violence and abuse, the women-oppressor: effectively, they are seen solely as the opposition. It is the ancient “them versus us” story. Men on one hand and gender equality on the other.
When we search for the guilty party in gender inequality, the answer is always… “the patriarchy!” The patriarchy is absolutely real and retains an extremely strong influence as a social construct but it has also become the catchphrase definition for a man. Men as individuals have been turned into the evil patriarchy and have become the devil within the fight for gender equality. Men are having to apologise for their bare existence, for being born a certain way.
I have watched grown adult men blush and embarrassedly say the words “I’m sorry for being a man.” One went even so far as to say “I don’t have the right to participate in a discussion about women’s rights.” Yet women are so quick to offer opinions on men’s rights. We are constantly prescribing what a man should and should not do. We tell them what is appropriate and what is not. Do men not have a say in their own lives? Where is the male voice? Men need to be heard because they are the “other half” (to put it one way) of society. Giving women sheer control of propriety simply turns the table. Men are in control or women are in control but there can and should be both. There needs to be a balance for us to get rid of sexism truly.
Do men have a responsibility to fight against the patriarchy? Yes. Absolutely. But so do women. So does everyone. In trying to remove “special privilege,” we have created it anew. Men and women will never be on the same par if men continue to be singled out for either being superior or inferior. Stop obsessing over men simply because they are men. If men are being misogynist, single them out for being misogynists. Not men. Are they misogynists because of social conditioning? Yes, but you don’t single me out for being a feminist due to my social conditioning as a woman.
If you are a man… please don’t apologise for being born within the stereotypically sexist gender. You are just a human being with your own problems like I am. The same morality applies to you as it does to me — don’t kill, don’t abuse, don’t be violent — we are both under those laws. In a way, you are not “special.” Just as you should not prescribe or dictate my life, I, as a woman, should not do the same to you.
We need to stop blaming men as if they embody the patriarchy. If you don’t like something, take action. Educate men and women about sexism and misogyny rather than simply taking an accusatory stance. Men have hopes, dreams and feelings just as women do. Stop always seeing men as the perpetrators. Men are not the patriarchy that we are aiming to disassemble. Misogyny and patriarchy are institutions, not an individual.