It is time to have a look at the other side of the coin. Lefties, in particular, are always happy to pick on men and to accuse them of sexism and misogyny and other crimes but how many of them ever consider the sexism that men have to put up with? We simply don’t talk about how sexism affects men.
I recently watched a video about a feminist who went undercover as a man for 18 months. She didn’t realise how difficult it is to be a man until she became one. One of the thing she mentioned that really stood out to me was the pressure and expectation put on men to be the provider. There were men that she got to know that were doing soul-destroying jobs that they hated but felt they couldn’t leave because their role was to provide for the family no matter what.
I know for a fact that my father spent years in a job because it paid well, not because it was something he enjoyed. He did it so that my mum could be home full-time for us kids. It was as much a sacrifice for him as it was for my mum giving up her career yet Lefties would only acknowledge my mum’s sacrifice.
If you have a scrap of progressive politics in your bones, it’s no surprise to you that sexism hurts women. Like, duh. That’s kind of the definition of the word.
But we don’t talk as much about how sexism hurts men…
…In particular, I’ve been looking at our society’s expectations of men, our very definitions of maleness.
…Here is a list of five:
1. Fight, fight, fight! …
Even if conflicts never get that far — even if you never actually have to pound anyone with your fists — being both willing and able to do so is a weirdly high priority in the Penis Club. As Adam said, “You would rather get a concussion than be called less than a man.” And Damion told me this story: “I’m in the passenger seat when my (relatively butch) sister-in-law flips off some guy in Baltimore traffic. He jumps out of the car, enraged, and my first thought is ‘Great, now I’ve got to beat the shit out of this guy.'”
Which puts men in a nasty conundrum. The laws and expectations of our civilized society are designed to keep physical violence to a minimum…So men are expected — indeed required — to avoid and deflect confrontation, and to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.
And when they do, they get called pussies.
2. Be a good husband/partner/lover — but don’t care too much what women think.
…Being a good husband and father — a good provider who cares for his family and treats women with respect — is central to the male mythos. And being good in bed has become a crucial part of this mythos as well. It’s no longer enough for a Real Man to nail a lot of women: he has to get every single one of them off….The problem lies with the notion that women’s sexual pleasure is entirely men’s responsibility…
Yet at the same time, men aren’t supposed to care too much what women think…
…Men’s definitions of manhood are supposed to come from other men — not from women. They’re just not supposed to care all that much what women think of them.
…Men aren’t supposed to look like dorks or slobs, of course… but they can’t look like they care about their looks, either. Men — straight men, anyway — have to achieve that perfect, razor’s edge balance between good grooming and carelessness. You’re supposed to look good — but those good looks have to seem effortless. Looking like you care how you look makes you look like a woman. Or a gay man….Women are supposed to be the ones prettying themselves up into objects of desire. Men are not supposed to be the objects of desire…
3. Be hot to trot. Always. With anybody.
This is another expectation that came up with striking…frequency. Men are supposed to want sex — and be ready for sex — all the time.
…”Have sex with any woman who says yes, or who offers herself. If not, I must be gay, right?”
…An intense, even predatory sexual desire is a big part of the Manly Man picture. And yet that picture doesn’t allow for men to have preferences. Or rather: They’re allowed and even expected to have preferences — as long as those preferences conform with social norms.
…even today, lots of men feel pressured to date women who meet the current standards of female attractiveness. Lots of men, for instance, feel pressured to date fashionably thin women: even if they personally prefer women with more meat on their bones, they feel embarrassed introducing them to their buddies…
4. Stiff upper lip.
…Generic sexual desire, and the desire to punch someone’s lights out, are pretty much the only emotions men are supposed to experience. And if they have the gall (or the lack of self-control) to experience their emotions, they bloody well better not let on about it.
…Apparently men are only supposed to be passionate about sex, cars, sports and beer.
… Ben T. says, “I hate the fact that men can’t be scared of anything.” James says he learned to appear emotionless so effectively that “I did not shed a single tear when my dad died during heart surgery.” And Georges points out, “It always amazed me how brave I had to be to allow my feelings to show.”
This one, I would argue, is more crippling than all the rest combined…
5. Fear of being perceived as gay.
Acceptance of actual homosexuality has increased by a staggering amount in the last few decades. In less than 40 years, the LGBT rights movement has gone from fighting for our right to not be put in mental institutions and lobotomized, to fighting for our right to get legally married…
But if you’re a straight man? It’s a very different story. In TV shows and movies, homosexual panic is still a reliable source of comic hijinks…You see it in fashion/ dating/ etiquette advice for men, too, which often focuses to an almost hysterical degree on walking that razor- thin line between looking like an urbane, sophisticated man of the world… while still, for the sweet love of Jesus, not being mistaken for gay.
…I don’t have nearly enough space here to write the full-length novel I could write on this subject. I’ve skipped some of the biggest and most important gender expectations of men: the expectations of competition, of status consciousness, of financial success, strength and athleticism, leadership skills, mechanical skills, easy erectile functionality, a dehumanizing attitude towards women, giving a crap about sports. Heck, men get a clear social message that, in order to be manly, they have to be tall. What the heck are you supposed to do about that?
…many men pointed out that, while they’re certainly getting a super-sized serving of narrow, stupid cultural messages about How To Be A Man, they’re also getting a decent helping of smarter, broader messages about Not Listening To That Stupid Shit.
…”Do I think men are given rigid and/or narrow expectations about maleness? Well, sure! And we are also given fluid and/or wide ones. Depends on who’s doing the giving.”